Pipe Opener regatta - Cougar II returns

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2013
Peter Campbell
The Pipe Opener is organised by the Derwent Sailing Squadron and Huon Yacht Club. Tony Lyall’s Cougar II, arguably Tasmania’s fastest offshore racing yacht, will return to racing in local waters in tonight’s traditional pre-season regatta event.

The Pipe Opener comprises three races, starting with the night race from Hobart’s Castray Esplanade to Gordon in the d’Entrecasteaux Channel, getting under way at 7pm.

On Saturday afternoon, the fleet will contest the Huon Aquaculture Cock of the Huon starting from Shipwrights Point on the Huon River at 1.30pm, and Sunday the Port Huon to Gordon race gets under way at 9.30am.

A fleet of between 30 and 35 yachts, including several that have sailed up from Port Huon, is expected to start in the Pipe Opener night race. The series sponsored by Sarginson Jewellers and Kermandie Hotel.

Cougar II will compete only in tonight’s race from Hobart to Gordon in what owner/skipper Lyall yesterday described as a 'shakedown race to see that everything is working'.

For the powerful TP52 ocean racer, the Piper Opener marks the start of a long and hard racing season, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race and possibly two TP52 class regattas in Sydney in November and December.

This means that Cougar II may not contest the Maria Island Race in November. 'We may have to find a Sydney Hobart qualifying race out of Sydney,' Lyall added.

Also starting a new season in Tasmanian waters tonight is Bombora owned and skippered by Bellerive Yacht Club commodore John Mills.

The Lyons 40 won the galeswept 1993 Sydney Hobart when racing as Micropay Cuckoos Nest and was subsequently raced out of Hobart as Interum, with further success.

Other Division one yachts contesting the Pipe Opener include Whistler, Host Plus, TasPaints, Pisces and Wild West.

Division two entries include Femme Fatalle, Footloose and Hot August and in Division three starters will include Kaiulani and Lock on Wood.

The Official Opening Day of the 2013-2014 season will see a colourful sailpast on the River on Saturday, October 5th, with the first official Combined Club Race being the Channel Race the following day.