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21 March 2005, 09:51 am
Last Boat To Finish Takes Third IRC
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Sydney Mooloolaba Race 2005
Mooloolaba, Australia

Don FREEBAIRN's classic timber 41-footer Ray White Koomooloo was the last boat to finish the Sydney Mooloolaba Yacht Race at 11.10:17 AEDT this morning and managed to narrowly push rival real estate-sponsored boat First National (Michael SPIES) out of contention for a top three placing.
Freebairn, a Queensland yachtsman who has campaigned his Kaufman 41 heavily in the last few months, sailed north with his son Mike, 30, and daughter Vanessa, 33, on board and for the early part of the race was leading the fleet on IRC. In the end, he held onto third place behind the two Mumm 30s Tow Truck and Immigrant.

When they pulled into the Mooloolaba Yacht Club this morning, Don described the 469 nautical mile race as 'rugged' and Mike, who skippered the boat, agreed.

'There was a fair bit of slop for the first third of the race and the boat was rolling around in the downwind pressure, which takes it out of the crew physically, makes it hard to hold a kite and makes it difficult to keep the boat pointing in the right direction,' Mike said. 'We lost a little bit of time around Port Stephens in the heavy air because we are a 12 tonne boat and we can't accelerate down the waves like the others can'.

While rocking and rolling, they also suffered some damage internally when Don, who is 73, fell heavily on a bulkhead, snapping the timber. 'Dad's a battler,' said Mike, 'he didn't make a scene'.

Ray White Koomooloo was going to enter the Brisbane to Gladstone Race, which starts next Friday, but plans have changed and the boat will instead have a maintenance overhaul after spending months away from home competing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race and Skandia Geelong Week.

'We'd like to get up to Hamilton Island and take part in the classic boat division of Hahn Premium Race Week in August,' said Mike.

With three Queensland entries in this year's Sydney Mooloolaba Yacht Race, Mike believes 'there is a bit of resurgence in offshore sailing in Queensland'.

The Sydney Mooloolaba Yacht Race, which began in Sydney Harbour on Wednesday at 13:00 (local time), was a big success for race organisers with all but seven of the 39 which started out three days ago crossing the finish line within a 15 hour stretch.

After such a long race, it's not often the fleet is so compressed and today, big and small boat crews alike are swapping tales at Mooloolaba Yacht Club where the official prize presentation will be held at 16:00 this afternoon.

Lisa Ratcliff (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Ray White Koomooloo © Event Media
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