Famous former America’s Cup challenger Gretel II showed her evergreen racing ability in yesterday’s final race of the Cygnet Regatta Weekend, winning both the Classics and Division One.
The regatta, first held in 1863 and revived by the proactive Port Cygnet Sailing Club, is one of eight traditional sailing regattas held in southern Tasmanian waters from spring to autumn each year.
Despite the setback of the severe bushfires last month, this year’s regatta attracted 48 boats from Port Cygnet Sailing Club, Huon Yacht Club and Kettering Yacht Club as well as a contingent from Hobart clubs, including the near 50-year-old 12 Metre class yacht, now based at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Gretel II, skippered by Jim (now Sir James) Hardy, was Australia’s challenger at Newport, Rhode Island in 1970, winning one race and losing a second on a protest against the New York Yacht Club’s Intrepid.
Gordon Ingate and a ‘Dad’s Army’ crew took GII to Newport again in 1977, but she could not match the new Twelve Metres.
Yesterday, Gretel II outsailed the fleet in the Classic division and beat modern yachts on corrected time in Division One.
Skippered by Steven Shield from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Gretel II towered above the rest of the 48-boat fleet as they raced around a course on Port Cygnet’s Kangaroo Bay in a steady 14-15 knot northerly breeze.
Gretel II won Division 1 from the magnificiently re-created Eight Metre class yacht Varg, skippered by Karl Carlstrom, third place going to Prion, a light displacement, David Lyons-designed Mount Gay 30.
Now owned by John Dryden, Prion also won Saturday’s passage race from Kettering to Cygnet.
In the Classic Division, Gretel II won from Varg, third place going to Kettering Yacht Club member Brent McKay’s Yleena, a comfortable US-designed Friendship cruising yacht, built in Hobart in 1948.
Yleena also won Division 2 from Jezebel, sailed by Port Cygnet Sailing Club past commodore Charles Le Cornu, third going to Sabre, a gaff-rigged 12-square metre sharpie skippered by Gordon Stewart, also from PCSC.
Sabre is one of the few remaining ‘heavyweight’ sharpies which were a class at the Melbourne Olympics.
John Devereaux, Commodore of the Port Cygnet Sailing Club, named Mike Hutchinson’s Emotional Rescue, a Hobie 33, as
Champion Yacht of the 2019 Regatta for its consistent sailing over the three-day, four-race regatta.
– Peter Campbell