Caldwell to defend NACRA title
BUNDABERG Sailing Club commodore Matthew Caldwell is in two minds ahead of this weekend's Queensland NACRA Championships.
As the club's commander and chief, he has his fingers crossed bright sunshine will beam down on Oak's Beach, Burnett Heads, and a calm, gentle breeze fills the sails of competitors.
But as a veteran competitor of the annual event who will fight to hold on to a state tile earned alongside partner Bruce Potter last year, Caldwell is praying for rough waters and battering winds.
His signature craft – the Spider – emblazoned with a large graphic of a redback, is well known in Bundaberg sailing circles for its aptitude for handling challenging seas and strong winds.
“As a commodore I'm really hoping for a couple of beautiful days with only light winds so the competitors and spectators are comfortable and can have a good time,” he said.
“But if I'm honest, as a competitor I kind of really hope it blows out there.”
The weather forecast has predicted a mixed bag for the estimated 70 competitors who will take to the waters of Burnett Heads in the premier competition.
Medium winds with gusts of up to 15 knots have been predicted for today but are expected to strengthen noticeably tomorrow, reaching speeds of up to 22 knots.
Caldwell said if the prediction proved to be accurate, competitors would be in for a tough battle against the elements in the final day of the competition.
“It can get quite rough out there,” he said.
“It might test a few people out; it might even test a few of the rescue boats out.”
Last year when the championships were held in Townsville, a teenager knocked his head on a boom when his vessel capsized and was knocked unconscious.
A rescue team found the competitor trapped under the boat and dragged him through the water to safety.
“Sailing isn't really an easy option when it comes to sport,” Caldwell said.
“It can be dangerous and it's very physical.”
Caldwell has shed 6kg from his frame in preparation for the competition in an attempt to gain the upper hand over competitors.
“Sailing is about tactics and physicality,” he said.
“You can't have one without the other.
"You need to be smart on the water and you need to work hard on the boat.”
Racing in the Queensland NACRA Championships will get underway at Oak's Beach, Burnett Heads at 11am today and 10.30am tomorrow.
Spectators can view the boats at the Bundaberg Sailing Club before 10am on both days.