Day three of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week delivered a mixed bag, with showery and gusty 20 knot breeze easing over the day as forecast, however there was enough in the tank to bring all divisions home in reasonable time.
An overall win in the 30 mile race means the leading Audi IRC Australian Championship Class A boat is Geoff Ross’ chartered TP52 Yendys, two points clear of Rob Hanna’s Shogun V after four races.
‘So far the view is OK,’ said Ross this afternoon, ‘but you wouldn’t want to draw any conclusions’ he warned.
Yendys, Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll and Shogun settled a three-boat duel to the finish, which is indicative of the competitiveness that is spurring them on. Perhaps also driving them beyond their regular comfort zones are the international rock star tacticians and helmsmen, including Steve Cotton and Mike Sanderson on the Farr 55, Living Doll, Australia’s own Steve McConaghy on Shogun V and recognised Kiwi sailor, Gavin Brady on Yendys.
Class B defending champion, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire is the leading Beneteau, sitting just two points ahead of the smaller Beneteau 40 Lunchtime Legend (Robbo Robertson), which is going to breathe hot air down Hodgkinson’s neck right through to Saturday’s closing race.
‘There is some self imposed pressure being the defender,’ admitted Hodgkinson, ‘the four Beneteau 40s will get better and better as the week goes on’.
Class C leader Jessandra II, Roland Dane’s Queensland Corby 36, has extended her points lead, now well clear of second on the scoresheet, Paul Mitchell’s Marsm 920, Here’s Trouble.
All three classes are competing for the glory of being named 2012 Audi IRC Australian Champion. The ultimate winner of class A, B and C will take away a brand new North Sails Code 2 spinnaker emblazoned with the Audi IRC Australian Championship logo, the first time Audi has offered such a prize for the Championship.
Sean Langman’s Team Australia is 2-1 up on arch rival, Simon Hull’s Team Vodafone, in the line honours and handicap stakes at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, the first time the two giant multihulls have gone nose to nose.
‘At the end of this week we’re aiming to be the fastest boat in the southern hemisphere…so far we are,’ said a delighted Langman this afternoon.
From the media boat, the day’s highlights included the two Orma 60s trimarans lighting up with hulls flying on the Whitsunday waters and the convergence of five TP52s and Living Doll at a mark rounding with only seconds and a few feet dividing them and delighting the trigger happy photographers.
The Mark Richard’s skippered Wild Oats XI breezed throughthe 30 nautical miler around Anne and Cole Islands then Denman Island and to the finish in Dent Passage off the stunning Hamilton Island Yacht Club.
‘Today was a fantastic test for the crew. We pushed the boat to its absolute limit and we are happy with how things are going in the lead up to the Rolex Sydney Hobart,’ said Richards of their end-of-year assault on the bluewater classic and attempt for a sixth line honours win.
‘We are being punished with our new rating in terms of corrected time,’ Richards added, referring to the fact there’s little chance of Bob Oatley’s supermaxi picking up the double of line honours and an overall race win this week.
Tomorrow is the Club Marine Classic Long Race for the Performance Racing, IRC classes and Super Multihulls with an early start, 9.15am for the first to go off the line. The cruising divisions will sail a shorter island course while the Melges and SB20s will continue their short course racing schedule.
All yachties and their families, plus regular island guests will have the honour of seeing Australia’s most successful Olympic sailing team up close when the Australian Sailing Team arrives at Hamilton Island tomorrow.
The sailors and their coaches are well known among the sailors from time spent sailing larger keelboats and there will be plenty of familiar faces among the crowd for tomorrow evening’s tickertape parade along Front Street before an autograph opportunity followed by the Henri Lloyd fashion parade.
All information relating to Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 is on the regatta website – www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au.
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.