Cougar II on the prowl in Hobart Combined Clubs Long Race

Cougar II, Tony Lyall’s entry for this year’s 70th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, gave a glimpse of her sail power in today’s Combined Club’s Long Race, covering the 30 nautical mile course in just less than two hours and forty minutes.

“We were doing 17-18 knots under spinnaker down the river, 14-18 knots on the wind to the finish under full main and 3.5 headsail,” Lyall said after the race.

“She is going exceptionally well,” added the Beaconsfield-based medico who had most of his Sydney Hobart crew aboard for the race down the River Derwent to Yellow Rock, on the windward side of North Bruny Island.

Winds reached close to 40 knots near the mouth of the Derwent with snow falling on Mount Wellington as the tailenders beat their way up the river mid afternoon.

The TP52 took line honours in Group A by almost 40 minutes from Roger Jackman’s veteran Davidson 52 Doctor Who, powering up the river under full mainsail and 3.5 headsail – most of the time!

The headsail halyard broke and the jib fell to the deck off the Garrow Light and again just 300 metres from the finish line off Castray Esplanade, Cougar II crossing the line under mainsail only.

At this stage of the season, Cougar II does not have her IRC or AMS ratings, but she won the PHS handicap category of yesterday’s race for Group A yachts from Doctor Who, third place going to IIlusion (David Brett).

Doctor Who did well, also winning the IRC category from The Protagonist (Colin Denny) and Intrigue (Don Calvert) which won Group A under AMS ratings from Nexedge (John Mills) and IIlusion.

Group B sailed a 25 nautical mile course to Bull Rock with Errol Pyke’s Birngana leading the fleet around the course and winning the PHS category from Take Five (Ian Gannon) and Hornet (Neville Georgeson). Footloose (Stewart Geeves) won the AMS category from Take Five and Moonshadow (Anthony Ellis).

Steve Mannering’s Camlet Way revelled in the heavy weather to take the line and handicap honours in Group C which sailed down to the mouth of the Channel and return, some 21 nautical miles.

On corrected time Camlet Way won from Off Piste (Paul Einoder) and Kindred Spirit (Errol Alcock) with the marks of last Saturday race start collision still showing on her transom.

Despite the strong winds, all but one of the 36 starters completed the Long Race, the only retirement being the former Sydney Hobart winner Ultimate Challenge.

Peter Campbell

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