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Soft wind forecast for Gladstone race    
Fri, 14 Apr 2006

Light unstable winds will force the 48 skippers to rethink their race strategy when they line up for the start of the 58th Brisbane to Gladstone race off Sandgate’s historical pier at 11 am today.

The high standard fleet including race record holder Victorian super maxi Skandia which recorded an impressive 15.09 knot average when she wave surfed over the 308 n/ml course in 2004 will struggle to finish within 10 hours of her 20 hour 24 minute 50 second record.

Wind recordings of a 4 knot North East sea breeze at the Spitfire Channel near the entrance to Moreton Bay and calms along the Redcliffe Peninsula will combine to present the fleet with a supreme test to maintain a respectable boat speed over the tricky 42 nautical miles before reaching more reliable winds on the open ocean when they weather the Fairway Buoy of Caloundra.

Fortunately the fleet will have some assistance with an outgoing tide but when that changes to flood in at four some of the slower yachts like the 1968 Sydney Hobart winner Koomooloo (Mike Freebairn) and the 41 year old Gladstone sloop Wistari (Scott Patrick) could have their race handicap winning chances eliminated.

Easter in mid April is notorious for slower races and all the weather signs are clearly evident to indicate progress will be slow before a promised 20/25 knot southerly change blows onto the South Queensland coast late on Saturday.

Skandia with her advantage of sail power and waterline length will dominate the race for line honours but her charter skipper Kerry Spencer who held a burning ambition to break the record will struggle to beat his personal best when he steered the smaller pocket maxi Bobsled to her race record time of 21-59-43 13 years ago.

by Ian Grant

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