ln winning the 1967 Sydney to Brisbane Race. Mister Christian topped off; most successful initial season of racing with the Sydney Ocean Racing Fleet. After his win in the 1966 Brisbane to Gladstone Race, Peter Kurts had brought Mister Christian to Sydney to race in C.Y.C. events with marked success, the highlight being first in Division l of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
This year's 500 mile classic was also a triumph for designer/ builder Ron Swanson. Syonara took line honours while Mister Christian, Carinya and Syonara were placed first, second and third respectively on corrected time.
The race was sailed all the way in a gale force south-easter caused by a cyclone in the north and high seas. Syonara led all the way up the coast, pressed by Mister Christian and in the early Kurura. All crews reported exciting rides with hair-raising experience when the more venturesome attempted to carry spinnakers.
At the Caloundra Fairway buoy, with 42 miles to go, Mister Christian passed Syonara who had edged a little too far to the north in poor visibility. Ln a 35 knot sou-easter these two yachts staged a tacking duel to the East Knoll buoy, and after a neck and neck run to the finish only 54 seconds separated them as Syonara crossed the line at Sandgate in the exceptionally fast time of 3 days 4 1/2 hours.
ln the meantime the remainder of the fleet, with the exception of Kurura, were battling up the North East Channel and across the Bay, led by Frank Likely's ketch Hoi Phoon, who had made remarkable time in the run up the coast.
Hoi Phoon crossed the line third only 4 1/2hours behind the leaders. All yachts finished in a little over 8 hours, a tribute to the skill and seamanship of the crews in such strenuous conditions.
Kurura undoubtedly provided the hard luck story of the race. Off Evans Head she lost the bottom half of her rudder. As both the Evans Head and Ballina bars were closed, Kurura carried on under reduced sail and jury steering to rendezvous at Cape Moreton with the motor cruiser Sea Mist organised by the Q.C.Y.C. and was then towed to Sandgate. Although the Clubs were alerted to the possibility of rescue, Kurura, Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Queensland Cruising Yacht Club and the Department of Shipping and Transport were in constant communication through the O.T.C. Stations and Peter Prentice's yacht Safari. This co-operation prevented a normal exercise of seamanship in an emergency from becoming a dramatic incident in the public eye.
A review of the past four races shows that the average elapsed times were 1964 - 3 1/2 days in light S.E. winds, 1965 - 4 1/2 days in light N.E. and S.E. breezes, 1966 -2 3/4 days in a strong southerly and 1967 - 3 1/2 days in strong S.E. winds. This experience together with reports from yachts on return passages show that modern ocean racers should complete the course in five days or less unless long periods of calm, which are most unlikely, prevail. It has therefore been decided to start the 1968 race on the Friday before Good Friday, some six days later than in the past. This will give seven full days to complete the race and prepare for the Brisbane -- Gladstone Race which starts on Good Friday, or alternatively enable those yachts not competing in the Northern event to race to Brisbane and return with a loss of only one working week. The time required to compete in the two races will be considerably shortened, the problem of crew movements should be eased, and those cruising home from Gladstone will be able to do so in a little more leisurely fashion.
lt is anticipated that the finishing line will be near the mouth of the Brisbane River and berthing facilities and amenities are being provided near the Storey Bridge. These arrangements should make it easier for crews so far as travelling to the city, entertaining visitors and embarking stores is concerned. Also, in view of the record fleet expected, it will ease the pressure on Clem Masters yard. All past competitors have been grateful to Clem Masters for his hospitality and for his efforts in providing, amenities and shipyard facilities. At the same time all agree that while the assistance is given gladly and received gratefully, the time must come when the fleet is too large for Cabbage Tree Creek and must prove an embarrassment to our friends at Deagon and Sandgate.