Combined Clubs Harbour Series - Big turn out for first day

Classic yacht Serica (Charles Peacock) holds her own on the state-of-the-art Storm Dragon (Tom Pilkington) and Group 4 on the Derwent today - Combined Clubs Harbour Series 2011
Rob Cruse
Combined Clubs Boat Sales Tasmania Pre-Christmas Harbour Series - Hobart yachtsman got a first-up taste of tough sailing conditions on the Derwent today as they competed in the opening day of racing in the new series.

Most boats and crews coped well with as the fresh to strong winds switched from north-west to west and back again to north-west, averaging 18 to 27 knots but gusting to 37 knots mid-afternoon. Racing started in rain squalls but finished under blue skies.

One Group 5 boat, Rod Williams’ Alibi II, was dismasted in one sharp gust while the Lloyd Clark’s Farr 40 Voodoo Chile retired from race one after reporting gear damage. Several other yachts suffered breakages but were able to continue racing.

Derwent Sailing Squadron conducted this first day of racing under the new Combined Clubs format, with 65 entrants and 51 starters. The Farr 40s, Groups one and two racer/cruisers and International Dragons sailed two windward/leeward races on the mid-river course; Groups four, five and six cruiser/racers started and finished off Castray, sailing across the river to mark B2 on a windward/leeward course.

Bellerive Yacht Club boats had a great day on the water, with Harold Clark’s Invincible taking out both races for Group one on AMS ratings and Ian Stewart’s Tas Paints winning race one for Group one on PHS handicaps. Race two for Group one saw a PHS win for Rolex Sydney Hobart winner Whistler (David Rees).

Tas Paints picked the right wind shifts to lead the fleet home the first race for Group one, winning on PHS handicaps from Prion (Rob Viney) and Invincible, but had to concede AMS honours, placing third on corrected time to Invincible and Don Calvert’s Intrigue from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

In race two, with the wind strengthening and still shifting, Intrigue led the fleet home but could not crack first place, placing second on PHS to Whistler and second again to Invincible on AMS scoring. Invincible placed third on PHS while under AMS ratings third place went to Whistler.

Clark Wyatt’s Silicon Ship and Dave Willans’ Trouble both had good days in Group two, each scoring a win. In race one, Silicon Ship won narrowly on corrected time from Rousabout (Graham Inglis), which had fastest time, third place going to Trouble.

Trouble took the double in race two, winning on corrected time from Silicon Ship and l’Etoile (John Dawson).

The Farr 40s started with four boats, but ended with three finishers as Voodoo Chile pulled out with unspecified gear damage. In a day of close racing, War Games (Wayne Banks-Smith) took honours in race one from Wired (Stephen Boyes) and Hughie Lewis’ Tilford Auto Group. In race two, honours went to Wired from Tilford Auto Group and War Games.

International Dragon class winner Nick Rogers described conditions for the one-design class as 'horrible' after just his boat, Karabos IX, and Wayne Wagg’s Freycinet sailed two races in conditions bordering on the edge for the Dragon. Rogers won both by comfortable margins.

Three groups started and finish from off Castray Esplanade, with boats encountering some vicious ‘squirts’ as they came back to the windward mark after a downwind leg across the river. Surprisingly few carried spinnakers in race one, when the breeze was only 15-18 knots.

Group four (non spinnaker) saw the return of Rob Fisher’s Helsal III to Saturday round-the-buoys racing and the 60-footer swept away from her rivals to get the gun by a massive 27 minutes in a race that took one hour and 3 minutes.

With that margin, Helsal III took first place on corrected time by an equally huge margin of 5 minutes 24 seconds from the Eliza (Ken Jacobson), third place going to the well-sailed Serica (Charles Peacock).

In Division five, Rotary (Norm Brundle) took handicap honours from Octopussy (Danny Cunningham) and line honours winner Grizzly Adams (Joel Bultman).

Steve Brown’s King Billy won Division six, winning on handicap from Free ‘n’ Easy (Bob Jones) with Ian Smith’s Innovator third after taking fastest time.

Wings Three and Eliza passing each other during today’s race on the Derwent - Combined Clubs Harbour Series 2011
Rob Cruse

Bellerive Yacht Club’s Trouble (Dave Willans) had a good day of racing - Combined Clubs Harbour Series 2011
Rob Cruse