Airlie Beach Race Week - Soft breeze forces shortened races.

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, top mark action in race two of the Sports Boats
Shirley Wodson
Second day of the Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week started off with expectations of a softening breeze both in Pioneer Bay and out in the passage.

Across the board the predictions were correct and the courses consequently shortened for the passage race courses.

The stars of the day were the Sports Boats with three windward/leeward races. The competition was close across the 11-boat fleet, but it was Noel Leigh-Smith and his Viper QLD that delivered outstanding results.

The start of today’s racing was held back for over an hour as PRO Ross Chisholm anxiously monitored the breeze line creeping in from Hamilton Island. The crews took the time to relax. Menace’s Howard Spencer took a short nap on the deck. Mike Roper’s Ropabull team came prepared with over-sized water pistols while the Holy Cow! team got in some practice in making their now signature Cow Tails; a little fruit, a splash of fruit juice, ice and a liberal amount of Mount Gay Rum, then on with genset for the final touch.

When the AP flag finally came down the IRC Racing, Performance Racing, Cruising and Multihull Performance divisions all headed out on Course 11 to White Rock and West Molle Island. The Multihulls were sent on Course five around Pioneer Bay while the Sports Boats stayed inshore.

Sports Boats
The long delay to the first race start didn’t distract the competitors. Race one start was clean with Leon Thomas’s Guilty Pleasures and Noel Leigh-Smith’s QLD Viper keep tight with each other. Brett Whitbread’s Crank was at the pin end and Jason Ruckert’s Mister Magoo at the back of the starters. First time around the top mark and Crank crossed ahead of Guilty Pleasures. John Rae’s Vivace was right beside Crank around the mark.

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, top mark action in race two of the Sports Boats, by Shirley Wodson
Shirley Wodson

It was a slow run while the race committee shortened the next leg to .5 nautical miles. There was little between Vivace, Crank and Guilty Pleasures in the last half of the race.

Race two was sailed in similar conditions. Crank and Vivace were on top of each other again. The dirty air from Guilty Pleasures and Vivace cost Crank as they struggled to find speed across the line. Crank then tacked out to port to clear itself, beared away behind Bobsled and out to the right in clean air.

The short course and steady six knots had the fleet spread out trying to find a good line to the top mark. Guilty Pleasures was around first with Crank putting in a short tack to make the rounding. Next was Vivace several boat lengths behind.

By the finish and a slight right-hand shift the top three had closed the gap as they covered their gybes down the run, finishing a matter of seconds apart.

The race committee got in the third scheduled race for the Sports Boats with only Barry Bendt’s Rip it Up the only recall. The breeze was right and up to eight knots.

Guilty Pleasures skipper Leon Thomas said there was a good battle going on right through the three races. 'Crank has had a great day and we think they got the better of us. The Viper and Magoo also had a great day on the race course.

'Race three we got a bit carted at the start and it was always catch-up mode after that. We had a few boats that decided not to give way when they should have. Once Crank and Vivace got a head start of us, they are quicker than we are so we can’t catch up,' Thomas said.

Mister Magoo’s Jason Ruckert was smiling at the end of the long day. 'We had a lot better day today. Good light winds and the knots we had on the spinnaker actually held today. The problem yesterday is the spinnaker came untied and we had no halyard to pull the spinnaker up,' Ruckert said.

But the real star of the day was the clean-sweep team of Viper QLD led by Noel Leigh-Smith. Three wins from three races was a superb outcome for the Viper 640. 'We weren’t surprised by our results in those conditions. The boat goes very well and I have two good crew. You had to go the right way and we did. We are very happy with the day’s results, but tomorrow is another day,' Leigh Smith said.

IRC Racing
The IRC Division start was clean with division protagonists Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire and Bob Steel’s Quest right on top of each other at the pin end. Gary McCarthy’s Brilliant Pearl was last to start missing the start sequence signals. With Mandalay Mark taken out of the course configuration, the fleet headed out past Pioneer Rock and down to White Rock.

The fleet went round the rock, headed out around West Molle before their course was shortened at the northern end of West Molle. Quest took out first place ahead of Howard Piggott’s Flying Cloud and Bernie Van T’Hof’s Tulip.

