Ragtime to riches in the Brisbane to Keppel Tropical Yacht Race

Long-time Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron member Chris Morgan wondered pre-race if his boat’s number one berth allocation at the final resting point, at Keppel Bay Marina, could be an omen. Last night he and wife Bernadette’s 20 year-old J130 Ragtime was declared the IRC overall winner of the 8th Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel Tropical Yacht Race.

A fascinating tussle for the top IRC prize played out. Lewis Perrin’s Farr 30 Italian Job looked famous until sunset yesterday off Yeppoon on the Queensland Capricorn Coast when the sou’east breeze faded along with the light, strangling their fortunes and firming up Ragtime’s win.

“Since they allocated us berth number one I knew we were in with a chance,” joked Morgan. Really it was the forecast that gave the owner/skipper and his seven crew the idea this could be the year, their third shot with Ragtime. “I had a good feeling. Our first night was a bit rough then it all came together. The crew didn’t do a thing wrong on the final day. Our tactician Chris Anstead said ‘follow the numbers’…he drives us crazy with his figures but the motto on the boat is ‘trust the numbers’.”

The southerly delivered a punch to Ragtime’s crew off Lady Elliott Island yesterday morning, 35 knots producing a top boat speed for the race of 14.6 knots.

Ragtime’s history is colourful. It was owned and christened Ragtime by Rod Johnstone who co-founded the J/Boats business with his brother in their garage back in the mid-1970s. A delayed order for an owner wanting to contest the 1995 Sydney Hobart yacht race start saw Ragtime rushed from overseas as the substitute, only to be refused entry due to its carbon fibre mast.

For much of day two of the Brisbane to Keppel race it appeared the overall winner would rise from the mid-size Sydney based group of Sam Haynes’ Rogers 46 Celestial, Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 Patrice and Steven Proud’s Kernan 44 Swish. The scoreboard then began to shuffle and luck change when the southerly built, rocketing the 30 footers home under spinnaker.

Ragtime’s crew take away the Pineapple Cup trophy for best scored IRC boat. Second on IRC overall results is Michael Prichard’s Tasmanian Beneteau First 45 Audere, which was regularly in striking distance, and third is Italian Job.

All yachts have now finished, Mark Hipgrave’s Beneteau First 36s7 The Healer crossing the line in Keppel Bay at 5.30am this morning. Drakes Prayer was the only retirement from the original fleet of 35 that set out from Brisbane’s Moreton Bay at midday on Thursday July 31.

Among the 350 or so sailors who took part in RQYS’ 8th annual feeder race to the northern regattas at Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Magnetic Island race weeks, families raced with and against each other. The McConaghy brothers’ ding-dong spanned the entire 348 nautical miles, Steve the tactician on Celestial and Andrew the spinnaker trimmer on rival Patrice. Peter Jones on board the Queensland entry Spirit of Mateship was able to catch up with brother Darren, Patrice’s tactician, at the race finish.

The official trophy presentation will be held at Keppel Bay Marina at 2pm this afternoon, Sunday August 3, 2014.


– Lisa Ratcliff

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