Farr 40 Queensland Championship - Dramatic start on Day 1

Knock Down - Farr 40 Championships 2012
Rob Cruse
Farr 40 Queensland Championship got underway today, Saturday 27th October 2012. A capsize, an all-embracing encounter between a yacht and the finish boat, a protest, and an injury to an Olympic gold medallist all made for a dramatic opening day to the inaugural Aberdeen Assets Management Farr 40 Queensland championship on Brisbane’s Moreton Bay.

Malcolm Page, gold medal winning 470 crew at the London 2012 Olympics, suffered rope burns to his neck and a bruised hip when he got caught in the mainsheet during a gybe on Lang Walker’s Kokomo.

However, he continued his role as tactician, the yacht finishing second in race one and winning race two.

'We are confident he will be well enough to race tomorrow,' team spokesman Richie Allanson said this evening.

Page flew into Brisbane this morning after collecting his Sailor of Year trophy at Friday night’s Yachting Australia’s awards dinner in Sydney. Page shared the award with fellow 470 gold medallist Mathew Belcher, and other Australian gold medal winners Tom Slingsby (Laser) and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (49er).

Jensen is also sailing in this regatta, assisting tactician David Chapman on Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’ world championship winning boat, Transfusion.

Freshening east-south-easterly winds reaching 30 knots forced race officials to curtail racing late this afternoon. Two races were sailed, but the third was cancelled as the breeze kicked in on the course area east of St Helena Island on Moreton Bay.

Transfusion lost its chance for a winning double following a spectacular capsize in race two as the crew hoisted the big spinnaker in 25 knots-plus.

Transfusion and Kokomo, both Sydney-based Farr 40s, each had a first and a second place after a protest by Estate Master (Martin Hill) against Kokomo over a finish line incident in race one was dismissed.

Kokomo - Farr 40 Championships 2012
Rob Cruse

On a countback, Kokomo is currently in first place overall from Transfusion, both with three points. Queensland Farr 40, Keel Train, helmed by Greg Torpy, is in third place on nine points after and fifth and a fourth today.

Another local yacht, Lambourdini, skippered by Howard Lambourne, is fourth overall, also scoring a fourth and a fifth place for nine points. Bribie Star (Ken Down) finished third in race one but seventh in race two to be fifth overall on 10 points, while Estate Master, after missing race two, is sixth in standings on 12 points.

In the protest-provoking incident in race one, both Kokomo and Estate Master were coming into the finish just a few metres apart. Kokomo gybed for the line but Estate Master broached right on the line, draping its spinnaker over the committee boat and also ripping its mainsail.

With mainsail torn, Estate Master was prevented from competing in race two. The committee boats flag masts and signal flags were also damaged.

Transfusion Race 1 - Farr 40 Championships 2012
Rob Cruse

'It was fresh to frightening out there today,' Belgiorno-Nettis said after Transfusion returned to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.

'We had a comfortable win from Lang Walker in Kokomo in the first race and in the second race we got past Kokomo after a close beat to windward as the breeze continued to build to 25 knots-plus.

'We decided to hoist the big chute but as it went up, the lazy brace jammed and we did a Chinese gybe and capsized to windward.

'Kokomo regained the lead, but we made a good recovery, losing only a minute and a half. We still finished second, just a minute and 16 seconds astern of Kokomo,' he added.

Kokomo team spokesman Richie Allanson described conditions on Moreton By as 'testing', adding 'the Queensland guys showed great sailing skills.'

Allanson said RQYS race officials planned to start races earlier on Sunday, aiming to run four races to complete the six race schedule for the championship.

Belgiorno-Nettis, newly elected president of the Australian Farr 40 Owners Association, praised the enthusiasm and hospitality of the Queensland fleet and also the effort made by the owners of the Sydney yachts to bring their boats north for this championship.

'Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron has been marvellous in their organisation and hospitality; the standard of race management has been the highest we could expect,' he said.

'Our sponsors, Aberdeen Asset Management, have been delighted with the organisation and the spectacular racing, and we had two senior executives out sailing with us in a practice race yesterday,' Belgiorno-Nettis added.