It was another glorious day in the Whitsundays for day 4 of racing at the 23rd annual Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week.
Yendys (Geoff Ross). Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012
With the trade winds blowing at 16 knots from the south-east, in bright sunshine and under a blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds, the large fleet headed out to the start line in Pioneer Bay in a rising chop and tide, ready to race after yesterday’s lay day.
The conditions were fresher than on previous days, with lots of ‘sheep in the paddock’ (white caps) visible.
The Race Committee set course 11, the White Rock Race, for all divisions except Performance Racing, who were scheduled to sail windward/leeward races in Pioneer Bay.
The breeze further out in the Molle Passage was building as the first divisional start time approached.
For most boats after the Mandalay mark it was a one tack, drag race to the corner, out past Pioneer Rock and into the Molle Channel. Once round the corner, most of the fleet went right in 15-16 knots of building breeze.
Geoff Ross’s J/V TP52 Yendys, with America’s Cup skipper Gavin Brady on board, looked impressive and clearly won the start.
In the Cruising Division a fierce duel was taking place as Hammer of Queensland (Mick Eckert) sat right on the ‘hammer’ of Condor (Paul Effeney). The two were bow to stern as they entered the Molle Channel.
Sports Boats Series leader Raptor, Mark Buchbach’s Stealth, looked impressive with the hard working crew constantly talking to each other and shifting their weight around the boat, making the best of the conditions. Bob Cowan’s Stealthy and Brett Whitbread’s Blokes World followed, both tacking into Pioneer Point.
Vitesse, the Melges 24 skippered by David Farrimond, lost her rudder near the top mark and drifted back into the beach. She made emergency repairs and returned to the marina. No one was injured in the mishap.
It was not Maatsuyker’s (Ron Morrison) day. After starting with the wrong division, they re-crossed the line, started correctly but soon after developed rig problems and had to retire.
Meanwhile Yendys with her big white kite was flying up the North Molle shore. Fly she did and Yendys completed the 29 nautical miles at 13.13.35 in a time of 2:43:35.
Back on the course, in gusts of 20-25 knots, there was carnage in the Sports Boat fleet as Conquistador (Peter Sorensen), No Comment (Mark Bernardinis) and series leader Raptor (Mark Buchbach) retired. The Multihulls also suffered in the freshening breeze, with Su Mare (David Eldridge) and Cheetah (Steve Halter) retiring from the Performance Multihull division and New Tricks (David Renouf) and Cynaphobe (Pete Millar) retiring from the OMR Multihull division. Cynaphobe capsized as she bore away approaching the top mark and two crew members were taken ashore and met by the ambulance at Abel Point, as a precautionary measure.
The Multihulls started last today. Simon Hull's Team Vodafone Sailing completed the course in 02:11:18, just after 13.31 (local time).
Team Vodafone Sailing’s skipper said ‘Another lovely, but challenging day, with a lot of variation across the Bay. We are far from locals but we are getting used to the conditions.
‘Bit of excitement today, behind us we saw Cynaphobe upside down.'
Back in Pioneer Bay the Performance Racing division sailed windward/leeward races.
Race 1 line honours went to the Farr 400 Ichi Ban (Matt Allen/Walter Lee). Ichi Ban took the handicap win from local boats Reignition (Charles Wallis) and Wobbly Boot (Craig Piccinelli).
In race 2 of the day, Geoff Lavis’ UBS Wild Thing started on the pin, with Ichi Ban just up from her. Damian Suckling’s Another Fiasco was in the second row. Rod Sawyer’s Surefoot was back behind her.
Woobly Boot tacked to port soon after the start as a group of five boats went right, led by Roger Jepson’s Where’s Wal.
UBS Wild Thing led at the top mark followed by Ichi Ban, Reignition and Another Fiasco, with a gap back to the smaller 30 footer Where's Wal.
Ichi Ban took race 5 on line honours and handicap. Reignition (Charles Wallis) was second with Another Fiasco (Damian Suckling) third.
Reignition from the Whitsunday Sailing Club leads the series overall, from Ichi Ban and Kevin Fogarty's Twister.
Yendys took the IRC Racing line honours and handicap double. Lunchtime Legend was second on handicap, Tony Kinsman's Blunderbuss third.
Geoff Ross Yendys explained ‘I’ve chartered this boat (Judel Vrolijk TP52 – Bribon formerly raced by King Juan Carlos of Spain) for Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island, to give us a change to assess it and we will see where we go from there.
‘We have a strong team with Gavin Brady, John Cutler from New Zealand, Ryan Houston and a mixture of sailors from my old boat.
‘We are getting the boat sorted, exploring its potential every day. We learned a bit more today in the 14-20 knot breezes and will go out again this afternoon after the tide turns to do some more testing.’
Blokes World took the line honours and handicap win in race 6 for the Sports Boats. BJBarwick Electrica (Graham Sherring) took second, with Wha-Ka (David Hewitt) third.
With six races completed a drop now comes into play. Raptor (Mark Buchbach) still leads the series overall, two points clear of Blokes World with BJ Barwick Electrical third.
Bob Cowan’s Stealthy led for much of the race but as tactician Malcolm Dean reported ‘I made a wrong decision and put us in the softer breezes under the headland so Blokes World sailed through us.’
Stealthy - on fire. Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012
Race 6 for the OMR Multihulls handicap win went to Malice, from Adrian Fawcett's Hot Vindaloo, with Keith Glover's Trilogy third. Line honours went to Team Vodafone Sailing.
Mal Richardson is leading the OMR Multihulls Overall, with his Nacra 36 Malice. 'Mal explained ‘We started off with a reef today, but we pulled it out on the second work. We sailed conservatively today and it paid off, we had no breakages and we are all good for tomorrow. Racing out there was superb once the breeze settled.’
Trilogy is second overall, with Hot Vindaloo third.
Race 4 for IRC Cruising went to Tulip (Bernie Van'T Hof) from Optimus Prime (Trevor Taylor) with Bobby D third.
Overall, Tulip leads the series by one point from Bobby D (Ross Winterbourne) and Under Capricorn (Phil Bedlington).
Tulip -Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012
In the Cruising Division 1, Leo Rodriguez’s Volvo 60 Merit, from the Whitsunday Sailing Club took line honours. Merit also won on handicap from Don Algie’s Storm 2, with Mick Eckert’s Hammer of Queensland third.
Overall Merit leads the series, five points clear of Carbon Credits (Trevor Bailey) and Condor (Paul Effeney) equal on points.
John and Kim Clinton’s Holy Cow certainly enjoyed the conditions today, crossing the finish line seventeen minutes ahead of her nearest Cruising Division 2 rival. Holy Cow also took the handicap win and now holds a five point buffer over Ells Bells (John Fowell) on the Overall series leader board. Derek Cragg’s One Lousy Goat is third.
Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia took race 4 for the Cruising Non Spinnaker class. Overall, the points are tight at the top of the leader board, with Victoire just one point clear of Peter Hall’s Wave Sweeper, who in turn is one point clear of Norm House’s Sundowner.
Racing continues tomorrow, Wednesday August 15 and continues until Thursday August 16. An earlier start is planned for tomorrow with the first warning signal scheduled for 8.55am.
For full results and more information please visit the Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012 website www.airliebeachraceweek.com.au
* Results are provisional.
UBS Wild Thing (Geoff Lavis). Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012