National Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race - Record fleet predicted

The Fork in the Road takes line honours in the recent Maria Island Race - Launceston to Hobart Race 2013
Peter Campbell
The seventh annual National Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race, organised by the Derwent Sailing Squadron, is expected to attract a record fleet of between 35 and 40 boats, including several Victorian entries.

Commodore Ron Bugg made this prediction at today’s official launch of the 285 nautical mile offshore race, with State Minister for Finance Scott Bacon MP formally launching the increasingly popular event at the DSS Sandy Bay clubhouse.

Commodore Bugg said the like 2013 race fleet looked likely to be 'outstanding' in both quantity and quality, with entries flowing in from Tamar River and River Derwent yachts as well as from Melbourne clubs.

Favourite to repeat her line honours victory in last year’s rugged race is Garry Smith’s Tasmanian built Bakewell-White 52 The Fork in the Road, again the biggest boat in the race.

Interest, however, will focus on the battle between three powerful Beneteau First 45s, Colin Denney’s The Protagonist and Mike Pritchard’s Audere from Bellerive Yacht Club and the Tamar Yacht Club entrant, Richard Fisher’s Believe.

A strong opponent will be Bellerive Yacht Club Commodore John Mills’ re-named Lyons 40, Nexedge, which won the 1993 Sydney Hobart Race on IMS corrected time, racing as Cuckoo’s Nest. She has recently raced in Hobart as Bombora.

Maria Island Race handicap winner Kaiulani, Malcolm Cooper’s 33-year-old Snook 30, will be fronting up for her seventh Launceston to Hobart and in a slow race could repeat her Maria Island Race ‘hat-trick’ of wins under AMS, IRC and PHS scoring.

Overall winner of the 2010 L2H race, Tony Harman’s Morgan 35 Masquerade is again an entrant but last year’s winner, the Victorian yacht Penfold Audi Sport is now unlikely to defend her victory.

Victorian Sarah Allard and her husband, who last year received the Seamanship Award, have again entered the Two-Handed division with their yacht Saltaire II.

The concept of the L2H originated from Geilston Bay Boat Club member Ian Marshall. He has competed in all six races with his Farr 1104 Hot Prospect, being rewarded with a second in the premier AMS handicap division last year. He is again an entry this year.

The National Launceston to Hobart Race starts from Beauty Point near the mouth of the Tamar River, with the assistance of the Tamar Yacht Club, on December 27, with a 10am start to ensure a favourable tide.

From Low Head, at the Tamar entrance, the fleet will sail eastwards across Bass Strait, then through the challenging Banks Strait before heading down the East Coast, sailing through the Mercury Passage between Maria Island and the Tasmanian mainland. Ahead of the fleet will be Tasman Island, Storm Bay and the ever-changing River Derwent.

The finish line will off Castray Esplanade, Hobart, sharing the same finish line as the Sydney Hobart and Melbourne to Hobart ocean races. The leading yachts should take about two days, finishing late on December 29.

The finished yachts will be on display on the northern side of Kings Pier walkway and also in Constitution Dock as part of the Hobart Summer Festival.

Launch of the NATIONAL Launceston to Hobart Race, left to right Government Minister Scott Bacon, Gary Smith (on board The Fork in the Road), Kaiulani skipper Malcolm Cooper, Derwent Sailing Squadron Commodore Ron Bugg and new race sponsor Ricky Smith from Tasmanian Bakeries. - Launceston to Hobart Race 2013
Peter Campbell

Arch rivals, but likely to be 'books ends' of the fleet, Gary Smith (The Fork in the Road) and Malcolm Cooper (Kaiulani) at today's launch of the NATIONAL Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race - Launceston to Hobart Race 2013
Peter Campbell