Tasmania’s Pipe Opener celebrates 50th

Derwent Sailing Squadron and Huon Yacht Club’s traditional lead-up to the official opening of Southern Tasmania yachting season, the Pipe Opener Series and Cock of the Huon regatta, celebrated its 50th anniversary last weekend, with an added status.

Hobart’s Combined Clubs have included the Friday night passage race as part of this summer’s Offshore Trophy, making it a four-race event over the summer season.

All of the Offshore Trophy races will be overnight events, three before the major Christmas ocean races. In addition to the Pipe Opener, they include the Isle of Caves and Maria Island races. The fourth will be the Bruny Island Race in February.

With the DSS/Ronald Young & Co Pipe Opener night race from Hobart down the River Derwent and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, extended to Garden Island near the mouth of the Huon River, the Friday night race drew 35 starters, the largest fleet in a decade or more.

Among the fleet in the night race were Melbourne to Hobart West Coaster entrants Oskana and Whistler, Sydney Hobart entrant Black Sheep and many of the expected starters in this year’s Launceston to Hobart.

As expected, the Cookson 50 Oskana led the fleet home on Friday night in 4 hours 39 minutes after a fast (at times) spinnaker reach down the Derwent and the Channel.

Conditions overnight ranged from zero to 30 knots with the PHS corrected time scoring favouring the smaller boats overall, with Oskana placing 29th.

First place overall went to Division 3 winner Camlet Way, Stephen Mannering’s Zeston 40 cruiser. Overall second was Division 2’s winner Twitch (Twitch syndicate), third another Division 3 boat, Rob Cawthorn’s Talofa.

Sydney Hobart entrant Black Sheep’s co-owner Rob Gourlay described Friday night’s race as “a solid hit out….with a little more breeze than the forecast 10-15 knot NW! Zero to 30 knots from all directions was the reality.”

Not all the night race entrants stayed on for the HYC/Huon Aquaculture-sponsored Cock of the Huon on Saturday afternoon, sailed off historic Shipwrights Point Regatta Grounds on the Huon River.

Nevertheless, it attracted a strong fleet in three divisions with former prominent ocean racing yachtsman and radio-controlled yacht racing enthusiast John Cole-Cook making a winning return to keelboat racing with his cruising yacht Barcoo, a Jarkan 46.

Barcoo won Division 3 and, with the lowest PHS corrected time of the 22 starters, Barcoo was declared 2018 Cock of the Huon.

Barcoo placed fourth in Division 3 of Friday night’s passage down the Derwent and the Channel in winds that ranged from 0 to 31 knots.

On Saturday, the Jarkan 46 outsailed the division opposition, including several other cruising style boats, with a corrected time of 1 hour 23 minutes and 56 seconds in the 10-12 knot SW breeze with some heavier gusts.

Division 2 boat, Dog House, Ambrose Coad’s Austral Clubman 30, won that division and placed second overall in the Cock of the Huon scoring to Barcoo.

First place in Division 1 of the Cock of the Huon race went to David Fulton’s Farrier 33x trimaran Menage, the only multihull in the fleet which also won Division 1 of the Friday night race.

Menage won Division 1 of the Cock of the Huon race from Huon Yacht Club entry Redback (David O’Neill) and Rad, skippered by Kettering Yacht Club member Brent McKay.

In Division 2, Dog House won from the former Sydney Hobart winner and Admiral’s Cup team yacht Ultimate Challenge, now owned by Peter Jenkins. DSS Commodore Steve Chau placed third in Young Lion.

– Peter Campbell

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