Combined Clubs Long Distance Series - Channel Race preview

Fine Cotton (550) and Footloose (881) are among the 53 yachts entered for the Channel Race on Sunday which marked Hobart’s first Combined Club’s Long Distance Race of the summer season - Combined Clubs Long Distance Series 2011
Rob Cruse
Channel Race - The initiative of Hobart’s major yacht clubs in moving to a Combined Club Series on Saturday’s instead of individual club pennant racing has seen an early reward with a fleet of 53 boats entered for this Sunday’s race.

The Channel Race is the first in the Combined Clubs Long Distance Series of six long races over the season of 2011-2012 and follows Saturday’s Official Opening of the yachting season, which includes the combined manoeuvres of the fleets of six Hobart yacht and motor yacht clubs in Sullivan’s Cove.

The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania will conduct the Channel Race, with a combined start for the big fleet from Castray Esplanade at 9.40am. From there the yachts will sail a 25 nautical mile course down the River Derwent and into D’Entrecasteaux Channel to a turning mark between Pearson’s Point and Bligh Point, and back to Castray.

The first day of the new Combined Clubs Harbour Series will be held tomorrow week, with the Derwent Sailing Squadron running back-to-back windward/leeward mid-river courses.

'This is the biggest fleet for the Channel Race we have had for many years,' RYCT Vice Commodore Roger Martin said today. 'The excellent response of yacht owners from all three major clubs augers well for this first season of Combined Club racing.'

The Vice Commodore added: 'Almost every one of the boats in the Channel Race has also been entered for the Combined Clubs Long Distance Series over the season.'

The Channel Race fleet has been divided in three groups, based on their PHS ratings and predicted boat speed. The three groups will start together, not only providing a great spectacle off Battery Point, but also enabling race officials to determine an overall winner, based on PHS results.

The PHS ratings for Group one boats range from Bellerive Yacht Club Commodore John Mills’ Huon 10 Total Locks & Alarms (ex Jibe Talkin’) with a rating of 0.921, through to Wayne Banks-Smith’s Farr 40 War Games and the ocean racing Ker 11.3 Dump Truck (Justin Wells), which both have been given a PHS rating of 1.145.

Dump Truck is an entrant in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, as are two others contesting the Channel Race, Tony Lyall’s Elliott 43 Valheru and David Rees’ MBD 36 Whistler.

Group two comprises a wide range of boats, including last year’s Maria Island Race winner Footloose, Stewart Geeves’ Young 88; Dave Willans’ Trouble; John Hunn and his crew of veterans aboard Atilla; DSS Commodore Ron Bugg skippering Bugg Bear and Neil Snare’s Jigsaw.

Group three comprises the lowest rating boats in the fleet, including Malcolm Cooper’s 30-footer Kaiulani which has a competitive rating of 0.783 and last month’s Cock of the Huon, Ian Gannon’s Traditional 30 Take Five, which rates 0.725.

Tas Paints is leading Group 1 PHS of the Combined Clubs Harbour Series, shown here racing with Archie