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17 April 2006, 07:19 pm
Trophy Polished And Presented.
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Brisbane To Gladstone Race 2006
Brisbane, Australia

The 58 year old sterling silver trophy The Courier-Mail Cup symbol of supremacy for the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race was polished and officially presented this morning to Mooloolaba Yacht Club skipper Michael BALKIN.
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Michael BALKIN 56 of Maroochydore has been a long time mate of all Sunshine Coast sailors but he was relatively unknown, in fact one Brisbane to Gladstone race veteran was heard to say 'Who the hell is Michael BALKIN?'

With respect that sailor should remain anonymous however he now knows who Michael BALKIN is after the 13 year old Mumm 36 Corum completed a dream result for her proud and new offshore racing owner by winning the premier Queensland ocean race.

The Corum/BALKIN story is unique with the former Fun Race sailor deciding 18 months ago that he wanted more time to have fun and that meant he had to buy an offshore yacht.

So he and his good mate Greg GILLIAM who has a personal log book almost as thick as a long winch handle sat down over a few beers and mapped out a career plan.

At first the exceptionally knowledgeable Greg GILLIAM suggested a comfortable cruising yacht with all the 'bells and whistles', you know satin sheets on the bunks, classy crockery, a nice selection of wine in a teak rack and a big fridge.

Gilliam who first started his career as a teenager racing with and against some of Australia's most respected Hobart race old salts was puzzled with his mates reply.

'No Greg with respect what I want is a real offshore race yach.t. BALKIN said.

They searched the market together and bought the proven performer Corum.

There was an enormous sense of personal pride when Michael BALKIN steered Corum into her Mooloolah River marina pen for the first time.

That pride will be further enhanced when Corum heads south to her home port of Mooloolaba with The Courier Mail Cup safely stowed in the nav-nook.

After the Corum crew tensioned the sails in the opening seconds of the race on Good Friday morning they spoke about the importance of the fun factor.

'If you are not interested in having fun you can't wear a Corum race shirt.' BALKIN said.

Sure fun was a priority but Michael BALKIN and sailing master Greg GILLIAM had some serious sailors on board including the helming talent of Mal WHITE, Jeremy LEITCH and David TURTON.

Their collective skills put a successful touch on the fun factor when the crew of the Mumm 36 Corum beat the equally well sailed Heaven Can Wait (Peter HOLLIS) and Sirromet Life Style Wine (Michael SPIES) for the honour and the pleasurable experience of being a winner of the famed Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race trophy.

It's a great feeling and one I remember so well although it was 46 Easters ago when the little English built yawl Mouse Of Malham won the race in 1960.

Mouse initially built for the then Lieutenant John ILLINGWORTH the inaugural winner of the Sydney Hobart race was also a fun boat but in comparison the little yawl was not fast but she still managed to beat the 1959 Sydney Hobart champion Cherana and win The Courier-Mail Cup after a marathon 308 n/ml voyage lasting 94 hours 23 minutes 28 seconds.

Ian GRANT
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