Bruny Island Yacht Race - Cougar II leads the fleet

Cougar II to leeward to early leader War Games - Bruny Island Yacht Race 2012
Rob Cruse
Bruny Island Yacht Race, hosted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, 86th edition is currently underway. The Transpac 52 Cougar II this evening is power-reaching up the D’Entrecasteaux Channel towards a line honours victory.

Skippered by Beaconsfield-based medico Tony Lyall, Cougar II sailed past the historic Channel village of Middleton about 6.30pm and with less than 25 nautical miles to sail she could finish before 10pm.

This is the first Bruny Island Race for Cougar II, which Lyall bought just before the recent Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The powerful yacht has spreadeagled the fleet in her two previous distance races in southern Tasmania since the Sydney Hobart, in which she finished 13th in fleet.

'We think she (Cougar II) should cross the finish line off Hobart’s Castray Esplanade by ten o’clock or even earlier at the boatspeed she seems to be making,' principal race officer Roger Martin said early this evening.

'The fleet of 25 boats has enjoyed an 18-19 knot south-easterly breeze since early this afternoon after the frustratingly light winds this morning in the River Derwent.

Young 88 Youngsta is among small boats well place on PHS handicaps - Bruny Island Yacht Race 2012
Rob Cruse

'On corrected time the conditions should favour the smaller boats such as Take Five, Cleopatra, Youngsta and Footloose,' Martin added. 'However, it all hinges on the whether the good breeze hangs in over night.'

At 1830 hours (6.30pm) Cougar II was abeam of Middleton, where the D’Entrecasteaux Channel between Bruny Island and the Tasmanian mainland narrows.

She held a lead of about five nautical miles from Mr Kite, Andrew Hunn’s Cape/Barrett 40, which recovered well from her tardy start, the result of a collision with the RYCT starting boat.

About two miles astern came the two Farr 40s, War Games (Wayne Banks-Smith) and POW (Michael Cooper), closely followed by the Ker 11.7 Dump Truck (Justin Wells and Edward Fader).

A large group of yachts was just south of Partridge Island with a gap to the last group, sailing in good breeze to round Cape Bruny. Last in fleet was Ian Gannon’s Tradition 30 Take Five, but still well placed on PHS handicaps.