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88th Bruny Island Yacht Race - Footloose scores top handicap win

'Footloose, overall winner of the 88th Bruny Island race got away under spinnaker at the start on Saturday - 88th Bruny Island Yacht Race'    Peter Campbell    Click Here to view large photo

During the 88th Bruny Island Race, sailed over the weekend, virtually everything went right for Hobart yachtsman Stewart Geeves and his Young 88 Footloose, in marked contrast to the Launceston to Hobart race in late December.

Footloose finished last in fleet in the gale-battered Launceston to Hobart; yesterday the little sloop won the premier AMS handicap division of the Bruny Island Race.

The Sonata 8 Trick Cyclist won the PHS category of the Bruny Island race. - 88th Bruny Island Yacht Race -  Peter Campbell   Click Here to view large photo

In a race cut to measure for the small, low-handicapped yachts, the smallest yacht in the race, and the last to finish, the Sonata 8 Trick Cyclist, skippered by Jory Lindscott, took out the PHS category, with Whistler (David Rees) winning the IRC category.

In the Launceston to Hobart, Footloose got stuck in the mud and caught against a fast incoming tide on the Tamar River for eight hours. Geeves’ tenacity saw the little yacht finally finish the 285 nautical mile race, placing fifth of the seven boats to do so after gales battered the fleet.

In the 89 nautical mile Bruny Island Race, Footloose got a smart spinnaker start in the light breeze on Saturday morning, with the boat well up with the fleet as they beat to windward down the outside of elongated Bruny Island. 'Then they waited for us at the Friars,' Geeves said after crossing the line yesterday, 11th in the fleet of 16, 'and that really helped.'

On corrected time, Footloose won the AMS category from Whistler by three-and-a-half minutes, third place going to Don Calvert’s Castro 40, Intrigue, fourth to Gavin Adamson’s Mumm 36, Madness.

Yachts in the Bruny Island Race sail past a Japanese marine research vessel at Hobart’s docks. - 88th Bruny Island Yacht Race -  Peter Campbell   Click Here to view large photo

Intrigue, winner of nine past Bruny Island Race had been well placed for a 10th victory until the early hours of Sunday morning but in the tricky D’Entrecasteaux Channel when she dropped from second or third in the fleet to finish sixth.

Footloose races under the burgees of both the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmanian and the Geilston Bay Boat Club with owner-skipper Geeves sailing with a 'collection of friends', including Wayne Wagg, David Fulton, Andrew Baker, Sam Ruddle (who flew down from Queensland for the race), Paul Kerrison and Adrian Hallam.

'I think Wayne was our lucky charm…he sailed on another small boat, Kaiulani, when she won the Maria Island Race last November,' Geeves said.

Since buying the Launceston-built Young 88 four or five years ago, Footloose has been an overall winner of the Maria Island, Launceston to Hobart and now the Bruny Island Race.

The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania gave the 8-metre LOA Trick Cyclist special dispensation to compete in the 89 nautical circumnavigation of Bruny Island (the lower limit is normally 8.5m LOA), based on the experience of the crew. Skipper Jory Linscott is a regular crew member of Whistler with other crew members widely experienced sailors.

Trick Cyclist was last boat to finish, just before 2pm Sunday afternoon nearly eight hours after line honours winner The Fork in the Road. On corrected time, Trick Cyclist won from two other small boats, Off-Piste (Paul Einoder) and Wildfire (Malcolm Robinson).

Only five boats were rated for the IRC category with Whistler taking first place from Intrigue and Audere (Michael Pritchard).

Former Olypmpic and world champion sailor Gary Smith notched up his fourth win in four starts in the Bruny Island Race with The Fork in the Road, a victory that had added significance for him as he brought up on South Bruny.

Smith has had an excellent season with the boat this summer, taking line honours in the Maria Island, Launceston to Hobart and now the Bruny Island Race.

'This race was just as hard as those,' said Smith after the Bakewell-White 45 crossed the line at 6.10am yesterday for an elapsed time of just under 22 hours. Smith said The Fork in the Road had led for most of the race although 'Intrigue got through in the light winds as we crossed Cloudy Bay…but just for an hour or so.'

He added that an important part of the yacht’s sail wardrobe was a new lightweight headsail made by Wynyard sailmaker Steve Walker who also sailed on the boat.

by Peter Campbell


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11:06 AM Sun 9 Feb 2014GMT

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