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Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race full of offshore talent

by Peter Campbell on 11 Dec 2013
The Protagonist in last year’s race - Launceston to Hobart Race 2012 Peter Campbell
For the Derwent Sailing Squadron’s seventh annual National Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race 2013 a quality fleet, full of offshore sailing talent, will line up later this month.

Entries have come from Victorian, Northern and Southern Tasmanian yacht clubs and include eight past handicap division winning skippers of the 285 nautical mile race, with the 2013 edition starting from Beauty Point on December 27.

Sailing in its first L2H race will be the winner of the 1993 Sydney Hobart Race, John Mills and Ian Douglas’ Lyons 40 Nexedge, from Bellerive Yacht Club. Back in 1993 the yacht raced as Cuckoos Nest and more recently as Bombora.

Also entered is Lawless, a 31-footer which placed second overall in the 1984 Sydney Hobart, skippered by its designer and then owner, Victorian John Green. Lawless will be skippered in the L2H by Stephen McElwee from the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club at Beauty Point.

Lawless is one of five Northern yachts in the fleet, the others being David Allan’s Sydney 38, Obsession, also from PDYC, while the Tamar Yacht Club will be represented by Independence, Brett Wood’s Jeanneau 439, and Believe, Richard Fisher’s Beneteau 14.07.

Heading the fleet is two-times line honours winner The Fork in the Road, skippered by former Olympic sailor and dinghy world champion Garry Smith. Not only is Smith looking for back-to-back line honours but also has his sights set on the race record.

Helsal 3 set the benchmark in 2011 with an elapsed time of 1 day 16 hours 28 minutes and 18 seconds for the 285 nautical mile offshore race around Tasmania’s East Coast.

The Fork in the Road’s time last year was 1 day 17 53 minutes 00 seconds and Smith is aiming to better that time, and Helsal 3’s record, in this year’s race. The boat will also have a new medium-light headsail specifically made for possible use in the light winds often experienced sailing south through the Mercury Passage.

A feature of this year’s race will be the north versus south clash between two Beneteau First 45s for AMS handicap honours to decide the Overall winner.


Up against Richard Fisher’s Believe from the Tamar Yacht Club will be Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania member Mike Pritchard’s Audère, which made its offshore racing debut in the recent Maria Island Race.

Likely to be snapping at the heels of the 45-footers will be the John Mills’ Lyons 40 Nexedge and David Creese’s latest boat, the Mat 1245 Obsession (Creese Property) having its first offshore race, and Colin Denny’s The Protagonist, to be skippered by his son, Stuart.

Fisher was a division winner of the 2009 L2H with his previous boat Blue Sky while other past winning skippers and the yachts they sailing this year are Jeff Cordell (Host Plus Executive), David Creese (Obsession – Creese Property), David Rees (Whistler), Stewart Geeves (Footloose) and Tony Harman (Masquerade). Gary Smith has taken line honours twice with The Fork in the Road, but the boat sailed as Crotty Legal & Dental in 2008.

Apart from the major yacht clubs, this year’s race has drawn entries from two regional clubs, Andrew Matton-Johnson’s Pukana will represent the Austins Ferry Yacht Club and Andrew Scott’s Bellandean will be sailing under the burgee of the Huon Yacht Club.

Lining up for its seventh successive L2H will the remarkable little boat Kiaulani, Malcolm Cooper’s 33-year-old Snook 30 from the Derwent Sailing Squadron which recently swept the AMS, IRC and PHS handicap honours in the Maria Island Race.

Victorian entries are Lou Irving’s Cavalier 395 Cavarlo from Royal Brighton Yacht Club and Sarah Allard’s Elan 410 Saltair from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria.

Alderman Albert van Zetten, Mayor of Launceston, will officially start the NATIONAL Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race 2013 from Beauty Point on the Tamar River at 10am on December 27. At Low Head the fleet will enter Bass Strait, sailing eastwards through the Banks Strait, then heading down Tasmania’s East Coast, including sailing through The Mercury Passage inside Maria Island off Orford.

After rounding Tasman Island the course will take the fleet across Storm Bay and up the River Derwent to finish off Hobart’s Castray Esplanade, the same finish line as the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

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