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Hobart Combined Clubs Long Race Series Race 4

by Liz Rountree 3 Feb 22:57 PST 3 February 2024

Everything, everywhere, all at once

"It was a typical Derwent River breeze," according to Footloose skipper Stewart Geeves, "0 to 30 knots from all four points of the compass - sometimes at the same time!"

Saturday's Long Race of the Combined Clubs Series was "typical Derwent" as described by many of the sailors, which translates to vastly dynamic and a day for upsets in the scores. Hosting Royal Yacht Club's Race Management team did an excellent job making the most of the day, sending the crews as far as Seacroft Bay.

"[We had] a fantastic spinnaker run down the river after rounding the windward mark," says Joie de Vie skipper Ben Morgan who also expressed sincere gratitude for his crew's efforts. The team finished second in Division 3 behind Camlet Way.

But it wasn't that simple.

"Down at opossum bay it was an absolute drifter," reports Bryan Walpole of Invincible. And then after a seabreeze tickled in, "It swung back around to the North, a catabatic land breeze - which kept the crew on their toes," he continues, "We must have done 20 tacks all the way from Kingston up towards the finish."

He admits the crew was too busy to realise how well they were doing. In the end they used 6 different sails as well as multiple reef settings.

The effort paid off, Invincible won both Div 2 PHS and ORC handicaps ahead of Xcite. Footloose took the win on IRC over division leader IYKYK.

In Div 1, John Lawrie's Tenacity swiped the Line Honours win from usual suspects Fork in the Road and Jazz Player, with the ever-consistent Intrigue sneaking in just behind, proving that a bit of patience and instinct was the key ingredient of the day.

Ian Masters and his team on board Zephyr Insurance Masters put their Sydney to Hobart experience on display, winning PHS and taking 2nd on both IRC and ORC, behind series leader Intrigue. Both Heatwave Fish Frenzy and Joint Custody kept the pressure on, finishing 3rd on IRC and ORC respectively.

Most teams on the water used their entire suite of sails and multiple reefs.

"Hats off to our crew today," says Xcite skipper Nathan Mills, "Who did a terrific job constantly changing gears, working hard to keep the boat moving and keeping cool heads on a hot day."

"It was a really good learning curve for the team, including some newer crew members," Mills continues. "Sailing in a breeze that ranged from 0 to 30 kts and every direction imaginable meant we had to practice reefing and multiple headsail changes. By the finish we certainly felt our boat handling and teamwork had improved from previous races in the series."

Geeves agrees, "The highlight was the flawless performance of the crew carrying out numerous sail changes smoothly and at the right times."

The Dog House didn't make a showing in the end, decided the conditions were marginal with the reduced crew numbers they had for the weekend. Skipper Peter Coad says, "We're now preparing for the Bruny."

Stay tuned for next week's Bruny Island Race, the ultimate challenge of this season's Offshore Series.

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