Not all smooth sailing for Launceston to Hobart yachties

Gallery photos credit: Dane Logek

THE Fork in the Road has claimed line honours and the Perpetual Trophy as the overall winner on corrected time in the Derwent Sailing Squadron’s (DSS) seventh annual Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race.

Skippered by former Olympic sailor and world dingy class champion Gary Smith, the 45-footer from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania added AMS and IRC handicap wins to the line honours victory.

Andrew Scott’s 38-footer Ballendean took out the PHS category, beating The Fork in the Road by two hours and 31 minutes.

Third place went to 50-footer Fish Frenzy (Stephen Keal), which was also the third boat to finish, 14 hours after The Fork in the Road.

DSS assistant race director Michael Denney said just seven of the 26 original starters finished the 285-nuatuical mile race around the eastern coast of Tasmania that set off from Beauty Point on the Tamar River.

Mr Denney said despite starting off with very little breeze and a slow run across the Tamar River, strong south westerly winds caused many crews to suffer early mishaps.

“Only two yachts (The Fork in the Road and Ballendean) weathered the ferocious 30-40 knot winds to finish the race,” he said.

“The remainder of the fleet sought shelter or were forced to retire, with two boats suffering some damage and injuries, although not serious,” he said.

“The skippers who made the decision to seek shelter demonstrated very good seamanship, which should be praised.

“It is much more important to preserve the ship and crew than to risk the dangerous conditions just to cross the finish line. The conditions were just not ideal.”

The AMS results, which decide the overall winner of the race, saw The Fork in the Road win from Fish Frenzy and CDC Development (Tas) – Hot Prospect (Ian Marshall).

The Minister for Tourism, Scott Bacon, has congratulated the winning crews of the 2013 Launceston to Hobart and Melbourne to Hobart yacht races.

The handicap winners of the Melbourne to Hobart west coaster and east Coaster races were Merlion, skippered by Eddie Mackevicius, and Angus Fletcher’s Tevake II, respectively.

“The Launceston and Melbourne to Hobart races have established their reputation among local and interstate yachties as an affordable opportunity to participate in an ocean race,” Mr Bacon said.

“Having these ocean races finish on the Derwent at the same time as the Sydney to Hobart is also a great chance for crews to celebrate their sport, while also acting as a significant tourist drawcard,” he said.

“Yachting draws many visitors to Tasmania with people from around the world converging on the Hobart waterfront to see the yachts and their crews.

“Yacht racing, along with events like the Falls Music and Art Festival, Cadbury Marathon, MONA FOMA, and nationally recognised tennis tournaments in Burnie, Hobart and Launceston, make Tasmania a really vibrant place to be at this time of year.”

Mr Bacon said the state government had provided $49,500 in 2014 to develop the schools team-racing program and extend the existing Tracker training and development program.

“The Tasmanian Institute of Sport this year also provided scholarships to eight elite Tasmanian sailors, ensuring a strong future for Tasmanian yachting.”

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