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Gold Coast “Festival of Sailing” Month

Gold Coast “Festival of Sailing” Month

January on the Gold Coast really is like a festival of sailing.


Starting in Sydney on Boxing Day with the Sydney-Hobart race, the Gold Coast entry She kept us enthralled for four days. Often leading its division over the marathon race, the light winds on the final day took away all chances it had of a win. She, an Olsen 40, owned and skippered by local Gold Coaster Phil Bell, was the most ‘raced’ boat in the fleet completing its 19th Sydney-Hobart race. The race has been on Phil’s bucket list for some time so he purchased She two years ago to complete his personal dream.


On January 2, the inaugural Club Marine Pittwater to Southport race gave competitors conditions they could not believe. Just like the record-setting Sydney-Hobart race a week earlier, the Pittwater to Southport race also rewrote the record books.


The yachts started in a blustery southerly that literally ‘threw’ the boats to the Gold Coast – but at a price. Nearly every boat suffered some sort of damage as the wild winds wreaked havoc on the fleet. Most yachts ‘shredded’ spinnakers and some sustained boom damage.


In a race that would normally take the leading boats 48 hours to complete, they reached the finish line off Main Beach in less than 36 hours.


The two Gold Coast boats competing did themselves proud. Although finishing in the middle of the fleet, just to finish was an achievement. The tiny Adams 12m Turbulence, doing its first long ocean race under new owner Steve ‘Chappy’ Czapp had a great run on day one, but then succumbed to fatigue in the tough conditions on day two and slipped back down the pack.


The ever-consistent Painkiller OP, owned and skippered by Rod West, shredded more sails than Rod cared to talk about. The damage to the sails took away any chance they had of a win.


As the final boats arrived, the Southport Yacht Club (SYC) did an amazing job in hosting the visiting sailors. The legendary hospitality at the SYC is well known throughout the yachting world and the teams always look forward to coming here.


Then the final event on the calendar was the Bartercard Sail Paradise regatta off the beaches of the Gold Coast from January 8 to 12.


The Gold Coast turned on near perfect conditions for the five-day regatta, with a fun-filled lae day in the middle. With entries from Sydney, Yamba, Brisbane, Noosa, and of course from the Gold Coast, the scene was set for some big showdowns.


And the fleet did not disappoint. After four days of racing, all of the divisions could have been won by several boats.  With five divisions in the regatta, every boat had a chance to show their dominance on the final day.


Local boats Pole Dancer and KD Girl fought out the Cruising Division right to the end with only one point separating the two at the end of the regatta. Carlos Selby, owner of Pole dancer, was ecstatic when he held the winners trophy high after the regatta.


In the trailerable division, local boat Conquistador just could not quite match it with the visiting yachts but finished a credible fourth.


The hotly contested division was the Performance Racing Division, so the fleet was divided into two sections, which really created some exciting match-ups.  In Performance 2, first place went to Yamba visitors Ramble Tamble with second going to SYC boat Are We There Yet and third going to SYC boat Bellamy. It was a great division with only six points separating the top three boats.


In Performance 1, the top three placings all went to SYC boats! Cyclone, Wildflower 11 and Painkiller OP respectively all showed the remainder of their fleet a clean pair of heels. It took the final race on the final day to decide who would take home the division win.


The IRC Division, raced by the quickest boats in the fleet, was successfully won by SYC boat Aurics Quest. Owned and skippered by Fred Bestall, this boat was a real weapon around the waters of the Gold Coast. Fred has only just purchased this boat, so I am expecting to see him figure in the major placings around the country in the very near future. Aurics Quest actually dead-heated with Brisbane boat Electra but won on a count back. The hard working SYC race organiser David Hows sailed his boat Ocean Gem into a commendable third in what was a very tough competition.


After the last day of competition, Aurics Quest was named the overall regatta winner and Painkiller OP named the highest placed boat over both the Bartercard Sail Paradise regatta and the Club Marine Pittwater to Southport race.


It was great to see our local Southport Yacht Club boats not only match it with the visitors, but also actually take out most divisions.


For now, it is back to club racing to hone our skills until the next chance we get to take on the visitors.


By Ray McMahon