Bring on the SB3s
If you were mixing the perfect sailing cocktail it would be made up of one part 15 knot trade winds, one part sunny skies and a temperature of 24degC and one part frolicking humpback whales with the main ingredient 200 boats racing on turquoise waters with the stunning Whitsunday Islands their backdrop.
Following a postponement ashore this morning while the breeze settled, that exact recipe was what was served up at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week for day four of racing, the best sailing conditions so far. With the promise of a 20-25 knot southeast change tomorrow the grins are this afternoon even wider on the sun-tinged faces of the two thousand odd sailors contesting the 27th edition of Australia’s premier keelboat regatta.
The huge fleet was split up today with the race committee, under the leadership of Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson, running a number of different start areas and courses.
For the first time at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week the SB3 class took to the waters, their designated course area to the north of Plum Pudding Island, and with a couple of sailing celebrities in their midst. Round the world sailor Jessica Watson was on the bow of Lumix and the CEO of Hamilton Island, Glenn Bourke, a multiple world champion, Olympic and America’s Cup sailor stepped off the 30m Wild Oats XI to skipper Rod Jones’ SB3, Club Marine Blue.
The Superyachts took a day off racing today, creating an opportunity for the SB3 class to benefit from Bourke’s considerable expertise in one design racing, and with three wins from three races he hasn’t lost his touch. Being the gentleman he is, Bourke subsequently retired from all three races putting Phillip Gray’s Dulon Polish into first place on the SB3’s progressive pointscore.
Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki sailed another impeccable race, the 24 nautical mile course taking the Grand Prix fleet around Baynham and Pentecost islands, to maintain their leading edge in the series pointscore seven points clear of the nearest threat, the Iain Murray-skippered RP66 Wild Oats X owned by Bob Oatley.
With round the world sailor Anthony ‘Youngster’ Merrington calling tactics, respected Irish born Gordon Maguire on the helm, and a crew that has a champion’s aura, Loki is making a big imprint on the Race Week scoresheet, clocking up four overall wins and a fourth, their worst result.
Peter Millard’s 98-footer Lahana from Sydney is leading the IRC Grand Prix ‘gun boat’ for the most number of line honours scalps from five races.
The Performance Racing fleet had their first windward/leeward races today on the eastern course area to the south of Fitzalan Passage in the 12-15 knot south east breeze and bumpy seas. Points are tight at the top of the division two results with just two points separating the first four places, led by Ian Ford’s Beneteau 40.7 Whalewatchingsydney, and a similar situation in division one.
Racing in Performance Racing is immediate past CYCA Commodore Matt Allen and Warwick Rooklyn’s Melges 24 Bandit, and the three Sydney black 32s – Hamilton Mentor, Lincoln Mentor and Ocean Mentor - donated by local resident Peter Teakle to Port Lincoln Yacht Club, Southport Yacht Club and Hamilton Island Yacht Club to foster youth sailing at those clubs.
With today’s results factored in, Harvey Milne’s Archambault 31 Aroona has reclaimed the Audi IRC Australian Championship lead from Loki, out in front on 9.99 points, Loki on 13.21 points and Peter Horn’s King 40 Canute on 21.75 points including one drop for each.
Crews only have one more day to prepare their boats and outfits for the Prix D ‘Elegance which will take place this Friday between 9am and 10am as the fleet leaves the harbour for racing. Prizes will be awarded in two categories:
The Best Presented Yacht and Crew (yacht in first-class trim, and matching crew uniforms)
The Best Fun-Themed Yacht and Crew (let your imagination run wild)
Full results here