Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wild Thing First To Gladstone - Brisbane to Gladstone Race

SUNDAY April 8th 2011 0600 hrs.


Nature played a major role in closing the doors on the smaller yachts in the 308 QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race over night.

Unfortunately the predicted change in coastal weather dramatically ended any chance for crews of 41 yachts to maintain the required handicap rated boat speed to break the big boat strangle hold in deciding the 64th outright winner of Queensland’s premier blue water classic.

For the crews of line honours trophy winner Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing, Black Jack (Mark Bradford) and Lahana (Peter Millard) it was a tactical match race in ideal conditions to be separated by 6.9 seconds per mile at the end of what proved to be an exciting chase to change the 20 hour 40 minute 50 second record.

A softening wind eliminated the record challenge 20 nautical miles from the finish while a tactical match race continued before Grant Wharington finally steered the 30m Wild Thing to her 17 minute 29 second win over the Mark Bradford skippered 20.6 m Black Jack with another 18 minutes 16 seconds to Peter Millard’s 30m Lahana.

They were happy to be onshore and enjoying the traditional post race hospitality on the deck of the Port Curtis Sailing Club when their interest turned towards who was most favoured to win the race outright.

As the wind continued to fade at sea and the hour’s ticked by interest swung in favour of the big boats.

Black Jack which was aggressively sailed to record a performance well above her waterline length progressively firmed as the most favoured when the calm conditions stalled all other challengers including handicap favourite Rob Hanna’s JV IRC52 Shogun V.

“Our crew left nothing on the race course,” Skipper Mark Bradford said.

Bradford attended the inaugural race start in 1949 with his father the late ABC Sport Broadcaster Clive Harburg and passion  winning in the memory of his famed father.

That personal wish promises to be answered later today when the expertly prepared and tactically well raced Black Jack is declared the 64th winner of the Courier Mail Cup.

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