If you’re reading this article looking forward to hearing about Jason’s exploits on the high seas, crashing waves, near vertical deck, the mental and physical toughness required to undertake major yacht racing, perhaps take a rain check.
If Jason is to be believed, it was more of a Gladstone ‘cruise’ than a Gladstone race this year. What professional sailors condescendingly refer to as ‘champagne sailing’*.
The 308 mile annual Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race hasn’t always been like this. In 1972 the race hit the tail end of Cyclone Emily and competitors experienced winds in excess of 96 knots* (that’s 177 km/h in landlubber speak).
“The heaviest weather we hit was 20 knots at the rounding mark at Tangalooma that lasted for 30 minutes just leaving Moreton Bay. Once we pointed the yacht north we hoisted the spinnaker* and pretty much kept it up all the way to Gladstone.” said Jason.
“There was a bit of drama when our bowman* Alex had to shimmy up to the top of the mast to retrieve the spinnaker halyard*, but that was it. In fact, the hardest part of the race was when we arrived in Gladstone. The harbour there is incredibly busy with commercial traffic, so we had to stay on our toes navigating our way in at 4am.
We survived the race OK, but we nearly didn’t survive the after party. It started on the Sunday morning and, well, I think I can leave the rest to your imagination.”
Jason was aboard Ray Sweeney’s yacht Mondo. The race started in Brisbane at 11am on the Friday and Mondo crossed the line in Gladstone at 5.40am on the Sunday, coming 19th across the line in a fleet of 45.
*Glossary of terms
Salty Seadog Speak : Landlubber Speak
Champagne sailing : “What – you want me to pull that rope with a glass in my hand”
Knot : 1 nautical mile per hour
Spinnaker : large balloon shaped sail at the front
Halyard : a rope that pulls the sail up
Bowman : bloke nearest the front of the boat
After party : competition to see who can drink the most