by Ian Grant
Brisbane to Gladstone - When dawn broke over Brisbane’s Moreton Bay today there were no signs that the squally Southerly trade wind was about to soften and turn the 63rd Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race into a light wind lottery.
Moreton Bay, stretching from Caloundra to the Gold Coast, is SEQld’s prized waterway.
In fact the breeze remained constant overnight with a peak gust of 28 knots recorded at the Cape Moreton Lighthouse.
This suggests the crews manning the decks of the 44 yacht fleet could face a heavy workload of sail changes when they settle into the tactical battle for class honours in the 308 n/ml blue water classic starting at noon on Good Friday.
However all the skippers, tacticians and navigators entered the final 48 hour pre-race countdown mind full that they will have to sail smart with whatever breeze blows over the deck to enjoy the traditional post race celebration of sipping the sailors ‘nectar’ (Bundy Rum and Coke) from the 63 year old The Courier Mail Cup.
While interest continues to remain focused on the weather the crew of the defending line honours champion Black Jack continued their preparations for what promises to become and intense tactical dogfight against the larger New South Wales maxi Lahana.
The Peter Harburg owned and Mark Bradford skippered 20m Black Jack which has the distinction of recording runaway line honours victories in the past two races will need to be on the pace to match the sail power of her 30 m rival.
Naturally both Peter Harburg and Mark Bradford have the faith in their experienced crew however that alone may not be enough to match the sail power and waterline length of Lahana when the two crews become engaged in a tactically demanding drag race.
Similar interest will surround the Marcus Blackmore helmed sloop Hooligan when the high performance crew winner of the New South Wales title at Sail Port Stephens last Monday make their bid to win The Courier Mail Cup.
Brisbane to Gladstone