Gladstone crews ready to compete in iconic yacht race
Two Gladstone yacht crews are making the 300 nautical mile journey to the Brisbane to Gladstone race start line.
The skippers of the locally celebrated yachts, Wistari's Scott Patrick and John Ibell who is at helm of Restless, are the only two Gladstone crews in this year's race.
Restless departed for Brisbane on Friday morning while Wistari will set sail this Saturday, ready for race day on April 2 - the journey there taking them between three to six days with overnight stops.
The iconic event comes after Gladstone Ports Corporation was revealed as the official sponsor of the event for the next three years.
This year Queenslanders will celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the race, after the event took a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Acting CEO Craig Walker said this year's event would be one of the most memorable races in its history.
"This yacht race is an Easter tradition and Gladstone Ports Corporation is excited to sponsor the event which is the biggest yacht race we've seen since the pandemic," Mr Walker said.
"Both local yachts Wistari and Restless are celebrated in our community and are local treasures with a rich history.
"We'll sure be cheering on our local skippers."
Wistari's history dates back to 1965 and was built by Scott Patrick's father Neil Patrick in their suburban backyard in Gladstone.
"Gladstone only had 3000 people when she was first launched and every one of them came out to watch the launch," Mr Patrick said.
"I don't think dad expected her to last this long … I think he expected a maximum of 25 years of life out of her.
This year will mark Wistari's 51st race in the Brisbane to Gladstone.
"I'm looking forward to this after a bit of a break," Mr Patrick said.
For skipper John Ibell, his sailing roots run deep in Gladstone with his grandfather helping build the yacht club in 1949 - one year after the first Brisbane to Gladstone race.
This year will be the sixth race for Restless.
"Over the years we've raced with a lot of family members and friends," Mr Ibell said.
"Preparations always start a few months beforehand and we're always excited as soon as we hit the water. "