Audi Showdown at Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania preview

Cougar II, Tony Lyalls TP52 racing in the Crown Series earlier this year - Audi Showdown 2012
Rob Cruse
Audi Showdown 2012 is being held next weekend. Tasmania’s fastest ocean racing yacht, Tony Lyall’s TP52, Cougar II, will return to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania's annual spring regatta on Hobart’s River Derwent.

The weekend of racing marks the start of Cougar II’s preparation for the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, one of four Tasmanian yachts expected to join the 80-90 boat fleet for the Boxing Day start of the blue water classic.

The powerful yacht has not raced in Tasmanian waters since last season and has been undertaking some modifications at Beauty Point on the West Tamar for Dr Lyall, a Beaconsfield-based medico.

The Audi Showdown starts with a twilight race for keelboats and sportsboats next Friday, 2 November, and continues over the weekend with the bigger boats being joined by off-the-beach dinghy and catamaran classes.

Owner/skipper Lyall has nominated Cougar II for the entire regatta which, for Group 1 keelboats, will include the Friday twilight harbour race, a long distance race on Saturday and a long harbour race on Sunday.

Saturday’s race will be part of the Combined Clubs long race series, with a potential fleet of up to 60 boats.

Other keelboats that have so far entered for the entire Showdown program include Don Calvert’s evergreen Intrigue, Ian Stewart’s Tas Paints, Michael Denney’s Wild West, Colin Denny’s The Protagonist, Richard Scarr’s Auch and Julius Szolvik’s Tihany, along with the Farr 40s War Games (Wayne Banks-Smith), Wired (Stephen Boyes) and Voodoo Chile (Andrew Hunn).

Almost the entire SB20 fleet is expected to contest the weekend of racing, an important lead-up to the world championship at Hamilton Island in early December for Toll Shipping (Nick Rogers) and Wedgewood (David Graney).

RYCT officials expect further keelboat and sportsboat entries and a late rush from from off-the-beach classes, including the Lasers, International Cadets, 420s and Optimists which will be holding their Australian championships on the Derwent over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

Champion Laser sailor Anna Philip from Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club - Audi Showdown 2012
Anna Philip

The Laser fleet already includes prominent young mainland sailors including national youth champion Jack Felsenthal and top girl sailor Anna Philip, both from Victoria.

Other Laser entries have come from Queensland and Western Australia while Tasmanians lining up against them including Anna Vaughan, Madeline Salter, Emma Barton and Edmund Hargreaves.

The off-the-beach entries so far include boats from the RYCT Dinghy Group, Sandy Bay Sailing Club, Kingston Beach Sailing Club, Lauderdale Yacht Club, Midway Point Yacht Club, Port Dalrymple Yacht Club and the Tamar Yacht Club.

Sandy Bay Sailing Club, which will host and national and world championships for the International Cadets and the Australian championships for the Optimists in December and January, is well represented in the Audi Showdown 2012 by entries of Cadets and Optimists.

Entries should be made online through the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, here.