Risk Of Litigation Threatens To End Yacht Race
'Threat Of Litigation Puts Wind Up Race Organisers' The Courier-Mail 21/7/1999

Queensland's premier yacht race, the Brisbane to Gladstone, is in danger of being scrapped next year due to litigation fears arising from the ill-fated Sydney-Hobart classic.

Another prestige ocean race has already been cancelled due to potential litigation.

The bi-annual Australia to New Caledonia yacht race, due to start simultaneously from Brisbane and Sydney next month, has been scrapped as a "culture of litigation" engulfs the state's yachting fraternity.

Organisers of the Brisbane to Gladstone race say they are concerned about the legal ramifications in the event of injury or death.

They already face legal action from this year's Easter race after two competitors fell overboard.

Queensland Cruising Yacht Club commodore Ian Gidlow said:

"We are considering whether it is worth running the Brisbane to Gladstone — given people's propensity to sue and given the willingness of lawyers to take their cases on."

The QCYC, which had organised the Australia to New Caledonia race, cancelled the event, claiming regulations governing yacht racing were "in limbo" following the Sydney-Hobart disaster.

An inquiry into the southern race has recommended more stringent safety requirements.

But the QCYC believes the guidelines are complex and have not yet been adopted by the sport's governing body, the Australian Yachting Federation.

Mr Gidlow said the club could have run the Australia to New Caledonia event on existing safety guidelines, but would have risked legal action from competitors.

"I don't like to think the death knell is sounding for yacht racing in Queensland, but that may very well be the case," he said. "The bar hasn't yet been set on the new safety standard . . .and the very real threat of legal action has caused us to take a second look at organising all yachting events, including next year's Brisbane to Gladstone. A lot of high-powered yachties have a valuable Investment in their yachts, and also have high-powered lawyers."

Brisbane naturopath Alan Profke, who was to have skippered his 53-foot yacht in the race, said legal concerns could kill off the sport in Queensland.

Dr Profke said he and his six-man crew were intending to sail to New Caledonia anyway, after all the time, effort and money spent preparing the yacht.