Living Doll still ahead

On the penultimate day of racing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

Friday August 28th 2009, Author: Susan Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
The stunning playground that is the Whitsunday Islands showed off its best for the penultimate day of the 26th edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. Consistent south east Trade Winds, flat water and whales and dolphins frolicking in the turquoise waters as the fleets slid by made for the perfect day’s sailing.

With tomorrow signalling the close of competition, those in the silverware hunt are throwing everything they have at the final races of the week-long series that commenced last Saturday.

In the IRC grand prix division 1 Michael Hiatt’s Victorian Farr 50 Living Doll is poised for back to back victories having claimed the coveted overall win at Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week last week.

With just one race to go, the 23.3 nautical mile Molles Island race for all classes which will kick off in spectacular fashion tomorrow at 0930hrs from Dent Passage, Living Doll’s crew can sleep a little easier tonight with a seven point cushion back to seasoned campaigner Ray Roberts and his Cookson 50 Evolution Racing, which finished the bridesmaid to Living Doll at Airlie Beach.

In IRC grand prix division 2 a first, fourth and a fifth in today’s three windward/leeward races has Rod Jones’ Archambault 40 Alegria from Mooloolaba Yacht Club teetering on the edge of a win from Phil Coomb’s DK46 Dekadence, but it will go down to the wire tomorrow with only a point separating the pair.

Andrew Saies’ Two True Evolution, a brand new South Australian Beneteau First 40 which is utilising the vast knowledge of Michael Spies for the boat’s first hit out, is third on the series pointscore after eight races.

In the line honours count, Bob Oatley’s RP66 Wild Oats X is still one ahead of Peter Harburg’s near sistership Black Jack from Queensland, while Alan Brierty’s RP63 Limit from Sydney entered the fray today, scoring its second bullet on corrected time and its first line honours win to be third on the progressive series scoresheet.

With New Zealand America’s Cup sailors Gavin Brady and Rodney Keenan adding plenty of kudos to what is already a top Australian crew, Limit stayed out of the tide on the first beat and snaffled the win from the bigger boats.

Following this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart and Audi Victoria Week in January Brierty is heading overseas to try his luck on the northern hemisphere stage. He’ll ship his boat to the US for the Pacific Cup and Rolex Big Boat Series, amongst other events.

In the first race of the day Wild Oats X and Black Jack split tacks up the windward work then duelled back to the bottom mark, Mark Richards and his red shirt brigade once again shutting down the Mark Bradford skippered Black Jack.

In the second race, race seven of the series, Richards uncharacteristically broke the start, both Wild Oats X and Rob Hanna’s Shogun recalled by the race committee to re-start. By the first top mark rounding there was only 40 seconds between the two front runners but by the finish line Black Jack had stretched that lead to almost two minutes.

The impressive IRC Invitation division led the other Audi Hamilton Island Race Week classes contesting today’s passage races north out of Dent Island this morning in a building ESE breeze that was bulleting on the north western corner of Dent Island, causing plenty of spinnakers to collapse suddenly.

At 98ft, Peter Millard’s Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron registered Lahana is the biggest of them all and not surprisingly has taken more line honours wins than the rest in its division. On corrected time the white hulled maxi is the other side of the half way mark, but more importantly the sizable crew of 28 is making the most of the opportunity for valuable time on the water with the Whitsundays their backdrop.

Lahana, formerly NZ maxi Zana/Konica Minolta, is one of six 98 and 100 foot maxis expected on this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start line and is using Audi Hamilton Island Race Week to put some miles and crew experience into the bank in the lead up to the Boxing Day blue water classic.

Andrew Short’s RP80 Club Marine Shockwave is another Invitation division headline act, followed by the two Volvo 60s and the stunning Marten 49s.

In what were perfect Swan-type conditions, Leslie Green’s Swan 60 Ginger scored its second back to back handicap victory to be leading the IRC Invitation division by three points from Bruce Hogan’s Perpetual Mocean with a day’s racing to go. Ginger’s crew spotted a whale on the course at Dent Island.

The IRC Invitation division was sent on a stunning 26.5 nautical mile course around Dent, Pine, Sidney and Pentecost islands.

IRC Passage 2, Performance 2 and Cruising Division 1 sailed a slightly shorted course, leaving Sidney Island out, while Cruising 2 and 3 and non-spinnaker went shorter again, sailing 23.4 nautical miles.

Performance Racing Division 2 leader Wirrajurnd from Sydney, named by its original lawyer owner, has held onto pole position leading into tomorrow’s final Molle Islands race which will start from Dent Passage at 0930hrs when the procession will head out of the Passage at five minute intervals.

“We got second over the line today which is pretty good for a 32 footer,” said Wirrajurnd’s owner Andy Kearnan this afternoon.

“We are looking forward to tomorrow’s Molle island course, it’s one of the greatest courses of the regatta.” And on his chances of bettering last year’s third place Kearnan is not jumping ahead of himself. “Every day is a new day,” he said.

This morning the vast majority of the 194 Race Week entries paraded in front of the judges for the annual Prix d’Elegance for the best presented yacht and crew and the best fun-themed yacht and crew. Michael Jacksons, Mexicans and a crew decked out in imported safari suits, including pith helmets for all, were amongst the highlights. The judges’ decision will be announced at tomorrow evening’s trophy presentation, the final event of another Audi Hamilton Island Race Week showstopper.

Race results here

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