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Great weather for opening day and Channel Race
Tony Lyall's TP52 Cougar II starts her 2015 SYdney Hobart program in SUnday's Channel Race south of Hobart.© Peter Campbell

Channel Race – Great weather

If this week’s twilight yacht races are any indication, the stage is set for a great summer of sailing on Hobart’s River Derwent, with the colourful Opening Day on the river tomorrow and the Channel Race on Sunday.

In fact, many of Hobart’s keenest sailors will have spend five successive days/evenings on the water, starting with Bellerive Yacht Club’s twilights on Wednesday, the combined Derwent Sailing Squadron/Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s twilights on Thursday followed by this evening’s Des Cooper Memorial twilight race.

With the good weather expected to continue over the weekend, tomorrow afternoon’s Opening Day could see close to 200 yachts, motor yachts and off-the-beach classes take part in the traditional Sail Past.

Then on Sunday, a potential fleet of more than 50 yachts will contest the 30-40 nautical mile Channel Race.

The Lieutenant Governor, Chief Justice Alan Blow, will take the salute aboard the motor vessel Egeria, anchored in Sullivan’s Cove as the fleet sails in line astern from off the Regatta Grounds.

Five yacht clubs, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Derwent Sailing Squadron, Bellerive Yacht Club, Geilston Bay Boat Club, the Motor Yacht Club and the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania will be represented in the Sail Past.

Commodore Steve Chau of the DSS will lead the fleet in his Young 88, Young Lion.

As of midday today, 53 yachts had been nominated for Sunday’s Channel Race, the opening event in the Combined Clubs’ Long Race Series which the RYCT will start from 10am off Castray Esplanade.

The Channel Race fleet will sail in three Groups, with yachts in Group A racing under PHS, AMS and IRC handicap system, Group Two under PHS and AMS and Group C under PHS only.

Great weather for opening day and Channel Race

Bellerive Yacht Club past commodore John Mill’s Nexedge, one of 50-plus boats entered for the Channel Race.© Peter Campbell

Heading the fleet are Tasmania’s two fastest ocean racing yachts, Sydney Hobart contender Cougar II, Tony Lyall’s TP52, and Gary Smith’s fast 45-footer The Fork in the Road, which is expected to again race in this year’s Launceston to Hobart Race.

Returning to racing after a knee replacement operation will be veteran yachtsman Don Calvert in his Castro 40 Intrigue with the Group A fleet also including Roger Jackman’s Doctor Who, Colin Denny’s The Protagonist skippered by son Stuart, Ian Stewart’s TasPaints, BYC Commodore Graham Mansfield’s Black Magic and past Commodore John Mills and Ian Douglas’ Nexedge, and Matthew Denholm’s Cleopatra, recent winner of the Cock of the Huon and the Pipe Opener Series.

DSS Commodore Steve Chau and Scott Brain’s Young Lion will face strong competition in Group B, including the Elliott 770 trailable yacht Ellusive recently bought by former Whistler crew David Aplin and David Cromarty.

Also entered in Group B are Stewart Geeves’ Young 88 Footloose and Malcolm Kaiulani, both likely Launceston to Hobart Race entries.

The first Harbour Series day will be tomorrow week, Saturday, 17 October.

by Peter Campbell

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