by Ian Grant
Brisbane to Gladstone - Old Huey the ocean racing sailors weather god has not responded to the call for an ideal 15-20 knot south east trade wind to blow onto Moreton Bay for the noon start of the 63rd QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race later today.
Black Jack (leeward) with Lahana
When the first light of dawn broke the start area was almost glassy calm while the wind indicators situated at Cape Moreton, Double Island Point and Lady Elliot Island confirmed the high performance 45 yacht fleet crewed by 491 sailors will face a searching light wind test over the first 24 hours.
As expected this soft and unstable breeze has squashed any chance for the power sailing sprint machines Black Jack (Mark Bradford) and their larger New South Wales rival the Peter Millard skippered Lahana with any chance to break the existing race record of 20 hours 24 minutes 50 seconds set by the Grant Wharington skippered Skandia Wild Thing seven years ago.
However while the coastal weather system has placed a smile of the faces of offshore anglers the Gladstone sailors will be hard pressed to be happy when they face a slow and frustrating challenge to win the honour of being the first yacht to exit Moreton Bay this afternoon.
Meanwhile the race between the nominated front runners Black Jack and Lahana is poised for the two talented crews to share the same sea space as they duel to become the leader at the Caloundra Fairway Buoy later today Mark Bradford the skipper of Black Jack has remained non committal about their secret modifications except to say 'The mast and sails are much lighter and faster'.
Both the owner Peter Harburg, principal helmsman Mark Bradford and their exceptionally talented crew will find out how fast the rig will need to be when they become tactically engaged in a nip and tuck ‘dogfight’ against Lahana to decide the 2011 line honours champion
Brisbane to Gladstone