SPORT — Yalumba Sail Paradise begins in perfect conditions


Sail Paradise, Australia’s newest regatta, got underway in spectacular fashion off the Gold Coast yesterday (Sunday) with perfect sailing conditions, clear skies, stunning scenery and an abundance of sea life welcoming the five divisions of racing boats.

Organisers said the bulk of the fleet sailed a stimulating 30nm passage race along the Gold Coast shoreline, from the start off Main Beach, south to marks off Burleigh Heads and Cook Island — on the Queensland/NSW border — then back to the finish. The seas were smooth and the breeze came from the east-northeast at between eight and 12kts. The fact that the wind kept changing direction by up to 15 degrees
meant crews were kept busy with sail changes along the entire distance.

There was plenty of high praise for the event when the sailors returned to Southport Yacht Club for post-race celebrations. Apart from the very satisfying sailing experience they had enjoyed, they were talking of the magnificent scenery — stretching from the Gold Coast’s famous beaches through the magnificent hinterland, which forms the backdrop for the coastline. They were also amazed by the amount of sea life they had seen. Hardly a yacht didn’t have dolphins cavorting in the bow wave at some stage; there were incredible schools of small stingrays seen just below the surface, and plenty of turtles, including one that was the size of a small table.

The star of the on-water show, Peter Harburg’s Grand Prix level racer, Black Jack, with Mark ‘Squark’ Bradford as sailing master, lived up to expectations in the IRC Division 1 results by taking the double; line and handicap honours. The other big boat in the fleet, Bruce Absolon’s Volvo 60, Spirit of the Maid, struggled in the light conditions. She finished second across the line, 40 minutes in arrears.

Local yachtsman Matt Percy, whose Beneteau 44.7 cruiser/racer, Alacrity, was second on corrected time to Black Jack by just 23 seconds, was ruing the fact that a botched start probably cost him top honours on handicap in Division 1. In third place was colourful Queensland offshore sailor Bob Robinson with his Farr 40, Cracklin’ Rosie.

In IRC Division 2 John Hall’s Whisper Four was the winner while another local yacht, Four Love (Sean Allardice) won Division 3 Performance racing.

The cruising yachts sailed a 15nm course to a turning mark off the surf-line at Burleigh Heads then back to Main Beach. Farrst 1 (Tony Horkings) was the winner on handicap.

Yalumba Sail Paradise has as additional sponsors: Fujitsu Air Conditioning, OAMPS marine insurance brokers, Gold Coast City Council, Gold Coast Tourism, XXXX, and Stocklands.