The loss of any yacht is tragic, but the loss of Ausmaid on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, last week is doubly so, because, well, frankly she was a special boat. Ausmaid was the real deal from day 1. A 47’ Farr IMS design (#328), she was the third generation of their IMS fleet racer design from the mid 90’s. Designed for fleet racing, she was built to go to Hobart. She was a tough little yacht.
Mal Hart from Victoria built her for Giorgio Gjalgja and straight away, she was successful. Check this for a Hobart record; 1st 1996 for Giorgio. Then Kevan Pearce from SA grabbed her and she was 3rd in 1997, 2nd in the infamous 1998 race, 3rd 99 and 1st again in 2000. She hasn’t done a Hobart since then. So think about that, for her entire Hobart career, she never finished off the podium.
At the start of 2008, she was picked up by Bruce Absolon, a Hamilton Island based business man, who took great pleasure in sailing her in the Qld tropics with his son Lachlan. To say Bruce loved Ausmaid, is like stating there is a small problem with the banking system at the moment. The statement doesn’t convey the true depth of feeling. Ausmaid was Bruce’s world and the loss has affected him badly.
Bruce and Lachlan had started campaigning her again. Her first serious race was the 2008 Pittwater to Coffs, where she claimed 3rd across the line and 5th overall with a crew who had never set foot on her prior to race day and she was in contention right to the end, in a very tight race. She was lost on the delivery trip from Hammo’, on the way to the start of the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race.