Wot Now leads the way

Graeme Wood's TP52 ahead at the Audi IRC Series at Skandia Geelong Week

Sunday January 25th 2009, Author: Di Pearson, Location: United Kingdom
Graeme Wood and his Wot Now (NSW) crew stayed ahead of the competition in Division 1 of the Audi IRC Series this afternoon in what was a difficult day on the course with two races sailed in completely different breezes - in strength and direction.

Wood, with his team of ‘youngsters’ or perhaps ‘youngstars’ is the better description, then pulled off a win in Race 5 to go into the final race tomorrow with a five point lead over nearest rival Living Doll (Vic) and a largish 17.5 lead over pre-regatta favourite Loki (Stephen Ainsworth, NSW) in third place, their letdown a 13th place in Race 4.

“The sea breeze tipped the scales slightly in our favour and we took advantage of it. We held our position relative to the rest of the fleet and there weren’t too many shifts or holes in the course, so we were able to make the best of the situation,” said owner Wood, who said he would leave the worrying of what tactics they would employ in tomorrow’s final race to tactician Michael Dunstan.

“I’ll sleep easy tonight and let Michael worry about tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll have a few scenarios planned,” Wood quipped.

A real mixed bag of sailing conditions on the race track gave competitors a real work out today; Race 4 was sailed in a light land breeze, a left-hand shift after the start catching a few people out.

A solid building sea breeze kicked in just in time for officials to move the course for Race 5 and competitors enjoyed 15-20 winds.

The more noticeable changes in results occurred in Race 4, with the 66ft Reichel/Pugh Black Jack (Peter Harburg, Qld), beating the super maxi Skandia (Grant Wharington, Vic), for line honours and Exile, Nick George’s DK46 from South Australia notching up their first win of the Series in Race 4.

This after both Black Jack and Limit broke the start. Starting at the pin end, both were called over early, and while Harburg’s maxi recovered quickly, Limit appeared to hesitate, Brierty and his crew perhaps not realising their error, which cost them dearly with a 19th place, as they had to duck and weave their way back around a few boats to re-round the start.

Despite having to re-start, Black Jack, skippered by America’s Cup afterguard Mark Bradford, with round the world speed record holder Adrienne Cahalan navigating; weaved their magic and fought their way back through the tricky shifts to take line honours.

Brierty and his crew on Limit did not let their 19th result influence their next race though. As in previous days, Limit, with Roger Hickman at the helm and Gavin Brady calling tactics, and Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki scintillated onlookers again, this time sailing on opposite sides of the course.

Limit powered up both windward beats to round before Loki and came home for second place in Race 5. Loki, with Cameron Miles at the helm and Chris Links calling the shots, finished equal fourth with Shogun (Rob Hanna, Vic). Unfortunately, with only one race remaining, to be sailed tomorrow, Limit is not in reach of a podium finish, due to her disqualification from Race 1 and the 19th place.

The event, hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, concludes with one windward/leeward race on Corio Bay tomorrow.

Provisional Results:

Division 1 top five after three races
1 WOT NOW Graeme Wood CYCA 11
2 LIVING DOLL Michael Hiatt RYCV 16
3 LOKI Cameron Miles CYCA 28.50
4 SHOGUN Robert Hanna RGYC 39.50
5 DEKADENCE Philip Coombs SYC 41

Division 2

In an ironic twist of fate, the 2007 and 2008 Audi IRC Australian champions and winners of Audi cars are challenging for the Division 2 win and are in the running to win the first round of 2009 Audi Championship at Skandia Geelong Week today.

Rod Jones and Alegria won the inaugural Audi IRC Championship, currently leads Peter Hill’s Ruth Magic, steered by 2008 Championship winner, Peter Sorensen.

There is only three points difference in the scores and as Jones pointed out this afternoon, “when a race-drop comes into play tomorrow with our final race, it could tip the balance either way.”

