Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race 2012 – Penfold Audi Sport in jeopardy

The Good Guys Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race 2012 has not been kind for Melbourne sailor David Ellis and the crew of handicap honours favourite Penfold Audi Sport, which is in the verge of withdrawing from competition after sustaining a hull and rudder damage at Beauty Point.

One of the favourites for handicap honours in The Good Guys Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race, the Victorian yacht Penfold Audi Sport, has suffered hull and rudder damage at Beauty Point and may have to withdraw from the race around Tasmania’s east coast.

With only two-and-a-half hours to the start off Inspection Head on the Tamar River, owner/skipper David Ellis and his crew are attempting to repair a crack in the hull and set sail in pursuit of the fleet.

Because of shipping movements out of Bell Bay, the start has been postponed from 11am to 11.45pm, leaving Ellis until 3.45pm to get to the start line as a late starter.

'At the moment the tide is not high enough to get the boat out of the water, and then we will have limited time to satisfactorily repair the crack, which is near the rudder post,' Ellis said at 9.30am.

'We will do our best to get to the line and set sail in pursuit of the fleet, but things are not looking too good at the moment,' he added.

Penfold Audi Sport, an Archambault 31 from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria was being put back in the water at the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club slipway yesterday afternoon when it apparently tilted back in the cradle, damaging the its rudder.

The rudder damage appeared minimal, but this morning crew members climbed inside the hull and discovered the crack near the rudder stock.

'We are very sorry about the damage to David’s boat, as he has been a great enthusiast for the race since competing last year. However, he is making a valiant effort to get to the start line, even though it may some hours late,' Race Director Ron Bugg told other competitors at this morning’s pre-race briefing at the Tamar Yacht Club’s Beauty Point clubhouse.

'They have four hours after the official start to be ranked as a starter.'

The past 24 hours has not been a good time for David Ellis, a Port Phillip ship’s pilot and successful yachtsman

Bugg has faced another problem this morning – delaying the start of the 285 nautical mile race. The L2H race was due to start off Inspection Head wharf at 11am but a freighter due to sail from Bell Bay at 12 noon has had its sailing time brought forward to 11.30pm.

'If we started the race as scheduled there was the real possibility that the freight and the fleet would be trying to negotiate the narrow reaches of the lower Tamar River near George Town at the same time,' Bugg explained.

'The freighter will be moving with the strong ebbing tide and should be well down the river by the time we start the race,’ he added.

'We fly the postponement flag signifying the delayed start with the official start time now11.45am,' he added.

The progress of the fleet in The Good Guys Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race can be followed on Ocean Tracker:

Ocean Tracker Launceston to Hobart Yacht Race 2012