Whistler wins Maria Island Race

David Aplin’s yacht Whistler has added the 70th Tasports Maria Island Yacht Race to an outstanding offshore racing career over the past decade and more. The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania today confirmed the MBD36 as winner of both the AMS and IRC categories of the 180 nautical mile race around Tasmania’s rugged East Coast which started on Friday evening.

Aplin, who bought Whistler last year following the death of her then elderly owner, now has his sights on this year’s Launceston to Hobart and in then another tilt at Sydney Hobart for Whistler.

This weekend was Whistler’s fourth handicap division win in the Maria Island Race: PHS in 2005, IRC in 2010, the treble of IRC, AMS, IRC and PHS in 2014, and now AMS and IRC rating divisions in 2017.

Whistler crossed the finish line off Hobart’s Castray Esplanade at 01:21:35:26 after a race duel with Sean Langman’s Sydney 36cr, Philosopher which finished at 01:21:50:42. The two similar sized yachts were within sight of each other almost throughout the 26 hours race.

Both 36-footers enjoyed champagne sailing on Saturdy, running under spinnaker down the East Coast from the Mercury Passage before a building 20 knot nor’easter. This enabled them to peg back Oskana’s then apparent grip on line and handicap honours.

On corrected times Philosopher was a close runner-up to Whistler in the AMS and IRC categories and placed first in the PHS category. Whistler won AMS from Philosopher by just eight minutes on corrected time, third place going to Wings Three (Peter Haros). In IRC, Whistler also won from Philosopher, third place going to Mike Pritchard's Cookson 50 Oskana.

The PHS category saw another close result with Philosopher scoring an 11 second win from Rad (Gus McKay), third place going to past Sydney Hobart winner Ultimate Challenge (Peter Jenkins).

Oskana took line honours in the 180 nautical mile race, finishing late Saturday afternoon for an elapsed time of 21 hours 38 minutes and 49 seconds. Peter Cretan’s Tilt came in second, almost two hours later with Rad third to finish, six and a half hours later.

Oskana and Michael Crew’s Magic Miles, a 62-foot cruising yacht which was last to finish the Maria Island Race, are Tasmania’s two entrants in the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Whistler, along with Maria Island Race competitors Cromarty Magellan, Frontline, Prion, Pukuna, Rad, Tilt and Wings Three are among entries for the Riversdale Estate Wines L2H race in late December.

Whistler has also won the L2H, taking out the premier AMS category in 2009 when skippered by David Rees.

Two yachts retired from the Maria Island fleet, the smallest boat Pukana pulling out late on the first night near Tasman Isand, with the all-women crew of Morning Star calling it a day just after rounding the northern tip of Maria late on Saturday afternoon.

– Peter Campbell 

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