Fast sailing and fresher winds between Coles Bay and Hobart overnight, plus a quick climb of Mt Wellington tomorrow, will decide the overall winner of the Three Peaks Race 2001
To have a chance of breaking the overall race record, a combination of sailing and cross-country and mountain running times, the leading boat's runners must have run to the peak of Mt Wellington and back to the Hobart waterfront before 6.28.30 am Sunday. Allowing for a fast three hour mountain run, the leading yacht must finish at the Kings Pier marina before 3.30am.
Race Director Alastair Douglas believes this is still possible despite light winds today - compared with 30 to 35 knot north-west and westerly winds the fleet experienced during last night's fast run and reach down the Tasmanian East Coast from Lady Barron on Flinders Island. The breeze should freshen during this afternoon and if it holds overnight, then an overall record is still possible.
Sunday afternoon, as the five leading boats in the 12-boat fleet headed towards Hobart, skippers faced the dilemma of looking for better wind by sailing the 100 nautical mile sea course around Tasman Island or taking the short-cut through the Denison Canal at Dunalley, with lighter winds inshore. Lighter winds have plagued the sailors since they left Coles Bay this morning.
The first three crews had to paddle or pedal (using bicycle frame contraptions to provide human power to a propellor) or just drift out into Great Oyster Bay before picking up a light breeze. Similarly, most of the following yachts had a drifter from the Schouten Passage, taking up to three hours to sail inside Freycinet Peninsula to Coles Bay.
The Queensland-based catamaran API Mersey Pharmacy (Excess) owned jointly by designer Rob Chamberlin from Caloundra and Terry Travers from Devonport has so far achieved fastest time on every sailing leg. Once again she led the fleet from Lady Barron to Coles Bay, finishing at 2.17.51, about 30 minutes ahead of overall race record-holder Southern Cross, skippered by Richard Edmunds from Sidmouth on the West Tamar, with the powerful Hobart catamaran Sea to Summit (Richard Clennett) only six minutes astern. Sea to Summit's runners, Mark Dalziel and Adam Potito, turned in another fast run to the summit of Mount Freycinet, with the boat second to set sail, followed by Southern Cross and Tasmanian Craftwoods (Joshua Ey).
Later in the morning, the large crowd packing the little wharf at Coles Bay since before dawn, had the sight of four boats, Madness in Motion, Tartan, Brigitta 5 and the trimaran Rosevears Tavern, finish within five minutes, with Scotch Oakburn College only 12 minutes further astern. Madness in Motion, a Mt Gay 30 from Melbourne, suffered a setback when runner Mal Sutton suffered dehydration and was forced to retire early in the run to Mt Freycinet, his place being taken by sailor David Doyle. The little boat had roared down the coast reaching 20 knots and more under poled genoa and mainsail before winds gusting to 35 knots, but several times was brought almost to a standstill by kelp around the keel.
Tasmanian Craftwoods also had to change runners after the pair reached the base of Mt Freycinet, with Ian Miekle suffering feet problems, his place being taken by James Poulson. By 2pm all but two yachts, Camp Quality and Club Marine Youth Team, had reached Coles Bay with the runners from five yachts completing the running leg to Mt Freycinet and the yachts setting sail for Hobart, 100 nautical miles away, 80 or so through the Denison Canal.