Yesterday’s 63 nautical mile Club Marine Classic Long Race pitted the super multihull, IRC and Performance Racing divisions against the clock for the longest race of the Audi Hamilton Island Race series. For some it was a long day at the office with a night time finish as the crowd gathered at the main stage for the Olympic sailing team’s hero welcome.
The two Orma 60 trimarans, Team Australia and Team Vodafone Sailing, set the fastest course time despite being held back for 45 minutes after the Audi IRC Australian Championship Class A starters and riders were let loose.
The two speed machines, contesting a fierce trans-Tasman rivalry, climbed through the fleet to finish the course in four hours, an hour ahead of the lead monohull, Wild Oats XI’s time, and a mere 21 seconds apart as they once again duelled coming into Dent Passage all the way to the finish line.
A second overall win for Rob Hanna’s TP52 Shogun V has them two points clear of Geoff Ross’ TP52 Yendys and Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki, a former Race Week champion title holder, in Class A.
Shogun V’s tactician and helmsman Steve McConaghy said when the results were posted, ‘We’ve got a bunch of good guys from Geelong who aren’t necessarily pros, but they’ve sailed together for quite a while. We work well together; it’s a pretty calm operation’.
‘From a mediocre start we were the lead boat yesterday and we just had to cover from there,’ he added.
Loki is steady as a rock, chipping away in or near the top three placegetters in every race with a 3-3-7-2-3 set of results so far. Mainsheet trimmer Michael Fountain says ‘it’s the tightest racing ever at Race Week. There are seconds between the top boats on corrected time and minutes for the long races. Any small mistake you pay’.
Ainsworth is sharing mainsheet duties with Fountain while Irish Australian yachtsman Gordon Maguire is once again at the helm.
Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 Emotional Hooligan finished runner-up in yesterday’s long race and Loki, from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, rounded out the top three.
The Audi IRC Australian Championship Class B fleet joined the Class A boats for the 63 nautical miler, Darryl Hodgkinson’s class act, the Beneteau 45 Victoire with Sean Kirkjian adding his tactical weight, scoring its fourth win from five starts.
As the shattered crew munched on fish and chips before an early night Hodgkinson said, ‘there was a lot of interesting tide, and I use that word liberally. We sailed through a few washing machines but look, it was a great day’s sailing.
‘The competition is pretty hot in our group,’ he added, referring mostly to Robbo Robertson’s smaller Beneteau, Lunchtime Legend, the two separated by just over a minute after more than nine hours on the water.
IRC Class C winner, Roland Dane’s Corby 36 Jessandra II, with regular Hamilton Island winner Michael Spies calling the shots , is on equal billing with Victoire, four wins from five starts to be comfortably clear of Paul Mitchell’s Here’s Trouble. They raced a shortened 41 nautical mile Club Marine Classic Race yesterday with the Performance Racing divisions.
It’s all tied up at the top of the Performance Racing division 2 results sheet, an immense battle going on between Paul Young’s Young 11 called Young Rebel and Rod Pearse’s recently purchased Dehler 41 Ultreya, a mere point separating them.
‘Dropping our worst result puts us even with Young Rebel, and there are plenty of others in close company,’ said Pearse today as he enjoyed layday and a break from the division 2 pressure cooker.
Pearse sailed his one-off Dehler all the way from Sydney for his first Race Week. ‘It’s the first serious regatta for the boat and my first Race Week. What a beautiful place…just magnificent. It’s great to finally understand why this regatta means so much to so many people.’
Tomorrow the SB3 and Melges will resume their windward/leeward program alongside the three IRC classes also sailing short races on a different course area to the east of Hamilton Island. The remaining divisions will contest an island course to be decided in the morning. All racing is due to commence at 11am with light winds forecast.
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the title sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2012. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.