In the 25th Tasmanian Three Peaks Race, the Melbourne catamaran Peccadillo tonight smashed the record for the first sailing leg, sailing the 90 nautical miles across eastern Bass Strait from Beauty Point on the Tamar River to Lady Barron on Flinders Island in a remarkable 6 hours and 19 minutes.
Three Peaks record breaker Peccadillo passing Low Head at the mouth of the Tamar River this afternoon
The Atlantic 46, skippered by Charles Meredith, berthed at Lady Barron just after 8.50pm, recording the quickest first sailing leg in the history of this challenging combination of ocean sailing and endurance running around Tasmania’s coast.
Her time cut 1 hour and 19 minutes off the Beauty Point to Lady Barron sailing leg set in the 1997 race by the fast trimaran Island Paint Company, better known as Twisted Sister.
Peccadillo averaged just under 13 knots in boatspeed, at times surfing at 15 to 18 knots before slowing down to negotiate the shifting shallows that surround the entrance to the fishing port of Lady Barron.
While this is the sixth Three Peaks Race for Peccadillo’s skipper Charles Meredith, it is the first for the running team of Phil Sicklinger from Sydney and Daniel Trevena from Melbourne.
They quickly jumped ashore as the yacht came alongside Lady Barron wharf, setting off in darkness on the 65 nautical endurance run across to the western side of Flinders Island, ahead of them a tough climb to the granite peak of Mount Strzelecki and back to Lady Barron.
Peccadillo comfortably won the duel to Lady Barron from the Hobart-based catamaran Euphoria Furniture, better known as Storm Bay and skippered by Steven Laird as they ran downwind before a 20 to 25 knot westerly wind.
The Hobart catamaran was expected to finish within an hour of Peccadillo with her more experienced runners striving to make up the overall time deficit and take Euphoria Furniture to an earlier start on the second sailing leg, 145 nautical miles from Lady Barron to Coles Bay on the Tasmanian East Coast.
Speaking ashore at Lady Barron, Peccadillo’s skipper Charles Meredith was cautious but excited after setting a provisional new leg one record.
Deciding that conditions in Bass Strait were too strong for a spinnaker, he elected to run with a full main and a staysail set inside the headsail.
After rounding Boxen Island the crew hoisted a storm kite and gybed down Franklin Sound. With a significant lead and a low tide, Peccadillo elected to take the main shipping channel to avoid any potential pitfalls.
Meredith said that Peccadillo had shown the benefit of the crew’s many ocean miles, as well as the improvements he made to the coat’s rig, centreboards and rudders.
Earlier in the afternoon the two big cats had dashed down the Tamar River from the start off Beauty Point to Low Head in less than 45 minutes, setting course on the first leg to Flinders Island and quickly hitting 15 to 18 knots boatspeed.
Five hours after the start, Peccadillo reported a position only 17 nautical miles south-west of Lady Barron, averaging 15 knots in the fresh breeze and three-metre swell.
Euphoria Furniture, a Chamberlin 40 skippered by Steve Laird, was believed to be close astern although its satellite tracker appeared not to be working.
Leading monohull in the fleet is AdvantEDGE from the Tamar RIver - 2013 Three Peaks Race
In third and fourth places as the fleet raced across a white-capped Bass Strait were two Tamar monohull yachts, Andrew Jones Advant Edge and Nick Edmunds’ Haphazard. Edmunds has now competed in all 25 Three Peaks Races.
Also well placed was the Hobart monohull Whistler, skippered by David Rees, whose crew is aiming for a unique double win in the Tilman Trophy whose requirements include that the majority of the crew completing the final run to the peak of Mount Wellington when the leading boats sail into Hobart, probably on Easter Monday.
Surprisingly well placed was the 15m monohull Whistler World, skippered by Robert Findlay from Low Head and sailing in his first Three Peaks Race. Heading out into Bass Strait, Whistler World was fifth in the fleet.
A last minute withdrawal was the Granger catamaran New Howrah Pharmacy, with skipper Terry Travers, a past Three Peaks Race winner, expressing concern with the rigging of his new boat.
More than 7000 people lined Inspection Head wharf and the banks of the Tamar further downstream to watch the start of the race, with the 20 knot breeze giving all yachts a fast lead to Low Head.