Stars afloat

Cathy Freeman and Kostya Tszyu join Nicorette and Bumblebee 5 in Canon Big Boat Challenge

Friday December 14th 2001, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: United Kingdom
Two of Australia's biggest sporting stars took time out today to undertake some physical training of a different kind.
Kostya Tszyu, the undisputed Super Lightweight Boxing Champion of the World and Olympic Gold Medallist Cathy Freeman were on the grinders aboard racing yachts Nicorette and Bumblebee 5, two of the high profile entries in the Canon Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour.

Kostya spent most of the 14 nautical mile harbour course on the grinders of Ludde Ingvall's 80-footer Nicorette, last year's Telstra Sydney Hobart Race line honours winner and first over the line in today's race.

Cathy Freeman was also called on to be part of the action before sitting on the rail to casually chat with the crew of John Kahlbetzer's IMS racer Bumblebee 5.

Two of yachting's stars - America's Cup skippers John Bertrand and Iain Murray - were also part of the Bumblebee 5 crew. John Bertrand is the chairman of a charity set up to raise money for the victims of the Port Arthur massacre and at a recent fundraising auction, Cathy Freeman was the highest bidder for a day's sailing with Bertrand on Sydney Harbour.

"This is what this day is all about," said skipper Iain Murray, "bringing other people to our sport and letting the world know about it."

George Snow's Brindabella, which finished second over the line a minute and a half behind the Swedish maxi, led the fleet for most of the race until he was luffed by Nicorette in behind Shark Island on the second downwind leg.

"The Big Boat Challenge is a great day for the people of Sydney and it does show the good boats that have a chance at line honours [in the Sydney Hobart Race]," said George at the post-race press conference.

Brindabella was lucky to be on the start line given that her huge mainsail, which was badly torn in yesterday's British Trophy Series race, was only delivered by speedboat to the maxi just over an hour before the 12.30pm start after repaired overnight.

Third over the line was Sean Langman's 66-footer Grundig, which spent most of the Canon Big Boat Challenge snapping at the transom of Brindabella but never looked threatening for line honours.

The 60-foot harbour racer Another Duchess (Bob Oatley) finished first on corrected time with Brindabella second and last year's handicap winner Aftershock (Colin O'Neil) in third place.

The impressive fleet of 12 maxis and pocket maxis enjoyed light nor'easterly breezes and long spinnaker rides over the course, which took them twice around the harbour to the finish off the Opera House.

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