by Di Pearson
Flinders Islet Race - David Pescud and his Wot Eva crew returned safely to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia this afternoon, just as the provisional winner of the race was announced.
Provisional winner is Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire - Flinders Islet Race 2011
Pescud told how his Wot Eva crew had rounded the Islet and were on the return leg when his TP52 hit Bellambi Reef and got stuck there until he was able to cut the rope from the yacht’s propeller to get it off the reef.
The veteran ocean racer, who can lay claim to a number of yachting trophies, including one for a PHS overall win in a Rolex Sydney Hobart, explained how Wot Eva ended up on the reef, which is just north of Wollongong on the NSW South Coast: 'Simply, we got it wrong,' he said, referring to the fact they took the boat too close to the coast.
'We’ve left the boat at Port Kembla for the moment; it’s a bit bashed up. I suspect there is quite a bit of hull and keel damage and we damaged our sails. We’ve now got to get the boat fixed in time to race to Hobart,' he said.
A CYCA member, Pescud returned to the club with his crew this afternoon. 'Everyone is well and in good spirits. I’m so proud of them all; they didn’t miss a beat when the swell caught the boat and flipped it over from one side to the other.
'We were all upside down in the boat – they were very professional and reacted immediately,' said Pescud of his 14 crew, of which five are disabled, regular crew members. We’d like to thank everyone involved for their support,' he added.
Officials from the CYCA and the Race Committee Chairman, David Kellett, monitored the situation throughout, consulting with rescue authorities.
Phil Molony sailed Papillon to third IRC and a win in PHS - Flinders Islet Race 2011
As Pescud’s crew arrived back at the Club to applause from fellow competitors, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau 45, Victoire, was announced as the provisional winner of the 92 nautical mile race. Second place is currently filled by Tony Kirby’s X-41, Patrice Six, with Phil Molony’s Archambault A40, Papillon third in this third race of the Blue Water Point Score.
However, results will not be confirmed until next week, as the yachts that went to stand by Wot Eva, are expected to ask for redress and with some boats still racing, full results cannot be confirmed.
Earlier in the day, the race record holder, Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki, took line honours, finishing well outside the time of 7 hours 48min 44sec she set just last October. Loki finished at 11.14.10am this morning, taking more than double that time to finish the race that started on Sydney Harbour at 7.00pm last night, when light and non-existent winds beset the race throughout.
Ainsworth’s outstanding RP63 led the race from start to finish, with breeze appearing just in time for the start and again towards the finish. Loki caught a nice puff which took her up the western side of the Harbour and soon thereafter the rest followed in her tracks, reasoning west was best to get them out of the Harbour before heading down the south coast.
Ainsworth was not backward in coming forward when discussing the race: 'It was shocking,' he said laughing. 'The wind pretty much died the whole race. What little wind we got was changeable, but at least it was from behind us most the time, so that was a positive,' the CYCA member added.
In relation to defending his Blue Water Point Score title, Ainsworth said: 'We’ve had two wins – and then this…. It’ll be our drop race - I think - let’s just say the crew are looking forward to the next race!
'We can’t complain when you think about Wot Eva – it goes without saying that everyone’s glad they’re all OK. He’s (Pescud) a very experienced guy with a solid crew,' Ainsworth said.
In the PHS class, Phil Molony and Tony Kirby scored again, with Papillon the provisional winner from Tony Levett’s Sydney 38, Eleni, with Patrice Six third.
The fourth race for the BWPS is the Cabbage Tree Island Race on November 18.
At the time of going to press three of the original 27 starters had retired from the race; Reverie at around 2.30am, her owner citing halyard problems, and Pretty Fly III, which was one of the yachts that had stood by Wot Eva this morning and Wild Rose.
David Pescud (pictured) and his crew are home safe - Flinders Islet Race