To the wire

Alegria v Honeysuckle show down at Hamilton Island Race Week nears its conclusion

Friday August 29th 2008, Author: Rob Mundle, Location: United Kingdom
The momentous tussle at the top of the IRC Grand Prix Division 2 pointscore will go down to the wire tomorrow with Rod Jones’ Alegria and Ray Harris’ Honeysuckle still separated by just one point after six days of racing.

“We’ll just have to keep the throttle down” said Honeysuckle’s navigator Michael Spies this afternoon. The final result will depend on who beats who tomorrow...if it goes to a countback we will be better off.”

After scoring sixth and seventh in today’s two windward/leewards, Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest has moved the wrong direction in the podium placings. Quest, which was called OCS in the second race, has slipped from second to third on the series leaderboard whereas they need to be moving in the opposite direction if they are to have any chance of winning the prestigious Audi IRC Australian Championship which will be decided tomorrow.

With Quest no longer breathing down their necks, Alan Whiteley’s TP52 Cougar II from Melbourne has a more comfortable lead on 18 points from Michael Hiatt’s Victorian modified conventional keeled Cookson 50 Living Doll which has moved into second overall on 25 points in IRC Grand Prix Division 1.

The week’s line honours contest has been stamped Black Jack’s with their fourth and fifth fastest times from eight races in today’s two short course races. The score stands at five to Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, two to Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats X and one to Andrew Short’s Shockwave- Club Marine with one race to go.

Regatta director Denis Thompson sent the rest of the 225 boat fleet contesting the 25th anniversary regatta on a 21 nautical mile course around Long Island. There was plenty of colour and action on the Dent Passage start line and overhead with the Airforce Roulettes weaving their aerobatic magic for the on-water procession.

In the PHS Passage division, Mike Freebairn’s classic 1968 built S&S 49 MBDS Spirit of Koomooloo scored its first bullet of the series, the heavy 22 time Rolex Sydney Hobart entrant quick off the start line in the 10 knot sou’east breeze.

“Today we had a nice breeze and good crew work, and when we went around Long Island we think those behind us were hurting,” said Freebairn this afternoon. “On the last work we had good height and just enough breeze to keep the boat pressured up. Short tacking into the finish is not our forte but the final results went our way.”

In the PHS Grand Prix division, Rob Reynolds’ Middle Harbour Yacht Club boat Pla Loma IV has found form in the second half of the regatta, continuing to hold a three point lead over Whalewatchingsydney.net which won today’s islands race.

Reynolds suffered fractures to his vertebrae and face when he fell down a set of stairs a few months back. He’s been out of action for the last ten weeks but with his doctor’s blessing he was not only allowed to contest Audi Hamilton Island Race Week but has helmed his DK43 in every race, taking the opportunity to steer sitting down whenever possible.

And the plan for tomorrow’s decider? “Sail as well as we have been sailing for the past couple of days and keep a close eye on Whalewatchingsydney.net and Hitchhike r,” said Reynolds this afternoon.

Tomorrow, Saturday 30 August, is the final day of competition at the 25th anniversary Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

The 23.3 nautical mile race Molle Islands Race for all classes will signal the close of Australia’s most awarded keel boat regattas.

The Club Marine Cruising Division 1 fleet will lead the fleet out of Dent Passage following the 9.30am start in what is usually the ‘cover shot’ of the week.

Between 9.30am and 10.35am 11 divisions will peel off, most likely under spinnaker, creating a stunning spectacle that is published worldwide as the showcase image for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and Hamilton Island.

Trophies will be presented tomorrow evening at the Convention Centre prize giving dinner.

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