Admirals Cup champion Colin O'NEIL made an impressive claim to win his second 'Boss Hog' trophy when he piloted Aftershock to a clear cut win in the opening race of the 2004 International Hog's Breath Race Week off Airlie Beach today.
This time last year Colin O'NEIL and his long time friend and racing rival Bob OATLEY were celebrating after winning the Admirals Cup in England.
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club skipper O'Neil was again in brilliant sailing form on the warm waters of the Whitsunday Passage when Aftershock out paced the record 107 yacht fleet representing New Zealand and Australian clubs to be the fastest on the water sealing an early grip on the prestigious Boss Hog Trophy.
O'Neil assisted by a crew of outstanding sailors including principal helmsman the World 11 metre champion Stephen MCCONAGHY and experienced mainsail trimmer Richie ALLANSON showed that Aftershock was a new generation rocket ship following a recent upgrade.
They took command out of the start to be a clear leader when spinnakers were set for the down wind run to the Double Cone Island group leaving the Australian IRC champion Ichi Ban (Matt ALLEN) and the former Volvo Globe racing sloop Seriously Ten ( John WOODRUFF) to fight out the minor places.
Aftershock held a mammoth lead when she cleared Armit Island for the long windward beat against an ideal 12 knot south east breeze to eventually score an 11 minute 43 second line honours win over Ichi Ban with another 32 seconds to Seriously Ten.
This was a convincing performance with Aftershock relying on the navigational skills provided by the Around The World record breaking navigator Adrienne CAHALAN to also win the IRC class on corrected time from the Victorian sloop Rouseabout 3 (John Rouse) and Ichi Ban.
Graham and Neil SHERRING are great mates but when it comes down to protecting their respective sailing reputations the mood changes.
The cousins who race their Blazer 23 class sloops with a determined attitude are fearless competitors on the race course.
This was clearly evident when they contested the first heat of the 2004 Hog's Breath Australian Trailable yacht championship off Airlie Beach earlier today.
Graham a Gold Coast sail maker helming Roulette and Neil a Gold Coast builder skippering Urgent became involved in a match race lasting a little over four hours before Roulette forged ahead on the long windward slog against a 12 knot South East wind to eventually score a commanding win.
Roulette started on even terms with Urgent and the Mackay Blazer 23 Sensation (James INGLE) however after a short windward beat it soon became evident that Roulette had some down wind pace with her new spinnaker providing 'grunt' to gradually forge ahead on the 11 n/ml down wind run to clear the Double Cone Islands.
Skipper Graham SHERRING also seemed to have the knack to ride the 'runners' for a longer period which also allowed Roulette to sail into clear wind finally winning the important first heat by 38 minutes 41 seconds over Urgent with Sensation another 2minutes 31 seconds away third.