Tony Lyall’s powerful yacht Cougar II today underlined her competitiveness for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with a record-breaking line honours win in the 67th TasPorts Maria Island Race.
The TP52 will be Tasmania’s number one prospect for an overall or, at the very least, a division win the 70th edition of the Christmas blue water classic. Her elapsed time of 18 hours 49 minutes 06 seconds clipped 38 minutes and 35 seconds off her own record for the 190 nautical mile race around Tasmania’s rugged south-east coast in winds that ranged from 30 knots on Friday night to a ‘big hole’ in the Derwent yesterday afternoon.
“Awesome” was how owner/skipper Lyall, a Beaconsfield medico, described Cougar II’s win. “To break the race is one thing, to break it twice, proves your point.”
Lyall said Cougar II was much faster than two years ago when she first broke the Maria Island Race record and then placed sixth in IRC Division 1 of the Sydney Hobart.
“She has new sails, including a square top carbon mainsail and a new bow pole that increases the luff, and area of our headsails,” all making her fast,” Lyall said. “We will be as fast as any other 52-footer in the Sydney Hobart fleet… we just have to get the jump at the start and put distance between them and us,” Lyall added as he joined his crew in a celebratory cold beer back in the yacht’s berth at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Carrying a large UTAS insignia (her sponsor is the University of Tasmania) on her black carbon fibre mainsail, Cougar II outsailed the16-boat Maria Island Race fleet that included six other Sydney Hobart contenders.
Cougar II crossed the finish line off Castray Esplanade at 1:49:06pm yesterday for an elapsed time of 18 hours 49 minutes 06 seconds, cutting 38 minutes and 35 seconds off the record she set in the 2012 Maria Island Race.
As Cougar II crossed the line, the next boat in the fleet, Gary Smith’s The Fork in the Road, was in Storm Bay, south of Cape Raoul.
The Fork in the Road finished just over three hours later, at 4:52:31pm, with Obsession, David Creese’s Mat 12, then coming up the river, followed by Jacinta and Brett Cooper Beneteau 57 Mistraal, Whistler (Jory Linscott) and Audere (Mike Pritchard) still out in Storm Bay. They were due to finish later this evening.
While Cougar II has taken line honours by a big margin, the overall winner under the AMS rating system will not be known until later tomorrow as, with winds easing this evening, the smaller boats will not finish until Sunday morning.
From Peter Campbell