Skip­per un­fazed by prospect of snail-paced sail race

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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 re­mem­ber

in

2004,

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.

David Kent

Townsville Bul­letin

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