Maria Island Yacht Race - The Fork in the Road gets it rough

Audere and The Fork in the Road jostling for positions at the start of the Maria Island Race.
Peter Campbell
In the Maria Island Race, the fastest yacht, The Fork in the Road, this evening got a perfect ‘pin end’ start to the 200 nautical mile ocean race around the East Coast and return, crossing right on the gun.

Unfortunately, the 52-footer’s bulb keel hooked around the marker buoy’s anchor line and she took it all with her as she powered to windward down the Derwent in the 12 knot east-south-easterly breeze.

With the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania mark laying boat in hot pursuit, skipper Gary Smith finally ‘hove to’ and he and his crew, along with mark boat skipper Mick Hocking, cleared the buoy, line and anchor.

In a dramatic start, most of the bigger boats crowded the ‘pin’ (outer end) of the long line off Castray Esplanade, with Rolex Sydney Hobart Race entrant Martela (Tony Williams) stalling on the line on port tack, with no rights under the racing rules.

The Fork in the Road and Martela get mixed up at the pin end of the line in the Maria Island Race start.
Peter Campbell

The Fork in the Road was forced to dip Martela’s stern but in the end was too close to the ‘pin’ end mark, hooking onto the buoy with skipper Smith and his crew apparently unaware of their unexpected appendage.

The Fork in the Road lost close to ten minutes team in untangling the mark and taking a penalty turn but once under way Smith and his crew set off in hot pursuit of the other 11 boats in the fleet.

Martela admitted she had been at fault on the starting line, taking penalty turns once clear of the start.

David Taylor’s 36-footer Pisces got the best of a shambolic start and led the fleet on a beat to windward down the Derwent with Mike Pritchard’s recently aquired Beneteau First 45 taking the front running as they sailed into Storm Bay.

Also well up in the fleet at that stage was Martela, David Rees’ Whistler and Peter Haros Wings Three..

At the tailend of the fleet was the other Sydney Hobart entrant in the Maria Island race, Michael Crew’s luxurious cruising yacht, Magic Miles. In fact, by the time she passed the Garrow Light she was already several nautical miles astern of the leading yachts.

Light to moderate winds, at first from the south-west, are expected to continue throughout the race, which is a qualifier for the Sydney Hobart and the Launceston to Hobart races.