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J/99 Balancing Act wins Australia's Brisbane to Gladstone Race

by Tony Craner, J/Boats 12 Apr 06:34 BST
J/99 Balancing Act - Brisbane to Gladstone Race ©

Easter brings the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race (B2G) every spring. The J/99 BALANCING ACT lined up for its second Easter race in as many years.

Here's the report from owner Tony Craner.

"The forecast was a 'normal' B2G, a 308.0nm downhill race with strong SE breezes. As can happen, someone forgot to tell the weather gods. The start was less than 4 knots. Being very shy wind angles, we started with the A3 spinnaker.

We were reasonably positioned at the start in the middle of the big boats. A little after the start the wind moved aft slightly and the crew called for a kite change. From A3 to A2 asym kite, completed in 40 seconds, terrific crew work!

The wind increased to 10 knots and it was a nice run to the first mark. Kite down, now a windward leg for 8 miles and watch for the strong tide.

The boat wasn't performing to expectations, we were losing ground. Changed helm, no improvement. Prop not fully folded, possible cause?? Eventually, we stop the boat, the main was pushed out to reverse the boat, and two large clumps of weed came clear from the rudder! OK, back in business!

For the rest of the run out of Moreton Bay the wind increased to 15 kts giving us a pleasant run.

Rounding the fairway mark, the SE breeze has a lot of East in it, too tight for the kite, Code 0 goes up. We are in company with 5 other boats, all larger 35-45 footers, we were the smallest boat in the fleet. The aim was to keep just above the rhumb line to give run-off room for any squalls. Good choice, just off Mooloolaba we saw a 35 knot squall. With full main and code 0 up, we ran off for a bit. When the wind eased below 30 kts, we reefed the main and hoisted the J4 to take us back to the rhumb line.

11pm at night we can now make Double Island Point, the first major 'bump' in the course as we head up the coastline. A3 back up, wind 15-20s, now we start leaving our accompanying boats.

From Double Island, it was 60 miles north to Indian Head, the next 'bump' (e.g. our next left turn). Through the night and morning we ran with the A3 in 20-25kts, but we were not making the headland and the boat was pressed. Change of watch helped and the smaller kite was proposed, its designed as a runner, but we have run it heavy winds with shy angles before. What a difference! The boat was more controllable, peak speed less, but average higher. We reeled in our friends on the Sydney 38 and blasted past them. We almost made the headland, but with the beach waves in sight, we dropped the kite, and 20 minutes of two sailing was required.

Half distance and kite up again, yes this is Easter! Cutting close to the reef at Sandy Cape always saves time, the tracker later showed we did that right. Around Breaksea Light and 28 miles to Lady Elliot, this run is square and, as we only run asymmetrical spinnakers, it's the leg you wish for a symmetrical setup.

Around the island and the 70 mile run across the 'paddock'. A lovely three-quarter kite run. The aim was to make the Gladstone fairway at least two hours before the tide change. Part-way along, a call for all hands on deck, 35 knots wind with the A3 and full main. With a kind sea state, the boat was stable and flying along, though we did later put a reef in for security!

We made the tide and finished at 11:22pm.


  • 1st IRC Division 2. Winning your division is always the first target.
  • 3rd overall ORCi
  • 1st overall AMS (Australian Measurement System)

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