Performance Racing
The Performance Racing Division was next off the line. With one minute to the start, Matt Allen and Walter Lewin’s Ichi Ban made their move forcing Charles Wallis’s Reignition out of the way while Howard Spencer’s Menace stuck closely to their stern. Ichi Ban was to weather and had the pace on Menace. Reignition didn’t appear fazed by Ichi Ban’s start line tactics, holding course and staying along with the same line as the big boats.

This division also had their race cut short with a finish off the top of West Molle. In first place on handicap was local boat David Lund’s Crossbow ahead of Damian Suckling’s Another Fiasco and Martin Power’s Barcardi. Early leaders Ichi Ban, Reignition and Menace all suffered a blow from the handicapper to place in the last three spots.

Cruising
The Cruising Division one start was slow, but with a nice 10 knots to sail into Kim and John Clinton’s Holy Cow! and Bradley Ginnivan’s Shades of 50 were on-pace quickly. Don Algie’s Storm III waterline length then started to pay as the large blue yacht picked up speed on the work towards Pioneer Rock. Sadly, Hammer of Queensland was an individual recall.

Working up the passage Shades of 50 kept up its battle with Holy Cow!. Fifty Shades of 50 went to the right-hand shore and Holy Cow! went across to the left. At White Rock Holy Cow! was only one boat length ahead, but by the finish Shades of 50 had taken enough out of Holy Cow! to finish just slightly ahead.

In Cruising Division two it was the series leader, Mike Keyte’s Take Flight, turn to jump the gun and take a costly re-start penalty.

In the passage the breeze was flicking left up to eight and then down to 12 knots.

Next was Cruising Division three and Non Spinnaker fleets which were off to clean starts and away down the passage. John Galloway’s QLD Marine Services was in the lead for the Non Spinnaker fleet.

All Cruising divisions had their race shortened. In Division one, first place went to Richard Fader’s Infinity followed by Holy Cow! and Fifty Shades of 50.

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, Viper QLD team in action chasing three wins from three races, Shirley Wodson
Shirley Wodson

In Division two, the top places were taken out by James Irvine’s Mayfair, followed by Doug Barry’s Swordfish and Bill Hopton’s Mistery.

Division three was won by Don Bowden’s Checkmate with Andrew Barney’s Barney Army in second and John Fowell’s Ells Bells in third.

The Non Spinnaker Division was won by Peter Harrison’s Rumgutz.

Multihulls
Back in the bay and the Multihulls were still waiting for their start. The Start Boat moved further north across the bay and set up with the AP down two later than planned. In Division one, David Turton’s Move It, Julian Griffiths Hot Vindaloo and Mal Richardson’s Malice were at the boat end of the line. At the gun Hot Vindaloo tacked away to the right while Jason Gard’s Spirit, Move It and Malice stayed left.

OMR Division two was another clean start with the fleet well spread out along the start line. Andrew Stransky’s Fantasia was surprisingly fast in the light conditions leading the fleet out across the bay.

In OMR Division three another series leader came to grief. Tony Richardson’s Pocahontas misjudged his run to the line at the pin end being forced out by Geoff Floyd’s Fifty Fifty. In the lead was Garry Scott’s Coco Loco, followed by Bill Ferguson’s Midnight Rain.

It was a slow work down to the Mandalay mark and then a tight reach across to the Bluff, up to Grimston and back to Pioneer Mark where all OMR Multihull divisions were finished on a shortened course.

OMR Division one top three places went to Chris Williams’s Morticia then Rob Remilton’s Wilparnia II and Jason Gard’s Spirit.

OMR Division two results were first place again to Andrew Stransky’s Fantasia, then Rupert King’s Overdrive and Philip Day’s Rhythmic.

OMR Multihull three results were first place Mike Willcocks’s Hot Option, then Peter Hawker’s Carbon Credit and in third place, Geoff Floyd’s Fifty Fifty.

The Performance Multihulls first place went to Clare and Wayne Kirby’s Clear Horizons.

The full results are on Airlie race week website!

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, Multihulll leader Fantasia, Shirley Wodson - Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week 2013
Shirley Wodson