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Autumn Short-Handed Series race on Hobart's River Derwent

by Peter Campbell 5 May 14:12 PDT 5 May 2019
Autumn Short-Handed Series on Hobart's River Derwent has drawn a fleet of 40 boats, pictured passing historic Battery Point. © Peter Watson

Twenty years ago last December, the then Sydney-based yachtsman Ed Psaltis skippered AFR Midnight Rambler through 80-knot winds in the Tasman Sea to win the tragic 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Today, Psaltis, now re-located to Tasmania, skippered his current yacht, a Sydney 36 also called Midnight Rambler, to his first win as a 'local' in Division 3 (non-spinnaker, two-handed) of Derwent Sailing Squadron's Autumn Short-Handed Series. The wind barely got above eight knots on a flat River Derwent.

Psaltis and crew Graham McKibbon took line honours in Division 3, winning by less a minute on handicap from Jigsaw (Scott Morrison and Rob Watchom), with just four seconds to Hydrotherapy (Jim Thorpe and Peter Smart), last weekend's winners.

A veteran of 37 Sydney Hobarts, Psaltis showed his light weather sailing skills in the 8-10 knot south-westerly breeze, in marked contrast to last weekend's torrid sailing conditions.

The glorious autumnal sailing weather drew 35 of the 40 entered yachts out on the Derwent. Returning to race for the first time this year as Mike and Michelle Denney's Wild West.

Halfway through the morning race the predicted, slightly fresher southerly blew up the Derwent, allowing some back-marker boats to make up a few places.

In Division 1 (spinnaker, three-handed), Gary Cripps' Farr 40, Guilty Pleasures VI won from last weekend's winner, Frontline (Ian Snape).

In Division 2 (spinnaker, two-handed) John Wearne took over the helm to steer the Fred Barrett-designed Fang to the Max to its second win of the series with Lucy Rees as crew.

Trouble (Dave Willans and Mark Millhouse) placed second, Jiyuu (Peter and Karen Davis) third.

Another husband and wife team, Steve and Trina Davidson, sailed Dynamo to the closest victory of the day, beating father-and-son crew, Angus and Fynn Sprott in Sea Temple, by just three seconds on corrected time in Division 4 (non-spinnaker, two-handed).

In another duel on the Derwent, DSS team of Colleen Darcy and Scott Brain in the SB20, Brainwave crossed the line 13 seconds ahead of Mind Games (Phil Reid) from the RYCT in Division 5 (spinnaker, two-handed).

On corrected time Brainwave won by just five seconds from Mind Games, third place going to another SB20, OT5, steered by Mat Yarrow.

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