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Bruny Island Race - Calvert family yachting legend continues

by Peter Campbell on 12 Feb 2012
Don Calvert was aboard his father’s yacht Caprice of Huon when it won Tasmania’s Bruny Island Race 55 years ago; early today he won the race himself for the ninth time with his Castro - Bruny Island Race © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
The Calvert family yachting legend continued today.

In the early hours of this morning, Don Calvert personally won the 89 nautical mile circumnavigation of the island to the south of Hobart overall for a record nine times when he steered his Castro 40, Intrigue, across the finish line in seventh place in the 25 boat fleet.


Hobart yachtsman Calvert sailed in his first Bruny Island Yacht Race 55 years ago, aboard his father Charles’ famous yacht Caprice, later to be known as Caprice of Huon. They won that Bruny Island race in 1957, and thus began a remarkable history of family success in what is now Australia’s oldest ocean yacht race.

In the early hours of this morning, Don personally won the 89 nautical mile circumnavigation of the island to the south of Hobart overall for a record nine times when he steered his Castro 40, Intrigue, across the finish line in seventh place in the 25 boat fleet.

The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s Bruny Island Race has three handicap divisions, AMS, IRC and PHS, with AMS results deciding the overall winner of the race.

On corrected time, Intrigue won the premier AMS division, placed a close second to line honours winner Cougar II in the IRC division, and placed fourth to Mr Kite, which won the PHS trophy.

In the AMS division Intrigue, which in 1985 represented Australia at the Admiral’s Cup in England, won from David Taylor’s Sydney 36, Pisces, and the MBD 36, Whistler, skippered by David Rees.

Cougar II, Tony Lyall’s Transpac 52, took out a fine line/handicap double, winning the IRC division from Intrigue and Andrew Hunn’s Cape/Barrett 40, Mr Kite.

It was Cougar II’s third consecutive line win in southern Tasmanian waters for Tony Lyall who bought the boat just before the recent Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Hunn and his crew of Mr Kite recovered exceptionally well from an embarrassing start where, due to lack of wind and a strong tide, they ran into the starter’s boat on Saturday. Then they had to perform a 360 degrees penalty turn, ending up last as the fleet headed down the Derwent.

Fighting back tenaciously over the next 14 hours, Mr Kite finished only one hour astern of the bigger Cougar II and received a just reward by winning the PHS division on corrected time.

Second place in PHS went to Ian Gannon’s Traditional 30, Take Five, which was 22nd boat to complete the course, in just under 24 hours, with Cougar II placing third on corrected time.

Principal race officer Roger Martin set the fleet a course that left Bruny Island Island to starboard. After a near windless start on Saturday morning, the south to south-easterly breeze freshened during the day and as the fleet round Cape Bruny and entered the D’Entrecasteaux Channel for the run home they were sailing in 19 knots of true wind.

Cougar II finished late on Saturday evening, taking 13 hours 24 minutes and 29 seconds, nearly five hours outside the race record. On the run up the Channel, Cougar II and Mr Kite opened up a big lead on the rest of the fleet which sailed into several ‘parking lots’.

Intrigue’s overall AMS victory is her second successive win and ninth in total in the Bruny Island Race, with the Calvert name from the Huon Valley figuring prominently on the honour roll since Charles Calvert’s Caprice won in 1957.

Caprice (of Huon), built of Huon pine by Vic Innes for Charles Calvert, went on to twice represent Australia with distinction at the Admiral’s Cup, skippered by Sydney yachtsmen, Gordon Ingate in 1965 and the late Gordon Reynolds in 1967.

In 1985 Don Calvert had Noel Wilson and Rodney Goode built the Tony Castro-designed One Tonner, Intrigue, with a hull of King Billy pine and Celery Top pine, and she too represented Australia at the Admiral’s Cup that year.

'Two fine boats, both built by Tasmanian craftsmen from Tasmanian timbers,' the 76-year-old Don Calvert said today as congratulations flowed in for this Bruny Island Race win.

Apart from father Charles and son Don, Bruny Island Race winners have included Don’s brother Hedley, five times with Huon Lass and Huon Chief, and Don’s son, the late Bruce Calvert, who won the PHS division in 2005, sailing his sports boat ABN Amro Morgans.

Another son, David, has been co-skipper with Don in several wins with Intrigue, but this year he sailed aboard Justin Barr’s Ramrod. Sailing his first Bruny Island Race, aboard Richard Scarr and Philippa Calvert’s Beneteau 44.7, Auch, was Don’s 12-year-old grandson, Angus Calvert.

'So there was quite a bit of family rivalry out there…we changed fleet positions several times with the Auch,' Don said. 'The Auch sailed very well and I believe young Angus had a ball!'

Don, now in his 77th year, praised the steering of four younger members of the crew of Intrigue, Ross Mannering, Patrick Copeland, David Gourlay and Ben Latham. 'Three of them sail SB3 sports boats and they sailed Intrigue hard all the way,' he added.

'The Bruny Island Race is a terrific race with such a variety of conditions – ocean sailing in the Tasman Sea and flat water sailing in the enclosed, winding waters of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel - is a real test for the entire crew,' Calvert said.

'There were a lot of parking lots coming back up the Channel last night…a big one at Dennes Point and another off Kingston in the river,' he recalled. 'The two Farr 40s (War Games and POW) got parked at Dennes Point and they were still there when we got there.

'In fact, we sailed around them into third place in the fleet, but once they got going they passed us in the river although in the end we were not far astern of them; in fact, only a few minutes,' added the former Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania Commodore and member of the Tasmanian Yachting Hall of Fame.

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