Onboard Rhythmic for the Brisbane to Gladstone Multihull race
By Phil Day
It had been three years since I had last competed in the B2G race, although I did tag along with the fleet in 2008 in the cruise division and was involved in assisting with the rescue of “Dancing Emu”. So 2010 was going to be my chance to join in and make a serious attempt for a winner’ podium.
Sailing “MYSA / Rhythmic” a Pescott Whitehaven 11.1m performance cruising cat and sponsored by Multihull Yacht Sales Australia. To prepare for the race I had to do a few minor job and modifications however there was one major change I wanted to do. This was the addition of a second steering helm on the starboard side of the vessel. The reason for this is two thirds of the race the wind is on the Starboard rear quarter and it’s better steering from this windward side. Having endured many years of helming on port side stooped under the boom, unable to see the spinnaker curling or the approaching waves, it was time for a change.
Initially it was thought that the addition of a second wheel to the starboard side would be a huge job but after careful thought and design it was looking relatively straightforward and the cost would be minimal as I would complete most of the work myself. A mirror image of the port station was constructed from ply, epoxy and glass. This was all glued and assembled, faired and painted at home and then glued, glassed and faired in place on the boat. The mechanics of the system had already been designed, parts bought and machining of a steering shaft by crew member Corey Holden (first mate). Once the helm station was finished it was just a matter of assembling the shaft, sprockets and wheel and connecting to the synthetic cables. It all went together and secured in place whilst on the slipway doing my antifouling. Once back in the water the system send to work very well and after a few sea trial and cable tensioning I was happy it would work well for the Brisbane to Gladstone.
Now to attend to that never ending list of odd jobs, most boat owners can relate to this list that keeps on getting longer. I prioritised this list into must do’s for the B2G, and then a few other jobs I wanted done for our family cruise once we got to Gladstone. I was amazed how fast you can knock these jobs off once you have a deadline. There were also extra safety items we needed for the Category 2 race such as; life raft, Personal Location Beacons and strobe light for each crew member, MOB lights, Danbouy poles etc. These all needed ordering in, stowing and mounting. I had one set back less than 48 hours before race start when we went for a crew shake down sail and managed to hit a stray coral bombie and knocked off a the tip of one of the daggerboards. Not a problem it was just foam, glass and epoxy so the next day I set about remaking the board ready for the following morning’s start. It was finished in time but it had no high build epoxy paint or antifoul.
Come race day the weather was perfect, overcast with a nice 10 to 15 knot SSE. It was a spinnaker start with lots of colour and a good turn of speed to the first mark. There were plenty of spectator boats out on the water in Waterloo Bay enjoying the close up view of the Multihull fleet starting their race. It was a fantastic site with a very colourful display of spinnakers and a good turn of speed to the first mark between Green and St Helena islands. The fleet ranged from flat out racing machines such as the two Raider One Designs and Boss Racing with Garry Saxby at the helm to the more cruising orientated cats designs such as the newly launch “Lyra” a one-off home design 40’ twin headsail rig (no mainsail) which was recently featured in a few boating magazines. The extremely well sailed Seawind 1160 “Beats Workin” of Alan Larkin is a regular starter. Famous for his competitive edge and love of fine food and wine when sailing, Alan went on to win the “Best Meal on Board” award. Their Friday night meal comprised of roast lamb, potatoes and vegies with red wine gravy!
The Multihull fleet now starts just outside the entrance of Manly Boat Harbour and sails north to meet up with the Monohull race fleet that starts from their traditional home at the QCYC off the end of the Sandgate Jetty. Both fleets then meet up at Tangalooma.
Once Rhythmic was off Tangalooma on Moreton Island we were mixing with the faster monos for the work out of the bay past Bribie Island and then onto the open ocean waters. Once we rounding the Caloundra Fairway beacon we set the course for 00.00 degrees which takes you to Indian Head on Fraser Island. As always the breeze freshened when we reach out to the fairway beacon and then we beared away and pop the kite and off we went. Rhythmic quickly passed two monos on the mark then was chasing down Renaissance skippered by Mike Hodges that had worked her way to a ½ mile lead over Rhythmic. My crew onboard Rhythmic looked a bit concerned when I called to wind in the sheets as we hotted up the angle to pass a Farr 40 and catch up with the rivals ahead. This slight change in direction turned the turbo charger on and Rhythmic jumped into life doing 18 knots and was leaping off the waves and hauling in Renaissance who had reduce to No.2 spinnaker after the No. 1 blew up on the reach out to the fairway beacon. Once past Renaissance it was time to settle down for the long haul north while keeping maximum speed up without destroying gear. It was a pretty casual and non eventful run north reaching Indian Head about 0200 early Saturday morning, there were the occasional pods of Dolphins coming in to see us and have a play. At Indian Head we did have the spinnaker down for an hour while so we could make it around Indian Head but once free of the headland three other yachts moved in along side us. Once around the headland, up went the big spinnaker and we took off again leaving these boats in our wake. We later found out one of these vessels was Renaissance hot on our heels. During the night our steering started to play up and attempts to diagnose the problem were without luck. As the new day started to dawn and with fresh heads after a nap I attempted to solve the steering problem. It turned out the old helm shaft bearing was seizing up so the only way to fix the problem was to take the port wheel off, remove all the steering cables, chains and sprockets to get to the seizing axle hub. In the mean time one crew member, Richard Pock from WA. steered the boat from the short tiller arms with his feet whilst harnessed to the davits. Sounds tricky but the steering is very light & well balance and he soon had the knack of it. 45 minutes later the steering was back together and better than ever. It was now time to smoke it up and chase down the one boat that got past us in that time - the Volvo 60 “Nikon”. We never quite caught her. We ended up finishing 15 minutes behind Nikon at 16:12 on Saturday afternoon. And 3 minutes behind Cut Snake that were slowed by rudder problems.
What a great time of day to finish, before dinner and time for a few beers and rum at the sailing club before moving onto a very large counter meal. Then after dinner there was lots of mingling to be done and then there were all the tall stories to be told of each boat’s triumphs and failures etc. As the night wore on at the Port Curtis Sailing Club the crowd grew larger as more boats arrived in port. The crowd became more vocal as they tried to be heard over the laughter and b******t that was flowing so it was time for me and the crew to head back to our comfy beds aboard MYSA/Rhythmic.
The next day it was a quick clean up of the dishes, make the beds, fluff the pillows and hose the salt off the decks ready for my family to arrive in the afternoon and repack the cruising gear onboard for the following week. I was very pleased to say we had no damaged gear; there were no chaffed halyards, sheets or lines. There was not a drop or drip of water below after thundering along at warp speeds for 29 hours. What a great boat she is.
In summary the conditions were perfect for the race; the competition was eager and extremely competitive. A few of fleet did drop out due to mechanical failures but that’s a part of ocean racing and it does test your boat to limits that are not normally experienced in Moreton Bay or on coastal passages. This is a great event to trial and improve your boat and it’s systems, you don’t have to have a flat out race machine but a well sorted and set up cruiser can do the event and enjoy the experience.
I would like to thank my fantastic crew for their expertise and friendship that made this a very easy and enjoyable race and a special thanks to the MYCQ and their race committee for putting on this fabulous event and I would also like to thank all of the sponsors for their generosity and the fantastic prizes they donated. Well done and thankyou to all involved.