Skipper unfazed by prospect of snail-paced sail race
WHAT else could the skipper of last year’s recordbreaking Sydney to Hobart boat say to his counterpart aboard the boat which finished last several days later when they finally caught up this week?
‘‘Good luck,’’ WildOatsXI captain Mark Richards said when he caught up with David Kent, the captain of 9m tiddler Gillawa this week prior to them both setting out again on Boxing Day.
Around four days separ- ated the two boats last year when Wild Oats XI established the new line honours benchmark of 1 day 18 hours 40 minutes 1 second.
While the new record holder arrived in the early hours of December 28, Gillawa, which has finished last in the previous two races, chugged across the line in more sedate fashion, late on January 1.
Last year Gillawa improved its time by eight hours.
‘‘They (the big boats) cost me a fortune in antidepressants because when we’re going out for the start we’re going along at six knots and they are doing about 18 to 20,’’ Kent joked.
The Canberra-based skipper has promised to shout the bar should he cross the line before the new year.
However if he doesn’t the crew of six, made up of ‘three rookies and three regulars’aboard Gillawa are bound to find a novel way to see in 2007 based on their experience of previous years.
‘‘Last year we had a fancy dress party. There was no breeze, we couldn’t do anything,’’ Kent said. ‘‘We just said to the crew ‘make up a costume, come out and we’ll parade around’.
‘‘We sang (the Split Enz song) SixMonthsinaLeaky Boat and we had a little bit of champagne each, we had a bit of a sing and a giggle and that boosted morale.
I started singing Auld Lang Syne and a huge wave came up over the boat and smashed me right in the face and that was the end of that.’’
While his boat finished last across the line in the past two years, it did at least make the finish, unlike almost half the fleet in 2004.
‘‘There were 59 boats that finished (in 2004), 57 retired. We were the 59th, so as far as we’re concerned, we beat 57,’’ Kent said.