Protracted passage race
On stepping ashore in Geelong after taking line honours in Audi Victoria Week’s Passage Race this afternoon, Loki’s sailing master Gordon Maguire described the protracted 36.8 nautical mile race as “painful”.
Maguire was not alone in his thoughts, as many of the grand prix yachts expected to do well struggled to make the finish line and the bulk of the fleet was still out on the course at 5.30pm.
After taking an early and sizeable lead with Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll, Loki, an RP63 from NSW, fell into a big hole on Port Phillip Bay. “We parked it for a couple of hours,” confirmed Maguire. “It was fly-ridden and windless.”
The international yachtsman is still trying to figure out why his owner, Stephen Ainsworth, was smiling and ready to enjoy the hospitality Geelong and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club (host of the event), offers to the thousands of sailors each year.
The 400+ fleet got away to a good start in 8 knots of breeze on their new start line near St Kilda Pier in Melbourne at 9.30 this morning, but the predicted 14-22 knot ESEerly winds never arrived.
Shortly after, the wind vanished from the course, and local sailor Rob Date made the best of a bad situation, sailing his RP52 Scarlet Runner further to the south and into the lead of the race.
“We thought the sea breeze would come, so we kept going south. We’ve done a lot of sailing in these parts, so felt we had it right. We kept tacking to stay close to the shore and finally we got a light sea breeze.
“We overtook Loki near the entrance to King George Bank,” said Scarlet Runner’s owner/skipper Rob Date, who was more than happy with their finish. “We went so close to shore we only had 200 millimetres under our keel. We got out the goggles in case we caught a mussel farm!”
Loki only reclaimed the lead from Scarlet Runner in the final stages of the race, first overtaking Calm, Colin Wood’s Pretty Fly II, and Nick Bartel’s Terra Firma, before finally beating Date to the line by little over two minutes. Loki finished at 15.47.06, and Scarlet Runner at 15.49.59.
Calm, a TP52 owned by John Williams and Jason Van Der Slot was third over the line at 15.55.35, followed by others including the well-sailed Terra Firma and Pretty Fly III, their individual performances impressing their fellow yachties.
On Loki, Maguire said they had sailed to the opposite side of the course. “It filled in from the west for us and others that came with us, but for those who went south, the southerly was more dominant. The race was a bit of a lottery though.”
Maguire confessed he was relieved there was a race drop in the Audi IRC Series, of which the Passage Race was the first race. “Along with a few others, we can’t afford another bad one. “This race has certainly given a few people the incentive to sail the best for the remaining six races,” Maguire said of the rest of the series which will comprise windward/leeward courses on Corio Bay.