Airlie Beach Race Week 2014 - Sports Boat fleet talk up Race Week

The revamped Conquistador showed good form at the Sports Boat Winter Nationals 2014.
Teri Dodds
The Conquistador warriors are preparing their Sports Boat Division battle plans ahead of the Vision Surveys 25th Airlie Beach Race Week being held from the eighth to 15th August 2014.

The team’s recent burst of performance at Mooloolaba’s Sports Boat Winter Nationals, where they finished third overall, has given them the impetuous to plan packing the boat up again for another road trip and head up from Sydney to Airlie Beach.

Boat manager Bruce Hollis reported this Conquistador team of ex-skiff sailors have not previously competed at Airlie Beach. 'I am really keen to do Airlie Beach,' Hollis said.

The boat however has raced at Airlie Beach when owner Peter Sorensen campaigned it in 2012 under the Middle Harbour Yacht Club flag.

Some six months ago Hollis and helmsman Norman Ryde took up leasing the boat from Sorensen. 'Basically, one day I was having a beer with Sorro and asked what was going on with Conquistador. They had changed the configuration of the boat and it wasn’t sailing well.

'He said it was sitting in a shed up at the back of the Hunter and if you want it, go pick it up. So we picked it up. Pete will get it back later,' Hollis added.

Once in the hands of Hollis and Rydge the boat was rebuilt and made into what Hollis describes as 'more of a conventional boat'. They have retained the rotating mast and the rudder which slings under the boat rather than off the stern.

Since returning from Mooloolaba the boat has gone back into the shed to get more work done on it to achieve better performance and a better SMS rating.

Another Sydney Sports Boat planning to return to Airlie Beach Race Week this year is Ray Carless’s Junior. They had a super regatta last year finishing in third place.

'The racing is very good up there on the bay. I do quite like blue sky and warm water at this time of year,' Carless said.

His crew this will be his wife Jill, and one other. It’s a happy team where the husband and wife, while not always quiet, enjoy sharing the competition experience. Jill Carless jokes she takes instruction from Ray. as she trims the main.

Carless has come from many years of owning keel boats. The attraction of the Sports Boat has been the smaller number of crew, the ease of organisation of a smaller boat and the ability of putting the boat on the trailer and heading north for another year of fun at Airlie Beach. 'It’s fast and fun as well,' Carless said.

Jason Ruckert’s Mister Magoo competing in June’s Sports Boat Winter Nationals at Mooloolaba.
Teri Dodds

Brisbane’s Jason Ruckert will be returning with Mister Magoo. He has been competing in the Airlie Beach Race Week since 2004, missing only one along the way.

'The first one we did was when the Sports Boats had their national titles up there. We came second in that on a boat called So What. The year after we had Gone Troppo and came second again. I have been in a Thompson 7 since.

'I haven’t won it yet. I have come second three times on three different boats and won it once as a crew on another Thompson 7.

'We just need light winds like last year. The same or lighter again would suit us perfectly,' he added.

Perhaps this year will be Ruckert’s winning year.

All details on this year’s Vision Surveys Airlie Beach Race Week is here. Entries close Friday 1st August 2014.