The NSW Maritime was quick to arrive when Ian Oatley’s flying bulb canting keel Reichel/Pugh 42 capsized after a keel malfunction off the Point at Watsons Bay, shortly before 2.00pm today, during Race 4 of the Audi Winter Series, hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, whose officials also attended the scene quickly reporting all were well and safe aboard.
Many of the 134 other yachts taking part in the annual series were running down Sydney Harbour under spinnaker towards their mark at Watsons Bay near where Q capsized and were forced to work their way around the stricken yacht which was fortunately being protected by a CYCA RIB and the NSW Maritime vessels.
All that could be seen of the yacht, owned by Ian Oatley from the famous wine making family who owns Hamilton Island, was the dark hull on its side and the orange shirts of crew members who stood on various parts of the hull. CYCA race officers pulled alongside, as did a competing yacht. Q was taken under tow toward the Club at Rushcutters Bay.
Ian Oatley was unavailable for comment.
An otherwise dull day, with gray skies pervading the Harbour and the threat of rain imminent, was lifted by the colourful spinnakers of the 12 divisions in the race as they sailed down the Harbour twice in a breeze that taunted and teased crews throughout the race.
“We got the whole fleet away on time, starting with the Sydney 38’s,” Principal Race Officer Robyn Morton said. “The wind was all over the place. The 38’s started first in 5-6 knot south-westerly and the next group sailed off in a 4-6 knot westerly. The pressure was up and down and the breeze went south, then south-west in the afternoon, then back to the south again.”
Just before Q capsized, Geoff and Pip Lavis’ downwind flyer, UBS Wild Thing, was leading Division A1 from Geoff Morgan’s Davidson 55 You’re Hired, followed by Rick Christian’s Steinmann 66 The Stick and two TP52s: Bob Steel’s Quest and David Pescud’s Wot Eva.
You’re Hired forced UBS Wild Thing to gybe and sailed through her, The Stick’s crew lost the kite overboard and went fishing, and the others rounded the mark ahead of her, with UBS in the lead again with You’re Hired in hot pursuit.
Finally pulling their haul aboard, The Stick was the first to have to negotiate the NSW Maritime boats and Q, adding more drama to her day, and removing any chance she had of finishing on the podium. At the finish, it was You’re Hired over first from Quest and UBS Wild Thing.
CYCA Rear Commodore Howard Piggott won Division B today with his Beneteau F40, Flying Cloud, after a close battle with three other yachts which ultimately finished second, third and fourth. “The day was a bit perplexing at first; I thought it would be soft breeze all day,” Piggott said back at the Club after racing.
“It turned out to be really good sailing and it was nice to be able to sail the full course for a change,” said Piggott referring to past races that the PRO has had to shorten due to insufficient breeze.
“I think the breeze got up to about 10 knots, but I’m not really sure, because our instruments died, so we were flying blind. We got a good start and got clear of the boats around us. Mr Beaks Ribs (David Beak), Last Tango (Phillip King) and Patrice Six (Tony Kirby) pushed us hard all the way, so it was good, exciting racing,” he said.
Unlike the winners of Division A1 and Division B, Andrew Dally did not have to fight off any challengers in Division C. “Everything went well today, unlike the weeks before. We did everything right,” said Dally, who sailed his C&C 115 Bear Necessity to an undisputed win.
“Marloo (George Girdis) was ahead of us, but we went left and got into good pressure and the rest went right at Middle Head, and it was all good from there for us. We were in good breeze all day; we didn’t get caught in lulls like some of the other boats did. We had a great sail,” an obviously happy Dally said.
Life was not so straightforward for Division J winner, Lahara II, her owner Glenn Crane came ashore to find out he was being protested. “We’re being protested for missing one of the marks of the course,” a disappointed Crane said after stepping off his Dufour 40 at the CYCA this afternoon. As far as I know, we sailed the right course. I guess time will tell. It’s disappointing because we had a beautiful day. We were in front for most the race and had one of the best sails we’ve had in ages, so it’ll be devastating if we’re protested out,” he lamented.
Other divisional wins today went to: Division A2, Ichi Ban (Matt Allen/Walter Lewin), Division D Scarlett O’Hara (Robert Skol), Division E Skeeter (Sandor Tornai), Division F Kelly2n (Michael Ewings), Division H The Holy Gale (Jason Klaas), Division K MRX (Jon Short/Miles Bastick and the Sydney 38 Division going to Larki Missiris’ Wild One.
Sean Barrett was the lucky competitor to win the use of an Audi A5 Sportback 2.0T multitronic for a week after winning Division G with his Jutson 31 Outlandish. So far, four other lucky boat owners have been behind the wheel of the luxury German vehicle and have found it difficult to return the keys. All division winners today also received Musto clothing as a prize.