Mewstone Race Hobart yachtsman Justin Wells has skippered the two-times Sydney Hobart Race division winner Dump Truck to top handicap honours in the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s revived race.
'It’s a great start to the year in which we are planning to contest the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race,' said an elated Wells, who owns the boat with fellow RYCT member Edward Fader.
Dump Truck finished the 170 nautical mile race down to the rocky island in ’Roaring Forties’ off the southern tip of Tasmania just before midnight last night to win both the AMS and IRC divisions on corrected time, also placing second in the PHS division.
First place in the PHS division went to Gary Smith’s The Fork in the Road, which took line honours at 10.38pm, just under an hour and 20 minutes ahead of Dump Truck.
Contrary to its reputation as a rugged race that led to it being dropped from the RYCT’s ocean racing calendar after the 1985 race, the revival was a relatively ‘benign’ race, according to vice-commodore Roger Martin.
However, Wells said that the fleet had had to beat back from the Mewstone into a 22-23 knot easterly breeze on Saturday afternoon before heading up the d’Entrecasteaux in lighter winds. 'We put in a reef and went down to a number 3 headsail,' he said.
The Mewstone is Dump Truck’s first offshore race win since Wells and Fader bought the yacht, a Ker 11.3 that previously raced as Tow Truck, 11 months ago.
During the Mewstone the lead changed several times between The Fork in the Road, a Bakewell-White 45, Dump Truck and Greg Prescott’s Melges 32, 2 Unlimited. 'Coming up the Channel and the River last night we were able to hold on to the light breeze, even when it really got light off Taroona and again off Sandy Bay Sailing Club,' Wells said, recounting the race.
'We were third boat around the Mewstone, behind 2 Unlimited and The Fork in the Road, but we did better on the beat back towards South East Cape and the Channel.
'Then we got some weed on the keel off South Bruny and that slowed us down for a while, but we held on to second place as we came up the River and that was the key to success.
'It was a great experience to go down that far south and see this rugged southern coastline of Tasmania in a racing mode,' Wells added. 'There was a lot of marine life too, dolphins and seals.'
In IRC results, Dump Truck won from The Fork in the Road by 38 minutes and 16 seconds, third place going to 2 Unlimited. Under AMS, Dump Truck won by 26 minutes and 16 seconds from 2 Unlimited, with only 57 seconds to third placed The Fork in the Road.
The Fork in the Road covered the 170 nautical miles in 27 hours 38 minutes and 57 seconds and on PHS handicaps won that scoring division by 1 hour 26 minutes and 32 seconds on corrected time from Dump Truck, Tony Lyall’s Elliott 39 Valheru placing third.
Last boat to finish was Nat Morgan’s Hot August Night at 10:30:55 this morning for an elapsed time of 2 days 10 hours 30 minutes and 55 seconds. On corrected PHS results, Hot August Night placed fifth.