Race Social Event That Stops The Bay – The Moreton Bay Classic – PART ONE
Todays mega woody story comes to us from Brisbane based woody Andrew Christie, who regularly sends in reports from the woody movement from across the ditch. Todays is a goody, so find a comfy spot and enjoy 🙂 Take it away Andrew –
“For my part I have long looked across the Tasman Sea towards the Waitamata Harbour with envy. The number of classic boats and classic boat events there is the stuff of magic and dreams for a wooden boat tragic.
Here on Moreton Bay in South East Queensland, its own boating paradise, we had nothing to compare until a grudge match between young Jacob Oxlade and Paul Crowther, bubbled to the surface in a throwaway challenge that snowballed in to the largest event for classic wooden boats that Moreton Bay has ever seen last Saturday, 25 June 2022.
Jacob Oxlade, 24 a qualified Master has the good fortune, skill and presence that has seen him become skipper of the South Pacific 11 a 72 foot vessel designed by Eldridge MGuiness and built by the famous Norman R Wright & Son in 1962. Jacob skippers the South Pacific from Far North Queensland to Tasmania and has formerly skippered other known Moreton Bay Classics, Bali Hai, Mohokoi, Lady Brisbane and others. Paul Crowther is a member of a successful business dynasty who has recently become the proud owner of the Mohokoi a 70 foot vessel built by Wayne Tipper in 1995.
Jacob in South Pacific was escorting Paul to Myora on North Stradbroke Island, an anchorage favoured by salty Classic Moreton Bay Cruisers as Paul got to know the ropes. As it happened, Mohokoi was ahead of the South Pacific and Paul slowed to let Jacob enter the anchorage first. As is the nature of such things, an argument then ensued about who was first and who was fastest. The gauntlet was thrown down by Paul and the challenge accepted by Jacob. It was on. The “Race that Stops the Bay” was suddenly being promoted on local classic boating social media but quickly became the “Event that Stops the Bay” to accommodate fears relating to insurance and other regulatory matters that tie down our modern nanny world.
Jacob hoped to attract perhaps eight of the known larger classic vessels and about ten smaller ones for an event he hoped would be reminiscent of old photographs he had seen of the processions of classic boats that escorted the Britannia up the Brisbane River on the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Queensland in the 1970s.
Jacob regrets that the entry form he published was not designed to accommodate the sheer volume of entrants that he had to process. Thirty-One classic vessels registered to actively participate in a race of 10.9 nautical miles from Green Island near Manly Harbour in Moreton Bay to South West Rocks at Peel Island. Seventy-One classic vessels registered as spectators. Jacob counted One Hundred and Twenty Classics in the post-race anchorage of Horseshoe Bay and more again were present close to shore before the starting gun. Entries continued to pour in after close of registration and even on to the day of the event itself.
Jacob is cognisant that each of these classic wooden boats is unique and special. He inherited his love of them from his father Paul Oxlade who would take him boating from a young age, where Paul Oxlade would point out each of the old Queensland woodies, being able to name their owners, builders, build dates and slip ways, a remarkable skill seemingly only shared by the now Skipper of the Lady Brisbane Mark Nielson. Such was his father’s inspiration that Jacob became a Master in his own right who desires to share his love of these classic vessels with his own younger generation. He believes he has come some way to achieving this goal with what is to become a regular event in what is now known as “The Moreton Bay Classic”.
The race format was kept simple with the primary focus being on a day out and participation which had to be both easy and free as an antidote to our post Covid 19 world. It was not a navigation event or log race. It was simply a race from post to post but with a handicap on each boats’ start times set by William Wright, a third generation boatbuilder and naval architect with the Norman R Wright & Sons dynasty who handicapped them according to their waterline length, horsepower and top speed. First across the finish line was the Coral Sea, followed by Floodtide, Lady Mac, Nyala and Tamara. A best and fairest award of a Garmin watch was won by the Skipper of Mohokoi, the decision being made by John Stewart, Commodore of the Breakfast Creek Boat Club. The watch was donated with thanks to Gordon Triplett from Garmin.
Because this year’s event occurred spontaneously and without much notice, a fact belied by the sheer number of participants, it is intended to hold the event once more next year to allow those people who missed out a chance to attend, after which it will become bi-annual, to be held in the winter of each year of the Tasmanian Wooden Boat Festival. The timing is designed to take advantage of the beautiful Winter conditions Moreton Bay experiences and to allow those vessels making their way North for the Winter season both from Tasmania and the South generally to participate. The date has already been set at 24 June 2023 which coincides with the commencement of the Queensland School Holidays and which avoids conflicts with other events listed on the Boating Industry Association’s calendar. In the event of poor weather a contingency plan for celebrations at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s Canaipa campus are in place.
It is Jacob’s intention that next year all of the classic vessels will be entered as participants with any moderns to be registered as spectators as he explained there was confusion in the minds of classic owners unfamiliar with the format of the new event this year with the result many were shy, entering only as spectators.
At the conclusion of the race festivities continued with a presentation that occurred on the beach at Horseshoe Bay, where a feast of seafood, a lamb on a spit, and a pig on a spit was provided free of charge to participants.
Jacob focused specific attention on safety and an avoidance of inconveniencing non participants, the course being designed to avoid conflict with bay ferries or creating wake on local beaches. The event was run in consultation with Maritime Safety Queensland and the Water Police who reported no negative occurrences from the event. Congratulations must go to Jacob and Paul for their thoughtfulness in providing both general refuse and recycling bins at the beach function and for organising a clean-up of the beach the following day such that it was left in better condition than before the presentation.
Thanks must also go to Paul Crowther who paid for the spit roasts and a live band out of his own pocket, Bryant Engineering, the Queensland Gardner specialists who provided the seafood and who operated the rotisseries and set up and pulled down the beach facilities the day before and after the event and to Tony from Tony’s Boats and Marine who paid for bread, onions, napkins and the other bibs and bobs that made the barbeque a success.
The event was filmed by Nick Cornish who runs Game Rod Media so expect a quality documentary about it in the near future. A Facebook group for the Moreton Bay Classic features footage of the vessels and the event and provides updated information future events.
With a view to keeping the event free to participate in, Jacob and Paul are looking for sponsors and are floating the idea of providing a cap or pennant to commemorate each future event which will bear sponsor logos.
And so a new event was born, the fruit of a throwaway challenge, but which highlighted the health of classic wooding boating in Moreton Bay. Make sure you support the Moreton Bay Classic and see you on the waters of Moreton Bay on 24 June 2023, and suffer in your jocks on the Waitemata Harbour as it is warm and dry here in Queensland.”
I think waitematawoodys needs to look into pulling a similar event off on the Waitemata – back to you all ASAP with details 🙂 Alan H
The Race – below is just a tease – come back tomorrow for photos from the course 😉