by Ian Grant
Queensland’s premier blue water classic, the 308 nautical mile QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race, has attracted a high standard fleet including record holder Grant Wharington’s super maxi Wild Thing.
Shogun (Rob Hanna) revelled in the light - Sydney Harbour Regatta
Both skipper Grant Wharington and his Wild Thing crew who will race under the Southport Yacht Club burgee will be hoping for a similar forecast to the strong spinnaker sailing breeze that prevailed in 2004.
That race was highlighted by an intense match race for line honours between Wild Thing and the smaller super fast Sydney pocket-maxi AAPT skippered by Sean Langman.
Their tactical dog-fight resolved by a narrow 11 minutes 58 seconds paved the way for Wild Thing to claim the race record with a course time of 20 hours 24 minutes 50 seconds and average speed of 15.08 knots.
This performance by the speed sailing Wild Thing which has stood the test since 2004 stands to be challenged by previous line honours winners Black Jack (2009 -2010) and the Peter Millard skippered Sydney maxi Lahana 2011.
All three yachts crewed by a number of Australia’s experienced ocean racing sailors are capable of sailing on the fine line which separates distinction from disaster when the breeze gusts above 25 knots.
However while Grant Wharington remains confident of answering the challenge he will need a strong wind warning forecast to propel Wild Thing on a spray drenching ride to cross the finish line before 7-24 on Easter Saturday morning to post a new record.
The competition from Lahana and the Mark Bradford skippered Black Jack promises to set the stage for the most interesting line honours duel since 1967 when the famed Brisbane ketch Laurabada beat the Peter Docker skippered Syonara by 41 seconds.
Similar interest surrounds an expected tactical dog fight to decide the 64th overall handicap winner of the prestigious Courier Mail Cup.
As expected there are some interesting entries including the Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s Robert Hanna skippered TP52 Shogun V and the baby Brisbane sloop Saltash 11 which holds the distinction of winning eight races since 1986.