Andrea Francolini /

Hooligan goes the distance

Four races sailed for the IRC boats today at the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta

Sunday March 6th 2011, Author: Nicole Browne, Location: Australia

Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan has retained her lead in Class A of the Audi IRC Australian Championship, with Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki sitting in second place and Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll now third overall.

Four races were sailed off Sydney heads today as part of the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta, which serves as round two in the four event Championship Series.

The bigger boats, Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats X and Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki, duelled on the race course all day with Loki beating Wild Oats X over the finish line by a mere second in the first race as Wild Oats X struggled with a spinnaker problem.

However, Hooligan’s consistency has again paid dividends. Blackmore and his crew have finished third over the line in two races and fourth in the final race of the day. As the Championship relies on the boat’s corrected time on handicap to award points, this continuously solid performance puts Hooligan in first place in Class A. Of the 13 races Hooligan has sailed over two rounds in the Championship Series, the boat has won 9 races on corrected time.

Marcus Blackmore was pleased with Hooligan’s performance over two days of varying conditions. “We just take each race one day at a time, there’s no overall game plan and in comparison to the other boats we’re quicker in the heavy air,” he said. “Loki had a late run at us and they do a lot better in the lighter air. Or maybe our driver’s not as good on the tiller in the lighter air, maybe I need some more lessons!"

Loki owner/skipper Stephen Ainsworth was thrilled with his boat’s move up into second position overall in the Championship series. “We had a good day today, the conditions suited us much better,” he said. “It was pretty tricky out there, it was the quick and the dead out there and Anthony Merrington did a great job today, he was really in tune for us. And it’s a pretty good feeling to beat Wild Oats X across the line, it’s not that often we get to do that.”

In Class B of the Audi IRC Australian Championship, Victoire has moved into the lead overall, while Rockall III made the most of the light conditions to bag first place on corrected time in Class B at this regatta which puts them second overall in the Championship. Meanwhile, Robert Reynolds’ Exile overcame a disappointing first race to settle into third place in the Championship standings.

Among the smaller boats in Class C, former Championship Winner Peter Sorensen has taken the Championship lead with The Philosopher’s Club. Just two points behind in second place overall is Andy Kearnan’s L’Altra Donna, while Ryan Walker’s trip north from Victoria to take part in the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta has rewarded as he and his crew from Peregrine are now in third place in the Championship standings.

The next event in the Audi IRC Australian Championship is the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race starting 30 July, followed by the final event in the series, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 19-27 August. Winners in each of the three Classes are calculated on total pointscore over the Championship and each class champion also wins a new Audi for a year.

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