Dynamite crew gun for gold
Clontarf developer Don Richardson will have a top-flight combination of boat, crew and runners for this weekend's MMI 3 Ports race, in more ways than one.
His prototype yacht, built to a revolutionary explosive technique known as HERF (high energy rate forming), is aptly-named Gelignite.
The boat's aluminium hull was literally blown into its final form by high-powered explosives, an American technique used mainly for forming nose cones of missiles and aircraft.
Richardson needed a crew to match his high-tech yacht and enlisted the expert services of seven RAAF personnel as sailors and runners for the unusual race.
"Aerospace technology was applied to the boat-building pro-cess and I was looking for an outstanding crew to compete in the MMI 3 Ports race - the idea was to continue the aerospace connection," Richardson said.
The race, in its third year, starts at Manly Wharf today with runners completing a 10km run to Middle Harbour Yacht Club before the 67-strong fleet sets sail for Bundeena, at Port Hacking. The runners then enjoy a scenic 14km run through the Royal National Park.
The toughest sailing leg, a 35-nautical mile sprint up the coast to Patonga, Broken Bay, is followed by a gruelling run 32km through the Gosford shire before the boats sprint back to the finish at Middle Harbour Yacht Club.
Gelignite's RAAF team members, according to Squadron Leader Evan Johnston, are "top guns" in their respective fields.
Johnston and Flight Sergeant Peter Jones, Aircraftsman Andrew Fleming and Leading Aircraftsman Doug Grierson are all keen offshore sailors and have several Sydney to Hobart races to their credit.
They will join skipper Richard-son and fellow sailor Hugh Cam-eron on deck while three RAAF physical instructors and ultra marathoners - Sergeant Jerry Hallinan, Sergeant Peter Doran and Corporal Bruce SandÂ¬ers - will be carbohydrate-loading below. Johnston, who is the senior catering officer at the William-town RAAF base, has been ordered by the three runners to put pasta and honey on the menu.
"They don't eat any meat or protein at all for something like this and they specially asked for plain pasta and honey," Johnston said.
On paper, the speedy Gelignite looks to be an outstanding prospect to win the arbitrary division of the 3 Ports race. However, there is one factor that could wreak havoc with the team's plans - the weather.
"If a howling southerly comes up anything could happen," Richardson said. "Our runners haven't sailed offshore before. We'll just have to hope the seasickness tablets work."
Richardson and his crew have decided "flat out all the way" is the only strategy for the race.
"Although this is only a new boat, I've already had some good placings with it," Richardson said. "It has proved to be very strong and very safe and because it is made out of aluminium it has great export potential for Australia. In its raw form, aluminium sells at $2,000 a tonne, whereas it would be worth $40,000 a tonne in a boat."