B2G yacht race organisers optimistic they’ll get a race in
Organisers of the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race are optimistic they’ll have a smooth sailing event after COVID-19 forced the event to be cancelled in 2020.
On Wednesday it was announced the Gladstone Ports Corporation would be the new named sponsor for the B2G in the event’s 73rd year, taking over the naming rights from Qantas.
GPC acting CEO Craig Walker said the partnership between GPC and the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club was for three years with hopes of being extended.
“It’s almost like a natural thing,” Mr Walker said.
“The yacht race has been part of Gladstone’s DNA for 73 years and we’ve got such a wonderful port and a lovely marina.
“There’s an ability to showcase our commercial marina to interact with the industrial shipping, the recreational boat craft here and some of the best racing yachts in the southern hemisphere.”
He said the event had been growing in momentum over the years with hopes of drawing in people from not only all over Queensland, but all over Australia, to Gladstone.
“We know in the last number of weeks the Sydney to Hobart wasn’t allowed to go ahead, we know this race wasn’t able to go ahead last year,” he said.
“What we do know is a number of frustrated yacht crews that are sitting around are not looking to keep going rusty, they’re looking to get their boats out there and they’re looking to start racing.”
He said the event was being planned as if to go ahead with COVID plans in place for any surrounding festivities.
Cooper McKenzie Marketing’s Grant Cooper said the race would once again be live streamed.
He said the initiative funded by the Gladstone Regional Council meant the race was able to be seen by Gladstone residents and around the world in people’s living rooms and this year it would be displayed on the big screen at East Shores.
“Yachting has been seen as elitist over the years when it really isn’t,” Mr Cooper said.
“Skippers are always on the look out for crew members on boats and when you look at eight or nine crew members on a big boat, add the families to that and the families of families there’s a lot of interest to that.
“It’s great publicity for the Gladstone region and it’s excellent publicity for yachting in Australia.”
Speaking on behalf of the QCYC, Mr Cooper said this year there was a focus on managing a contingency plan.
“We’ve been told the race is going to go ahead, albeit a day to day proposition,” he said.
“We’ve been contingency planning all the way along to be able to bring the race to the live stream of the internet.
“All safety precautions will be taken into account, the QCYC is anticipating all the way along to make sure that should there be any lockdowns the club will comply with all the safety requirements.
“Should there be an outbreak I would suggest there would be an instant cancellation of the event.”
He said the QCYC and the Port Curtis Sailing Club would be watching the state’s safety concerns closely.
“We saw the Sydney to Hobart yacht race cancelled due to the fact boats couldn’t enter Tasmania,” he said.
“We’re lucky that it's a state internal race, so unless they lock down Brisbane we’re pretty sure we’ll get a race in.”
Port Curtis Sailing Club commodore Neil ‘Tot’ Moran said the community had missed the race last year.
“It is a tradition; it is a part of Gladstone’s history,” Mr Moran said.
“Everybody looks forward to it every Easter, everybody missed it last year.”
He said at a meeting last month some early entrants had already put their names down, but he said it was typical for crews to sign up right before entries closed just before Easter.
“Our fleet numbers are down in Gladstone but there are at least two locals I’m aware of (entering the race),” he said.
He was sure locals would be cheering for Wistari during the race.