Two of Australia’s most highly decorated and rival ocean racing yachts – Black Jack and Ichi Ban – have set the ‘cat amongst the pigeons’ officially lodging their entries for the Gladstone Port Corporation’s 74th annual Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.
Competitors will set sail on Good Friday, April 15 2022 from Moreton Bay to Gladstone.
Black Jack and Ichi Ban were both victorious in the recent Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in December with Black Jack taking line honours and Ichi Ban winning the race overall on handicap with both now hungry for wins in Australia’s prestigious Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.
Black Jack made history being the first ever Queensland boat to take line honours in the Sydney to Hobart and is expected to return to a celebratory Brisbane homecoming later this month. Up until Black Jack was entered in the Brisbane to Gladstone this week, Stefan Hair had been the hottest line honours contender and expected to be the largest yacht to enter but not anymore.
Black Jack was originally scheduled to head to Europe at the end of this month and miss the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race but ‘changed tack’ due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the boat now set to remain in the country to contest the Australian sailing season.
Black Jack is a name synonymous with line honours victories in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race under the ownership of Peter Harburg who first developed an ambition to win the race having watched the first race in 1949.
Harburg’s three Black Jack race yachts have taken line honours in the race eight times. That is more than any other yacht in the history of the race and almost consistently every year since 2009 excluding 2020 when the race was cancelled due to Covid and 2021 when Black Jack 100 lost its mast while in the lead.
Historically, Black Jack 66 (now racing under the name of Alive) took line honours in 2009 and 2010 followed by Black Jack 77 in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (including also winning the race on handicap and taking out The Courier-Mail cup in 2015 and 2016.
Now in its third edition (the previous Black Jack race yachts were 66 and 77), the current Black Jack 100 is a 30 metre Reichel Pugh supermaxi and has taken line honours twice in 2018 and 2019 including holding the race record since 2018 of 16 hours, 53 minutes and 57 seconds.
Black Jack owner, Peter Harburg says pressure will be on his crew and skipper, Mark Bradford to sail well due to fresh line honours competition from the Stefan Hair racing yacht.
“We face real competition for line honours in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race this year against Stefan Hair so the onus will be on our crew to sail extremely well,” Harburg said.
“Our goal is to always cross the line first but it would be particularly momentous to take line honours in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race on the back of having just won line honours in the Sydney to Hobart – a double line honours header in Australia’s two flagship bluewater races is definitely our goal,” he said.
“We are readying the boat in Sydney at the moment and are planning a victory homecoming to Brisbane for later this month so Queenslanders can see and celebrate the first Queensland yacht to ever win the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on speed.”
Ian Gidlow, Commodore of race organising club, Queensland Cruising Yacht Club says with the right conditions, the race record is now seriously under threat with a very thrilling race to Gladstone expected.
“The Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race looks set for a very fast finale with boats such as Black Jack 100, Stefan Hair and Maritimo 11 now all entered and leading the charge for Gladstone,” Gidlow said.
“To have both line honours and handicap winners of the Sydney to Hobart – Black Jack 100 and Ichi Ban – entered in the 74th Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race is incredibly exciting,” he said.
“It would be every crews dream to take out double header wins in both Sydney to Hobart and Brisbane to Gladstone as they are both Australia’s premiere bluewater ocean yacht races.
“The Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race will this year see around 300 sailors – many of the best names in Australian and international sailing but more excitingly, some emerging younger sailing talent – contest our mighty race.”
Considered Queensland’s most iconic annual Easter sporting event and hosted by Queensland Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC), the Gladstone Ports Corporation Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race sees sailors compete for the coveted overall prize, The Courier-Mail Cup.
Entries remain open on the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race with 31 yachts now entered. QCYC expects entries to double in coming weeks in the lead-up to the race.
The 2021 race overcame near Covid-cancellation with an initial fleet of 48 entrants. The starting fleet, although depleted, battled a barrage of winds and rough seas to complete the 73rd Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.
The race start will once again be live-streamed including pre-race commentary which is proudly supported by Gladstone Regional Council’s Easter in Gladstone. There will also be an interactive Race Tracker which is keenly followed around the globe.
The Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race is steeped in history and was first ever sailed in 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.
Further information about the Gladstone Ports Corporation’s Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race is available by visiting www.brisbanetogladstone.com or telephoning Queensland Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC) on (07) 3269 4588.
Spectators can watch the race start on water in vessels near the start line OR on land at either the two festivals established to celebrate the start of the race – Sandgate Bluewater Festival and Redcliffe Festival of Sails.
While in Gladstone, the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race is celebrated throughout the Easter weekend thanks the Gladstone Regional Council’s ‘Easter in Gladstone’.
By Andra Bite/Queensland Cruising Yacht Club