'Cougar II powers down the River Derwent after the start of the Maria Island Race - Maria Island Race 2012'
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Maria Island Race 2012, currently underway, is being hosted by Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. Tony Lyall’s TP52 Cougar II is on track to break the long-standing course record for the 190 nautical mile ocean Tasports 65th Maria Island Race, around the rugged south-east coast of the island State.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart entrant rounded Tasman Island about 8am and has 60 nautical miles to sail across Storm Bay and up the River Derwent.
However, last night’s strong south-westerlies have eased this morning and she faces a strong outgoing tide in the river early this afternoon.
Cougar II must finish before 2.50pm to break the race record of 19 hours 50 minutes set by the maxi ketch Tasmania in 1994, with skipper Bob Clifford going on to take line honours in the 50th Sydney Hobart Race that year.
The Maria Island Race started at 7pm last evening with Cougar II quickly opening up a big lead over the 16 boat fleet as they beat to windward down the river into a freshening south-westerly breeze.
Once round the Iron Pot, at the entrance to the Derwent, the fleet had a fast spinnaker run across Storm Bay to round Tasman Island and continued to carry their spinnakers up the coast. With winds reaching 30 knots and a steep sea building, some crews may have elected to reduce sail. However, only one boat, Auch, has retired from the race,
Cougar II led the fleet around Maria Island about 4am, averaging more than 12 knots on the outward leg. Heading south into the sou’wester, she has extended her lead on the beat between Maria Island and Tasman Island.
As Cougar II rounded Tasman Island the next boat, Gary Smith’s Bakewell-White 45 The Fork in the Road was in second place, 3 nautical miles north-east of Fortesque Bay on the Tasman Peninsula. In third place in the fleet was the Ker 11.7 Dump Truck, skippered by Justin Wells, 5nm east of Marion Narrows,
Whistler (David Rees) and Ramrod (Royce Slater) had rounded Maria Island and are currently beating to windward down the inside of the island off Triabunna and Orford. The bulk of the fleet should round the island within the next hour or two.
At the tailend of the fleet, and still south of Maria Island are Fordplay, skippered by the only woman skipper in the race, Amberley Ford, and Kaiulana, skippered by Malcolm Cooper.
by Peter Campbell
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3:46 AM Sat 17 Nov 2012GMT
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