Three Peaks fleet in Bass Strait

Tasmanian Governor Mr William Cox fired the start gun for the 18th Hydro Tasmania Three Peaks Race at 2pm today and competing yachts again dashed for Bass Strait under sunny skies making good speed into a fresh north westerly breeze, aided by an outgoing tide.

Underwater Video Systems (Mumm 36, Jeff Cordell) was soon overtaken by the bright yellow hulled BSH Electrical Team Q (Josh Ey, Jones 40) leaving defending champion Marshall Engineering (9.1m Chamberlin catamaran) back in the pack.

Veteran competitor Nick Edmunds (Tamar Marine Haphazard) surged into second place using his 18 years experience in the event to pick the wind on the river.

But by the time the fleet were halfway to the Low Head lighthouse, Phillip Marshall and his team Marshall Engineering had hit their straps, out-tacking the leader and surging out into Bass Strait in first place - the seventh year in a row his catamaran has been first out of the heads.

This team is looking for their second win in the race and their runners are keen to earn the title - Kings of the Mountains.

Second place in the dash to Low Head went to BSH Electrical Team Q, followed by Tamar Marine Haphazard.

Last yacht to clear the Tamar River was the only entrant in the Cruising Division, Greg Hall's 34' Van de Stadt sloop Clipsal, but he has 60 miles motoring allowance which he can use to advantage as the race unfolds.

At the 4pm radio sched the position reports had the fleet bunched together seaward of Tenth Islet. Brian Green, pilot of the media plane flying over the fleet en route to Flinders Island reported that the 9.1m catamaran Marshall Engineering held a slender lead over BSH Electrical Team Q, Tamar Marine Haphazard, and Underwater Video Systems.

Despite a weather forecast of fresh winds, the fleet were experiencing mild conditions in Bass Strait, with occasional rain squalls, which could persist until the cold front on west coast overtakes them later in the race.

First yachts are not expected into Lady Barron to discharge their runners for the first peak run, 65 kilometres to the summit of Mt Strzelecki, until after midnight.

Terry Travers on Flinders Island

Communication courtesy of Telstra Countrywide, Launceston