Mooloolaba gem in with a chance of race victory
SHANE Kearns' little Mooloolaba gem could be the next handicap winner of the 628-mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The forecast is for some heavy conditions starting from the first night out and continuing through for several days.
Kearns' 34-foot yacht Quikpoint Azzuro has the pedigree and the crew to take on those elements and make them work to their advantage.
Kearns found the tough little yacht, then called Shenandoah II, in Mooloolaba in the middle of last year. After buying it for $23,000 and unable to sail the near-wreck, he took her to Lawrie's Boat Yard for several arduous months of restoration. Kearns then sailed her south in time to make the start line of last year's Hobart race. They finished an impressive third in ORCi Division 4.
Quickpoint Azzuro is currently tied up at the home of the race, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, and within shouting distance of the last year's overall handicap winner, the 43-foot Wild Rose, which Kearns would dearly love to beat in this year's race.
"We have a really healthy rivalry. We yell across the pond friendly abuse all day long," Kearns said.
"You know, the real hot-shot boat is Rupert Henry's Chinese Whispers which he paid about $3 million and which won everything in Europe. The only boat to beat it this year was us; we beat them in the Sydney Gold Coast race."
In that 384-mile race Quickpoint Azzuro also beat Wild Rose on handicap and in their division.
His five-man crew met through their old skipper John Walker who owned the 34-foot Impeccable. They came together again at Walker's funeral. Between them they have 93 Hobart races.
"With this forecast of 30 to 40 knots we aren't apprehensive about it. We know the boat is completely safe. No one will panic; they will just do the job. We know not to damage anything and that's how you finish a Hobart race," he said.