Sydney Hobart Race contender Cougar II recovered from a series of spectacular broaches and a ripped asymmetric spinnaker to finally outpace the fleet in Saturday’s Combined Clubs Long Race down the Derwent and out into Storm Bay and return.
Atilla (John Hunn) and Footloose (Stewart Geeves) were both winners on the day
Cougar II, skippered by Tony Lyall, encountered problems minutes after the start of Group A as the north-westerly winds gusted to 35 knots.
The crew struggled to control the big white spinnaker, which appeared to split in two before they managed to lower it away.
The TP52 sailed bareheaded for some time before gybing from mid-river into Ralphs Bay, hoisting a small spinnaker in pursuit of the Group A fleet.
'It was a long hard day on the water,' commented Bellerive Yacht Club Commodore John Mills back at the BYC. 'There were stops and starts with the wind along the South Arm shore and, of course, many broaches and unplanned gybes on the run down to Ralphs Bay.'
While Cougar II sailed the 38 nautical mile course in 4 hours 44 minutes the last boat to finish, Spirit of Freya, spent 8 hours and 27 minutes on the water, but still placed third under AMS scoring in Group B.
Bellerive Yacht Club boats had top results in Group A, with Commodore Mills sailing his Lyons 40 Bombora into first place under PHS scoring and Invincible (Harold Clark) winning under IRC ratings.
Cougar II starts to broach soon after the start of the Combined Clubs Long Race on the Derwent
In PHS, Bombora won from the Derwent Sailing Squadron boat Moonshine (Bruce Palmer) and Black Magic (Graham Mansfield). In AMS, Invincible won from Bombora and Rumbeat (Justin Barr). Cougar II placed sixth under PHS rating.
Another Rolex Sydney Hobart Race entrant, Tony Williams’ Martela won the Group A IRC division from Pisces (David Taylor).
Group B saw the John Hunn and his veteran crew of Atilla excel in the strong breeze to win the PHS dvision from True Colours (Rob Nalder) and line honours winner Trouble (Dave Willans).
Under AMS scoring, Stewart Geeves’ Young 88 Footloose won from Kaiulani (Malcolm Cooper) and Spirit of Freya (Joanne Harpur).
Group C saw line honours go to Alibi II (Rod Williams) but on corrected time, first place went to Ragtime (Tom Kirkland) from Take 5 (Ian Gannon) and Alibi II.
Saturday was yet another day of strong and gusty north-westerly winds have affected keelboat racing in Hobart so far this season.
Opening Day on 5 October was cancelled while the first Combined Clubs Harbour Series on 12 October was postponed to another day, both because of winds of 40 knots-plus roaring down the river.
Last Saturday, the race committee was recording 25 knots when they sent the fleet away from the starting line in Kangaroo Bay on the second Combined Clubs Long Race the season, but once the boats cleared the lee of Rosny Bluff they were hit by 30 knots and more from the north-west.
Off the John Garrow Light, Cougar II’s spinnaker finally rips apart
Further down the river, several boats reports north-westerly gusts of 40 knots, and while several boats retired with ripped sails, no serious damage was reported.