State’s best eye Is­land

Mercury (Hobart) - - SAILING, GOLF - JAMES BRESNEHAN

TAS­MA­NIA’S best rac­ing yachts are gear­ing up for the Maria Is­land race next week with Syd­ney-Ho­bart com­peti­tors Oskana and Mid­night Ram­bler and Launce­s­ton to Ho­bart cham­pion Fork in the Road lead­ing the en­tries.

The 180-nau­ti­cal mile race is a ma­jor shake­down and qual­i­fy­ing event ahead of the Syd­ney to Ho­bart and Mel­bourne to Ho­bart races.

It will be the race de­but of new kid on the block, Mid­night Ram­bler, whose owner Ed Psaltis — win­ner of the 1998 Syd­ney-Ho­bart — re­lo­cated to Ho­bart ear­lier this year.

It will also be the de­but of John Dry­den’s new ac­qui­si­tion, the Bakewell-White 39, Jazz Player, which has done the Syd­ney-Ho­bart and Mel­bourne to Osaka twohanded races.

Ahead of the Maria race, the host club Royal Yacht Club of Tas­ma­nia will con­duct race three of the com­bined clubs pen­nant se­ries on the Der­went to­day.

The race will be a run from Castray to a mark near the Iron Pot and re­turn.

“All the big names are en­tered and the fore­cast is for mod­er­ate wind from the west so it will be chal­leng­ing for the crews,” said RYCT sail­ing man­ager Nick Hut­ton.

Mean­while, en­tries for the 2019 Launce­s­ton-Ho­bart closed yes­ter­day with Fork in the Road com­mit­ting to this year’s race but last year’s line honours run­ner-up Tilt a no­table ab­sen­tee.

A fleet of 21 yachts has been en­tered.

Peter Wat­son, of the host club Der­went Sail­ing Squadron, said it was not too late to en­ter.

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