Sailors compete despite wind, hail and snow in Hobart

Heavy snow on Mount Wellington, stinging hail as the temperature dropped degrees mid-morning, and south-westerly winds gusting between 30 and 40 knots on the River Derwent. Despite these wintery conditions, more than 100 of Tasmania’s off-the-beach sailors today contested day two of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s annual Audi Showdown regatta.

For the second day, race officers were forced to curtail racing, finally bringing all fleets ashore just before noon after a wild gust of 40 knots swept down from the mountain, sending Hobart’s temperature diving to a bone-chilling 7 degrees, even less on the River.

“Fortunately, most of the boats had or were finishing their second race when the big squall hit,” reported a Bravo course race officer. The only class not to race yesterday was the SB20s which were sent back to the dock when the sou’-wester gusted to over 30 knots.

“Our sailors handled the conditions with great style and aplomb…they sailed extremely well under trying conditions,” principal race officer Nick Hutton said after signalling abandonment of racing shortly after noon, with most classes sailing two or three races which, added to Saturday’s limited results, were still sufficient for a Showdown series.

As the gusts hit the river mid-morning there were many capsizes while in the International 2.4m class Neil Patterson’s Southern Cross swamped and had to be pumped out.

Wellknown Hobart yachtsman Stephen “Rowdy” McCullum caused an upset in the 2.4m class, beating Australian champion and London Paralympic sailor Matt Bugg.

Despite the weather, four races were sailed over the weekend in the Laser Radial and Laser 4.7, Paper Tigers, Sailboards, NS14s, Open catamarans, with three in the other classes and just one in the SB20 sportsboat class.

Tasmanian champion Sam King won all races in the Laser 4.7s, as did Queenslander Stuart Plenderleith in the Laser Radials, and another State champion, William Wallis, in the Sabots.

Sandy Bay Sailing Club was well represented in the Optimist, Cadet and Open Yardstick classes.

Rupert Hamilton won the Optimists with a second on Saturday and two wins yesterday, while his brother Silas crewed with Gabriel Morrison on a 29er to win the Open Yardstick class from former SBSC Commodore Paul Burnell, sailing a Sharpie.

Teenage girls Jasmin Galbraith and Matilda O’Donoghue, who represented Australia at this year’s International Cadet World championships in England, won a hard-fought series, scoring a win and two seconds.

With the Paper Tiger fleet diminished today to only three boats, Travis Wood won both races, but overall first place went to Stephen Price.

Jock Calvert, a two-times Australian representative at the ISAF Youth worlds, scored four straight wins in the Sailboard class.

Tasmanian champion William Wallis won three straight races in the strong Sabot fleet while Daniel Maree and Lara Recape took out the Sabot two-up division.

Peter and Karen Davis were unbeaten in the NS14s while Nick Rogers’ Karabos won the only race sailed for the SB20 sports boats, on Saturday.

From Peter Campbell 

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