Philosopher’s magic in Maria Island Race

Eleven nautical miles down the River Derwent from the finish of the 180 nautical miles Maria Island ocean race early Sunday morning it looked like a potential winning day for two of the smaller boats in the fleet, Off-Piste and Footloose.

Rounding the Iron Pot, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s race tracker computer placed Paul Einoder’s Beneteau Oceanis 34 Off-Piste provisionally first on corrected times in both AMS and PHS categories. Footloose, Stewart Geeves’ Young 88 was second in IRC, with Philosopher, Shaun Tiedemann’s Sydney 36cr, looking the likely IRC winner after a finish fourth in fleet in the early hours of the morning. 

Mike Pritchard’s Cookson 50, Oskana had already taken line honours, six hours earlier, pulling award from Greg Prescott’s modified Farr 40, 2Unlimited, and Filepro (Tim Gadsby) in Storm Bay and up the Derwent…before the wind began to die.

Fast, or rather slow-forward, and a near windless Sunday morning on the Derwent put paid to the hopes of both Off-Piste and Footloose. Off Long Beach, Sandy Bay, Off-Piste was literally sailed backwards – under spinnaker.

It was like watching grass grow, in this case seagrass as the two boats were just 50 metres offshore from the Long Beach restaurant of that name!

By the time the two crossed the finish line off Castray Esplanade in late morning, their handicap positions had crashed…the tracker showing Off-Piste dropping to 5th on AMS and PHS, 10th on IRC.  Footloose had dropped to 10th on AMS, eighth on IRC, sixth on PHS.

The end result was a fine double victory for Philosopher and her crew of Sam Tiedemann, Tom Stearnes, Nicholas Wellard, Alec Bailey, Lewis Noye and owner Shaun Tiedemann. Philosopher won IRC and AMS and placed second under PHS, owner Tiedemann commenting “Awesome crew effort!”

Philosopher’s fine performance augers well for her major campaigns this summer: the Launceston to Hobart Race in late December and the Australian Yachting Championships on Port Phillip in January.

Philosopher won the premier IRC category from Whistler (David Aplin) and Filepro (Tim Gadsby), first and second were the same in AMS, with third placing going to Ultimate Challenge (Peter Jenkins).

Likewise for another L2H entrant, Filepro, the 1993 Sydney Hobart winner when named Micropay Cuckoo’s Nest, which won PHS from Philosopher and Ultimate Challenge.

Oskana’s line honours effort was an impressive preparation for its tilt at this year’s Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster and also for David Aplin’s Whistler which is also contesting that race. Whistler finished second in both IRC and AMS in the Maria Island Race and should be a strong contender for top handicap honours for the Westcoaster.

A fleet of 25 has entered the Riversdale Estate Wines Launceston to Hobart race which starts on 27 December.

This was the 71st Maria Island Race, from around Tasmania’s rugged south-east coast to the historic island off Orford, and return to Hobart. The return leg replicates the last 90 nautical miles of both the Sydney Hobart and Launceston to Hobart Race.

–  Peter Campbell

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