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West coaster may stay on east coast: the ORCV may send the Melbourne to Hobart Race down Tasmania's east coast regularly.

The Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) is considering sailing the Melbourne to Hobart Race down the east coast of Tasmania on a regular basis instead of the west coast, following the outstanding success of the 2007 event, which incorporated the Centenary of the Rudder Cup race across Bass Strait.

The ORCV broke with a 35-year tradition by redirecting the course across eastern Bass Strait and then down the Tasmanian east coast. The club has indicated that it will consider the extensive favourable feedback from competitors and may change the annual race to an east coast course permanently or else alternate between coasts.

To mark the Centenary of the Rudder Cup, a fleet of 81 boats set sail from Portsea, just inside Port Phillip Heads, on 27 December to sail across Bass Strait to Low Head at the entrance of the Tamar River on the north coast of Tasmania. Fifty-four boats continued on to Hobart after crossing the finish line there, sailing through Banks Strait between the north-west tip of Tasmania and the Furneaux Islands and then down the east coast to complete the Heemskirk Consolidated Melbourne to Hobart Yacht (M2H) Race.

The remainder, entered for the Kidder Williams Melbourne to Launceston (M2L) Race, berthed at the Tamar Yacht Club's marina at Beauty Point, from where they competed in an in-port race to complete their three-races series. The first race for all boats had been the Cock of the Bay on Melbourne's Port Philip on 26 December.

Linked with the Melbourne to Hobart and Melbourne to Launceston Races was a new ocean race, the Clive Peeters Launceston to Hobart (L2H) Race organised by the Derwent Sailing Squadron and the Tamar Yacht Club, which attracted 21 starters.

The fleet for all three races, plus the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet, all converged on Hobart, which meant that more than 150 ocean racing yachts berthed in Hobart's Sullivan's Cove at the same time.

Both the M2H and the L2H fleets were boosted by Hobart entrants who either sailed up to Melbourne or to Beauty Point on the Tamar to compete. Their subsequent success in both races will also encourage greater participation in future years, particularly if the Melbourne to Hobart course is around the east coast rather than the exposed west coast.

The inaugural L2H Race, in particular, has elicited positive comments from Hobart yachtsmen. "It's just a two day sail up the east coast to Beauty Point where you can leave your boat, drive back to Hobart in three hours to spend Christmas with the family and return leisurely for the start on 28 December," one competitor told Offshore Yachting.

Many Melbourne yachtsmen also praised the concept of a Melbourne to Hobart 'East Coaster' rather than the traditional 'West Coaster.' "It's a few miles longer, but the course is interesting and challenging, particularly going through Banks Strait and then inside Maria Island on the Tassie east coast," was one positive comment.
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Title Annotation:Race And Regatta Round-Up
Author:Campbell, Peter
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Feb 1, 2008
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