Launceston to Hobart Race officially launched

Audi Penfold Sports at the start of last year’s Launceston to Hobart
Rob Cruse
Four Victorian yachts are expected to enter The Good Guys Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race this year, including the champion yacht Audi Penfold Sports from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. Derwent Sailing Squadron Commodore Ron Bugg announced the interstate interest in this 285 nautical mile race around the north and east coastline of Tasmania at today’s launch of the sixth annual L2H.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Michelle O’Byrne, in officially launching the race, described the L2H as a highly competitive alternative in time, cost and experience for yacht owners and their crews to the longer ocean races to Hobart from Sydney and Melbourne.

Commodore Bugg predicted a fleet of forty boats for this year’s L2H, which starts from Beauty Point on the Tamar River at 11am on December 27, also welcoming aboard as new naming rights sponsor, electric retailers The Good Guys.

Hobart yachtsman Gary Smith (centre) with Commodores Ron Bugg (Derwent Sailing Squadron) and Donelda Niles (Tamar Yacht Club) at today's launch of the Good Guys Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race.
Rob Cruse

Commodore Bugg said interest in the L2H had spread across Bass Strait with at least four Victorian yachts expected to join the fleet of boats from the Derwent and the Tamar in setting sail from Beauty Point to Hobart.

Melbourne-based yachtsman and Port Phillip ship’s pilot Captain David Ellis, who flew over especially for the launch, announced he planned to again enter his yacht, Audi Penfold Sports.

The Archambault 31, the first Victorian entrant in the L2H, sailed a most competitive race last year, placing third in the IRC handicap category.

Ellis has since scored an impressive win at the Sydney Harbour Regatta and a respectable second place at Hamilton Island Race Week, and loaned the boat to a Tasmanian crew which went on to win the Australian women’s keelboat championship on Melbourne’s Port Phillip.

Melbourne yachtsman David Ellis points out his yacht Audi Penfold Sports on the poster for the L2H to Peter Newman and Donelda Niles from the Tamar Yacht Club.
Rob Cruse

In addition, the DSS has received expressions of interest from three other Victorian yachts: Bernard Allard’s Elan 410, Saltaire, Rick Pacey’s Beneteau 36.7 and Kathy McFarlane’s Elliott 10.5, Running Bare, also from the RYCV.

Heading a strong local fleet will be Gary Smith’s Bakewell-White 45, The Fork in the Road, which last weekend won the premier AMS handicap category of the 190 nautical mile Maria Island Race around Tasmania’s rugged south-east coast.

Smith has returned to offshore racing this summer with his fast, Tasmanian-built yacht which took line honours in the 2008 Launceston to Hobart Race and is aiming at line honours again, plus a major handicap win.

'I am aiming at a double victory in the L2H – line honours and first place overall on corrected time,' Smith said at the launch. 'I have a very strong crew this year, including sailmaker Steve Walker and Alex Norton, who has recently returned from being involved in the Spanish Telefonica challenge for the Volvo Race.'

Last year’s Overall Winner, Masquerade, Tony Harmsen’s Morgan 35, will be lining up again, along with past handicap division winners Host Plus Executive (Jeff Cordell), Pisces (David Taylor) and Footloose (Stewart Geeves).

Several entries are expected from Tamar River clubs, including Advantedge. Andrew Jones’ fast Inglis 14.3 from the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club.