Pipe Opener Series - Southern Tasmanian sailors test the waters

Division 1 yachts struggle with spinnaker in the Cock of the Huon - Pipe Opener Series 2011
Rob Cruse
Pipe Opener Series started with the Night Race down the River Derwent and D’Entrecasteaux Channel to Arch Rock or Gordon on Friday 16th September 2011.

Tasmanian contenders for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race impressed in Friday’s night race but a small cruiser/racer won the Cock of Derwent as southern Tasmanian sailors tested the waters in the 43rd edition of the race over the weekend.

The southern yacht racing season in Tasmania does not open officially until 8 October, but the Pipe Opener is the traditional weekend when local yachties unfurl their sails after a chilly winter. That is, unless they have chipped the ice off their decks for the club winter races which ended last weekend.

Sydney Hobart Race contenders Dump Truck and Whistler sailed impressively in Friday night’s race to Gordon, but did not stay on for the Cock of the Huon.

Dump Truck, Justin Wells and Edward Fader’s Kerr 11.7, took line honours while Whistler, a Dovell 38 skippered by David Rees, was the overall winner under AMS handicaps.

Division 1 went to the Huon Yacht Club’s Cleopatra, a Mumm 30 skippered by Scott Sharp, from Whistler and Mark Ballard’s 42 South.

Division 2 saw the Northshore 30 Talofa (Rob Cawthorn) the winner from Steve Mannering’s Zeston 40 and Buggbear, skippered by Derwent Sailing Squadron commodore Ron Bugg.

Dave O’Neill’s True Blue began a good weekend by winning Division 3 of the night race from Myfanway (Adrian Marsh) and Steelin Time (David Leake).

This young fisherman’s concentration was not upset by a yacht start of Shipwrights Point - Pipe Opener Series 2011
Rob Cruse

Today, the traditional Cock of the Huon went to the Derwent Sailing Squadron yacht, Take Five, a Traditional 30, skipper Ian Gannon and his crew revelling in a late westerly front that brought gusty 20-25 knot winds to the race course off Shipwrights Point.

It was a reward for a long and frustrating Friday night sail from Hobart to Gordon in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel in which Take Five, suffered from the ‘stop-go’ winds and failed to finish the 25 nautical mile course within the time limit.

Today, Take Five had some additional luck, victory coming at the expense of Myfanwy (Adrian Marsh) which was disqualified for sailing the wrong side of a mark of the course. But for her disqualification, Myfanwy, a Mottle 30, would have been Cock of the Huon.

This year’s Cock of the Huon saw a change of race format from a pursuit race to fleet starts and produced tight racing around the buoys in all three divisions.

Several yachts suffered big broaches as they tried to carry shy spinnakers in the freshening westerly winds, gusting to 25 knots, with Helsal V retiring and several boats disqualified for sailing the incorrect course.

Local Huon Yacht Club entrant Redback (David O’Neill) fought a race-long duel with TasPaints (Ian Stewart) from Bellerive Yacht Club, taking first place on corrected time in Division 1 from Taspaints and another Huon Yacht Club entrant Cleopatra (Scott Sharp).

In Division 2, 2009 Cock of the Huon winner Footloose (Stewart Geeves) won from Sirocco (Leigh Johnston) and Wings Three (Peter Haros) while in Division 3 Take Five won from Dave O’Neill’s True Blue and Malcolm Cooper’s Kaiulani.

Cock of the Huon for 2011, Take Five, beating into a strong westerly gusting down the Huon River - Pipe Opener Series 2011
Rob Cruse

Overall, the Cock of the Huon title for 2011 went to Take Five, from Redback, Taspaints, True Blue and Cleopatra.

Tonight, the prizegiving dinner is being held at the Kermandie Hotel which, along with Sargisons Jewellers, sponsor the Pipe Opener Series.