As a new RPAYC member, this was Top Gunsfirst major ocean Race under the RPAYC flag.
Its always hard to know how someone else would react given the same situation.
Even more so when someone "hands you the keys" to their stunningly prepared and well known 50ft ocean racing catamaran "Top Gun" with the caveat of ensuring that she got to her destination safe and sound.
This is the situation I found myself in February 2019 when Darren Drew announced that due to family commitments he was unable to do the B2G this year and that I was very much in the hot seat for the 2019 Brisbane to Gladstone. A massive honour to be sure and indeed an accurate measure of Darren's commitment to the Multihull class and sailing in general to allow the boat to compete without him present.
I was very fortunate that due to Darren's preparation and organisation, there was very little to do prior to the race and it would be fair to say that "Top Gun" has never looked nor performed better at any stage of her now 30 year career.
I was incredibly lucky to be joined for this race by Top Gun regulars Chris Flanagan and Tim Shipton and we were navigated faultlessly by none other than multiple B2G winner Jamie Morris of Simply the Best and Flat Chat fame.
The morning of the race arrived with all of the weather models nearly aligned and the promise of good pressure and very little if any wind forward of the beam.
We arrived at the start line with plenty of time until the gun and a clear plan to be conservative for the initial part of the race.
It was incredible to see Karl Kwok’s, Trimaran MOD70 "Beau Geste" preparing for the start rolling through from 1 reef to 2 reefs and at full mast cant. I can assure you that the start line appears a lot smaller with one of these boats on the line. 4 or 5 would have been awe inspiring!
At the start gun it became very apparent that I had taken our conservative plan a little too much to heart and had placed us at the leeward(massively non favoured) end, 3 boat lengths short of the line and worse still directly on the leeward bow of the MOD70 who were mirroring our conservative approach! Regardless we accelerated well and after a well executed gybe set at Fisheries, we found ourselves in company with Cosmo(a big shout out for blazing the start) down the short run.
After a trouble free rounding back at the start mark, we enjoyed a fast flat water reach with our small spinnaker and full main sitting on 20 knots most times towards the next turning mark off Scarborough. Rush Hour gave us a look into the future rolling past both us and Morticia using their masthead screecher in the first half of this leg probably travelling as much as 5 knots quicker as they passed by to windward.
Fortunately the breeze softened and went aft in the back end of this leg allowing us to squeeze past both these boats prior to the turning mark although the resultant spinnaker drop had us level pegging with Rush Hour as we started the very fast tight 2 sail reach across to Tangalooma regularly sitting on 25 knots with a peak speed of 27.4 knots. It was across this leg that our boat speed was a constant allowing us to step away from "Rush Hour" and was also when we rolled through the majority of the monohull fleet who had all started an hour before us and a few miles further up the track in deeper water. Bearing away at M8 in one of the many squalls had us just behind the Farr40 "Crankster" and the Nelson Marek 46 "Aurics Quest" with only the 50+ footers left to catch.
The run to Caloundra was reasonably uneventful and offered superb VMG running conditions that TG really enjoyed using her full size spinnaker and full main. We battled to catch the 50ft "Kerumba" and 54ft "Active Again" in the sometimes lighter conditions but managed to jump from cloud to cloud very effectively to put some very good time on our closest multihull rivals "Rush Hour" and "Morticia" and allowing us to exit the bay in a clear 2nd multihull on the water position behind the impressive 70 foot Tri, Beau Guest who really are in league of their own.. Worth noting at this point of the race, Yellow Brick standings had us very comfortably leading on OMR and PHS and clearly in second place on the water.