DSS | 23 Marieville Esp, Sandy Bay TAS 7005  03 6223 1977

Little Mako takes handicap treble

Built 40 years ago of Tasmanian timbers, the 9.1m sloop Mako  has made a clean sweep of handicap honours in the 285 nautical mile Riversdale Estate Wines Launceston to Hobart yacht race.

Mako, skippered by Bellerive Yacht Club member Phil Soley, won the AMS, IRC and PHS handicap categories on corrected time despite finishing third last in fleet and 10 hours and 20 minutes astern of line honours winner, Gary Smith’s The Fork in the Road.

Mako crossed the finish line off Hobart’s Battery Point at 03.04.34 this morning with the Derwent Sailing Squadron confirming her victories in the afternoon. She is the smallest boat to win the L2H overall since Footloose in 2010.

The win was a fitting result for Solely who was forced to withdraw Mako from last year’s Launceston to Hobart (L2H) when a crew member was injured on the morning of the race start from Beauty Point.  It was to have been Mako’s first L2H for her new owner.


The Fork in the Road coming up the Derwent to the finish line.

A widely experienced skiff and dinghy sailor and a former Navy radar plotter with overseas postings aboard HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Torrens, the 56-year-old Solely emphasised the team work of his crew from BYC:  Stephen Garside, Carl Bresnehan, Pat Murphy,  Chad Grafton and Richard Ford.

“The start of the L2H was the first time we had all sailed together, but we quickly came together as a great team and that took us to victory,” said Soley, who lives at Clarence Point in the Tamar River after moving north from Dunalley following the horrific bushfires.

“Mako was built with great skill and care by Jim Harris to a Farr D#54 created by New Zealander Bruce Farr, starting in 1977 and launching the boat in 1979,” he added.  “The hull is King Billy pine diagonally laid over Celery Top frames.”

Whilst based in Sydney, Solely crewed on the famous 16-foot skiff Elvina Bay, then skippered by Moth class world champion David McKay and was also involved in Zulu yachts campaigns. He has also raced B14s and NS14s.

In the AMS category of the L2H Mako won from two other small boats, John Dryden Mount Gay 30, Prion, and Stewart Geeves Young 88, Footloose.

In the PHS category, Mako finished first ahead of Footloose and the former Australian Admiral’s Cup team yacht and Sydney Hobart winner Ultimate Challenge (Peter Jenkins).

The last boat to finish, Ian Gannon’s Take 5, placed fourth on corrected time after crossing the line at 8.49am today.

In IRC, Mako won from the two pre-race handicap favourites B&G Advantage (Jeff Cordell) and Team Whistler (David Aplin).

“Next Tuesday (2 January) we plan to take on the King of the Derwent and in January Bellerive Yacht Club’s IOR Cup,”added winner Soley.

Words: Peter Campbell

Photos:  Michelle and Mike Denney

1700/30 December 2017

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