Written by Andra Bite
Photography by Queensland Cruising Yacht Club
07 November 2022
The iconic Easter race promises a fierce contest and bumper prize pool in 2023. The Notice of Race is out and sailors now have the opportunity to be a part of Australian sailing history by entering one of the southern hemisphere’s most iconic offshore races – the Gladstone Ports Corporation’s Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race which will celebrate 75 years when it sets sail on Good Friday, 7 April 2023 from Moreton Bay to Gladstone over 308 nautical miles.
Considered a favourite by many discerning sailors, the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race is one of the oldest and most fiercely fought blue water yacht races on the Australian sailing race calendar.
After a spectacular spinnaker start in south easterly winds on Moreton Bay followed by a thrilling race ranging from 10 to 15 knots to Gladstone, last year’s 74th annual race saw multiple race records tumble.
Peter Harburg’s super maxi 100 foot Black Jack took line honours eclipsing its previous race record of 16 hours, 53 minutes and 57 seconds which had been held since 2018, setting a new race record of 16 hours, 13 minutes and 56 seconds.
Three yachts named Black Jack – all owned by Peter Harburg – have taken line honours eight times since 2008 – Black Jack 66 (2009 and 2010), Black Jack 77 (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017) and Black Jack 100 (2018 and 2022).
Celestial, owned by Dr Sam Haynes, set a set a new record for a conventionally ballasted yacht, completing the race in 19 hours 24 minutes and 52 seconds.
After a tense protest with Celestial and a result that mirrored the 2021 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Ichi Ban won the race overall on corrected time in 2022 and took out the coveted Courier-Mail Cup.
The Courier-Mail Cup is believed to be one of the oldest perpetual trophies in Australian history to be competed for on a continual basis since 1949.
Ian Gidlow, Commodore of race organising club, Queensland Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC) says the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race is steeped in tradition and proudly remains one of the true blue water ocean classics in the southern hemisphere.
“The race has all the hallmarks of a great passage race – a demanding exit from the bay under pressure from the tide clock, a fast slide up the coast in the dark, a high pressure run into sub-tropical waters and inevitably an intense and often unpredictable finish,” Mr Gidlow says.
“We are incredibly proud of the stature the race holds with sailors who make this a fixture of their annual race calendar and we look forward to welcoming a large and competitive fleet of offshore racing yachts and sailors from around Australia and overseas,” he said.
The Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race start is live streamed and combined with Yacht Tracker and the virtual race is followed by an audience of over 100,000 globally.
In 2023, to commemorate the 75th anniversary, sailors will be vying for the biggest array of trophies and prizes in the history of the race.
Thanks to the official timekeeper, ADINA Watches, the skipper and all crew members of the Overall IRC winning yacht will all be presented with a specially designed Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race Winners Edition watch – the only blue water race in Australia to offer trophy watches for all winning IRC crew members.
The skipper of the Line Honours winning yacht will also receive one of the exclusive ADINA watches.
Believed to be the largest monetary prize in Australian sailing for the Performance Handicap Rating Factor (PHRF) division, the overall PHRF winner will be awarded the Peter Holm Cup along with a $10,000 cash prize.
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.
The race is celebrated throughout the Easter weekend thanks the Gladstone Regional Council’s ‘Easter in Gladstone’.
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.