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The officials of Queensland Cruising Yacht Club, at Shorncliffe in Brisbane, deserve the prizes for finally running a successful 2011 Surf to City Yacht Race on last Saturday March 5. Fears of collision with flood driven debris (boats, restaurants, pontoons, water tanks, logs, gas cylinders…) sensibly delayed the event from late January until now, so you would think Mother Nature would smile on race director Nigel Statham after all the work he had put in to making this the best ever with nearly 100 nominations. But no, a gale warning due to a compressed weather system forced the cancellation of the offshore fleet, keen to get some crew training hours up for the upcoming series of long passage races and the Brisbane to Gladstone race.
This unique event usually has an offshore and inshore fleet going north outside (and inside) South and North Stradbroke Islands, and Moreton Islands, from Southport to Sandgate. So this year the big deep draft monohulls missed out altogether, although there was a suggestion that the biggest boat in the fleet, BlackJack, could have kept her keel canted throughout the race to slip over the 2 metre shallows in the race that we affectionately call the “drain run”. Most of the offshore multihulls did join the inshore race, adding to the spectacle when some of the 45 by 30 foot boats were trying to squeeze past the earlier starting monohulls in the confines of Jacobs Well and Stieglitz channel. Special mention goes to Mike Hodges on Renaissance who ordered the crew into the mud to lift 8 tonnes of catamaran backwards from west of Russell Island.
The breeze inshore started with 10-15 knots from the south and built during the day to many bullets of 35 with highest measured being 41 knots, so the excitement built as the race progressed. There were plenty of groundings, broken rudders and keels, masts down, blown sails, capsizes, with the worst sadly resulting in Steve North’s well-campaigned RL 24 Go For It still out there after the crew abandoned their sinking boat out in the open bay.
The winners get the usual gongs, but standout performances were from:
  • The Ben Leigh-Smith driven Vivace taking out the monohull course record.
  • The little Blazer Still Crazy that beat Vivace on corrected time, always seemingly under spinnaker.
  • Peter Kerr pushing his gorgeous 1962 Tasman Seabird Pagan all the way under kite in a display of power-sailing that would make every long-haired skiffy proud. These guys even ran a blooper early in the race, even though some of the crew were not born when these sails were last used. 
  • Joel Berg and the boys on AYS Raider showing how fast a cat can run, and nearly cracking the course record.

The Winners

Div3 PHRF Jessandra, Roland Dane
Div 2 PHRF Still Crazy, Peter Lahey
SMS Div PHRF Stage 3, Michael Pitt
RL 24 Dipsomaniac, Rohan Little
Inshore B Monohull Pagan, Peter Kerr
Inshore Multihull OMR AYS Raider, Joel Berg
Inshore Multihull PHRF Fritz the Cat, Martin Arrowsmith
Inshore B Multihull OMR Rhythmic, Phil Day
Inshore B Multihull PHRF Rhythmic, Phil Day

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