In the bag for Marshall Engineering
It means the crew of five completed the course - from Beauty Point in northern Tasmania to Mt Strzelecki on Flinders Island, down the east coast to Coles Bay and Mount Freycinet, then to Hobart and Mount Wellington, in just over three days, three hours.
Marshall Engineering’s running team of Mark Guy and Paul McKenzie look certainties for the Kings of the Mountains title.
The next yacht, Josh Ey’s BSH Electrical Team Q, is about 11 hours behind Marshall Engineering and not due to dock in Hobart for the assault on a bitterly cold Mount Wellington until about 0100 Tuesday local time.
The rest of the remaining fleet of a dozen boats is strung out along the Tasmanian east coast, having experienced some of the worst headwind conditions in the race’s 18-year history.
The Australian race is unashamedly based on the British Three Peaks Race in which crews have to sail from Barmouth to Caernarfon in Wales, climb Mount Snowdon, then sail to Whitehaven for the ascent on Scafell Pike and finally to Fort William to climb Ben Nevis.
Though beaten at the start on Good Friday, Marshall Engineering had gathered in the leaders by the time the fleet reached the Low Head light at the mouth of the Tamar River where it enters Bass Strait. She reached Lady Barron just before midnight on Friday and discharged Guy and McKenzie for their gruelling 65-km run to the summit of Mt Strzelecki and back to the boat.
BSH Electrical team Q was two and a half hours behind, followed by race veteran Nick Edmunds' Tamar Marine Haphazard and the Devonport cruising catamaran Plan Four, built by owner Peter Newman.
Rough weather on the Tasmanian north-east coast, particularly in Banks Strait between the Tasmanian mainland and Clarke Island, took its toll.
The smallest entry race, the 30- footer Beach Inspector, retired with seasick crew after “copping a pasting” during the night.
Guy and McKenzie completed their run in 7 hours 19 mins 52 seconds and jumped back on the catamaran for their south-westerly pasting of more than 25 knots and four metre seas.
On Saturday Plan Four was dismasted 10 nautical miles east of Eddystone Point. The crew cut the mast away and headed for Devonport.
Five teams, whose runners had completed the first mountain leg and had returned to their yachts, opted for discretion and remained in port at Lady Barron until the weather abated.
Tristan Gourlay's 11m sloop James Carey Floor Coverings became the third retirement after finding her keel was loose, again east of Eddystone Point.
Marshall Engineering reached the Coles Bay jetty at 1255 on Sunday to put Guy and McKenzie ashore for the 33km run through the bush tracks leading to the summit of Mt Freycinet.
They returned to Coles Bay for the final sailing leg to Hobart at 1728.
BSH Electrical Team Q, still second but sailing in the fully-crewed division, docked at 2002 with two ill crew members, who were taken ashore. Sailor Jory Linscott volunteered to fill the role of standby runner and accompanied John Claridge on the run to Mount Freycinet and back.
Marshall Engineering reached Hobart at 1422 today. Guy and McKenzie completed the job at 1701.