'Coming home' for Victorian – via Launceston to Hobart Race

The 2014 Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race will have special significance for Melbourne yachtsman Richard Gates – culminating a return to yachting after a break of 30 years and sailing back to where he grew up.

Gates, a Melbourne-based senior corporate banker, will skipper the sole Victorian yacht, Absolut, in the 285 nautical mile race along Tasmania’s eastern coastline.

“I was brought up in Hobart and began my sailing there, in International Cadets and Rainbows, moving on to Sharpies, but I’ve been out of competitive sailing for 30 years because of family and business commitments,” the 57-year-old said.

“Richard Tate, a successful commercial builder in Melbourne, and I bought the boat to go offshore racing and it has been quite competitive in Melbourne racing. We thought the Launceston to Hobart would be a reasonable first offshore challenge for us. This will be our first L2H but several of the crew have had considerable ocean racing experience, including the Sydney Hobart,” Gates added.

Absolut is a near sistership to the successful former Hobart yacht Archie n which won the IRC division and finished second in the AMS division of the 2011 Launceston to Hobart race.

“We race well against Archie here on the bay now she is based in Melbourne and also against the Archambault 31 which was overall winner of the 2012 Launceston to Hobart,” Gates said. “However, she does beat us on handicap.”

The fleet in the National Pies Launceston to Hobart Race is now 24 boats with the late entry of the Beneteau 37 Reflection, owned by Sailtime and to be skippered by David Pring, a member of Kettering Yacht Club.

Hobart yachtsman Peter Cretan will replace his original entrant, Tilt, a Hanse 40, with his new boat, a Marten 49 which is due to arrive from Fremantle late this week. It will be renamed Tilt.

The 285 nautical mile race around Tasmania’s north-east and east coast will start from Beauty Point at 9.30am on Saturday, December 27.

– Peter Campbell

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