A big smile from Townsville's Wayne MILLAR and cheers from his crew as he heard confirmation of Berrimilla's finish, just on 4pm race time. Race Director Tony EVANS has declared Zoe the provisional IMS winner of the 2003 race.
Terry MULLEN'S Fitness First Sting is second and Ichi Ban third, subject to protest. Millar comments, 'Obviously a great race for us, I've been coming to Lord Howe for 20 years. We've done at lot of races and this is a welcome break from the seconds and thirds.'
Recounting the race, 'We had a lucky start, we managed to squeeze past the melee and missed the pin by 30-40mm, and then we were away. The Sydney 41 loves hard weather and we had plenty of that. Twelve hours of pounding upwind, shuddering over waves.
Our regular navigator Will OXLEY is a marine scientist and an experienced weatherman. He was involved with the Swedish America's Cup campaign and he placed us perfectly on the track. While the bigger boats were pushing 3 knots of current we were doing tens and elevens over the ground for the first 12 hours.
About 1am, it started to free up, we changed to a blast reacher, then a jib top, then to the 30/20 which blew out, then we carried our 1.5 ounce and full main as the weather built.
We'd been out the day before the race on Pittwater and we did about 50 tacks and 50 gybes, knowing that we'd probably only do one gybe in this race, but it would be in heavy weather. It was, we gybed our 1.5, carrying full main in 38 knots. Conditions stayed strong for a long time and our best speed was 21.8 knots as the swells evened out.
I have to say all the guys did really well; the boat was beautifully prepared by Mark VICKERS. Our four local Gosford sailors sailed really well. Peter BAILEY (who sailed on Decimator, B52 and Zoe), Brad BELL (who sailed with Millar to Lord Howe in 1993) and veteran Brian HANSEN, have all sailed to Lord Howe with me over the years and Jason BROWNE, the new guy did really well too. We look forward to many more.'
This was the eleventh time Millar has competed in the Gosford to Lord Howe race. In 1998 he sailed his Sydney 41 B-52 into second place on IMS handicap. On Zoe, he had a second in IMS in 2001 and a third in 2002.
In the PHS Divsion today, Sorine still leads Seriously Ten with Delta Wing third. Final results in this division will be declared this morning.