Race veteran has sights on victory
MACKAY sailing legend Bob Thomas is plotting a course that could lead to glory in the annual Sydney to Hobart race.
And he certainly knows what it's going to take - the race stalwart knows the Tasman like the back of his hand.
With a staggering 67 Hobart races between them, Thomas and his AFR Midnight Rambler crew mates are quietly confident of a top effort in this year's chapter of the world renowned race.
Thomas, navigator of the 40-footer, said the boat will be one to watch come Boxing Day.
"This is a boat that has every chance of winning the race and we will leave no stone unturned," he said.
In a week that sees many slow down and unwind, the AFR Midnight Rambler crew will be working round the clock. Every day between now and Boxing day will be spent fine tuning the thoroughbred vessel.
"We have a full week of prep," Thomas said.
"We have two pages of jobs to do on the boat, we will go over everything, inspecting the boat from bow to stern, from the top of mast to bottom of keel."
He said the crew would nit-pick the boat, "checking every single fitting."
Casting off a week from today, Thomas said he was almost certain the race would start with northerly winds.
"We will beat out of the harbour to north, then have a spinnaker run down the coast," he said.
"It's certainly going to be a quick start."
Thomas said the way the forecast was looking, it would be very quick race down the coast.
"There is a possibility of setting a race record this year, that may change but not too much," he said.
This year's race is Thomas's 24th Sydney to Hobart.
He said winning the prestigious ocean event in 1998 was his highlight, but he is quietly confident of another big win.
"We've always used second hand boats, that's all we could afford," he said.
"But this is our first new boat, it has a good pedigree, we've had a first and second in past two ocean races in Sydney."
Asked if the crew would enjoy a relaxing rum en-route, Thomas said there was no time to drink during the race.
"It's a dry run down, but we make up for it when we get to Hobart," he said.
- First Queenslander to win Sydney-Hobart race.
- Won every east coast offshore race (at least one).
- Won Lord Howe Island race twice.
- Won Sydney to Mooloolaba race twice.
- Won Sydney-Gold Coast yacht race.
- Completed in 23 Sydney to Hobarts.
- Aiming to be first Queenslander to do 25 Sydney-Hobarts.