Crews head north for winter
THE time is nigh for the start of the annual invasion of Queensland by skippers and crews from all points south, with the initial surge of boats making Southport their first stop.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Land Rover 31st Sydney to Gold Coast Race starts the winter migration. Following that race is Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron's Brisbane to Keppel Race, then August through to September is spent in the Whitsundays with Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Magnetic Island race weeks.
Sunshine Coast big-boat sailors will be competing in many of the events as the Coast race program winds back to its relaxed winter program.
The CYCA race to the Gold Coast starts on Saturday, July 30, with 76 entries originating from five Australian states, New Zealand and Hong Kong, battling the often very cold and windy 384-mile race.
This is also the first race of the CYCA's Blue Water Series which culminates with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. The race has attracted an exceptional fleet, led by two 100-foot yachts: Sandy Oatley's Wild Oats XI and the former Ragamuffin now named Scallywag, owned by Hong Kong's Seng Huang Lee.
Two Coast yachts and several Coast sailors will compete in the Gold Coast race. Bob Robertson will be campaigning his newly bought Beneteau 40, Bravo, while Ian and Bill Coward will race their 43-foot Quest. Both teams are working towards competing in this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
Robertson is behind schedule in his preparations for the race. "I would have liked to have done the Brisbane to Mooloolaba race the other weekend but we weren't really ready," Robertson said.
"When I took the boat out the other day, I wasn't happy with the speeds. I know the speeds I should be getting.
"Also, the boat has to come out of the water as the bottom hasn't been washed for a month."
He has made changes since last weekend and will stay in Brisbane to use next weekend's Queensland IRC Championship to put the boat through its paces.
"We are going to use it to get the know the boat a bit better and to work out if we have any problems with anything," Robertson said.
The delivery crew will jump on board on Sunday about 6pm and head to Sydney as quickly as possible.