SOS performs in Gladstone

IAN Thomson’s bid to break the world record for a solo voyage around Australia is well and truly on track after a commendable hit out in the Brisbane to Gladstone.

The Brisbane to Gladstone race committee allowed Thomson to sail solo alongside the race fleet and he repaid the faith, upstaging many of his fully manned counterparts.

Thomson completed the epic course in about 32 hours – putting him just seven minutes behind current Australian IRC champion Arcadia – on a total of about 20 minutes sleep.

The Whitsunday Sailing Club stalwart was rapped with what was more or less a training run.

“It was always going to be slow out of the bay sailing solo but I exited Moreton Bay in around 20th place,” Thomson said of his start to the blue water classic.

“Once I had a chance to launch the spinnaker it was off and running and we quickly swallowed up the boats around us and were pulling in the Farr 40’s.”

Although Thomson finished before many of his competitors, he might have finished quicker.

Concerns over his limited preparation time with SOS however, forced the solo skipper to take a cautious, responsible approach.

“[On the first night] I chose to sail conservatively with a headsail only so had three boats [pass] me only to get them on day two on the way to Lady Elliott Island,” Thomson said.

“After that I once again throttled back, having decided I had proved everything I needed to and sailed home comfortably.”

After completing the race and arriving in Gladstone on Saturday night, Thomson took a couple of days to recuperate before getting back on board SOS to sail her to her Airlie Beach home port.

He expects to berth at Abel Point Marina today before continuing preparations for next month’s circumnavigation of Australia.

That preparation will include racing in the Wednesday night twilight races and as part of the race fleet in the Great Barrier Reef Sales Challengers’ Cup before leaving in the first week of May.

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