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Sydney to Mooloolaba Yacht Race 1979

LocationSydney to Mooloolaba
ClubMiddle Harbour Yacht Club
Year Held From/To1979

Sydney to Mooloolaba Yacht Race 1979


KA70 Ragamuffin at the Start

Sixteenth Ampol Sydney to Brisbane Yacht Race 

The sixteenth Ampol Sydney to Brisbane Race starts in Middle Harbour at 3.00 p.m. on Wednesday April 4, 1979 and at the time of writing, we have thirty-three yachts entered ranging in size from Warwick Rooklyn's "Apollo" and "Casablanca", skippered by George Mottle, to Mike Green's quarter tonner "Evergreen". We hope that late entries will ensure that last year's record of thirty-three starters will be passed.

There is now no question that the race is one of Australia's major yachting classics and the faith of former Commodore Horrie Godden in approaching Brisbane Lord Mayor Clem Jones to be associated with an annual race from Sydney to Brisbane, is fully justified.

Early races attracted only six or eight entries and it was 1972 before the number of entries reached double figures. A southerly gale blew for most of the 1972 race which was followed by the Gladstone Race with Cyclone Emily scattering the fleet causing many retirements. These included your scribe who took refuge in Mooloolaba and subsequent discussions with John McFarlane, Commodore of the recently formed Mooloolaba Yacht Club and Peter Hopwood, builder and owner of "Harmony" (which won the 1972 Gladstone Race) led to the transfer of the finish from Brisbane to Mooloolaba.

While this transformed the race, the work of Queensland Cruising Yacht Club in the early years must not be forgotten. With minimum facilities, they finished races off Sandgate at all hours and escorted competitors up the hazards of Cabbage Tree Creek to Clem Masters' boatshed.

A Mooloolaba finish took away the influence of Moreton Bay tides which had greatly altered positions and produced a festive atmosphere at the yacht club which had not previously been available. Word spread and fleets have since grown dramatically. What of the race itself? The East Australian current or southerly set is a major factor. Basically, this means that competitors must hug the coast where the opposing current is less, being ruled by commonsense not to hazard their yachts. This is naturally a test of navigator's skill as they tack into bays and round headlands if a north easter is blowing or watch the coast fly past in a southerly. Because of their nearness to the shore, the beauties of the New South Wales and Queensland coast are seen in close relief and there are many memories of Smoky Cape and other features in the morning light. With the fleet strung along the shore, many competitors are in view and the writer has counted eighteen yachts visible at once. Friendly personal rivalries come to the fore adding greatly to the interest of the event.

Fastest time to date is 45 hours by "Helsal" in a southerly gale in 1976 but similar conditions could see this record broken. Early races took up to a week and in 1977, light conditions again prevailed with some competitors taking over six days, some of them anchoring at times to avoid being set backward by the current.

The Ampol Brisbane Race is the final race in the Ampol Tasman Sea Trophy - the principal prize being a sailing jumper for each crew member of the winning yacht. This year, Sid Yaffe's "Patsy" from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Jim Robson-Scott in "Fair Dinkum" and "Flight", skippered by Geoff Lamble (both from the Alfreds) are contenders, together with Jim Orrell's "Pride of Oleron" from Port Hacking.

To all competitors in the 1979 Ampol Sydney to Bris-bane Race, we wish fair sailing and every success.


MHYC Log May 1979

This year's Ampol Brisbane Race was started by Sir Percy Joske from Tom Bryant's luxury cruiser BAN-YANDAH in beautiful weather, with George Mottle's CASABLANCA winning the start and leading the fleet of 35 yachts out of the Heads. While the easterly breeze prevented the use of spinnakers which would have added colour to the scene, if was a picturesque sight as the yachts tacked for position with John Garner also prominent in CONSTELLATION.

Light conditions prevailed almost throughout and it was only in the last thirty miles from Cape Moreton to the finish that some yachts had to shorten sail when hit by thunderstorms. An unusual feature of the race was that some yachts found better breeze by going slightly offshore rather than hugging the coast to avoid the southerly set.

Warwick Rooklyn in APOLLO gained line honours, finishing at 1.10 p.m. on Saturday in front of a battery of television cameras 72 minutes ahead of CASABLANCA with whom she had duelled throughout the race. This is the fourth time that APOLLO has won the City of Bris-bane Trophy for gaining line honours in the race and Jack Rooklyn and son Warwick, must be congratulated for their consistency in getting the gun in this year's Hobart, Brisbane and Gladstone events. Jim Allen's FANNY ADAMS also did well to finish third across the line in her first major race.

A major duel went on among the one-tonners and the close eye-ball racing between Bart Ryan's STREAKER, Keith Le Compte in WHITE POINTER, PRYORITY, skippered by John Pryor and Peter Hankin in RELENT-LESS was probably responsible for them filling the first four places in that order. Only an hour separated these four yachts across the line and Alan Sweeney in DIAMOND CUTTER another one tonner, also did well to finish in sixth place behind first division winner, SWEET CAROLINE.

The wind seemed to lighten progressively after the early yachts had finished, pushing the smaller yachts into comparatively low places but Kendal Barry Cotter's brand new Peterson 3/4 tonner GHOST II did well to gain tenth place and win third division from Dick Perini in CORIN-THIAN, with Jim Robson Scott in FAIR DINKUM third. Predictably, the last boat to finish was Michael Green's quarter tonner EVERGREEN but she did well on handicap to finish sixth in third division, a result that would have been even better but for drifting conditions in the last twenty-four hours.

Jim Robson Scott's consistent sailing in FAIR DINKUM gained him the Ampol Tasman Sea Trophy for the second time with PRIDE OF OLERON and FLIGHT gaining second and third placings. This year, for the first time, five yachts were in contention for the Ampol trophy and jumpers and Ampol's perseverance with the series is now being rewarded. Ampol's identification with the Brisbane Race was particularly noticeable in Mooloolaba with the yachts flying the special identification burgees and the Queensland media showing keen interest in the race.

Ansett's identification with the race was most pleasing as was their notification of future involvement.

Ron Youngman and his crew in SOUTH PACIFIC did their usual impeccable job with radio reports and we are very pleased to announce that Ron will address a future members' night about cruisers and yachting - a most interesting evening is undoubtedly in store. Mooloolaba Yacht Club members and officials were their usual tireless selves and we must also express our gratitude to the many Middle Harbour members who helped with the organisation.


FIRST ON CORRECTED TIME "Streaker" - B. Ryan, H. E. Godden Memorial Trophy Mayors Cupresented by the Mayor of Mosman.

FIRST YACHT TO FINISH "Apollo" - W. Rooklyn. City of Brisbane Trophy.

NAVIGATORS TROPHY "Streaker" - B. Walpole

VIC ENGLISH TROPHY "Deception" - D. Hankin 

Complete Results

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