Former Olympic sailor Gary Smith returned to big boat racing today with a convincing line honours victory with his 50-footer The Fork in the Road in the Combined Clubs Long Race Series’ second race of the season sailed south of Hobart.
Start of Group 1 with Wings Three, Pisces and Cyclone setting spinnakers.
After several impressive seasons with the powerful Bakewell-White 45, including a line honours win in the Launceston to Hobart Race, Smith gave yacht racing a miss least summer to concentrate on his marine business in Hobart.
'I’m back with a new team and we really had the boat going well today,' Smith said after a relatively slow race that took The Fork in the Road just under six hours to sail the 29 nautical mile course down the Derwent and into Storm Bay to round Betsey Island to port before heading back to Hobart’s Castray Esplanade.
'The wind was very fickle and the race virtually re-started ten times,' he added, explaining that after the good spinnaker run down the river the wind in a 10 knot NE breeze, the wind had swung around the clock and gusting to 20 knots. The Fork in the Road finished hard on the wind in an 18 knot NW breeze.
Smith, who won a world championship in Fireballs and Australian titles in Fireballs, Sharpies and the Flying Dutchman classes, represented Australia at the Seoul 1988 Olympics in the Flying Dutchman with fellow Tasmanian Dave Connor as crew.
DSS race officer Gilbert today set three courses for the 48 boat fleet, with Group 1 going down the Derwent and into Storm Bay, rounding Betsey Island to port, a race distance of 29 nautical miles.
Group sailed around Little Betsey Island, a distance of 26 nautical while the Group 3 fleet sailed a 22 nautical mile course within the river, rounding marks in Seacroft Bay and off Pearsons Point.
The fleet started from Castray with an easy spinnaker down the river in 12 knot NNE breeze. During the morning and early afternoon the wind backed to the NW, with the leaders finishing on a close reach, at times a beat to windward over the last nautical mile across Sandy Bay.
The Fork in the Road took line honours by 1min 24 sec from David Creese’s new MAT 1245 Obsession, but there were some close finishes astern of this pair.
Dump Truck (Justin Wells) took third place, crossing the line only three seconds ahead of War Games (Wayne Banks-Smith), with another 30 seconds to Doctor Who (Roger and Rod Jackman).
On corrected time, smaller boats dominated Group 1 PHS results, with first place going to Justin Barr’s Farr 1104 Rumbeat from Pirate’s Pride (Peter Masterton) and Whistler (Jory Lindscott).
Rumbeat also won the Group 1 AMS, beating Rolex Sydney Hobart entrant Martela (Tony Williams) and Planet X (Michael Rowley). Footloose (Stewart Geeves) won Group 2, AMS from Moonshadow (Anthony Ellis) and Twitch (Clive Anning).
Crowded starting line for Group 2 - 2012 Combined Clubs Long Race Series Race 2
Planet X (Michael Rowley) - 2012 Combined Clubs Long Race Series Race 2
Martela did even better under IRC scoring, winning comfortably on corrected time from Colin Denny’s The Protagonist and Rumbeat.
Group 2 PHS saw Shane Powell’s Spare Time take first place from Jigsaw (Neil Snare) and Footloose (Stewart Geeves).
In Group 2 the last boat to finish the race, Julius Szlovic’s Tihany took first place on corrected time by a remarkable 13 minutes from the Group line honours winner, Exus (David Brett), third place going to Ragtime (Thomas Kirkland).