A near galeforce sou’-wester came roaring up the River Derwent at more than 30 knots this afternoon, playing havoc with the Combined Clubs Summer Pennant race, with a man overboard (MOB) situation, a dismasting and other gear damage that forced five yachts to retire.
It was a bleak day for yacht racing, with the SW consistently over 30 knots whipping the river into a mass of white caps, rain showers cut visibility, and the temperature hovering between 10 and 11 degrees (it felt like 4.5).
The skippers of two of the veteran yachts of the Hobart fleet, Rod Jackman with Doctor Who and Don Calvert on Intrigue were among the few to carry small spinnakers back to the finish, and they came out winners on corrected time.
A crew member of Madness fell overboard as the Mumm 36 was surfing back up the river under spinnaker to the finish, but prompt action by skipper Gavin Adamson and other crew saw him quickly retrieved without any harm. As Madness motored back to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania the sodden crewman was checked out by a fellow crew member, a nurse, and quickly recovered back ashore.
Chris Sheehan’s Young 88 Saga was dismasted after the backstay broke on a spinnaker reach between Blackmans Bay and Ralphs Bay, with the crew guiding the disabled boat into a sheltered bay near White Rocks to recover the rig and sails before motoring back to Bellerive Yacht Club. Other boats forced to retire were Crusader, Mischief and Groove, all returning to their moorings without assistance.
Bellerive Yacht Club sailing manager Tony Garrett described conditions as “certainly a test of good crew work and sound gear….with skippers reporting consistent 30 knots down the river.” “Although it was a square run to the finish, few of the boats elected to carry spinnakers…. Michael Pritchard's Oskana took line honours under mainsail only, apparently after having some problems with their headsail or halyard,” Garrett added.
Crew member Gordon Clark of Division 3 entrant Frontline reported “We copped 40 knots approaching the finish!”
With the strong winds forecast, BYC wisely set short courses within the river for divisions, with a leeward mark in Blackmans Bay.
For Doctor Who, race two of the Combined Clubs Summer Pennant was another great result, with the former Sydney Hobart winner taking out both the IRC and PHS categories of Division 1, while Intrigue took first place under AMS scoring. In IRC, Doctor Who won by just 11 seconds from Intrigue, third place going to Ian Johnston on Zephyr. In PHS, Zephyr placed second with Intrigue third. Zephyr, a Farr 41mx, sailed an outstanding race, also placing second to Intrigue in Division 1 AMS, with Shaun Tiedemann's Philosopher third.
In Division 2, Justin Barr’s Rumbeat won both IRC and PHS, with Ian Stewart’s Southern Star taking out the AMS category. In Division 3, Steve Chau’s Young Lion won on IRC but Nathan Mills and Jay Nibbs' Young One won both AMS and PHS, while in Division 4 victory went to Stephen Mannering on Camlet Way.