Specky and Techy Race to the Capes

Words: Liz Rountree

The Two Capes Race returns for it’s third year, drawing seasoned salts and newbies, 29 to 50 footers and crews ranging from 18 to almost 80. With the previous two years of “Champagne conditions”, expectations are high as summer racing heats up, with sailors prepping for big events like the Sydney to Hobart, the local Launnie to Hobart run in parallel, and the Australian IRC Championships.

Sailors will race out to some of the speckiest coastline Tassie has to offer, with the added navigational challenge of going around virtual marks. Sailors will not have the benefit of seeing where they are going, but will have to rely on their navigational skills to make sure they hit the GPS target points set by the Race Officials.

“The first year was a bit of a… well let me put it this way, it was all new so we were all figuring out how to do it,” admits Sam Dobie with a laugh.

“Where you think the marks is and your perception on the water is different. It’s very hard to quantify distance on a flat horizon in front of you. With the virtual marks there’s a lot more to consider. You’re talking through things, and the whole team is dialed in to what’s going on.”

Dobie is a Trimmer, Packer and general all-rounder crew on board Cookson12 Kraken 42S, who finished 4th on IRC in last year’s race.

For professional surveyor Glenn Phillips aboard Northshore38 Wings Three, second on last year’s PHS, it is a welcome challenge, “I really enjoy it! And it’s not just about the navigational challenge but collecting the data. I’ll be tracking our course, and taking a screen shot as we round [the ‘mark’], to overlay that data onto google maps.” Skipper Peter Haros did his homework getting Phillips on board, who has professionally surveyed much of the Tasmanian coast, mapping shipwrecks, reefs and other offshore anomalies.

Phillips has also been a resource for the race organisers, providing feedback on how to streamline the data reporting process for the competitors.

The turning points are South of Cape Raoul and East of Fluted Cape, but it is up to each team to prove they round the mark.

“There’s quite an amount of focus and talk about what other boats are doing and where they are going,” adds Dobie, “You know, have they actually rounded it? Or where do they think the mark is? Then there’s the fish farm which is a big strategy decision for the crews. Lots of debate about which way to go around them. It’s quite a competitive way to go racing.”

No stranger to competition is accomplished dinghy sailor Abbey Calvert who joins the Bakewell-White Fork in the Road. This will be her third offshore race after last year’s Bruny and Maria Island ventures. “It’s great fun being part of a team, with everyone on the boat cracking jokes, getting to move around doing different jobs [on board].”

But as much as she loves the competition, there’s that something special about heading out to sea, “I love getting offshore for a whole day of sailing and experiencing anything Mother Nature will throw at you,” says Calvert. “Especially when you get a pod of dolphins running with you, I don’t think that could ever get old.”

If you miss the cool drone footage from last year’s race, it’s because the photographer will be helming his own Isbjorn. The team debuted in the Combined Clubs Offshore Racing series in the recent Maria Island Race. Sam and Anna Cotrell-Davies are new to sailing, buying their first trailer-sailor 5 years ago, have since upgraded to a very capable Duncanson 34, spent the last season crewing for other teams and now find themselves diving head-on into the project of managing an offshore campaign. This will be their second race in the Combined Clubs Offshore Series.

J112e Arunga, 3rd on PHS and IRC, as well as last year’s PHS and ORC winner IYKYK both return to the line and will be up against recent winner of the Maria, Dehler 44 KD4

Last year’s Line Honours winners Inglis47 AdvantEdge, and 2nd on IRC Farr41Mx Zephyr Insurance Masters will be bringing their A-game as both teams make some final training for their Sydney to Hobart campaigns. Meanwhile the brand new to the Derwent FarrierF82r Polka Dot Lady will “tri” out her sea legs with a first venture into Storm Bay.

“We spend a lot of time in the dark and in the rain down here [in Hobart],” laughs Dobie, “But this race mostly takes place in daylight. Sailing [The Two Capes Race] is like hitting the perfect golf shot – if you get the right conditions.”

And hopefully, with dolphins.

The Two Capes Race, hosted by the Derwent Sailing Squadron, kicks off 9am on Saturday. A big thank you to race sponsor Professional Plumbing for supporting this local favourite.

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