Skandia Vs. Grundig Again?
Australian east coast ocean racing crews will begin a 28 day weather watch hoping the present strong wind warning will return for the 469 mile Sydney to Mooloolaba race starting on 31 March.
The race for the FKP Limited trophy is the final event in the prestigious Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Blue Water championship and as expected has attracted a high standard fleet including the potential record breaker the Sean Langman skippered Grundig.
This open 60 originally designed by Murray, Burns and Dovell and extensively modified to run at break neck speeds on the edge of the wind has been in a record challenging position before only to miss out when the wind eased.
Grundig which has already claimed the shorter Brisbane to Gladstone race record with an average speed of 14.16 knots will only need the south east trade wind to hold at the 20 knot range for 40 hours to take the George SNOW Brindabella record of 44-01-43 into a new time zone.
Brindabella surfed before rig and sail stressing winds recorded at 28 knots when she sailed past Cape Byron on her way to average 10.66 knots in 1994.
There is no extreme tactical challenge to follow as the Great Eastern current which runs north to south determines a course selection in a sometimes narrow corridor between the swift flowing current and the shore dump on the ocean beaches.
Sean LANGMAN and the Grundig crew understand how difficult the race can be in terms of prevailing winds and the need to select the 'rock hopping' strategy to keep logging a respectable boat speed.
They have enjoyed the nerve bending speeds and the torment of terminating spinnakers before and are looking for 'Old Huey' to provide some grunt at the right sail reaching angle this year.
Grundig, often referred as the ocean racing skiff because of the spectacular sight she creates, will be the line honours favourite if the spinnaker sailing trade wind blows continually between March 31 and beyond 'April Fools Day'.
There is strong speculation that she will face some serious match racing competition if Grant WHARINGTON decides to enter his 2003 Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours champion Skandia Wild Thing.
Wharington and his experienced crew retained their undefeated ocean racing record when the power sailing maxi won a unique line honours and IRC handicap double in the Port Lincoln race last Saturday.
Skandia Wild Thing averaged 9.66 knots finishing over an hour outside the race record skipper Wharington set in his previous Wild Thing.
The promise of a full head on match race between Skandia Wild Thing and Grundig has the potential to be a thriller, particularly if the wind angle blows hard enough to leave a permanent part in the back of the head of the hemsmen as they pilot a fast course north to Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Similar tactical dog fighting will be played out on the decks of the overall IRC handicap challengers.
Bob STEEL'S immaculately prepared 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart race winner Quest, Syd FISCHER'S high performance Ragamuffin, Howard de TORRES consistent Nips n Tux and the improving Ichi Ban (Matt ALLEN) will be the front line contenders in the expected fleet of 54 yachts.