The coming weekend’s JJ Richards Bruny Island Yacht Race has attracted a classy fleet of 16 yachts for the 89-nautical mile circumnavigation of the elongated island south of Hobart. The race starts at 9.30am on Saturday, 10 February, from a line between the Royal Hobart Regatta Grounds and Rosny Bluff.
The Bruny Island Race takes the fleet through the tricky inshore reaches and bays of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and also the potentially rough ocean of the Tasman Sea along the seaward coastline of Bruny Island and across Storm Bay.
The 2018 race marks 120 years since the then fledgling Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania first staged what was called ‘The Ocean Race’ for the first 30 years.
Although there have been gaps in the years the race has been held since 1898, it is Australia’s oldest long distance inshore/offshore yacht race and over the years has attracted yachts from around the world joining the local fleet.
The 2018 fleet includes past line and handicap winners of the Bruny Island race, past Sydney Hobart overall and division winners, and an Australian Yachting Championship winner.
Heading the fleet are Mike Pritchard’s Cookson 50 Oskana, which contested the recent 73rd Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, and Gary Smith’s Bakewell-White 45, The Fork in the Road.
This will be the first Bruny Island Race for Oskana, but The Fork in the Road has been a regular front runner in the fleet, in 2013 taking line honours and also winning the AMS, IRC and PHS handicap categories on corrected times.
Expected to give the bigger boats a run for their money, especially in light airs, are Scott Sharp Melges 32 Crusader and the Farr 40 Peregrine, skippered by David Stephenson and representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Crusader won the PHS division of last weekend’s Combined Clubs pennant race over a 30-nautical mile inshore/offshore course, only her second race with the Derwent fleet.
Veteran yachtsman Don Calvert will once again be on the helm of his famous Castro 40 Intrigue which has won eleven Bruny Island Race on corrected time, in 2016 outsailing larger yachts to also take line honours.
Another past winner competing this weekend is Stewart Geeves’ Young 88 Footloose which won the AMS category in 2014 and 2015 and the PHS category in 2016. In 2014, Whistler won IRC and is again expected to do well.
Favourites for AMS and IRC honours would have to be Intrigue, Whistler, Peregrine and Shaun Tiedemann’s Sydney 36cr Philosopher, just returned from Victoria where she won her division of the Australian Yachting Championship on Port Phillip.
The two Tasmanian yachts entered for this year’s CYCA Sydney to Noumea race, Cromarty Magellen and She’s Apples Two, plan to give their crews a good workout in the Bruny Island Race.
Cromarty Magellen, a Tasmanian designed and built Knoop 39 skippered by Richard Grant, won the Corinthian division of the 2015 Sydney Hobart.
She’s Apples Two, a Jarkan 12.5, now owned by Marcus McKay from Kettering Yacht Club, was IMS overall winner of the 1991 Sydney Hobart when, because the IOR rating system was being superseded by IMS, there were two overall winners, IOR and IMS.
Race record for the 89-nautical mile JJ Richards Bruny Island Race stands at 8 hours 02 minutes set by the New Zealand maxi yacht Konica Minolta in 2005.
Last year, the Tasmanian-owned but mostly internationally-based Alive came within 12 minutes of breaking that record.
– Peter Campbell