Crews preparing for historic race

Posted: 3pm 09 Mar 2021

Local boats with local crews are preparing to line-up alongside state-of-the-art racing yachts in the 73rd Brisbane to Gladstone (B2G) which starts off Redcliffe on Good Friday.

Entries are flowing in for the famous race which returns after being cancelled last year, for the first time in its history, due to the COVID pandemic.

Organisers expect around 50 yachts to start by Shorncliffe Jetty at 11am on April 2, including Black Jack, a 100-foot Supermaxi which has the race record of 16 hours 53 minutes 57 seconds.

Harley Cowlishaw on his Brisbane to Gladstone entry Hasta La Vista

At the double

It was also only the second yacht to take both Line Honours and the Overall Race in successive years (2015-16) and in 2019 hit 22 knots boat speed before her whole length had crossed the start line!

“It’s incredible, a state-of-the-art, no-expense spared yacht,” said Harley Cowlishaw, Vice Commodore of the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club, which runs the B2G race.

“There’s another 100-footer, Ammonite, which you could live on, but it will go very very fast … and then a little 34-foot boat from Sydney which could win the race.

“There’s definitely more excitement this year and a very competitive fleet. Lots of boats are keen to race after the lockdown and cancellation of the Sydney to Hobart (yacht race in 2020).”

Just kept going

Harley, from Margate, will be in his 38th B2G having entered his 38-foot yacht Hasta La Vista, with a navigator from Scarborough, one crewman who lives at Moreton Bay Boat Club and another at Petrie.

“I enjoyed my first (B2G) race so much I’ve just kept going,” said Harley, “I bought my own yacht, sold it, joined other boats and now I’ve got my own yacht again.

“There’s only been a couple of times I’ve not made it (to Gladstone). One was with engine trouble and another was an extraordinarily slow race.

“There were work commitments and we’d not even reached halfway before deciding to come back!”

The Gladstone Ports Corporation is sponsoring the B2G and a race “village” will be set up at the finish with a giant screen showing the positions of every yacht.

Yacht guide

BLACK JACK: Peter Harburg’s Monaco-registered Reichel Pugh 100’ Supermaxi is the race record holder with 16 hours 53 minutes 57 seconds and will again be skippered by Mark (Squark) Bradford, with a crew of 14, more than half come from Queensland. Squark was the principal of the North Sails Brisbane loft until his recent promotion to Sydney where he now overseas the Australian operation.

AMMONITE: Marcus Blackmore, of Blackmore Vitamins fame, has recently purchased his Southern Wind 96 and it will contest the race for the first time. This yacht will be up at the head of the fleet as Marcus is a highly-respected yachtsman having competed in all the offshore races on the East coast in his previous yachts. Marcus, a Queenslander, navigated Arthur Bloore’s yacht Hammer of Queensland to a line honours win in the 50th B2G.

ALIVE: This 66’ yacht took line honours in this event when named Black Jack. Under the current owner Duncan Hind she has been the overall winner of a Sydney to Hobart and has won and set a new record for the Launceston to Hobart race and competed in numerous races in the Asian racing circuit.

STEPHAN RACING: This is Steve Ackerie’s first venture into offshore yacht racing having previously been involved in offshore power boats. He has Grant Warrington (26 Hobarts, one line honours) heading his campaign. Grant is a line honours winner of this race on his 100’ yacht Wild Thing. This 80’ yacht will certainly stand out with its distinctive paint work.

MARITIMO: Bill Barry-Cotter is best known for producing luxury power boats at his Gold Coast factory but ventured into yachting when he restored a 100-year-old yacht Katwincher for the Sydney to Hobart. With a Hobart veteran Michael Speirs (42 Hobart starts, one overall win and one line honours) heading his campaign, he bought his Schumacher 54 yacht Maritimo from America and fully optimised it at his Gold Coast factory. One of the favourites for overall honours, there will be friendly rivalry with Stephan Racing as the two owners are good friends and raced each other in power boats.

WHITEBIRDS: A previous multiple line honours winner and record holder of this race when named Bobsled before the owners Paul White and Robert Bird undertook a massive conversion of her from a racing yacht to a beautiful 80’ cruiser. Several of the original crew from the record breaking year will again be onboard this year.

NOT A DIAMOND: This HH42 yacht came a very close second across the line to Maritimo in the recent Surf to City race. A well prepared and campaigned Brisbane yacht, it will be up with the overall leaders. When the owner told his wife that he had bought a yacht, she said: “That’s not a diamond” .... and so it was named!

REVERIE: David and Jo Rose recently bought this Beneteau 40.7 yacht having previously owned Kerisma which won the Performance Handicap division of this race in 2019. With most of their winning crew still onboard they will be one to watch.

ENVY SCOOTERS: This TP52 yacht owned by RQYS Commodore Barry Cuneo was the overall winner of this race in 2019. It is stored out of the water in the grounds of RQYS with all sails in airconditioned containers. With an experienced crew, this yacht deserves to be rated as one of the favourites.

TEAM HOLLYWOOD: Ray Roberts is no novice to this race having won on consecutive years on his previous yacht Quatum. He will be competing on his Botin Fast 40 this year which will give hime and his crew a fast, exciting but rather wet ride to Gladstone. Another favourite for overall honours.

TROUBLE AND STRIFE / SAIL EXCHANGE: There will be interstate rivalry between the “Cookson 12” Trouble and Strife owned by Duane Smith and Matt Williams and Carl Crawford’s Sail Exchange. Carl is a seasoned campaigner in his yacht and has done well in his division in the Hobarts he has contested. However, Duane and Matt are always up with the leaders in all races held on Moreton Bay.

PAGAN / JOANNE BRODIE: This pair of “Tasman Seabirds” are two of the oldest yachts in this year's race. The Alan Payne designed 11m yachts have a long history with one, Cherana, winning the Hobart in 1959. In the recent Surf to City race “Joanne Brodie” Dan deBuriatte was the overall winner with “Pagan” Peter Kerr second. Given the right conditions either of these veterans could surprise many of the modern competitors.

HASTA LA VISTA: This year will be QCYC Vice Commodore Harley Cowlishaw’s 38 race to Gladstone, but only the second on his Sydney 38 “Hasta La Vista”. He was part of the overall winning crew on “The Gambler” and was onboard “Bobsled” when she achieved line honours and a race record. His slowest race was onboard Arnold Jones’ “Timana 11” when they finished at 7pm Easter Monday.

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