Brisbane to Gladstone

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: There are still 38 of the original 46 starting fleet out on course racing one of Australia’s oldest and most iconic yacht races, the Gladstone Ports Corporation 75th Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race which set sail on Good Friday with eight yachts forced to retire after battling through two reported storm cells.

There have been no further race retirements today (Easter Saturday) and all all sailors and boats – retired or still racing and at sea – are safe.

The race fleet is currently facing blustery northerly conditions as they make their way up the coast with the majority of the fleet still not halfway through the race.

2022 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race winner, Celestial still leads the fleet on line honours while the smaller boats look like winning the race overall on corrected time.

The first yachts are still expected to cross the finish line tomorrow morning (Easter Sunday) with the tail of the fleet expected to cross Easter Monday morning.

Harley Cowlishaw from race organisers, Queensland Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC) says these are unusual weather conditions for the race which usually experiences southerly Easter trade wind conditions that send the fleet speedily up the east coast to Gladstone.

“The current standings are constantly changing but currently we are seeing the smaller boats looking like taking overall honours with yachts such as Son of a Son, Azzurro and Balancing Act all jostling to win the challenging race overall and put their name on The Courier-Mail Cup,” Mr Cowlishaw said.

“Last night was a dramatic evening for the race fleet as they faced serious weather systems – and not the normal Easter sailing conditions for the B2G but historically, there have been years when weather has challenged the race and 2023 was definitely one of those,” he said.

A re-cap on the list of retirements (in order of latest to earliest) is:

Black Diamond – seamanship decision, heading to Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron
Concerto 2 – seamanship decision, returning to Port
Puppet – seamanship decision, at Port
Obsession – sea sickness, at Port
Flying Colours 2 – shredded mainsail, at Port
Active Again – delaminated mainsail, at Port
Aramex – sea sickness, returned to Southport Yacht Club
Night Nurse, torn mainsail, at Port

Celeste reported to have been hit by lightning and lost all electronics from the strike. They still had VHF radio connectivity and iridium so chose to continue.

Hutchies Yeah Baby were confronted with a mainsail issue upon sunset but got it back in their mast track and were also able to continue.

Cate Parsons, crew member aboard Black Diamond which retired overnight recounts her experience of the storm conditions last night.

“The lightning was continuous with sheet and fork lightning and not a lot of rain and wind at first,” Cate said.

“The second cell was more direct and the boat saw more than 35-40 knots wind speed and we were only on the edge of it,” she said.

We were heading straight for it and as Black Diamond only has one reef – which is the ability to make the sail smaller – we weren’t able to de-power the boat and made the incredibly tough seamanship decision to preserve the boat and crew.”

Saskia Groen-In’t-Woud, owner and skipper of Celeste has reported in this afternoon.

“We are all OK. We had lightning right on the boat and think coincidentally lost our instruments for another reason,” Saskia said.

“It has been a race of attrition on our crew and the boat but we are loving it and CELESTE is – if we could just get ourselves together and sail her hard, she said.

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