2002 Trans-Tasman Solo Yacht Race

2002 Trans-Tasman Solo Yacht Race

New Zealand to Australia

Held every four years since 1968, the Solo-Trans Tasman yacht race has attracted a wide cross section of interesting entrants……

It is a solo race that starts in New Plymouth on the west coast of the Nth island of NZ and has competitors sail solo across one of the toughest bodies of water on the planet to hopefully arrive (if not in 1 piece) at the finish line in Mooloolaba, Queensland 1283 nautical miles later

It is quite often used as a stepping stone to greater sailing challenges by some but with this prestigious and very testing event only being run every four years it can be difficult to get all things aligned to allow one to enter

Finally in 2002 everything fell into place for Tony to allow him to compete

“I’ve dreamt thought and talked about it for the last 25 years….. now it is time to ACT and DO IT!!!

Here are two excerpts from his updates written as this great race was drawing to a close…

Wednesday 5th June, 2002 (Noon)
State of Origin Day – go you Blues!!!
Position 26 56S, 155 00E (80nm E of Moreton Island, 99nm to the finish line ….. BRING IT ON!)

Wild Child is out there somewhere! But just where? That is the burning question. At the 8.00am radio schedule, Phil Bower and Wild Child did not report in, so am I 20nm behind, 15nm, 10nm, 1nm or have I hit the front (don’t think so)? I know Phil can have power problems, so perhaps he didn’t report in for that reason. I can’t boast anyway, because I was late as I broke a control line on the self steering. It took me an hour to fix the problem so again more time dealing with problems means less time chasing my mate Phil. Phil where are you???

SAL and I continue to surf (and sometimes broach) and ricochet our way towards our final destination, playing a game of wait and see. I set out 10 days 2 hours ago and it is very stimulating to see us so close at the business end of the race. Phil has sailed very well and is having a real go. I congratulate him on effort thus far. Our next sked is at 5.00pm when it will be very interesting to see if he bobs up with a position. Luke will be on line tonight to give you the latest as soon as we can after the sked.

The breeze is from the ESE at 25-30 knots, so it is directly behind us giving yours truly a slingshot effect towards the finish. If you are game enough to get on the edge it is worth staying there for a while I promise you. Lack of sleep is my only worry. Just before sunrise is when the real test of one’s mental stamina happens! I’m glad to learn the lessons that these extreme conditions teach you, but I’ve got to say, sometimes I wish I could gather this information from a book. It would save my aging body!

I am now in a position to listen to Brisbane AM radio so tonight I’ll turn up the volume and cheer for the blues in the State of Origin (go Joey) in the cockpit. My current speed will see SAL finish around 2.00am tomorrow morning but as they say in the classics anything can happen.

Bring on the 5.00pm sked and let’s have a look at what we have to do to get a result.

Take care.

Kennards Hire Solo Globe Challenger

Thursday 6th June, 2002
After 250 hours of solo sailing in some very trying conditions, Phil Bower on Wild Child has held off a remarkable comeback by Tony Mowbray on Kennards Hire Solo Globe Challenger to win the 2002 Trans-Tasman Solo Race by about 10 minutes. Team Mowbray congratulates Phil on his great effort which earns him the trophy and a much deserved place in the history of this event.

As a member of Tony’s team and a close mate, I feel great pride in Tony’s achievement. You will know from reading these updates that at one stage Tony trailed Phil by 100 nautical miles. That is the equivalent of trailing 50 to nil in the first half of a State of Origin match, and you could excuse Tony for shutting up shop and enjoying a leisurely sail to the finish line at Mooloolaba – but that is not the Tony Mowbray I know, nor the one I respect.

Tony, through sheer guts and determination, took the decision to chase Phil hard and chase he did. At the end of the race early this morning, the gap was less than 1 nautical mile or about 10 minutes. I am disappointed for Tony because in daily correspondence with him I know the effect lack of sleep, tangled spinnakers and that now famous bash on the head from the flying can of baked beans had on him. Solo ocean racing is incredibly draining, both physically and mentally. As a mate, you like to see reward for effort and, as a mate, I would have loved for him to win. Tony’s reward will be that he got so close, he never ever gave in and as he often says during his corporate speaking, he “just had a bloody go”. I know he will get great satisfaction from that.

As these updates were being sent, I remember a few days ago thinking what a finish this may be. Each time we received updated positions the gap between the two leaders was shrinking. Half of you says, nah not possible whilst the other half says what if? Bob Bower, father of Phil, even predicted yesterday a dead heat at 10.00am this morning. It has been an enthralling ride from the sidelines, and if you wanted to script it, you couldn’t do a better job (well, maybe the ending). I know, based on the emails I’ve received, there has been plenty of interest generated by this four yearly race and for all your comments, jokes, offers of bets etc. etc. I thank you.

Tony, well done mate! I know you are weary, battered and bruised but you have inspired us all with your courageous comeback, and although Phil crossed the line first and deserves great praise, those in your camp, the 800 who receive these updates and the 25,000 people who greeted you just over a year ago when you became the fastest Aussie to circumnavigate the globe solo, non-stop and unassisted thank you again for your efforts.

In the next couple of days Tony will return home to organise his next challenge and return to his corporate speaking work that takes him around Australia and now the world. I know he’d love to hear from you if you can find the time.

Our next update will come from the desk of Tony Mowbray soon – should be a great read.

Thank you all for your interest.

Luke Grant
Team Mowbray