Huge fleet on the Derwent for Showdown Regatta

A young Laser sailor at speed on the River Derwent.
Dane Lojek
Over 180 sailing craft, ranging from Optimist dinghies to ocean racing yachts, are expected to be out on Hobart’s River Derwent this Saturday, 3rd November, competing in the Audi Showdown Regatta. As such, the Showdown is one of the biggest mixed fleet regattas in Australia, involved close to 600 sailors ranging in age from eight to eighty.

Conducted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the Showdown in an early-season regatta aimed at providing big-fleet competition for the State’s sailors as they prepare for major national championships and ocean races.

The Showdown starts on Friday evening, 2nd November with a twilight harbour race for an expected fleet of more than 30 keelboats and sportsboats.

Saturday will see a massive sea of sail on the Derwent, with the off-the-beach classes starting the first day of competition with up to four races planned on Saturday and Sunday. Off-the-beach entries of dinghies and small catamarans late today totalled 122, with late entries still coming in.

The keelboat fleet will be boosted on Saturday with more than additional 40 to 50 yachts expected to join the regatta fleet in what is also part of the Combined Clubs long race series.

Veteran Hobart yachtsman Don Calvert has supported the Audi Showdown since its inception with his Castro 40 Intrigue.

The long race, starting from off Castray Esplanade from 9.20am Saturday, will mark the return to racing in southern Tasmania of Cougar II, owned by Beaconsfield-based medico Tony Lyall.

Cougar II is entered for the entire regatta as the start an intensive crew-training program for Lyall’s second Sydney Hobart campaign for with the powerful TP52 he bought late last year.

The Audi Showdown has major significance for International dinghy classes, Cadets, Laser, Laser Radials and Laser 4.7, 420s and Optimists which will be holding their national championships in Hobart this summer. In case of the International Cadets, this will also include a world championship for the two-crew dinghy.

Several interstate sailors in the Laser Radials and Lasers 4.7 and Optimist dinghies, all single-handed classes, are flying in from Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth to ‘test the waters’ of the Derwent before the nationals in late December to early January.

Among them are Australian youth champion in the Laser 4.7 class, Jack Felsenthal and top-ranked girl sailor in the class, Anna Philp, both from Victoria.