Bruny Island Yacht Race, hosted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, is the oldest ocean yacht race in Australia. Cougar II, Tony Lyall’s Transpac 52, tonight took line honours in the 86th edition of the race.
The powerful sloop crossed the line at 22:54pm , outsailing a fleet of 25 of southern Tasmania’s best offshore racing yachts to complete the circumnavigation of the island south of Hobart in 13 hours 14 minutes, more than five hours outside the race record.
With the moon occasionally breaking through the clouds to cast a pale shimmer on the River Derwent, Cougar II slowly edged up the Sandy Bay shore in a light south-westerly breeze.
As she crossed the finish line, close reaching under a Code 0 sail, her nearest rival, Mr Kite, Andrew Hunn’s Cape/Barrett 40, was sailing equally slowly past the southern Hobart river suburb of Taroona, possibly up to an hour astern in the light winds.
It was the first Bruny Island Race for Cougar II which Lyall bought just before last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in which the powerful sloop finished 13th in fleet.
After a near windless start on the River Derwent just south of the Tasman Bridge this morning, the fleet finally picked up a moderate to fresh south-easterly breeze out in the Tasman Sea as they tacked down the eastern coastline of the island to the south of Hobart.
All the fleet had rounded Cape Bruny, the southernmost tip of Bruny Island and entered the D’Entrecasteaux by early this evening, with Cougar II opening up a commanding lead from Mr Kite.
Vying for third place in the fleet as they sailed up the Channel and back towards into the River Derwent were Justin Wells and Edward Fader’s Ker 11.7 Dump Truck and the two Farr 40s, POW (Michael Cooper) and War Games (Wayne Banks-Smith).
However, late tonight most of the fleet appeared to have run out of wind and were still struggling to complete the sail up the Channel.
Small boats in the Bruny Island Race, the Mumm 30 Cleopatra leading the Jarkan 38 Bellandean past Lower Sandy Bay - Bruny Island Yacht Race 2012 - Rob Cruse Click Here to view large photo
The slow race is likely to favour the smaller, and lower handicapped boats in the fleet which tonight were making good speed up the Channel with the Young 88 Footloose (Stewart Geeves) looking well placed for a handicap win under AMS ratings and the Mumm 30 Cleopatra (Scott Sharp) and the Tradition 30 Take Five (Ian Gannon) strong contenders for PHS honours.
Late this evening the wind in the Derwent had eased to less than five knots and the tailenders are not likely to finish the 89 nautical mile course until after sunrise.