After several Sydney Hobart Yacht Races, Bellerive yachtsman Tony Williams has elected to contest this year’s Launceston to Hobart for the first time – with good credentials.
His Swedish designed and built Martela, an 11.3m X-Yacht, showed she will be a yacht to beat in the long coastal race in late December with an impressive performance in yesterday’s Combined Clubs Harbour Series race on the Derwent.
Martela won the IRC category of Group 1, placed third under AMS and fourth in PHS. Her performances in past Sydney Hobarts have also been impressive.
Martela is one of 30 yachts already entered for the National Pies Launceston to Hobart, with owner/skipper Williams electing to give this year’s Sydney Hobart a miss.
With strong north-westerly winds gusting to 30 knots, Derwent Sailing Squadron yesterday set a 15 nautical mile course around river marks for all four Groups, with Group 1 going down the river to Ralph’s Bay and back to Castray, followed by a shorter leg to a mark off the John Garrow light.
Other Groups sailed a shorter course with the Garrow as the leeward mark, a total distance of 9.6 nautical miles
Most of the 30 boat fleet started with reefed mainsail and smaller headsails and apart from in Group 1, few spinnakers were hoisted on the first run.
After a fast run downriver from the start, most of the fleet ran into a flat spot abeam of the Garrow, but it was only a short lull, with the nor’wester kicking in back 18-22 knots and providing what turned out to be excellent racing conditions for the rest of the afternoon.
Martela won Group 1 IRC by 43 seconds on corrected time from Jeff Cordell’s Mumm 36 B&G Advance and Gavin Adamson’s Madness, also a Mumm 36, which recovered from what appeared to be runner problems at the start.
The third Mumm 36 in the fleet, Ian Stewarts’ TasPaints won Group 1 AMS category from the J35 Mem (Michael Boutchard and David Kirkland) and Martela.
Mem won the PHS category of Group 1 from TasPaints and Masquerade (Tony Harman).
The smallest boat in the fleet, the Elliott 6, North Sails (Matthew Morgan) won Division 2 from Hot August Night (Nat Morgan) and Trouble (Dave Willans).
Veteran yachtsman Charles Peacock sailed a fine race in Group 4 with Serica, winning from First Light (Ben Davidson) and Spare Time (Shane Powell).
In Division 6, N-Yacht (Wilkinson Frame) scored its second consecutive victory, yesterday beating Astrolobe (Peter Bosworth) and Kindred Spirit (Peter Alcock).
– Peter Campbell