The 73rd Running of Brisbane to Gladstone Race started on Good Friday. Their were originally around 60 entries but was reduced to around 40 due to Brisbane being thrown into a snap Covid lockdown with it not not being lifted until only 12 hours before the start.
It is traditionally a downhill run. We left the Gold Coast for the 90 nm Delivery up the coast 18 hours before the start and got into the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club at 0300 hrs. The forecast was now for heavy running conditions.
We motored Maritimo out to the start and the SE breeze was touching 30 knots with no shelter to hoist the mainsails which caused some more fancied runners some problems with boats with crew up the rigs etc.
We took it on at the start and hit the line full speed with the A5 up and were leading boat on the first leg until passed by the 100 footer Black Jack (ex Alfa Romeo ) and a few planning IRC stay boats. Dropped the Spinny at the first mark and back to a J4 and full main for the 10 nm fetch to Tangaloma. By this stage there had already been a few high profile casualties such as former Hobart winner Alive,a RP 66 canter. Back up,with the Chute and we gybed our way through the Shipping Channel being one of the few boats under control. Spinny down for the fetch to NW Fairway.
Popped the A5 again at NW Fairway and smoked for about 4 hours about 10 degrees low on course until we ran out of runway off the bottom end of Fraser Island which is the worlds longest sand island.Had a J3 and fullmain for the first part of the night but gusts up to 40 knots with the rain squalls saw us put a reef in. Black Jack had bolted showing 28 knots constantly on the YB Yacht .
There were other high profile retirements over night and the Rogers 46 Mayfair just planed past us so we were in 3rd Place Line Honours. We passed the Breaksea Spit Buoy at the top of Fraser Is and shook out the reef. Wind was up constantly low 30’s but with constant gusts to high 30’s so we elected to pole out the J3 and full main. It was with this rig we got a squall through at 48 knots and saw our top boat speed of 26.8 knots right on daylight. We never crashed or wiped out through the whole race.
We got through the Gybe all right at Lady Elliot Island and got back inside Mayfair who was forced to granny. The breeze dropped to high 20’s so we put the A5 up after 15 mins procrastinating. It was a really ugly sea with a lot of quartering white water. Then stated getting some gusts back up in the high 30’s with the boat right on edge with the bad seaway so had to get it back down.
We had ripped the Spinny Pole track off the mast during the late night so rigged up a jury rope snotter for the inboard end so we polled out the J3 again with Mayfair planning across our bow and with us sailing lower. It was about then we heard that Black Jack had dropped its rig earlier and we were a chance of a highly unlikely line honours with the high attrition. Once again we got through the Gybe ok while Mayfair was knocked flat and had to Granny again which gave us some breathing space.
Made our way up the Gladstone Shipping Channel without incident with the breeze in the River down to low 20’s. Got Line Honours I just after 1300 hrs giving us a 25 hour run for the the 306 nm course. We were knocked out of a Line Honours/Handicap double by Wistari, which a 32 footer was home built in plywood in 1965.Think a scaled down Ragtime. They sailed well and finished right with the 45 footers.
We have damaged the mast where the track pulled out so we will fix that today, drive the boat truck back home and fly back and get the boat when the weather is more favourable. Sydney – Gold Coast Race is next in late July then Hamilton Island Race Week which is also the IRC Australian Championships in mid August.
- Michael Spies