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Australia's oldest offshore race, around Bruny Island, starts tomorrow

by Peter Campbell on 9 Feb 2001
Australia's oldest offshore race, around Bruny Island, starts tomorrow

Few small islands around the Australian continent have been mentioned so often in the logs of early navigators than Bruny Island off the south-east coast of Tasmania - the English captains Cook, Bligh, Flinders and Bass, the Frenchmen d'Entrecasteaux, Baudin and Furneaux all dropped anchor in Adventure Bay or sailed past across Storm Bay.

Few of these famous explorer/navigators circumnavigated Bruny Island, but tomorrow a hardy group of Tasmanian yachtsmen will sail in their wake when they contest the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania's Bruny Island Yacht Race.

First sailed in 1898, the 90 nautical mile Bruny Island Race is said to be the oldest offshore race in Australian waters and while some years were missed, it has been conducted every year since 1936, with the exception of the War years.

In the early years it was just referred to by the RYCT as 'The Ocean Race' but it is now officially the Bruny Island Race. Winner of the inaugural race was Sunbeam (J.Blackley) which, from a picture in 'Sailing On', a history of The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, was a gaff-rigged cutter with an open cockpit and little or no cabin.

Over the years many of Tasmania's most prominent yachtsmen and their yachts have won the Bruny Island Race, but it has also attracted the occasional mainland competitor including the famous Culwalla III, skippered by W.M. Marks from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, which in 1910 set a longstanding record for the course of just under 90 nautical miles.

The 2001 race will start off Hobart's Castray Esplanade at 9.30am tomorrow with a fleet of 16 modern ocean racing yachts taking part, including 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart competitors, Breakaway (Wayne Banks-Smith), Doctor Who (Roger Jackman), Mirrabooka (John Bennetto), Interum (Craig King) and B52 (Hughie Lewis).

Joining them in the Pepsi-Juicy Isle IMS division will be Fine Cotton (J.Radonic), Cyclone (Stephen Keal), Invincible (H.D. Clark) and T42 Solandra (Craig Escott).

Each of these of these yachts will also race in the Sargisons PHS division, with the addition of Valheru (Tony Lyall), Quetzalcoatl (J.Ey), Grand Chancellor (M.Ballard), Madman's Woodyard (A. Peterson), Wattle Dove (A.Shaw) and Southern Comfort (S.Mannering).

The RYCT race officer will make the decision on which way to send the fleet around Bruny Island will be determined by the wind direction prevailing and forecast tomorrow morning.

Favourites for line honours are Doctor Who, Cyclone and Valheru.

Further information: Peter Campbell - 0419 385 028 or Rowan Johnston at the RYCT on (03) 6223 4599.

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