Sport

Former world champ aims for elusive Aussie title

Bucky Smith.
Bucky Smith.

MOOLOOLABA sail-maker and professional yachtie Bucky Smith has had very little rest since Boxing Day.

He has been on the water every day since the start of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race - except for New Year's Day.

Taking a breather, though, is the last thing on his mind as he starts a campaign today to win an elusive Australian title in the Etchells class.

"We are in good form at the moment," Smith said of his international team.

"We just came off a second place at the world championships and first place in the Queensland championships, so our form is good.

"We're confident, but anything can happen in the water. It's hard to predict."

The Australian Etchells championships start today in Western Australia and comprise a scheduled eight races over four days - dependent on the weather.

Smith was able to spend a quick 10 minutes in a phone interview with the Daily yesterday as he helped finalise preparations and registration and awaited a weigh-in with his fellow crew members. They must collectively weigh less than 268kg to qualify for the event.

Smith is crewing with Racer X boat owner and helmsman Mark Thornburrow, of Hong Kong, 470 Class world champion Simon Cooke, of New Zealand, and Andrew Service, a UK national who also resides in Hong Kong.

While Smith has already won a world title in the class as well as the recent Queensland title, he would love to win an Australian title, which is so far missing from his resume.

"That definitely has been on my mind, and I know we can do it - we're good enough," he said.

"We've showed consistent form, we're in good shape, but you have to make sure you don't underestimate the competition."

The 36-year-old Smith's Sydney-Hobart campaign was disheartening to say the least. The yacht he was crewing, Living Doll, broke a rudder mid-way across Bass Strait, forcing a withdrawal from the iconic ocean race as they limped back to shore.

Smith backed up that misfortune, however, with a win in the Hartley TS 16 Australian Championships at Lake Cootharaba, near Noosa, last week.

Also, the Racer X team sailed strongly to finishing second in a warm-up regatta of five races at the Perth Yacht Club earlier this week - a hitout that gave the crew a good look at the championships' course.

"A top-five finish is a good goal and top three would be awesome, but on winning... we think we can do it," Smith said.

The racing starts today.

Topics:  sailing



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