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Southern Spars

Solo sailor starts transTasman race with record crossing

by Lindsay Wright on 27 Mar 2010
Big Wave Rider SW
Waitara boatbuilder and sailor, Bruce Arms, has thrown down the gauntlet early for his fellow skippers in the 2010 Fitzroy Yachts Solo Tasman Challenge singlehanded yacht race from New Plymouth to Mooloolaba.

Arms is hot favourite to take line honours in the 15 boat fleet and laid his claim by completing a 6 days and 5 hours delivery trip from Southport to New Plymouth this week. This is thought to be a record for a west to east crossing of the Tasman and bests the 1986 solo Tasman race record of 6d 8h50m set by Australian Ian Johnston in 1986 sailing the trimaran, Bullfrog Sunblock.

Sailing his 14m Chamberlin designed catamaran, Big Wave Rider, he said that the trip had its moments and at one stage he was hit by 50 knot winds preceding a frontal system…and he spent several hours in light winds. He and wife Suzanne arrived in Port Taranaki in a gale at 2am on Thursday morning.

'But we clocked a personal best of 21.6 knots,' he said, 'the boat handled it brilliantly. I’ve got a new mainsail coming for her – it’s got an extra five square metres of area….and a big blast reacher.'

Main competition is expected to come from his cousin, Steven Arms, who will be sailing a brand new 10.5m Chamberlin catamaran called Nitro. He is currently working hard to remedy a few teething problems with the lightweight flyer.

Bruce Arms first did the 1300 nm ( 2407 km) singlehanded yacht race in 1998, taking ninth place in a 9m monohull called Skiddy Too. Winner of that race was Mooloolaba boat designer Robin Chamberlin in his self built catamaran Excess. The two hit it off and Arms began working with Chamberlin and ended up building his own 14m Big Wave Rider for the 2007 singlehanded Tasman yacht race.

The boat was brand new at race start and Arms sailed a prudent race but still won first solo skipper across the finish line. Both boat and skipper have clocked up many more miles since then and will be the ones to beat when the 16 boat fleets sails from New Plymouth on 4th April.

Arms is also project manager for Jessica Watson’s attempt to become the youngest female to circumnavigate the world alone and plans to sail to a spot SW of Tasmania, after the solo Tasman race has finished, to rendezvous with her and sail in company back to Sydney.

The first solo skippers will start arriving in Moolooaba from about 10th April.
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