Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race - Last yachts finally finish

Ian Marshall and his crew of CNC Constructions (Tas) - Hot Prospects were in party mood after finally finishing the tough Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race 2013
Peter Campbell
In the Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race Footloose, the final yacht to finish last evening, experienced just about had every kind of condition during the 285 nautical race – and earned a herty welcome from fellow competitors already berthed in Sullivans Cove.

It all began when Footloose became stranded in the River Tamar for eight hours after the start, firstly aground on a mudbank, then struggling against an incoming tide to clear the river.

But skipper Stewart Geeves, a member of Geilston Bay Boat Club and Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, was not giving up, even though the fleet was already 20-30 nautical miles ahead in Bass Strait.

Geeves and his crew then ran into adverse tides in Banks Strait and the yacht was becalmed for hours north of St Helens. But then came a spectacular spinnaker run south enabling Footloose to close the gap on the fleet, only to meet galeforce headwinds north of Tasman Island and Tasman Island and in Storm Bay.

Finally, with the breeze ‘shutting down’ for the night on the River Derwent, a light southerly last evening gave the Young 88 a more pleasant sail run up the river to finish the race after nearly three and a half days at sea at 8.15pm.

Unlike most of her rivals in the 26 boats Footloose and her crew courageously kept plugging away down the East Coast and finally, last night, they made it, weary, thirsty and hungry, to a berth in Hobart’s Sullivans Cove. Awaiting them was case of cold beer and the sponsor’s hot pies.

Footloose finished last in fleet just after 8.15pm last night, one of only seven yachts to actually complete the rugged race and earning lots of praise from the crews of other boats to finish earlier

These included Fish Frenzy (Stephen Keal) which finished on Sunday evening and CDC Development (Tas) – Host Prospect (Ian Marshall) and the two Victorian entrants Cavarlo (Lou Irving) and Saltair (Sarah Allard) which finished late yesterday afternoon.

Andrew Scott (right) and most of his PHS winning crew of Ballendean at Sullivans Cover - Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race 2013
Peter Campbell

Gary Smith, skipper of line honours winner The Fork in the Road enjoys a sponsor's pie after finishing the tough race - Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race 2013
Shaun Tiedemann
Only two yachts, The Fork in the Road and Ballendean weathered Saturday night’s gale, finishing early yesterday morning. The rest of the fleet had taken shelter or retired.

The National Launceston to Hobart prizegiving will be held at the Derwent Sailing Squadron at 1300 hours today, 31 December.

DSS officials will not release handicap results until today, but Gary Smith’s The Fork in the Road is almost certain to add AMS and IRC handicap wins to her line honours win, while Andrew Scott’s Ballendean should take out the PHS category.