Under pressure from Ruth Magic, whose crew includes Nathan Wilmot, Australian gold medallist at the Beijing Olympics, Alegria racked up a pair of second places, while her nemesis scored a fifth and a win and are only three points of the lead.

Jones knows he and his crew on their Archambault 40 have to beat the Beneteau 45 tomorrow to win Division 2. “It will be an interesting day. The weather reports say it will be fairly light winds, so if that’s the case, we’ll have a good chance. We will obviously have to stay close to them, stay attached, so they don’t get away from us. If the breeze is soft, we should be able to beat them. They’re a bit heavier (in the hull) and they are set up more for heavier winds."

Jones went on the remark: “It’s been a really exciting series - there’s a bit more depth in the division this year that has made for great racing.”

Ruth Magic was always expected to be a strong rival and she has been. Third placed Reverie (Alan Woodward) has managed to hold onto third place overall from yesterday with a seventh and a third place.

In Division 3, due to some changes of sail numbers and other confusion, the tables have been turned and the yacht Surprise (David Ellis) with two wins today is in the lead ahead of Peter Jackson’s Stitched Up (Vic) and Grant Hailes’ Arabelle (MYC).

A glitch in the scoring system which had Upbeat leading the series until today, has moved Peter Dunne’s boat down into fifth place.

Provisional Results

Division 2 top five after three races:
1 ALEGRIA Rod Jones RQYS 13
2 RUTH MAGIC Peter Hill33a MHYC 16
3 REVERIE Alan Woodward RBYC 20
4 TRUE NORTH Andrew Saies CYCSA 24

Division 3 top five after three races:
1 SURPRISE David Ellis RYCV 7
2 STITCHED UP Peter Jackson SYC 17
3 ARABELLE Grant Hailes MYC 20
4 DR UNC John Lindholm SYC 23
5 UPBEAT Peter Dunne SYC 30

Sydney 38s

The 81 year old indomitable Lou Abrahams and his Melbourne crew aboard Challenge are once again proving a force to be reckoned with in this year’s Morris Finance Sydney 38 Class Series being sailed as part of Skandia Geelong Week which is heading into its final day tomorrow, Australia Day.

Abrahams insists there is no local knowledge involved in their good fortune, a trophy for third last year and current series leader, “like the Sydney guys we only sail here once a year,” he promises. The veteran yachtsman is delighted with the calibre of racing this year. “The standard of racing has lifted considerably on the 2008 series.”

Abrahams, who is calling tactics with John Gibson, has his regular crew aboard, including Scott Walton who has been promoted to helmsman and is filling the big shoes nicely.

Second on the provisional overall pointscore and three points behind Challenge with one race remaining is Cinquante (12 points) and third is Sierra Chainsaw (16 points).

The two Sydney 38 races were sailed in completely different breezes. The earlier one was sailed in a light and shifty land breeze in which Abrahams’ Challenge battled with Ian Murray’s Cinquante and Mel Mollison’s Sierra Chainsaw around the course with Challenge the eventual winner by just over one minute after the lead changed a couple of times.

Cinquante crossed the line behind Challenge and ahead of young Chris Lewin’s Another Challenge, Abrahams’ former Sydney 38.

The course was moved for the second race and was sailed in a building sea breeze on Geelong’s Corio Bay which kicked in around 2.45pm, the race getting away at 3.30pm.

Again the racing was boat on boat. Challenge was in the top two in the fleet all the way around the track. Down the spinnaker run on opposite gybes, Greg Clinnick’s Audacious took the left hand side of the course, while Challenge opted for the right. Audacious pipped Challenge by just 11 seconds with Cinquante third in race five results.

Tomorrow the one design fleet of nine will sail a final deciding race in a forecast south to southwesterly 10 to 15 knots tending south to south easterly, expected to increase to 20 to 25 knots during the afternoon.

Provisional Top five after five races with one race remaining:
1 CHALLENGE Lou Abrahams SYC 9
2 CINQUANTE Ian Murray RGYC 12
4 AUDACIOUS Greg Clinnick RBYC 22

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