Brad Collett puts Friendly Grocer through its paces in the water off Torquay in the Hervey Bay Sailing Club Multihull Challenge. The fleet had to deal with plenty thanks to Mother Nature.
Brad Collett puts Friendly Grocer through its paces in the water off Torquay in the Hervey Bay Sailing Club Multihull Challenge. The fleet had to deal with plenty thanks to Mother Nature. Valerie Horton

Challenge just to stay upright

WET and Wild is the name of a theme park on the Gold Coast.

However, Mother Nature ensured those game enough to head out on the water faced similar conditions at the annual Hervey Bay Sailing Club Multihull Challenge.

Crews were left battered and bruised as the wild weather - with wind gusts to 20 knots - played havoc with the small fleet.

Some vessels were left with torn sails, others were overturned as racing became a contest as much of survival as speed.

It was not just the wind that caused concerns with Race 5 proving one of the more memorable events.

Hervey Bay's Paul Neeskins claimed honours after leader Brad Collet and many competitors finished racing one lap short. - believing the race was over.

However the mistake was not enough to propel Neeskins to overall honours, those were awarded to favourites and current Australian champions Bruce Potter and Matthew Caldwell on board Spider.

The best of the Fraser Coast contingent was Peter York who finished fourth overall.

Hervey Bay Sailing Club president Pat Drover said racing was a good test for many of the competitors.

"The forecast kept a lot of boats from turning up with day-one conditions being right on our safety limits of racing but we managed to get the day's schedule in with reduced numbers," Drover said.

"There were numerous capsizes but luckily no one was injured and we had three safety boats in the water taking extra care."

With conditions testing crews early in the event, day two was a complete contrast and provided perfect racing conditions for crews.

As a result the number of boats competing in the final day of racing almost doubled.

"It was much calmer and only about 12 knots from the south so it was excellent racing - and we had about 25 boats on the water," Drover said.