by Ian Grant
QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race is organised and hosted by the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club and is Queensland’s highest profile Easter weekend sporting event.
Race start - Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race 2011
The race fleet of 45 yachts and 491 sailors faced a light wind lottery on Moreton Bay while they anxiously watched the storm clouds gather on the southern horizon.
Surprisingly the larger and faster line honours favourites including the defending champion Black Jack (Mark Bradford) and her major rival the Sydney maxi Lahana (Peter Millard) had struggled to produce a race leading boat speed after five hours of intense racing in the ultra light and ever changing breeze.
Remarkably the lead which changed each time the wind veered allowed the smaller Robert Hick designed Sydney yacht Carats ‘N’ Kilos skippered by first time Gladstone race sailor John Santifort to lead at the 5pm position report.
Carats ‘N’ Kilos held a narrow advantage over the defending line honours champion Black Jack and another first time skipper Tony Horkings and his Southport Yacht Club crew manning the deck of Lee-way Ensign Racing.
These places are expected to change after a thunder storm blows out to sea and releases the chance for power sailing spinnaker racing trade wind to end the boredom of becoming involved with the slowest exit of Moreton Bay since 1985.
As expected this was a testing time for some of Australia’s most gifted ocean race sailors including Americas Cup, Olympians World champions and Hobart Race winners who suffered the penalty of blotting their log books with tactical choices. However they are expected to sail into strong spinnaker wind when they weather Double Island Point later tonight.
From there the duel for line honours promises to become a drag race between Lahana and Black Jack for the first to finish title tomorrow.
Brisbane to Gladtone Yacht Race website