Olympic sailor and world dinghy champion Gary Smith has steered race record holder The Fork in the Road to a commanding position in the Riversdale Estate Wines Launceston to Hobart yacht race. The Bakewell-White 45 hit the front of the fleet early this afternoon after being in second place at Low Head following a quick passage down the Tamar River from Beauty Point.
Peter Cretan's Marten 49 Tilt had led the fleet into Bass Strait, but The Fork in the Road took charge as the leaders sailed abeam of the seaside town of Bridport on Tasmania's north-east coast. Not only was The Fork in the Road leading the fleet but on corrected times she was first in all three handicap categories, AMS, IRC and PHS.
Early this evening the L2H fleet was beating to windward in Bass Strait, close inshore along Tasmania’s north-east coast, approaching Waterhouse Island. Once clear of Banks Strait and into the Tasman Sea, sailing past Cape Naturaliste and Eddystone Point, the fleet should pick up the fresh to strong north-easterly wind flow down the Tasmanian East Coast.
Third in fleet was Team Whistler, David Aplin's MBD36, also well placed on handicap to win the 285 nautical mile race.
The short downriver dash from Beauty Point counts as leg one of the Derwent Sailing Squadron’s L2H treble, with leg two the L2H itself, and leg three the King of the Derwent on 2 January.
While Tilt close-reached down the river in 35 minutes, she has placed well down the list on corrected times.
Former Tamar based yacht Cromarty Magellan (Richard Grant) took both PHS and AMS handicap honours, with first place on IRC going David Aplin’s Team Whistler from Hobart.
The fleet has been reduced to 23 with the Hobart yacht Azlik Corrrosion Solutions failing to reach Beauty Point in time for the 11.30am start.
– Peter Campbell