Launceston to Hobart - Duel for line honours continues

Start of the 2012 Launceston to Hobart off Inspection Head yesterday
The battle for line honours in the Good Guys Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race is still a duel between northern and southern Tasmanian yachts, AdvantEDGE and The Fork in the Road.

All 35 yachts in the fleet have sailed through the notorious Banks Strait overnight and are now heading down the Tasmanian East Coast, but light winds have slowed them down this morning.

At 6am today Gary Smith’s The Fork in the Road, from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in Hobart, was 11 nautical miles north-east of Bicheno, with 147 nautical miles to sail, but making only four knots boatspeed.

The Fork in the Road powering down the Tamar River yesterday in pursuit of AdvantEDGE - 2012 Launceston to Hobart Race

Less than a mile astern came Andrew Jones’ AdvantEDGE, representing the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club at Beauty Point. She is making about the same speed.

A surprise front runner is Royce Salter’s Ramrod, a smaller boat from the Bellerive Yacht Club, which at this stage was only two miles astern of AdvantEDGE.

In fact, the fleet is remarkably close together after 18 hours at sea following the start at Beauty Point in the Tamar River early yesterday afternoon. The bulk of the yachts are close inshore between Bicheno and St Marys. The last boat, Take 5, is abeam of Eddystone Point.

Ahead of the fleet later today is the challenge of sailing through the Mercury Passage between elongated Maria Island and the Tasmanian mainland near Orford.

Well placed in the fleet are last year’s overall winner, Masquerade, along with Ciao Baby, The Protagonist, Pisces and the Victorian yacht Penfold Audi Sport, which yesterday figured in a last-minute bid to make the start after being damaged while on a slipway on the eve of the race.

The forecast for the east coast today is for 10-15 knot south to south-westerly winds, tending south-easterly this afternoon before easing overnight. As the L2H fleet nears Hobart tomorrow they will be facing fresher winds, with 15-25 knot westerlies in the morning.