Gladstone sailors discuss Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race

Sailing days are over but racing tales last a lifetime

BARRY Austin's sailing days are over but the tales he has to tell about the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race will last a lifetime.

Between 1959 and 1964 Barry cherished many thrills of sailing in three Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Races.

He has been a member of the Port Curtis Sailing Club for about 60 years.

Barry relishes in his former racing days. The club patron said he missed the racing but was just too old for it now.

"I'm too slow and I won't go if I can't do my share," Barry said.

The thrill of sailing the open seas in previous Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Races is one of Barry's great loves.

"I sailed two races on a boat called Mayra and one on Elva D."

Throughout the journeys, Barry has picked up a few tales.

"In my first race in '59 there were seven of us on board and they all got sick down below," Barry began.

The story continued as Barry relayed how the boat took an awful blow off Double Island Point.

Soon after, Barry had to go down below to make some small repairs.

"Our yacht had tiles on the floor and I hit the floor from the companion stairs and I slid all the way up to the bow."

After getting things organised, Barry said the drama still wasn't over.

"One of our crew members, Bob, cooked up a big stew and it simply smelt beautiful," he said.

"The doctor, who owned the boat, decided he was going to come up and have a look around but in the meantime, Bob had put this pot of stew down alongside the companionway."

Barry said the doctor then walked through the bile and stood in the stew.

"I looked at Harry, the skipper, and said, 'Geez I'm hungry mate' and he said, 'Me too'. "We ate the stew after the doc had stood in the stew," Barry laughed.

Looking back, Barry cherished every moment.

He said there were three stages to a race.

"The adrenalin is pumping that hard at the start it will blow you apart, particularly up Fraser, then when you come up here.

"You find everyone waiting for you. It's adrenaline pumping."

In the earlier years Barry recalls a rather cheeky memory.

"Another tradition for finishing is the bottle of rum used to come out," he chuckled.

The adrenalin is pumping that hard at the start it will blow you apart, particularly up Fraser, then when you come up here

Following that, the after party consisted of the crews getting billeted out.

"They would tie up and there would be business people that would take them home for a shower and meal.

"The party would then be down at the art gallery."

With the availability of technology, Barry agreed  these days it was far easier to communicate during the race than in earlier days.

"When they started in the first race they had homing pigeons," he said. "They use to put a note on the leg of the pigeon and let it go to let you know where the yacht was."

His report continued with a catch line.

"But the story goes that they ran low on tucker. And the pigeons became the dinner," he laughed.

Barry said some of the sights you would come across during the race were picturesque.

"Coming up Fraser as the moon's coming up out of the sea and it's just coming up off the top of the horizon off the water.

"It's just something you can't describe - you have to see it for yourself."

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