The 85th Bruny Island Race is anyone’s race, both on line and handicap, with the lead changing hands throughout the day since the 23 boat fleet set sail from off the Royal Hobart Regatta Grounds this morning.
At 1800 hours (6pm), after eight and a half hours of sailing in light and flukey westerly winds, the leaders had sailed only half the 89 nautical mile race, with the actual lead changing hands at least half a dozen times as they sailed down the d’Entrecasteaux Channel.
The start provided a colourful opening to the Royal Hobart Regatta with most boats flying shy spinnakers as they close reached down the river.
However, by the time the leaders had passed the John Garrow Light off Blinking Billy at Lower Sandy Bay there had been three or four unscheduled stops through lack of wind and the lead had changed four times.
It was touch and go at the start for Helsal V which drifted back on the right side of the line only 30 seconds before the start. However, this gave skipper Robert Smith the opportunity to bear away and win the start.
Dump Truck, skippered by Justin Wells, took an early lead, flying a huge asymmetric spinnaker to pass Gary Smith’s The Fork in the Road.
Abeam of Wrest Point, but in mid river, virtually the entire fleet stopped, except for Greg Prescott’s 2Unlimited and Dump Truck which took a big detour into Sandy Bay in search of breeze and came out in front at the Garrow.
Since then it’s been a slow race down the Channel with principal race officer signalled ‘leave Bruny Island to port’ at the start.
Dump Truck, The Fork in the Road, 2 Unlimited and Auch, skippered by Richard Scarr were within a few hundred metres of each other as they sailed past Cape Bruny in a seven knot westerly.
The Fork in the Road was slightly ahead of Auch and 2Unlimited with Don Calvert’s Intrigue and Sally Rattle’s Archie close astern. Last year’s AMS handicap winner Wild West, Michael Denney’s Cape 30 was only four nautical miles astern of the leading boats.
From Cape Bruny the fleet will sail past The Friars group of islets south of Bruny Island and then up the Tasman Sea side of Bruny Island.
At this rate, the leaders are not likely to finish until early Sunday morning.