For the last two years, Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard (GCCM) and a collaboration of onsite marine trades, have proudly sponsored Ocean Gem – a 13.5-metre Beneteau Yacht based at Southport Yacht Club (SYC) led by Owner and Skipper, David Hows. And what a couple of years it has been. Ocean Gem was recently acknowledged by Ray McMahon, Vice Commodore Sail at SYC, as ‘the most successful yacht in the history of the Club’ and is now preparing for her first Rolex Sydney to Hobart Campaign.

This 26-year-old cruising yacht, which only started competitive sailing in 2014, has now completed more than 300 races. In the 2016/17 sailing season alone, she collected eight first place trophies and seven second and third place trophies.

David bought the boat in 2011 in Auckland and flew over with his family for two summers to cruise the North Island before preparing her to cross the Tasman and take up permanent residence at Southport Yacht Club in late 2013. Once on the Gold Coast, David, who hadn’t raced his own boat since his teenage years, took up the helm again mostly for social reasons and to maximise the use of the yacht which was now on his doorstep.

“It was very casual in the beginning, starting with a rookie crew of friends and neighbours, then we began to win and as we became a little more competitive, our success rate increased, and it snowballed from there,” explained David.

Speaking with David, it is obvious that everyone in the team has been critical to the success of the yacht. “Sailing is the ultimate team sport. As a sport, it can be exhilarating yet sometimes boring and wet. Success comes from building a bunch people of who enjoy each other’s company and don’t mind getting wet and cold. Our crew range from 18 to 70 years old and most are older than 50 proving it is not about youth but cohesiveness,” he offered.

This team cohesion has extended to his relationship with GCCM and onsite partners Bradford Marine, Harbourforce Marine Detailing, International Paints and Stripes ‘n FX who also support Ocean Gem through sponsorship and ongoing advice and support.

“The facilities at GCCM are excellent and there is a great range of tradespeople and expertise onsite. All trades know each other and work well with each other, you are not paying for travel time or inefficiency and most importantly, they genuinely maintain your boat as if it were their own,” continued David.

“We believe in fostering the local sailing community, not only because it helps develop our yard and the services onsite but because Australia has an incredible sailing history which we believe should be continued and nurtured for future generations,” stated GCCM CEO, Trenton Gay.

“Ocean Gem is proof of the sailing success we can achieve when we collaborate together and that is what GCCM is all about – collaborating together to achieve the best result for our customers. We are proud to sponsor her as well as Onyx (Southport Yacht Club), Mahlagai (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) and Maxi Ragamuffin which is currently undergoing refit in the yard,” stated GCCM CEO, Trenton Gay.

With the sweet taste of success still in their mouth, David and the crew are preparing for their first Rolex Sydney to Hobart campaign. Before the gun sounds the 73rd start of this iconic race, the team are meeting weekly to go through the 167 items on the to do list. Part of this will include a three-week stint on the GCCM hardstand making use of the keel pit to undertake maintenance and improvements. Onsite rigger, JCMS Rigging will be upgrading the rigging and boat systems as well to complete the preparation for this race and more.

And what is David and the crews’ goal for their first Sydney to Hobart? “We are both nervous and excited and it is the natural next step for us as we build on our skills and experience. Our first goal is to complete the race without damage to the boat or injury to the crew. The second is to do it as a team and really enjoy the experience, this is an iconic ocean race and it will provide a huge sense of personal achievement for each of us. Lastly – we are aiming to finish the in the top 25% of our division,” said David.

The GCCM Crew will be working hard to make this a reality.

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