Australia. Peter Willey to skipper Amity in Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race Print E-mail
Sunday, 09 April 2006
Ian Grant


Modest Sunshine Coast ocean racer Peter Willey will finally make his debut as a Brisbane-Gladstone race skipper when he stands watch at the helm of the Mooloolaba sloop Amity.

He will stand watch when Ian Griffiths the owner skipper of Amity leaves his thermal suit in the sail locker to wear a suit of a different kind to attend an Easter wedding.

Griffiths had no hesitation in handing over the skipper’s role to one of his best sailing mates who has sailed an enormous amount of miles including long coastal passage races to qualify as the ideal deputy on the 12m David Lyons designed sloop.

The deputy skipper Willey has the support of a determined crew including Peter Carter, David Leslie and Peter Baynes who have faced extreme survival sailing of the worst kind when they were dramatically rescued at sea with Ian Griffiths before their yacht sank in the ill-fated 1998 Sydney Hobart race.

Their collective fellowship and seamanship which played a major role in their survival from one of the worst storms in Australian ocean racing history has confirmed that Amity will be in safe hands when she lines up with the high standard 48 yacht fleet representing Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland clubs to contest the 58th 308 n/ml blue water classic starting at 11am on Good Friday.

Peter Willey deserves the honour to wear ‘the skippers cap’ in the Gladstone classic which has been a prominent feature in his yachting life for the past 34 years.

He will always remember Easter 1972 because his father Brian the owner skipper of champion 12.2m trimaran Captain Bligh was facing a personal test of survival when the fury of tropical cyclone Emily lashed the Coral Coast.

Captain Bligh powered by flesh and fabric stressing winds that gusted to 92 knots reached speeds in excess of 30 knots surfing the face of the giant white crested ocean swells before she finished with the elapsed race time of 33 hours 30 minutes, 21 hours faster than the monohull line honours winner Kintama.

Naturally Peter Willey is not expecting to equal his father’s course time or experience the savagery of a cyclone at sea but he and the Amity crew have the strategy and experience to return with a good result as a reward for the generosity of their skipper Ian Griffiths who will be warm and dry while eating nice food off a stable plate when his yacht enters the final stages of the Gladstone Race on Saturday night.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 April 2006 )
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