'B52' on a mission at Hamilton Island

THREE months after finishing second on handicap in the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race, 'B52' is being readied for her next major assignment during August.

The flagship of Holiday Coast Yachting will chase honours in the world-renowned Hamilton Island Race series and owners Steve Brown and Paul D'Olier will test themselves against the biggest yachts and leading yachtsmen and women from around the globe. Unlike the 250 nautical mile dash of the Pittwater, 'B52' will contest seven days of short course racing and two 60 nautical mile events, again with a Coffs-based crew on board. "If I can teach a bunch of guys basic skills and pull off second place in the local race, they should be able to learn techniques to be competitive in the Hamilton Island,' sailing instructor and skipper Paul D'Olier said. "We've organised regular training on and off the boat and specialist training in the sailing school." D'Olier said sailing 'B52' is not unlike sailing a complex small aircraft. "It's a very technical boat which makes it a great boat to learn to sail on," he said. "Don't think it's only about hoisting the sails and pulling the ropes tight or loose as the wind allows. "The yachties learn to flatten a sail to meet a certain wind or change the shape of the mast to accomodate the different sails that are needed." And teamwork is the crucial ingredient, not unlike a game of rugby league. "A footy team needs a halfback, winger or five-eighth, just as a complex racing yacht needs a headsail trimmer, mainsail trimmer or foredeck hand," D'Olier explained. "Each team player has their position and have to be well trained to meet the needs of the other players and be fit enough to endure what Mother Nature dishes out." From April 22, 'B52' will take to sea for regular Sunday training sessions with the crew refreshing their skills and sail handling. "Once the guys are proficient we'll get out some spinnakers and really get 'B52' flying down some rolling waves, just like she will on the down wind leg of a race," the skipper said. Ocean racing fans can follow preparations for the Hamilton Island Race series on the team website www.holidaycoastyachting.com.au

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