Celestial sets sights on Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race win

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: Dr Sam Haynes, owner and skipper of Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2022 winning Celestial has his sights set on making sailing history and putting his name on The Courier-Mail Cup when Australia’s second oldest yacht race, the Gladstone Ports Corporation Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race sets sail for its 75th milestone edition on Good Friday (7th April 2023).

Celestial is one of 28 yachts entered to date in the iconic Queensland blue water classic organised and presented annually by Queensland Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC) with a month left before entries close on 20th March 2023.

Celestial set a new race record in the 2022 Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race (B2G) for a conventionally ballasted yacht completing the 308 nautical mile race in 19 hours, 24 minutes and 52 seconds. Celestial’s 2022 race record broke a record that had been held by Bobsled (Robert Bird/Kerry Spencer) since 1993 for their course time of 21 hours, 59 minutes, and 43 seconds.

“We were delighted to set a new record for the fastest conventionally ballasted yacht last year. The conditions were ideal downwind with big following seas. We held on for what was both challenging and exhilarating sailing. Fast and hectic conditions until we got into flatter water around Lady Elliot Island,” Sam said.

“The crew – our helmsmen, trimmers, grinders, the whole team had to work hard to sail on the edge and flat out for the entire course to achieve that record,” he said.

Sam’s hoping for Easter trade wind conditions like last year’s B2G with Celestial’s spinnaker up all the way to Gladstone.

“Fingers crossed for a similar forecast this year. In addition, experience we had with the yacht in those conditions were valuable for the 2022 Rolex Sydney to Hobart, particularly Celestial’s downwind performance in 25 knots (and stronger) conditions.

“We learnt a hard lesson not taking our reaching strut last year for the B2G. That was a contributing factor to not performing optimally after turning the corner at Break Sea. As such, we’re preparing our strut and learning our sail combinations with it in preparation for the B2G with a training block organised to get the team prepared.”

For Sam, it will be his 2nd Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race and says he is thrilled to be competing again as he knows full well the race’s epic history so joining for the 75th edition is very special.

“Last year I saw how the B2G is arguably the most fun race in Australia with regular fast downwind conditions, warm weather, a full moon (being Easter) and great scenery. The race gives us another opportunity to push the boat in its favourite mode with plenty of water over the deck and action through the night. Gladstone puts on a great show at the finish so it’s a festive weekend there,” he said.

With Sam at the helm, Celestial will be crewed with mostly the same crew assembled as for their recent 2022 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race win lead by Rob Greenhalgh (sailing master and tactician), Jack Macartney, David Chapman, Callum Cecil, Mal Parker, Troy Grafton, Lewis Brake, Lindsay Stead, Wulf Wilkens, Frank O’Leary and Richard Bott.

Alice Taranawski will be on board as navigator along with Alex Gough and Josh Porebski who sailed with Celestial in last year’s 74th Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.

Celestial is one of two TP52s entered so far including along with the electric converted renewable energy yacht, Ocean Crusaders J Bird III (Annika Thomson) who are out to prove that there is no need for diesel engines to go sailing.

Maritimo has entered their Schumacher 54 but rumour has it they are working around the clock to prepare their newly acquired TP52, Maritimo 11, in time to contest the 75th B2G at Easter.

Celeste – a 1974 model Nautor Swan 28 – recently imported to Australia from the Netherlands by owner/skipper, Saskia Groen-In’t-Woud, will be making her offshore racing debut in Australia in the 75th B2G. Saskia spent a number of years as a core crew member aboard Wistari, the much loved and famous Gladstone yacht with the record for the most starts in the B2G, retiring after 52 starts in 2022.

Saskia is among six female skippers to enter thus far along with Kerry Noyes (Aramex), Annika Thomson (Ocean Crusaders J Bird III), Ellie Leister (Son of a Son), Niamh Larkin (Jenesis), and Sonia Mary Roberts (Sunshine Sailing Australia Gintastic).

Italian Job (Tom Johnston and Lincoln Dews) and Jenesis (Niamh Larkin and Michael Andrews) are the early entries in the two-handed category, an increasingly popular race division.

Steeped in tradition and stature and proudly presented and organised annually by Queensland Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC) since 1949, the iconic 308 nautical mile Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race (affectionately known as the B2G) is one of the oldest and most fiercely fought blue water yacht races on the Australian sailing calendar and one of the highest profile Easter sporting events.

The B2G was first held over Easter 1949 where seven vessels took the start line, two of which carried radios while Brisbane’s Homing Pigeon Club supplied pigeons for the other competing vessels to relay their positions.

Commencing at 10am on Good Friday and presented by Gladstone Regional Council, there will be a two-hour live stream broadcast of the Gladstone Ports Corporation 75th Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race start that can be viewed live and free on Kayo Sports – Australia’s premier on-demand sports streaming platform or alternatively viewed on the B2G Facebook and website.

Further information about the Gladstone Ports Corporation 75th Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race is available by visiting www.brisbanetogladstone.com or following the race on Facebook at www.facebook.com/brisbanetogladstone and Instagram at @brisbane2gladstoneyachtrace

The race is celebrated throughout the Easter weekend thanks the Gladstone Regional Council’s ‘Easter in Gladstone’ https://www.gladstone.qld.gov.au/easter

The Gladstone Ports Corporation 75th Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.


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