Living Doll claims today's win
T-shirts and thickly applied sunscreen were today replaced with full wet weather gear in readiness for a hosing down as conditions freshened at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week being staged in the Whitsundays Islands.
With the air temperature 10 degrees lower than the previous balmy days, gusts up to 26 knots out of the southeast and a choppy sea state, there was plenty of crashing and bashing when the fleet poked its nose out into Whitsunday Passage and felt the full force of the prevailing winds.
The IRC Grand Prix and IRC Passage divisions set off from the eastern start area against wind and tide following a short postponement while the line was re-set.
The 50 footers tacked off early while the RP66’s Wild Oats X and Black Jack hung on the left side before flicking over for the reach across the northern tip of Pentecost Island, the two sisterships locked in combat as their five day grudge match continued.
Sails were flapping and rigs rattling through the tacks, and that extra serving of bacon and eggs came in handy as crews hunkered down on the rail to get the weight out and the boat flat in the water.
The for’ard hands copped a drenching, photographer Andrea Francolini snapping a shot from the air of Loki’s bowman, young round-the-world yachtsman Morgan White, with just his hand on the lifeline visible through the whitewash as Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 buried its nose.
For the IRC Grand Prix division, race six of the week-long series was a 27 nautical mile course around Ann Island, Spitfire Rock then a reach to Pine Island and a spectacularly quick spinnaker run and finish in Dent Passage off Hamilton Island Yacht Club.
Line honours went to the Iain Murray-skippered Wild Oats X from Peter Millard and John Honan’s 98 footer Lahana by just 12 seconds, one of the closest finishes in the event’s 27 year history.
Michael Hiatt pushed his Farr 55 Living Doll from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria mercilessly in the decent blow, hitting a top speed of 24 knots and claiming the outright win from Rob Hanna’s TP52 Shogun and Loki in third.
“The old twin rudders did their job today,” said a very pleased Hiatt this afternoon. “We had a fantastic reach across to Pine Island, and we were fast upwind today.”
In the IRC Passage Division 1 results, Graham Mobuckson’s Middle Harbour Yacht Club boat, the lovely Custom 18.5m German-Frers designed Margaret Rintoul V, took out the 22 nautical mile race win.
Following a third today on corrected time, Ray Roberts’ chartered Farr 42 Evolution Racing is still the one to beat in the IRC Passage Division 1 pointscore, currently six points out in front of Stewart Lewis’ head turning Ocean Affinity, a stunning black Marten 49 from Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.
The rest of the IRC Passage 2 division must be contemplating whether sabotage is the only way they can get a look in with ACT sailor Matthew Owen’s BH36 Local Hero and Harvey Milne’s Aroona hogging the limelight once again.
This time it was Local Hero’s turn to beat the Sydney boat, their third win from six races, to be a point ahead on the series ladder.
In the Audi IRC Australian Championship results Loki and Aroona have gone tit for tat at Race Week, the final event of the four-part Championship, with Loki back out in front on 13.18 points, 0.47 of one point clear of Aroona counting today’s race.
It’s been a slow week for repairs for the mobile sail lofts and sail makers on Hamilton Island, but today the jobs began to flow with a number of spinnaker melt downs including Nicholas Bartels’ Melbourne Cookson 50 Terra Firma and Lahana which managed to save a tear in their A4 chute from splitting the kite in half by sailing low until they could peel to another spinnaker.
All others divisions enjoyed a second layday today.
The entire fleet will be racing tomorrow from 11am, the scheduled start time for the first windward/leeward race for the IRC Grand Prix fleet with the remaining divisions beings sent on an around the islands race starting from the southern start area.
Full results here
Laser SB3 tuition
Tasmanian former world Dragon champion Nick Rogers felt right at home on the SB3 course at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week today. The dark skies, cooler temperatures minus the snow peaked mountain in the background and a top puff of 22 knots created conditions similar to those experienced by the hardy Derwent River sailors, and the Tasmanian’s shined.
“They were the strongest conditions we’ve sailed in so far in the class,” said Rogers, who is steering the SB3 Toll Shipping with Chris Keil and Julian Salter, a well known International Moth sailor. Toll Shipping is leading the series pointscore after seven races thanks to today’s two firsts, a second and a third. Their third result came in today’s opening race, the same race in which Rogers thought he’d take a quick dip at the top mark.
“We went around the top mark and I kept going,” said Rogers. “Luckily I was still hanging onto the mainsheet but by the time the crew realised I was gone I was being dragged about three boat lengths behind.
“The crew went to put the kite up then turned around and saw I wasn’t where I was supposed to be,” laughed Rogers who indignantly had to haul himself back to the boat while the crew looked on, finding the whole situation amusing.
Rogers’ usual ride is back at home so for this regatta he chartered the SB3 just purchased by Hobart’s Steven Chow. Having road tested the new boat during the three day SB3 Wild Oats Challenge, Rogers will trailer Chow’s pre-loved boat to Hobart and deliver it to him.
With SB3 world champion Glenn Bourke, the island’s CEO, making a guest appearance on the course yesterday, Rogers took the opportunity to ask him for a bit of advice so prior to joining the crew of Wild Oats XI today for the Superyacht race, Bourke went through Toll Shipping’s set-up with the keen skipper.
“Glenn really helped me, I could feel the difference straight away. Yesterday we didn’t have the boat sailing nearly as well.”
On the strength of the SB3s in Hobart, Rogers says they’ve managed to get the fleet to seven in just three months.
It seems the SB3 class is full of chivalry with Bourke giving up his three wins yesterday and today Rod Jones, the boat charterer, gave his SB3 Club Marine Blue to round the world sailor Jessica Watson’s crew after they found a crack in their spinnaker pole before the opening race of the day.
“I’m not sure whether I’m a knight in shining armour or just an obligated boat charterer,” laughed Jones.
The final day of the SB3 Wild Oats Challenge, with the prize the winning skipper’s weight in Wild Oats wine, will wrap up tomorrow with two races scheduled.