Easter's a sweet time for an 'ol salty
SAILING: It will be exactly in a week's time that Barry Austin will watch the boats sail into the Gladstone Marina as the 70th Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race nears completion.
Austin, 79, has been involved with the Port Curtis Sailing Club for more than six decades and has sailed the great race some three times.
It seems a low number for such a long involvement with sailing, but he recalls them as though they were yesterday.
"I was on Mayra, a Gladstone boat in 1959 and 1960 and in 1961 I was on Elva D," he said.
It was his first race where the adrenalin started to flow.
"We started with quite a quiet morning on the bay and we came across a bay full of jelly fish," Austin said.
"They were very hard to sail through and we got outside of the bay and off Coloundra we got a great storm from the south-west.
"It knocked us around quite a bit and we had a head-wind on that particular occasion with the storm."
After the storm had passed, a young Austin and his crew finished up arriving in Gladstone on the Monday because of light winds.
Fast-track decades later and you could still see Austin around the club and preparing the boast in ahead of regular Saturday competitions.
And the build-up to next weekend has already started.
"It's a huge milestone and it's something that we haven't seen since the 50th and we had quite a huge number of boats...230 I think it was," Austin recalled.
"It was a terrific big fleet and it was just massive spinnakers coming up the harbour and it was quite a slow race as well."
Austin predicts a quiet start to this years event with easterly winds between 10 and 15 knots.
"That was on the BOM site and easterlies are not too bad and any easterly is quite handy," he said.
"It gives you all the angles all the way up."
As well-documented, Austin is a life member and club patron of the PCSC and his love for the water began after a cyclone had struck the family's house on Pier Street in 1949.
"Family friends, the Renton's, fixed it and this was when I met Harry Renton, a long time lover of the water, who later bought 'Sea Prince', the first Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht race winner," Austin said.
"He then went on with modifications adding a doghouse and Bermuda rig, asking me if I would like to help. When she was back in the water I did a lot of sailing on her with Jack Mortensen."