Classic 8-metre yacht’s racing debut on Derwent

The classic 8-metre class yacht Juana, owned by online travel site Wotif.com founder Graeme Wood, made an impressive winter racing debut on Hobart’s River Derwent today, placing a close second in Division 1 of Bellerive Yacht Club’s Tilford Auto Group Winter Series.

While she has the same beautiful hull lines and massive rig as the traditional 8-metres such as Erica J and Norse that raced on the Derwent from the 1950s to the 1970s, Juana has a winged keel and spade rudder.

Prominent Dragon class helmsman Jock Young skippered Juana in today’s race, sailed in blustery winds of 20 to 25 knots, gusting to more than 30 knots, on a cool and wet day.

“We had a great race…in today’s strong breeze we carried a full mainsail and No 3 jib…she really powered to windward,” Young said after the race, adding: “I had a very good team aboard today from North Sails which certainly helped when the gusts reached 32 knots.”

Apart from a couple of Wednesday afternoon and twilight races, this was the first serious race for Juana which Graeme Wood bought four years ago. The boat was built in Queensland using Tasmania’s famous boat-building timber, Huon pine, for the hull with a teak deck.

He also owns a second modern 8-metre, Juanita, currently in Spain, which he plans to bring to Hobart.

Wood, an internet entrepreneur, philanthropist, environmentalist and yachtsman who owns the Triabunna woodchip mill site, is currently in Europe, but will skipper the yacht in the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s first Winter Series on Sunday, June 14.

In yesterday’s Division 1 race, first place on corrected time went to Mick Rowley’s Planet X by just 20 seconds from Juana, third place going to Ian Stewart’s Tas Paints, which took line honours after a three-way battle with Host Plus Executive (Jeff Cordell) and Wild West (Mike Denny).

Tas Paints got the gun 13 seconds ahead of Host Plus with Wild West a further 15 seconds astern.

In Division 2, Ian Marshall skippered Hot Prospect to another close win, a margin of 11 seconds on corrected time to Mind Games (Phil Reid), third place going to Rousabout (Grahame Inglis) which also had fastest time.

N-Yacht (P Wilkinson and G Frame) had an outright win in Division 3, taking line and handicap honours from Sundance (Don Bailey) and Quebrada (Tim Maddock).

– Peter Campbell 

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