Victorian yacht takes Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

Cougar II two points ahead of Quest in IRC 1

Saturday August 30th 2008, Author: Rob Mundle, Location: United Kingdom
Alan Whiteley’s Victorian TP52 Cougar II travelled 1,500 nautical miles to outsail a world class IRC Grand Prix division 1 fleet at Australia’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

“It’s a better result than we expected,” said a delighted Whiteley this afternoon. “We have been sailing in very esteemed company...the crew is ecstatic about taking out the grand prix division. “Logistically it’s hard work getting up here from Melbourne but it’s been well worth it. The courses are great, the event is well run and it’s great fun.”

In the overall pointscore Cougar II finished two points clear of Bob Steel’s sistership Quest from Sydney and nine points from the third placed Victorian Cookson 50 Living Doll, skippered by Michael Hiatt.

Cougar II and Quest have faced each other on the start line – and swapped the lead - many times before but today it was Whiteley’s turn.

“Congratulations to Alan and his team,” said Steel this afternoon. “We were very pleased to come second.”

Eventual IRC Grand Prix division 2 winner Honeysuckle, the Beneteau First 45 skippered by Ray Harris, finished today’s Molle Island Race then waited in the wings, scanning the horizon for Rod Jones’ Archambault 40 Alegria, their series nemesis.
Once the required gap had past, in terms of the number of minutes Honeysuckle had to put between them and Alegria, the crew was confident enough to celebrate their win on board.

“We are very elated...it was a tough series,” said a relieved Harris. “Apart from having the sails up to check them and the rig, our first proper sail was last Saturday’s opening race. It’s been a roller coaster.

“The boys had the boat flying today. We had a good downwind leg and we opened up a gap on Alegria then worked really hard to maintain speed,” Harris added.

Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke this afternoon helped sail Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats X to the perfect regatta finish - line honours and a handicap win in today’s race.

“From our perspective we are so pleased with the regatta,” said Bourke. “Sometimes breeze makes or breaks a regatta and we had breeze the whole week. So many have said it’s a further improvement on last year,” added Bourke, who called tactics this week on Wild Oats X.

Island owner Bob Oatley concurred, declaring it “a fantastic regatta...the best ever”.

The three-time Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winning crew on Wild Oats X has had fickle fortunes on the water while learning how to get the most out of their new swept back spreader rig. Yesterday their canting keel motor burned out resulting in the crew having to work well into the night to install the spare motor, but today it was all smiles on board Wild Oats X after they capped off their week with a third and final line honours win – and an outright win - in the 23 nautical mile Molle Islands Race.

Peter Harburg’s slight development of Wild Oats X, Black Jack, not only proved an excellent sparring partner for Wild Oats X, they broke the Reichel Pugh 66's two year stranglehold on the fastest boat around the track with five firsts from nine races.

Mark Bradford says the owner is undecided about contesting this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, “we’ll wait for the dust to settle then make up our minds,” skipper Mark Bradford said dockside this afternoon.

One by one 11 divisions lined up in an orderly fashion in Dent Passage this morning for the postcard shot of the series. With most out of silverware contention it was a laid back affair at the start, the 5-8 knot sou’easter providing easy going conditions for the 2,000 plus sailors who have been hard at it – both on and offshore - for a week.

The Roulettes’ final fly over of the fleet at the start was the only noise to be heard, replacing the yelling that accompanied the fresher winds at the start of the week when many crews fancied themselves as top three placegetters.

In the inaugural South Pacific Cup results, the Aussie team of Living Doll, Yendys and Alegria romped home on 45 points, beating the Kiwi team of Pussy Galore, Wired and Carrera by 29 points.

Trophies will be presented tonight at the official prize giving dinner before weary crews head back to their home ports.

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