Tasmania – Not just for Spring Chickens

Words: Liz Rountree

The ‘Garda of the South’ delivered with a picture-perfect sea breeze for Saturday’s Combined Clubs Long Race, hosted by the Bellerive Yacht Club. “It was a nice day out on the water – for once,” jokes Stewart Geeves of Footloose.  A day the Hobart fleet deserved after an “all over the shop” Spring, reminding us just how good the going can be on the Derwent.

As beautiful as the day was, with a roaring kite run up the Derwent to the finish, Geeves admits they spent a lot of time “admiring how well Serica was being sailed.”

It certainly was a day for older boats in the fleet, with some notable, 40-year-old boats and half a century old, like Tassie wooden classics Astrolabe and Serica taking some of the top prizes of the day.

“Some of the sails racing are older than I am – and that’s saying something!” Geeves admits.

BYC RO Grant Sutton and his team of volunteers nailed the conditions, with boats from all divisions hitting the finish line together, which as he puts it “doesn’t happen very often.”

The day started off light, but with a balanced, competitive line. “As an RO, you know you’ve got it reasonably right when half the fleet go west, and half the fleet go east.”

Sutton attributes the day’s excellent racing not just to the sea breeze, but in particular to the volunteers on Patrol 2, “It was a big job by Rob Mazengarb and Mark Woodward who set the marks in the swell in Storm Bay,” he says.

Sundowner won Div 1 IRC by a 36 second margin over series leader Intrigue. “The breeze filled in late so that helped the slow boats – aka  Sundowner,” says Tom Stearnes, co-owner of the 1970s Adams 12. “We were short on crew, so there was lots of switching roles to preserve stamina. Stearnes says MVP of the day was Nathan Oshea who picked a fight with winch handle, “Some blood was spilt.”

“When the breeze kicked at the end, we were happy to keep the Mumm’s behind us but could not catch Intrigue,” says Joint Custody skipper Ian “Cweed” Stewart, now 3rd over all in IRC, just above Heatwave Fish Frenzy.

Cweed and crew had their eye on “David Calvert and the Intrigue crew, who won the start”, he says. He also attributes their success of the day, 3rd on both IRC and ORC in Div 1, to some skilled crew off Hydrotherapy, who were not racing. “Their contribution got us home in good shape.”

Dr Who, finishing 2nd on PHS behind Guilty Pleasures had a standout day. “We had a very relaxed vibe on board due to the beautiful weather and a couple of new crew on board,” reports Adrienne Eberhard, “Of course we were keen to do well, but also just enjoying it.”

“Racing on Doctor Who feels like a privilege because the Doctor is such a beautiful boat and loves to sail,” she continues. “We are learning lots – and it’s lovely to share the experience of racing with our kids, their friends, and ours. It’s a great mix of age and experience.”

It was tight racing in Division 2. “The breeze in the morning was light and flukey and we were fighting tide,” says Charlotte Frankcombe of The Dog House who crept up in the standings now sitting 3rd in Div 2 IRC . “The run home was glamour. We came around Little Betsey and popped the S2 and then set the staysail. We gybed at the Iron Pot and from there we just tried to close the distance between us and X-cite and IYKYK,” she reports.  Xcite took 3rd on ORC, with IYKYK winning both, and Serica winning on PHS.

Footloose climbed the standings to now sit 2nd overall on IRC and ORC, a great place to start as they prepare for their Launceston to Hobart campaign.

“We had a good race with illusion, managed to cross paths with them a few times,” says Geeves. “We just hung in there and kept plugging away. Hats off to Steven and Charles.”

Astrolabe, had some very tight racing with Innovator and Camlet Way the whole race. The team finished 2nd between them, with Innovator winning and clipping Line Honours. Peter Bosworth says the energy on board was high, and it was an incredible team effort.

“It was a great day for a couple of older Tassie wooden yachts, like Astrolabe, 50 years old, and Serica.”

RO Sutton agrees, “It’s nice to see the older boats in the fleet get a result, see that they’re still competitive.”

Speaking of his own boat and crew, Geeves of his Young88 adds, “It’s not just the boats that are older, most of the crew is no spring chickens!”

Good luck to the teams and sailors who prepare for their Sydney and Launnie to Hobart campaigns. Everyone knows the Derwent can’t be trusted, but after Saturday’s conditions, here’s hoping for more glamour to come.

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