Beau Geste surges ahead
Eight TP52 crews contesting the second round of their four-part Southern Cross Cup took on an angry Port Phillip today. Some prevailed and others finished casualties of the strong pre-frontal northerly, which only permitted a single start.
In just one race of attrition Hooligan was individually recalled then went on to take the bullet by two seconds, Calm 2 withdrew from their race lead with a torn mainsail, Shogun V’s race abruptly hit the pause button when their A4 spinnaker wrapped under the boat, and Frantic, midway through its first and only race for the round was forced out, also with a torn mainsail.
The fleet got away in a NNW west 22-24 knot breeze with plenty of whitecaps on the bay. Those that didn’t fall by the wayside put on a stunning display for the brave spectator fleet, saltwater spumes coming from the bows as the TPs lit up downwind pushing 20 plus knots of boat speed.
Mark ‘Richo’ Richards made the comeback of the day at the helm of Hooligan. Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 was individually recalled and in Richo’s words they “came back from the dead”, climbing from last to squeeze Karl Kwok’s Team Beau Geste out by a blip right on the finish line. On corrected time Team Beau Geste held Hooligan out by three seconds.
“The boat was fantastic, it’s a very exciting class and they are an enthusiastic bunch of guys,” said Richards this afternoon back at the host Sandringham Yacht Club.
Richards and Beau Geste’s helmsman Gavin Brady, who hail from opposite sides of the Tasman Sea, are a similar vintage and both are both renowned for their match racing prowess. They have encountered each other on many start lines and prior to that ‘Richo’ recalled today a time when “Brady was the umpire kid on the back of the boat for our match racing circuit 27 years ago”.
The pair has met again in Melbourne for the TP52 series and with one day remaining the Hooligan crew has a battle on its hands to close Brady’s five point advantage as the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club registered boat, campaigned by a multinational crew, closes in on a successful challenge of their round one result.
Despite their misfortune today, Calm 2 and Shogun V are this afternoon on equal points, third and fourth overall on the ladder.
Jason Van Der Slot’s SYC based Calm 2 was leading the fleet on the first upward work when they were caught out with a mainsail probably more suited to racing in the Mediterranean. It’s gone off to North’s sail loft this afternoon so the tear can be repaired, and on their plan for tomorrow the skipper said, “We’ll have just have to claw our way back”.
Shogun V’s A4 spinnaker was this afternoon floating towards Sorrento after the crew was forced to cut it free. Rob Hanna and his crew were virtually line ball with Team Beau Geste out the front of the pack when a late gybe and a spinnaker sheet under the bow set off an unfortunate chain reaction. The kite was lost to the ocean but Shogun still managed to finish within the time limit and claim vital points.
Calm 2 and Shogun’s misfortune paved the way for the older TPs to make their mark. John Williams’ Calm, helmed by son Peter, took the final podium placing in race four and Tony Lyall’s Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania-based Cougar II finished fourth in today’s race.
“Yesterday was memorable for us for all the wrong reasons, but today was beautiful and through attrition we did well,” said Peter Williams.
On the series so far Williams added, “The separation between the newer and older boats is the hard part, there’s six years of evolution and the systems are very different. Having Beau Geste here is brilliant, we all improve because of the immediacy of the lessons. Those guys are really taking it seriously and saying ‘catch us if you can’”.
Cougar II skipper Tony Lyall says the racing so far has been “hard and sharp” and he’s enjoyed the match-up with Scarlet Runner and Calm. With a mostly young crew of Farr 40 and Melges sailors, Lyall says they have the fitness to handle these physically demanding boats and found today’s conditions very manageable. Lyall is planning to take Cougar II to Sydney later this year for the remaining two rounds.
The voodoo hanging over Mick Martin’s Frantic continues. The Newcastle-based TP52 was forced to withdraw from their one and only race so far with a torn mainsail. They missed yesterday’s curtain opening due to shocking weather, which delayed their delivery from Sydney and caused sail damage.
They are determined to support the event and tomorrow plan to be back on the course carrying an offshore mainsail lent by Calm 2. In another show of support among owners, Rob Hanna also offered them the use of his spare main.
There were a number of special guests out on board the TPs today including Yachting Australia President David Gotze, Andrew Plympton, Australian Olympic Committee Board Member, and Alistair Murray, the CEO of Ronstan.
Victorian yachting legend Lou Abrahams was also dockside at SYC this morning for the Club Marine Centenary Trophy Regatta and some of the TP sailors, including Mark Richards, who have looked up to Abrahams throughout his offshore career took the opportunity to shake hands with the great man.
With just one of three scheduled races going ahead today, PRO Denis Thompson is aiming for four short races tomorrow, making up an eight race series before the event switches to Sydney.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for 15-20 knots out of the west. The first race is due to get underway at 1000 to allow for an early prizegiving so interstate and international crews can return home that evening.
|1||Team Beau Geste||Karl Kwok||2||1||2||1||6|
|3||Calm 2||Jason Van Der Slot||1||3||3||9.0F||16|
|6||Cougar II||Anthony Lyall||5||6||6||4||21|
|7||Scarlet Runner||Rob Date||7||4||7||5||23|