63rd QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race started in a soft summer wind system on Brisbane’s Moreton Bay at noon today.
All of the 491 sailors were on deck trying to generate boat speed as the 45 yacht fleet slowly sailed towards the first rounding mark off the Redcliffe Peninsula.
Todd and Geoff Anderson’s Corum the 2006 race winner narrowly won the start over the Sydney super maxi Lahana (Peter Millard) who were closely followed by the defending line honours champion Black Jack (Mark Bradford).
A soft sea breeze which hardly peaked 10 knots presented the leaders with an interesting tactical test to sail into clean wind while Black Jack sailing to a pre selected race strategy seemed to have a boat speed edge over the larger Lahana.
But Lahana exercising her advantage in waterline length and sail power led Black Jack at the mark off the Redcilffe Peninsula and continued to hold the advantage as both yachts headed across Moreton Bay to enter the North West Shipping channel.
Lahana the present Brisbane to Keppel race record holder was joined by Brindabella Hooligan and while the smaller Sunshine Coast sloop Alegria IV kept her handicap chances alive by pacing the larger yachts.
The relatively slow start with Lahana averaging just a little over 8.5 knots gave the early leader little chance to threaten the record.
However there is a promise of the speed picking up after dusk when the leaders are expected to sail into the more reliable spinnaker sailing breeze north of Double Island Point.