Launceston to Hobart Race Review

Fork in the Road limps in for Line Honours, Sundowner wins Overall FOR THE 2022 Willie Smith’s Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race.

Bagging their 9th Line Honours win, Fork in the Road drifted by the Iron Pot at 11:00am yesterday with an uncharacteristic flouro orange trysail in place of the usual giant fork. The team were flying the uncommon combo of a Code Zero and a storm trysail, the racing main lashed to the boom – a sign of the thrashing they took Wednesday in the big Nor’Wester.

“We copped it in Wineglass Bay,” says crew member Finlay Crisp. “We saw it coming, and put a reef in, then another, and going for our third the main just went.” Skipper Gary Smith decided to throw the trysail up, and for a moment thought that was the race for them. “But it blew all night” Smith reports, “And we ended up taking down the larger foresail and putting up the No. 4” jib. They sailed quick through the evening, enough to overcome the limp home in the early tickle of the seabreeze.

Second over the line was Heatwave (Matthew Keal), who put in a good final run, but there wasn’t quite enough distance left to grab the IRC win.

Sundowner - Photocredit Gill Dayton
Sundowner – Photocredit Gill Dayton

Overall IRC and ORCc winners Alice Grubbs and Tom Stearns co-owners of Sundowner say the victory wasn’t without a few scars. “[We] broke a mainsail, broke a jib, broke a spinnaker pole…” says Stearns. Grubbs adds, “It was not easy, it was a lot of work, we used every sail on the boat, broken two of them, but there are no broken hearts, no broken bodies… and we’re still friends!”

Sundowner crew shot - Photo Credit Colleen Darcey
Sundowner crew shot – Photo Credit Colleen Darcey

They broke the first main off the top of Tassie, broke the second when the 50 kts came through near Wineglass bay, and eventually repaired the first main. “Doesn’t hurt to have a professional sailmaker on board” Grubbs laughed.

“Nothing beats old Dacron, though, who says you need to be a millionaire to go sailing. When it breaks it doesn’t shred.” The irony is this tough old material might have been the secret to the win, with the conditions faced by the fleet.

Zephyr Insurance Masters (Ian Johnston) kept the pressure on to the last, making huge gains throughout the night and matching Sundowner in the final leg to the finish. Force Eleven (Steve Brown) finally got out of the doldrums of Storm Bay to finish during peak sea breeze and a roaring crowd at the Taste festival.

Big Pup - Photo Credit Gill Dayton
Big Pup – Photo Credit Gill Dayton

Big Pup (Teresa Badrock) also had a good night, leapfrogging over Planet X (Dylan Reid) and into 1st place in the PHS, both boats rounding Tasman Island as the finishers tie up ashore and hoping the breeze holds through the night.

Congratulations to all sailors and crews, including the retirees, all safe and accounted for. Congratulations to Line Honours winners Fork in the Road, IRC and ORC winners Sundowner and Big Pup for the PHS win.

Words: Liz Loughridge

Photos: Gill Dayton & Colleen Darcey

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