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Mewstone Race - Lion-like Mewstone just friendly ‘cub’ for yacht fleet

by Peter Campbell on 22 Jan 2011
Valheru sailing down the Derwent with Japanese research vessel at anchor - 42 Below Mewstone Race © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
RYCT 42 below Mewstone Race – News Update.

Abel Janzoon Tasman, the Dutch navigator who first sighted the Mewstone, a rocky island off the southern tip of Tasmania in 1642, wrote that it ‘resembled a lion’, starting a rugged reputation that has lasted for centuries.


Today, however, the skippers and crews of nine yachts competing in the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s revived Mewstone Race, found it more like a friendly ‘cub’.

As they rounded the rock, the halfway mark in the 170 nautical mile ocean race that started Friday evening, the seas were flat, the wind under 10 knots and the southern skies clear. It was, however, a little chilly, recorded at under 11° C at nearby Maatsuyker Island at sunrise, cooler still at sea for the sailors.

Last held in 1985, the Mewstone Race was dropped from the club’s offshore race programme because of its formidable reputation, as the southernmost ocean race in Australia, down to the latitude 43.6° south, the seas of the ‘Roaring Forties’.

This morning, former Olympic and world champion sailor Gary Smith steered his Bakewell-White 45, The Fork in the Road, around Mewstone about 11.30am, less than a mile ahead of Ker 11.3, Dump Truck, skippered by Justin Wells, and Greg Prescott’s Melges 32, 2 Unlimited.

By 3.00pm all yachts in the fleet, except Hot August Night (Nat Morgan) had rounded the rock and were headed back towards Hobart, with the choice of sailing up the d’Entrecasteaux Channel between mainland Tasmania and elongated Bruny Island or taking the near 11 nautical mile, open water course up the Tasman Sea side of Bruny.

Late this afternoon, the leaders were back in the Channel, a brisk 14 knot sou’-sou’-easter blowing at Cape Bruny, enabling them to carry spinnakers for some of the way home. However, the breeze was backing to the east and possible to the north-east, turning the leg into a two-sail reach.

It is expected most will take the shorter Channel course, trusting that the current 12 knot breeze will last until they reach the River Derwent and the finish off Hobart’s Castray Esplanade. If the breeze holds in, the leaders could finish before midnight.

Just before 5pm the OceanTrack yacht tracker placed The Fork in the Road in the Channel, east of Southport and making 8.5 knots. At that stage she was between 7 nautical miles ahead of 2 Unlimited, which was four miles in front of Dump Truck.

The rest of the fleet, apart from Hot August Night, was sailing in a close group across South West Bay, with Tony Lyall’s Elliott 39, Valheru, less than three miles ahead of Whistler (David Rees), Pisces (David Taylor) and She’s the Culprit (Todd Leary). After round Mewstone early this afternoon, Hot August Night had gained ground.

The 170 nautical mile race, the southernmost ocean race in Australia, started from Hobart at 7pm Friday, with the fleet sailing in mostly light breezes overnight and again this morning after a brisk start into the southerly sea breeze.

For more information on the Mewstone Race click here

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