Airlie Beach Race Week - Lay Day for fleet as winds build

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, Sport Boat fleet enjoying the soft conditions of the start of the regatta week
Julie Geldard
It’s Lay Day at the Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Regatta and the frustrations of yesterday’s soft winds are already starting to be forgotten as the 110 teams start to plan their assault on the final three days of racing.

The large volunteer race committee and social team are taking today to get a well-earned rest. The sailors are enjoying the social side of Airlie Beach – its restaurants, relaxed bars, superb lagoon pool and local tourist attractions. There are brightly coloured shirts appearing all around town along with a team of pirates led by a two-legged parrot.

Tomorrow is another day in sailing. The light winds of the previous days which have frustrated the race committee and challenged the concentration of the sailors, appear to be disappearing. Regatta Director Denis Thompson is expecting a little bit more breeze. 'Tomorrow should be an improvement on yesterday,' Thompson said.

For some, tomorrow will be make or break on the overall results while for many others it will simply be another stunning Whitsunday sailing day. Across the 11 divisions there are opportunities for some teams to secure their hold on the podium places while for others there is the chance to move their division mates aside as they clear their way to the podium.

Australian Multihull Championship
The Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week is hosting for the first time the Multihull National championships.

Three of the four Multihull divisions have completed three races.

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, OMR Multihull Div I leader, Morticia
Julie Geldard

In Division I, it’s been a clean-sweep for Chris Williams’s black-hulled Sea Cart 30, Morticia, with three firsts from three races. In second overall is Jason Gard’s Spirit with a 5/3/2 to make 10 points. Into third overall then sits Rob Remilton’s Wilparina II after 8/2/3 to make it 13 points.

Both Mal Richardson’s Malice and George Owen’s APC Mad Max have shown form in the first three races and have a strong chance of moving up into the top three places. Both were on the podium in 2012.

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, Cruising Div II heading out to the Double Cones on race day one
Shirley Wodson

In the seven-boat Division II fleet, it’s another case of a clean-sweep, for now. Only recently returning from racing in the top Asian regattas, Andrew Stransky has taken Fantasia first place in all three races. In second place is Philip Day’s Rhythmic with 2/3/3 to make eight points. In third place is Scott Gralow’s Bulletproof finishing 3/5/2 to make 10 points.

Division III has seen some close racing with the top boats moving around the results keeping the game wide open. Mike Willcocks’s Hot Option is holding first place overall after 2/1/3 places to make six points. In second is Geoff Floyd’s Fifty Fifty with 5/2/1 to make nine points closely followed by Tony Richardson’s Pocahontas with 1/7/2 to make 10 points. There is little between the rest of the fleet so the next three race day results are critical.

In the two-boat Multihull PHS division there has been only two races completed. It’s been Clare and Wayne Kirby’s Clear Horizons up against Bernie McErlane’s Zippy with both boats wining one race to leave them at the end of three day’s racing on equal points.

Sports Boats
It’s four races into the series for the Sports Boats. Noel Leigh-Smith’s Viper QLD is in a strong position, leading the 11-boat fleet on six points after a third place on day one and then 1/1/1 on day two. He has sailed the boat very well in the light airs keeping clear of the start line battles.

In second place overall is Jason Ruckert’s Mister Magoo on 13 points. He started poorly with a seventh in race one and then, like Viper QLD, found his form on the second day to second in all three races. In third overall is Brett Whitbread’s Crank. He took out overall honours on day one and then fell back on day two with 5/6/3 to end up with 15 points.

The fleet missed out yesterday on a result as the race committee abandoned the racing due to the light conditions.

All dock ribbing aside among this lively group, the competition in the Sports Boats is very serious.

Performance Racing
The Performance Racing Division has completed three races with yesterday’s passage race shortened due to the fading breeze.

Sometimes it’s the quiet achievers you have to keep a close eye on. While there has been a lot of chatter about Matt Allen and Walter Lewin’s Ichi Ban having a great time keeping Howard Spencer’s MC38 Menace at their stern, Philip Grove’s Huntress has been working their way to the top of the overall ladder.

Just one point separates the top three boats in this division. Huntress has placed 1/5/3 to give them nine points overall. In second place is Ichi Ban, after 2/7/1 places to be on 10 points. Local boat, Another Fiasco is in third place after 5/2/4 places to give them 11 points. The New Zealand entry, Menace, is in fourth place overall after 3/9/2 to give them 14 points.

The division’s defending champion, Charles Wallis’s Reignition is currently in sixth place overall.

IRC Racing
The IRC Racing and the IRC Cruising divisions were combined to form the IRC Racing 12-boat fleet.

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, day 3 start for IRC Racing fleet
Shirley Wodson

Only two races have been completed in the division. There is nothing between the leading boats – Bob Steel’s TP52, Quest, and Bernie Van’T Hof’s Swan 45, Tulip. Both have three points on the overall pointscore.

In second place overall is Howard Piggott’s Flying Cloud, placing third in both races.

The fleet were due to complete three windward/leeward races yesterday. The race committee are now looking at how they can reschedule those races during the latter part of the race week.

Cruising Divisions
Only two races have been completed in all four Cruising divisions.

In equal first place overall in Division 1 is Richard Fader’s Infinity and Mal Robertson’s Eureka II, both on six points. In third place is Mick Eckert’s charter boat, Hammer of Queensland. Airlie Beach Race Week founder Don Algie and his 66-foot Storm II is back in fourth place along with defending champions, John and Kim Clinton’s Holy Cow!

Division II is the largest of the cruising fleets with 22 boats. In the lead is Bill Hopton’s 9m Swarbick, Mistery, on eight points. In second is James Irvine’s Mayfair on nine points while in third is a local boat, Craig Piccinelli’s Wobbly Boot.

It’s the Family Barney leading the Trailables Division III with three points. In second place is Gary Bruce’s Fly ‘N High on eight points and in third is Tommy Jordan’s Shady Tradie on nine points.

The Non Spinnaker Division competitors are having their own battle at the front with first place held equally by Nick Smail’s Huahine and John Galloway’s QLD Marine Services. In third place is Peter Harrison’s Rumgutz

The pointscore drops for each division don’t come into play until six races have been scored. For the Cruising division entrants and with only three races to go, every race result is important as every race will count.

Racing re-commences tomorrow with two windward/leeward races for the Performance and OMR Multihull divisions and passage races for all other divisions, weather permitting.

The full results are on - Airlier race week website