by Ian Grant
QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race skippers enter the critical 24 hour countdown to the 12 noon start time tomorrow with a decision on which spinnakers to stow in the sail locker.
Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race
Generally the 308 n/ml coastal blue water classic is contested in moderate to fresh spinnaker sailing trade winds.
But all the wind indictors are suggesting that the stronger range of breeze which has been blowing most above gale velocity all year will moderate to offer the 44 yacht fleet soft winds for the initial 42 n.mls to exit Moreton Bay via the Caloundra Fairway buoy. However the waiting period for a new weather system to blow over the southern horizon is expected to freshen on Friday night.
Unfortunately this will be too late to allow the super fast line honours contenders Black Jack (Mark Bradford), Lahana (Peter Millard), Brindabella (Jim Cooney) and the Bruce Absolon helmed Spirit of The Maid with a chance to generate the required 15.1 knot race average speed to run down the 2004 race record of 20hours 24 minutes 50 seconds set by the Grant Wharington helmed Victorian maxi Skandia Wild Thing.
The promise to race several hours in soft winds has set the stage for an interesting tactical dog fight for line honours while the variable conditions will certainly play a major decision in deciding the outright race winner on corrected handicap.
Marcus Blackmore and his talented crew of Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club sailors on Hooligan presently stand as the yacht to beat while the smaller Rod Jones skippered Audi Sunshine Coast Alegria IV and the match racing Tasman Seabird class sloops Pagan (Peter Kerr) and Cherana (Euan Macdonald) have the potential to outpace their handicap ratings.
Brisbane to Gladstone website