Gusto has smashed the record in the Melbourne to Launceston yacht race and secured a unique record in Australian sailing as it cruised into the Tamar River on Friday morning.
Brian Pattinson’s Brighton-based yacht and her crew reached the finish line in 18 hours and 44 minutes just after 7am on Friday, taking one hour and 11 minutes off the record set by Capibarra in 2003.
Gusto’s win means she has now won three Melbourne to Tasmania races in three successive years, having won the Melbourne to Hobart race (west coast) in 2010 and the Melbourne to Hobart eastcoaster last year.
No boat has ever won all three races before.
Gusto’s sailmaster, Jeremy Walton, admitted it would take some time for the trifecta to sink in among the crew.
‘‘We’ve got here and there was a big hurrah on the line and then we all sort of went a bit flat, as if it was like ‘We’ve done that now, what’s next?’’’ he said.
‘‘But now that things have settled down and we’ve had a beer and a shower and feel a bit more human again, I think we’ll all come to realisation that we’ve probably set something that’s going to stand for a very long time.’’
Walton said the crew members realised they were a good chance of breaking the race record when they were about three quarters of the way across Bass Strait.
‘‘The last couple of hours we were going ‘We have wind, please stay in wind, please stay in wind’ just to make sure we got there, but we ended up taking a significant chunk off it,’’ he said.
The rest of the Launceston-bound fleet should finish on Friday. Ninety Seven is in second place, while No Fearr and The Secretary are neck and neck in the race to be third across the line.
In the race to Hobart via the west coast, Extasea, skippered by Paul Buchholz, holds a lead of about seven nautical miles from Tevake II, with Bandit in third spot. The leading yachts have crossed Bass Strait and are now sailing down the Tasmanian coast.
In the east coast race, Peter Blake’s Goldfinger has a commanding lead over the rest of the fleet, having sailed around Cape Barren Island. The rest of the fleet is yet to get past Flinders Island.
The first of the boats racing to Hobart are expected to arrive on Sunday morning.