Early this morning in The Good Guys Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race, New Zealand-designed, Tasmanian built yacht The Fork in the Road made a magnificent return to ocean racing when she took line honours.
AdvantEDGE finish just under 17 minutes astern of The Fork in the Road - 2012 Launceston to Hobart
Skippered by former dinghy world champion and Olympic sailor Gary Smith, the Bakewell-White 45 from Hobart’s Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, powered across the finish line at 6.14 am.
Her win ended a close duel throughout the 285 nautical mile race along Tasmania’s North-East and East Coasts with AdvantEDGE, Andrew Jones’ Inglis 47 from the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club at Beauty Point.
AdvantEDGE, which led the fleet out of the Tamar River from the start at Beauty Point early on Thursday morning and held a narrow advantage until south of Maria Island, finished at 6:35:13am, only 21 minutes astern of The Fork in the Road.
At that stage only Fish Frenzy, Stephen Keal’s 50-footer, was inside the River Derwent, but a large group of yachts was in Storm Bay between Tasman Island and the Iron Pot.
The Fork in the Road took line honours in the 2008 Launceston to Hobart (L2H) but has missed the last two races due to Smith’s business commitments.
Skipper Gary Smith steers The Fork in the Road up the Derwent early today - 2012 Launceston to Hobart
'It’s been a hard and tricky race, a close battle all the way with AdvantEDGE,' a happy Smith said after crossing the finish line off Castray Esplanade at Battery Point. 'The strongest wind we got was 30 knots from astern sailing through the Banks Strait, but for most of yesterday, the breeze was fairly light.
'Even this morning, we got becalmed south of the John Garrow Light, but then a fresh northerly came down the river and we finished with a reef in the mainsail as we tacked up the river.'
Smith said he had to chase AdvantEDGE right from the start until south of Maria Island. 'We finally got a break south of Maria Island but they were always within a few miles of us,' he added.
Despite the generally light to moderate winds, The Fork in the Road’s elapsed time of one day 18 hours six minutes was quite fast. It was one hour and 44 minutes slower than the fastest time for the course which was extended to 285 nautical miles last year.
Skipper Gary Smith (left) and tactician Steve Walker aboard The Fork in the Road after the win - 2012 Launceston to Hobart