by Ian Grant
Brisbane to Gladstone 308 nautical mile yacht race is to be sailed over Easter,
Solo sailing record holder Ian Thomson will again be standing watch on the high seas over the Easter weekend when the crew of Brindabella contest the QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone race.
At this time last year Ian Thomson was in the final stages of preparing for his assault to sail around Australia alone in the smaller Brisbane built sloop Kamikaze, renamed as SOS (Save Our Seas) Racing.
Thomson successfully achieved that record attempt although the sails of Kamikaze were ‘weather worn’ when he steered the sloop across the finish line off the Whitsunday Sailing Club last year.
As expected his captivating journey captured the attention of the World yachting media as this solo sailor driven by a personal campaign to draw international attention to Save Our Seas from pollution sailed an anticlockwise course around the Australian coast.
Since her launching for original owner George Snow the Scott Jutson designed Brindabella has become known as Australia’ most successful ocean racing yacht and still holds the fastest times for the Audi Sydney to Gold Coast race and many others including the Sydney to Noumea race.
Her present owner Jim Cooney like Ian Thomson is a strong supporter of the Save Our Seas campaign and will be onboard when the famous sloop contests her first Brisbane to Gladstone Race starting at midday on Good Friday April 22.
Brindabella and Save Our Seas supporters will have the opportunity to compare her boat speed in what promises to be a ‘drag race’ against the proven coastal line honours performers Black Jack and the larger Brisbane to Keppel race record holder Lahana.
The speed sailing potential of the Peter Harburg owned and Mark Bradford helmed Black Jack has been upgraded since winning the 2010 Brisbane to Gladstone line honours title with a super fast 14.08 knot average while the 2010 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week ‘Gun Boat’ trophy winner Lahana logged a slightly faster average when she broke Black Jack’s record in the Brisbane to Keppel race last August.
Both of these radically different designed blue water racing yachts are expected to have an edge in top speed over Brindabella however her crew are confident of recording a top three finish ahead of the high performance New South Wales maxi chaser Hooligan (Marcus Blackmore) and Bruce Absolon’s Spirit of The Maid.
Hooligan crewed by an experienced group of Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club sailors including the Australia ll Americas Cup winning crew member Colin Beashel has firmed as the outright favourite to win the 63 year old The Courier Mail Cup following her outstanding perfect score win in the New South Wales championship at Port Stephens last weekend.
Brisbane to Gladstone