Hobart pair squares off in 57th race to Gladstone



TWO former Sydney-Hobart racewinning crews head an impressive fleet to contest the 57th Brisbane to Gladstone race starting off the historic Sandgate Pier at 11am on Good Friday, March 25.

Mackay navigator Bob Thomas who safely plotted the course for AFR Midnight Rambler to sail through the violent Bass Strait storm to win in 1998 will test his proven tactical talent against 2003 Hobart race champion First National Real Estate skippered by Michael Spies of Sydney.

Both crews have previously raced over the tricky 308 nautical mile course without success.

However AFR Midnight Rambler and First National Real Estate are among the early favourites in a fleet which has attracted a very competitive standard representing clubs from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Gladstone sloop Wistari, winner of four races (1971, 1976, 1977, 1982), will be the oldest yacht in the fleet she will celebrate her 40th year of ocean racing by recording another strong performance with her second generation Patrick family skipper Scott at the helm.

Wistari with her owner-builder the late Noel Patrick as skipper won all her races in moderate to fresh south-east spinnaker sailing winds and her new young crew is hoping for these conditions to prevail over the Easter weekend.

A strong wind forecast would also suit the small Lake Macquarie sloop Tow Truck (Anthony Paterson) in its bid to win the Mumm 30 class match race against Gladstone husband and wife Jeff and Janet Paul in Immigrant.

Both crews have entered the 469 nautical mile Sydney-Mooloolaba Race starting on Wednesday and will be race tuned for the clash which will decide Australia's fastest 30-foot (9.43m) ocean racing sloop after 777 nautical miles of physically tough offshore sailing.



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