Derwent Sailing Squadron Race Director, Ron Bugg, is pleased with the number of entries in this year’s Riversdale Estate Wines Launceston to Hobart (L2H) race and anticipates plenty of rivalry on the water in Tasmania’s longest offshore yacht race.
“We have three Victorian entries, four from Launceston, and 14 southern entries. Last year’s line honours winner, Gary Smith (Fork in the Road), is an early contender to defend his title. However, I expect veteran sailor, Ken Gourlay (Green) will be pushing Smith all the way to Hobart,” Bugg said.
Family ties dominate the 2019 L2H with 13 of the 21 entries featuring families sailing together, some for the first time.
The 285 nautical mile race starts at Inspection Head at Beauty Point on Friday 27 December and tracks down the Tamar River to Low Head, before hitting the notorious and challenging Banks Strait.
The fleet then sails down Tasmania’s stunning east coast and around Freycinet Peninsula, across to Mercury Passage, which can frustratingly becalm the fleet, or offer gear-breaking gales, then south to Tasman Island and on to Hobart.
Wind and tide patterns, big swells and competing currents around the towering dolerite cliffs off Tasman Island present unique challenges for competitors, but the race can be won or lost anywhere along the course in this challenging race.
Victorian entries include Robert Green’s 50-footer, Dream, and Steve Nutter’s S&S 34, Morning Lassie, the sistership to previous winner, Solandra. The third Victorian entry is former Hobart sailor, Tim Olding, from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria on Vertigo, a Summit 35.
Vertigo is a likely contender for handicap honours, but will have to sail well to outclass the 2018 handicap winner, Lawless. Representing Port Dalrymple Yacht Club, Lawless is skippered by Launceston’s Stephen McElwee.
L2H race veteran, Hobart-based Stewart Geeves, will be sailing Footloose in his sixth L2H and is expected to be extremely competitive, especially if conditions are light.
The race is expected to finish in Hobart on Sunday 29 December.
For entries, results and follow the race via live tracker go: to www.l2h-dssinc.org.au