New Gold Coast regatta a hit

Rob Mundle reports from Sail Paradise

Friday January 15th 2010, Author: Rob Mundle, Location: United Kingdom
The inaugural Sail Paradise series off the Gold Coast could not have ended on a higher note last night with high praise for the event flowing freely, and the $5000 prize draw going to the most worthy of recipients.

The outright winner of IRC Division 1 was one of Australia’s offshore sailing legends, Bob ‘Sir Robbo’ Robinson, with his Brisbane-based Farr 40, Crackling Rosie. With four wins, a second and a third in the six races, Robinson claimed victory over Matt Percy’s Gold Coast entry, Alacrity, by four points. Peter Harburg’s magnificent canting-keel 66-footer, Black Jack was third. Black Jack also claimed the ‘Gun Boat’ trophy in emphatic fashion, her crew sailing a near-flawless series.

Robinson’s win had a tinge of déjà-vu to it. Some 20 years ago he won Southport Yacht Club’s inaugural XXXX series sailing another 40ft Farr design, Queensland Maid.

Sail Paradise, which had Yalumba as naming rights sponsor, was the culmination of a new east coast offshore circuit that started with Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s Pittwater to Coffs race on January 2. This was followed by two events staged by Southport Yacht Club, the 150-nautical mile Coffs to Paradise race, then Sail Paradise, which involved four days of spectacular racing along the Gold Coast’s long ribbon of golden beaches.

The accolades from competitors confirmed the title ‘Sail Paradise’ was more than appropriate. The courses and sailing conditions were perfect: the wind ranged from 8 to 20 knots over the four days. And every day there was an abundance of sea life adding to the scene - dolphins, turtles, large schools of fish and flying fish. If there was a complaint it was that there was almost too much sun!

"This can become the biggest regatta in Australia," said Peter Harburg when he stepped ashore from Black Jack at Southport Yacht Club. "We are out there sailing on a beautiful, clear blue ocean while looking at majestic beaches and stunning scenery through to the hinterland. It’s paradise."

Harburg’s sailing master, well-known America’s Cup yachtsman and sailmaker, Mark ‘Squark’ Bradford, endorsed his owner’s sentiments: "Sail Paradise has all the attributes needed to make it a truly great regatta."

Prior to yesterday’s final race - a 20-miler between Main Beach and Burleigh Heads - Harburg took time out to take Australia’s international motor racing legend, Sir Jack Brabham, for a sail aboard Black Jack, which is named in his honour.

Last night’s Sail Paradise trophy presentation could not have had a more fitting finale when local parliamentarian and Leader of the Opposition in Queensland, John-Paul Langbroek, announced that the winner of the $5000 lucky draw for competing yachts at Sail Paradise was Ocean Mentor, the Sydney 32 class yacht that had been given to the club by philanthropist Peter Teakle, for a youth training program. The money will be used to further enhance the program.

Other division winners at Sail Paradise were: Cruising – Farrst 1 (Tony Horkings); Performance Racing – Four Love (Sean Allardice); Division 1 PHS – Alacrity (Matt Percy); IRC Division 2 – Corum (Geoff Anderson). Alacrity was awarded the Pittwater to Paradise perpetual trophy for the highest total score across all three events.

Southport Yacht Club commodore, Neale Hollier, said the success of the inaugural Yalumba Sail Paradise meant that it was now a permanent fixture on the east coast sailing calendar.

"The feedback from competitors has exceeded our highest expectations," said Commodore Hollier. "The weather, sailing conditions, courses, scenery and Southport Yacht Club hospitality made for an exceptional regatta. Next year’s Coffs to Paradise and Sail Paradise events are already in the planning stage."

Yalumba Sail Paradise was also supported by Fujitsu air conditioning, Gold Coast City Council, Gold Coast Tourism, OAMPS insurance brokers, XXXX and Stocklands.

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