Sail Ports Stephens 2011 - Hanna’s Hooligan headache

Sail Port Stephens Regatta 2011. Rob Hanna’s defence of his Yachting NSW IRC Championship title with Shogun just got a whole lot tougher with Marcus Blackmore’s all-conquering TP52 Hooligan ready to create a headache for the Victorians at this year’s Sail Port Stephens.

Blackmore might think to pack Hanna a little Migraine Aid from his own range of health products. Based on Hooligan’s recent dominance, consecutive wins at Audi Victoria Week and Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta and top scoring boat at the Rolex Trophy Rating Series last December, Hooligan is without question the form IRC boat heading into the state championship.

'He’s bringing a loaded gun to a knife fight,' said Hanna, continuing the theme of his defence electronics business.

'Marcus has set the bar so high, the hull shape and systems are all tricked up and he’s got a great crew. He’s sticky in light airs and lump. We need 15 knots plus to level the two boats out but even if we get it right, we can narrow the gap but I’m not sure we can beat him. We’ll be trying though,' Hanna added.

Dom Grundy, Commodore of Corlette Point Sailing Association, the organising authority of Sail Port Stephens, is thrilled to see another quality fleet gathering for this year’s Yachting NSW endorsed IRC Championship.

'We are still a month out and we are expecting more gun boats to enter what is already a classy IRC fleet' Commodore Grundy said.

Hanna took a lot away from the recent Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta where his 2006 built Shogun finished fourth, changing his light air rig setting and replacing the wheel with a tiller, the same set up as Hooligan.

Blackmore’s TP52 was launched three years after Shogun as Emirates Team New Zealand. He snapped up the two-time Med Cup winner last year and converted the lighter, faster and newer generation TP52 to race under IRC.

'We’ve got our set up pretty well tagged, our crew work is top notch and we have good speed against the other 52 footers. We need to work on our starts though. There’s always room for improvement' Blackmore warns.

Another warning signal has been fired over the rest of the IRC fleet with America’s Cup legend Grant Simmer appointed Hooligan’s tactician.

Having sailed at Port Stephens with the Farr 40 class many times before, Blackmore is familiar with the local vagaries. 'It’s a great place to sail, we are really looking forward to Sail Port Stephens,' he commented today.

The six race IRC state title will be run in conjunction with Sail Port Stephens over three days, Friday 15 to Sunday 17 April.

So far 13 skippers have put their hand up to contest the NSW IRC Championship including a number of well sailed Beneteaus, CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre and past Commodore David Fuller’s Corby 49 Vamp and John Streeter’s successful Bull 9000 Raging Bull.

Sail Port Stephens begins Monday 11 April with the Commodore’s Cup and culminates in two Championships, the IRC state titles and the national titles for the SB3s with Hamilton Island’s CEO Glenn Bourke the first to sign on. Other classes will also race from Friday to Sunday including sports boats, Performance Racing and Performance Cruising.

Entries for Sail Port Stephens, now in its fourth year, close 5pm Friday 2 April.

Website www.sailportstephens.com