New IRC leader
Melbourne sailor Nicholas Bartels and his Terra Firma caught the rest of the Audi IRC Division 1 fleet out today, winning Race 5 to steal the Series lead from Secret Mens Business 3.5 which has led since the opening day of the series.
With only one race remaining, the trophy is likely to go to one of the current top three boats.
Bartels picked up a good fifth place in the earlier Race 4, their win in the later race consolidating their position in one of the toughest fleets at Audi Victoria Week.
"You had to see the shifts as they were about to happen and react. We were able to respond and hook into them early - especially in that first race when we had a big one from the left," said a happy Bartels this afternoon. He now holds a three and a half point lead over Geoff Boettcher’s Reichel/Pugh 51 Secret Mens Business from South Australia.
"The first race wasn’t over until the last leg - it wasn’t decided until right up to the last. When we started the second race it was still clocking right, but the increased pressure helped us to our win, plus we’re running asymmetrical kites, so we could take off in more breeze," said Bartels from his Sydney 47 at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, which hosts the Series.
Bartels, who has the services of Melbourne identity Barney Walker calling tactics, said Walker and the rest of the crew have been doing a good job all week. "We sailed an excellent Race 5 because we have good crew work."
The Sandringham Yacht Club sailor admitted that the stoush going on between the grand prix yachts in the 50 foot plus range had helped them reach the top of the scoreboard to a small degree. " Quest (Bob Steel’s Sydney-based TP52) has good crew work, but ours is as good as theirs and better than some of the other boats in our Division."
With only one race remaining in the Audi IRC six race series, Bartels agrees it feels good to be going into the race tomorrow with a bit of a lead.
Quest won Race 4 today, with a 10th place finish in Race 5. After being disqualified from Race 2 following an incident with Cougar II, Bob Steel has appealed that decision which the jury will hear late this afternoon or tonight. However, even if they are successful, it will not affect the top three standings.
Secret Mens Business made the best of the Race 4 start at the pin end of the line, but got caught out in the right-hand shift. Boettcher and his crew finished their day with a 3 and an 8.5 score card, after tying for eighth place in Race 5.
Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55, Living Doll’s second and fourth places today has left them in contention to win the trophy. In third place, Hiatt is only seven points off the money.
Racing did not start at 12.30pm as planned, as the expected sea breeze did not fill in, so Race 4 did not get underway until shortly after 1.00pm in a very light shifty 4-8 knot breeze that resulted in the lead and other top places changing every time the top six reached the windward/leeward marks.
Officials were caught out as the breeze trucked right halfway through the race, but the course change did not come until later, which gave some entries opportunities that others did not get.
After starting the earlier race with the wind in the SSE, it continued to clock right as officials attempted to lay the start line and marks. Eventually the breeze settled in the south and Race 5 got underway.
The Audi IRC Division 1 Audi Victoria Week series, hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, finishes with Race 6 on a windward/leeward course on Corio Bay tomorrow starting from 11.00am.