The 86th Bruny Island Ocean Race, the 89 nautical mile circumnavigation of the elongated island south of Hobart will be conducted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania this weekend.
The race will start at 9.30am tomorrow, Saturday, 11 February, on the River Derwent off the Royal Hobart Regatta Grounds, just south of the Tasman Bridge, to mark the opening of the three-day 174th Royal Hobart Regatta.
First held in 1898 and for the first 30 years simply called ‘The Ocean Race’, the 2012 race is arguably the oldest, continuously (almost) conducted yacht race in Australia.
This year is the 86th Bruny Island Race in 114 years (some races were missed during the World Wars and in the first few seasons after World War II) and has attracted a fleet of 25 of Tasmania’s best performing racing yachts.
From the start the fleet will race down the river and circumnavigate the island. The principal race officer will set the direction on the morning of the race, according to weather forecasts.
If the signal is ‘leave Bruny Island to port’ the fleet will continue from the Derwent down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel to round Cape Bruny and Tasman Head to enter the Tasman Sea and then sail up the eastern coastline of Bruny Island and back into the Derwent, with the finish off Hobart’s Castray Esplanade. The course is reversed if the signal is ‘leave Bruny Island to starboard.’
Both the ocean coastline of Bruny Island and the winding waters of the Channel are steeped in maritime history, explored by the great navigators of the 18th century including Cook, Bligh, Bruni D’Entrecastreaux and others.
Don Calvert’s Castro 40 Intrigue will be looking for her ninth corrected time win in the race while it will be the first for Tony Lyall’s powerful Transpac 52, Cougar II.
Intrigue won its first Bruny Island Race in1985, the year she represented Australia at the Admiral’s Cup in England, but Don’s first win goes back 55 years when he crewed aboard his father Charles’ yacht Caprice in 1957.
This year his grandson, 12-year-old Angus Calvert, will be among a young crew aboard Richard Scarr and Philippa Calvert’s Beneteau 44.7 Auch.
Scarr, the Tasmanian high performance sailing coach, will be sailing with a crew that includes eight young sailors, aged between 12 and 19, along with experienced ‘mentors’.
The young sailors include Thomas Vincent (13), Angus Calvert (12), Sanders Price (16), Olin Stimson (18), Jeremy Coles (19), Zac Pullen (17), Henry Goodfellow (18) and Rohan Langford (19).
All will play key crewing roles on the Beneteau 44.7, with Pullen and Goodfellow working the bow, Langford as mainsail trimmer and the others as sail trimmers.
The fleet includes several boats that sailed well in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, including David Rees’ Whistler, Justin Wells and Edward Fader’s Dump Truck, Greg Prescott’s 2 Unlimited and Tony Lyall’s TP52 Cougar II.
Line honours is expected to be a battle between Cougar, Andrew Hunn’s Cape/Barrett 40 Mr Kite, the Farr 40s War Games (Wayne Banks-Smith) and POW (Michael Cooper) and Mark Ballard’s 42 South.
Launceston to Hobart Race winner Masquerade (Tony Harman) is also entered, along with last year’s Bruny Island PHS division winner Youngsta (Paul Strong) and past IRC winner Auch (Richard Scarr).
The Bruny Island Race will be the final race in Tasmanian waters for Greg Prescott’s Melges 32, 2 Unlimited.
Prescott, a noted ocean racing yachtsman with 26 Sydney Hobarts to his credit, has sailed the light displacement 2 Unlimited with considerable success in Tasmanian waters over the past two seasons.
He plans to trailer the boat to the mainland later this month for some Melges 32 class racing in the Sydney Harbour Regatta and at Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, later contesting Hamilton Island Race Week.
'2 Unlimited has been a terrific little boat to sail in southern Tasmania, both inshore and offshore, but I want to focus on my son Lachlan’s sailing in an Optimist, ' Prescott said. 'He is wrapped in the Optimists but has also sailed some races with me on 2 Unlimited, including the King of the Derwent and the Betsey Island Race.'
Prescott said that joining him for the Melges 32 regattas in Sydney would be the successful international yachtsman Darren 'Twirler' Jones as tactician. 'After that, I plan to leave the boat on the mainland for further Melges 32 regattas.'