Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race bounces back from the brink of cancellation for second year running – ABC News


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Early this morning, the 2021 Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race was looking down the barrel of its first back-to-back cancellation in 73-years – its fate hinging on Queensland's coronavirus outbreak.Key points: The Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht will go aheadRace Director Karen Sommerville says they have 48 competitors, after 11 pulled out because of the coronavirus outbreak in QueenslandMs Sommerville says record owner Black Jack could shatter a racing record because of favourable wind conditionsBut the end of the Greater Brisbane lockdown means not only that will this year's race charge ahead, but also that race history could be made.For race director Karen Sommerville, this week had been a "challenging" one.She had watched competitors drop out of the race due to the Brisbane COVID lockdown."We've lost quite a lot of our fleet, we started with 48, but quite a lot of them have had to withdraw," Ms Somerville said.Commentator Grant Cooper said the lockdown ending earlier than expected is giving crews the time they needed to get provisions for the race and complete last-minute boat audits. "You cannot believe the amount of turmoil that's been behind the scenes and the organisation of such a huge offshore yachting race," he said.Despite some competitors pulling out, Mr Cooper said it's looking like a "very, very healthy fleet".John Ibell, Gladstone local and skipper of competitor, Restless, said he was "excited and relieved"."We put a lot of preparation into this race, as every yacht does," he said. John Ibell is a competitor in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race 2021.(Supplied: Grant Cooper)The Queensland Cruising Yacht Club made the "difficult decision" to cancel the 2020 Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht race due to the pandemic; another this year would have been the first back-to-back cancellation in the event's 73-year history.Historically the race website ranks among the top 4 per cent in the world for visitor numbers over the Easter weekend.Records could fallA weather cocktail brewing off the Capricorn coast forecast for the Easter weekend has sparked predictions that the 2018 race record could fall again.Peter Harburg's supermaxi, Black Jack, shattered the 14-year-old race record in 2018 – and Ms Somerville predicts that record may fall again this weekend. The Black Jack yacht. (ABC News: Kristian Silva)"Black Jack is still in the race and they'll certainly be looking to do a record … the winds are very favourable for a record for them," she said.Weather bureau forecaster Livio Regano said south-easterlies between 20 and 30 knots were likely for the weekend – which could be intensified by a potential low."Maybe Easter Sunday we even get a low forming off the coast – even earlier for places around Capricornia," he said."The devil's in the details with these east-coast low things, because its exact position when it forms … will determine … it's impact."For example, if it forms a little bit further offshore it will have much less impact on the coastal wins than if it forms over land or close to land."Black Jack's current race record stands at 16 hours, 53 minutes and 57 seconds.A win would bring it into Gladstone in the early hours of Saturday morning.What you need to know about coronavirus: When will I get the vaccine?The symptomsThe number of cases in AustraliaGlobal cases, deaths and testing rates
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