The countdown is on as the biggest yachts of all head north
KEPPEL Bay Marina is buzzing a week out from the Brisbane to Keppel (B2K) yacht race.
Supermaxis Black Jack and 100ft Wild Oats XI are preparing to sail into town and the stakes are high.
For Keppel Bay Marina general manager Kylie Smith, it's all hands on deck at the marina and the Waterline restaurant in the run-up to the Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel Tropical Yacht Race.
"The Sydney to Hobart is coming to the Keppel Bay, and we can't wait,” Ms Smith laughs.
"Well it's the Capricorn Coast's version of it, we like to say.
"It's the weekend when the Capricorn Coast welcomes yachts of the calibre of Wild Oats XI and Black Jack and to be a part of the excitement and glamour of world-class yachting right here in Keppel Bay is fantastic.”
Last year, line honours winner Wild Oats XI, skipper Mark Richards and his crew came sailing into Keppel Bay Saturday night around 8pm.
They arrived just in time to take in the marina's party atmosphere, and for the Waterline restaurant to shout the crew a much-anticipated Banana Station steak and a Pure Gold pineapple trophy.
"The Brisbane to Keppel is a really important race for us, it helps to prepare us for Hamilton Island race week which kicks off August 18,” Mr Richards says.
"On a less serious note, we love Richard's Banana Station steak, a cold Heineken beer and the big smiles and hospitality we get when we arrive at Keppel Bay Marina.”
Race organiser, Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron Sailing, and its race manager Brady Lowe says this year there are two new competitors.
"For the first time we have two multihulls competing,” he says. "Queensland boat Rushour fresh from her line honours victory in New Caledonia Groupama race and Kiwi boat Ave Gitana will take on the 26 monohulls competing in the Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel Tropical Yacht Race.
"We've also broken the B2K up into stages so now everyone will have eight chances at a win rather than one.
"There's still the usual line honours titles, of course.”
Both races are part of the bigger national and Queensland yacht racing season that sees many of the yachts go to Noumea, Gladstone, Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach, Sydney and Hobart.
"We kick into celebration mode from when the race starts at 11am on Friday,” Ms Smith says.
"We track the yachts' progress live on the yacht tracker, and our preparations go into overdrive ready for the first boat to cross the finish line sometime on Saturday afternoon or evening.
"The real celebrations start on Sunday with the official finish line festival at the Waterline restaurant.
"We set up a sailors' bar and steakhouse in the marquee, have live entertainment from 11am right through the day, it is a fantastic atmosphere welcoming the sailors and celebrating their finish.
"Weather conditions are looking fairly light this year, which could mean the party continues into Monday as the tail end of the fleet finish the race and the official presentation is planned for 10.30am kick off.”
With the Brisbane to Keppel high stakes supermaxis battling it out, magnificent monohulls and multis sailing for glory together with the Capricorn Coast's winter warmth and hospitality, the yacht racing weekend will be one not to miss.
Check out who's ahead in the Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel Yacht Race on Facebook: Brisbanetokeppel or www.rqys.com.au
For details on the Finish Line Festival at Keppel Bay Marina: