Family affair as UBS Wild Thing returns to Sydney Gold Coast Race

Wild Thing

Following a five-year hiatus, Geoff Lavis is returning to contest the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race with UBS Wild Thing, and he is cocked and ready to fire with a new rig, new sails, a new IRC rating and seriously experienced crew which includes his two sons.

The NSW south coast yachtsman last headed north in 2011, and racing under PHS, finished third overall in Division 1. This time, with a new rig installed and the boat reconfigured by boat builder Andrew ‘Noddy’ Hay, who will also sail in the afterguard on UBS Wild Thing, Lavis says he is looking forward to the 384 nautical mile trek.

“It’s time to come back. I’ve had some magical experiences in this race. Some were hairy and some just exciting. And I’ve got the right boat and the right people,” commented Lavis, a 30-year member of the CYCA where he was Commodore in 2005 and 2006.

And while wife and partner in the boat, Pip, will not be aboard for the race, Lavis’ two sons Adam and Ben, will be aboard the 50 footer which will have a fusion of mature experienced sailors and younger talent.

“Adam and Ben have busy lives and families, so this will be the first time in a long time they’ve sailed. Adam did three Hobarts with me on Elusive and both went through the CYCA Youth Academy when they were younger. Ben’s 13 year-old daughter, Maddison, is learning the ropes there now, while Adam’s daughter is also into sailing.

“So the family tradition continues,” Lavis says.

“We’ve also got another Academy member, Tara Blanc-Ramos, sailing her first offshore race with us – on the bow,” he said of the young sailor who is making a name for herself in youth match racing events.

“Then there’s Jono English and Amanda Scrivenor, who also went through the Academy. She’s a very good driver. We have an abundance of those aboard.”  

To round out, Lavis’ mainstays include Andrew ‘Spot’ Smith, his wife Jane and Ron Cooper, along with Noddy Hay and John ‘Hector’ Crawford.

Wild Thing’s skipper is feeling positive about the race ahead. “We have the right boat and the right crew. For the first time, the boat will rate well for IRC, because of the new rig. We’ve sailed PHS in the past, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the IRC rating stacks up at the end of the race,” he said adding, “Noddy did all the work to the boat and I’m happy he’s agreed to do the race with us.    

“By the time we get to Southport, I will have had my sponsor, UBS for 13 years – and the boat (an Inglis/Murray 50 originally owned by Grant Wharington) will be 26 years old – I bought it via phone on the water to the briefing of this race in 1999,” Lavis mused. 

Among those already entered for the 31st running of the race are Andrew and Pauline Dally’s DK46 Khaleesi, Derek and Martin Sheppard’s Beneteau 45 Black Sheep, Ted Tooher’s Beneteau 47.7 Chancellor, Sibby Ilzhofer’s Farr/Cookson 47 Dare Devil, Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 Patrice and Pretty Fly III, a Cookson 50 owned by Colin Woods.

Will they be threats to UBS Wild Thing? Lavis says with laughter: “Everything on the start line will be a threat.”

The Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race starts at 1300 hours on 30 July off Nielsen Park, Vaucluse. It is the first race of the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore and heralds the start of the northern circuit of races and regattas. Competitors will pass landmarks such as Newcastle, Port Stephens, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Cape Byron before finishing at Southport

Spectators wishing to view the start can do so in style, as COAST will once again be at the start line of the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race. There is no better or race commentary than from COAST. For details and bookings go to:

Entries close at 1700 hours on 8 July, 2015. Online entry and Notice of Race are available at the official race website: 

Di Pearson, CYCA media

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