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Traditional History - Sydney to Mooloolaba

by Ian Grant on 11 Feb 2000
Traditional history has played a big role in establishing the Sydney to Mooloolaba ocean race as one of Australia’s premier blue water yacht racing classics.
The popular event originally launched as the Sydney to Brisbane race 36 years ago by a trailblazing group of Middle Harbour Yacht Club Flag Officers and strategically moved to a Mooloolaba finish line in 1973 has survived the test of time.
Many of the modern day owners crews and officials would be unaware of the early race challenges which were faced by the enterprising seafarers who set personal pride aside to race in the Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs major ocean race to Queensland.
Respected master sailors from the 1960 era laid the foundation for classic race which has attracted all of the Nations best to test their personal skills and endurance on a course that has produced hidden challenges over the past 37 years.
Racing log entries from the early races highlight the determined struggle which the veteran sailors faced when they sailed into an unknown challenge against natures elements.
Old Salts Geoff Foster, Frank Likely, Horrie Godden, Jim Mason, Peter Kurts and the modern day media magnate Rupert Murdoch all raced in small fleets of four to twelve yachts between 1964 and 1972 showing their personal faith in building the history of this great ocean race.
They were the trailblazers facing some impossible challenges particularly when calms provided little wind power to stem the notorious Great Eastern Current which was measured to run south at four knots and spread in a range from 1-40 nautical miles offshore.
Naturally times were slow when adverse wind and current prevailed with the Vince Walsh skippered Southern Cross Cup champion Boambillie taking a mind bending 145 hours 21 minutes 4 seconds to complete the 1969 race.
Hard tack rations of tucker from a tin and the usual 1700 hour toddy of Bundaberg Rum were running low when Boambillie finally crossed the finish line.
There has also been the occasion of high drama with crew washed overboard and recovered, yachts running aground while the 13.1m sloop Rajah burned and later sank during a dramatic crew rescue off Hungry Head near Coffs Harbour in 1977.
Race times have naturally changed with the more modern racing yachts but the history will remain for ever to firmly place the Sydney-Mooloolaba ocean race on record as one of the Nations major blue water events.
However new history will be made when this years race starts with The Cruising Yacht Club Of Australia becoming the combined host with the Mooloolaba Yacht Club.
CYCA of Sydney well respected for their promotion of the Telstra Sydney-Hobart and Sydney to Gold Coast races will generate experience and enthusiasm into the future of the race which is well recognised as a demanding challenge for offshore yachts , skippers and crews.
As expected another very competitive fleet headed by George Snow’s race record holder Brindabella and the 1999 CUB Brisbane Gladstone line honours champion Nortruss G Wizz (Ross Rayner) are among the early entries for the race starting on Saturday April 15.
By: Ian Grant

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