Clean Up Australia founder and round-the-world yachtsman Ian Kiernan has cleaned up again in the Hempel Paints 36th Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race, steering his classic yawl Sanyo Maris to its second successive IRC handicap victory in the ocean race across the northern Tasman Sea.
Sanyo Maris had twelve and a half hours to sail the final 68 nautical miles of the 414 nm race today to take IRC honours and she did it with just under three hours to spare, crossing the finish line off Lord Howe's pristine coral lagoon at 16:09:43 hours this afternoon.
The 9.27 metre yawl, built of Huon pine in Hobart 51 years ago by the legendary Jock Muir for the equally legendary marine artist Jack Earl, appeared from the south this afternoon, sailing to windward below towering Mount Lidgard and Mount Gower in a light northerly breeze.
The crew were so confident of victory they dropped the headsail before they even crossed the finish line.
Kiernan, who owns the classic yacht in partnership with Lord Howe Island identity John Green and two grandchildren of Jack Earl, this year sailed the race with a crew of New Zealanders and a ‘secret weapon' in the form of the New Zealand-built reaching headsail.
His next objective is to take on the million dollar maxis in this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with the boat he bought for $19,000 from Jack Earl .
Ashore this evening, two-times past winning skipper Ed Psaltis, who had to be content with fourth place in the IRC division with his state-of-the-art ocean racer AFR Midnight Rambler, told Kiernan “I think I'll have to buy a boat like Maris” to win this race again.
Sailing conditions were ideal for the little yawl, the oldest, smallest and lowest rating (handicapped) boat in the fleet of 14 yachts that set sail from Broken Bay, north of Sydney last Saturday – close reaching with some spinnaker runs in moderate northerly breezes all the way. She maintained a near constant 5.5 knots through the voyage.
“I've never sailed in a race quite like this one…it was such a pleasant sail across to this magnificent island,” an elated Kiernan said as he and part-owner John Green greeted each other as the veteran yachtsman came ashore. “Unfortunately I could not get time away from Lord Howe Island to sail in the race,” a slightly disappointed Green said, but Ian had an excellent crew of Kiwis.”
Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron rear commodore Richard Chapman, who sailed with 82-year-old Bill Gilbert on his Jutson 45 Southern Cross said the race had been a “one tack race once we rounded the mark off Terrigal…no headsail changes, just the occasional spinnaker hoist…all on port tack or gybe.”
Sanyo Maris sailed as representing the many yacht clubs Kiernan belongs to, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Lord Howe Island Aquatic Club.
On IRC corrected times, Sanyo Maris won from CYCA member Dennis Cooper's Murray Burns Dovell 36 Amante and Greg Zyner's Radford 12 Copernicus from Manly Yacht Club. AFR Midnight Rambler placed fourth and line honours winner, Ocean Affinity, a Martens 49 skippered by Stewart Lewis from the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, placed fifth.
In the PHS division, another Queensland yacht, Peter Lewis' Holland/Cole-designed 40-footer Charlie's Dream, took out top handicap honours from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club entrant Reflection, a 10.4m Groupe Finet design, and the veteran Gosford Sailing Club's Polaris of Belmont, Chris Dawe's Cole 43 which won this division in 2008.
Of the 14 starters in the Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race, nine are also in the fleet of 116 boats entered for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in late December including Sanyo Maris, Copernicus, AFR Midnight Rambler, Charlie's Dream and Polaris of Belmont.