The early race day morning was misty and calm with soft winds. PRO Ross Chisholm warning to all to expect a light to very light south-east was on target as the fleet of 110 boats motored out of Abell Point Marina across the glassy Pioneer Bay.
Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, race day 3, OMR Multihull Div 1 Morticia leads across start line - Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week 2013
The race committee decision to send the fleet out on Course 8 around the Molle Islands was the safest choice as the breeze line slowly kicked up to eight to 10 knots at Pioneer Rock.
It was still another half an hour and a start line move, out north towards to the Molle channel, before the start line was ready. This position provided a superb view for the several thousand tourists aboard the P&O liner Pacific Dawn, parked to the west of start line.
With another reminder from the PRO that there was a possibility of a shortened course, the racing kicked off. It was slow on the start for all divisions, but once clear of the inner bay, the breeze line took them across to Hannah Point. Then, it died.
It was just a few boats that enjoyed the challenge of light winds and incoming tide. However, the race committee sagely called a halt to the painful crawl to the south of the Molles, abandoning racing for all Cruising divisions, Sports Boats, Cruising Multihulls and IRC Racing.
OMR Multihulls divisions 1, 2 and 3 plus Performance Racing continued, but with a shortened course called.
The IRC Racing fleet were sent on the longer course as the scheduled windward/leewards were not a viable option today. The race committee are looking at the schedule to see if they can fit in these races.
OMR Multihull Division 1 was first off this morning. George Owen’s APC Mad Max, Chris Williams’s Morticia and David Turton’s Move It were at the pin end. Morticia had the best start; she was leeward and fast slipping across the line and into clean air. Malice and Julian Griffith’s Hot Vindaloo were both late starters.
The fleet made it out around Denman Island and across to White Rock with Morticia holding a commanding lead over APC Max Max, then a long way back to Jason Gard’s trimaran Spirit and the box boat, Move It. The fleet were finished at the Pioneer Mark after the breeze started to glass out at White Rock. Morticia was the rightful winner of the race with Spirit coming in at second.
Morticia skipper Chris Williams said that moving from monohull racing to the 'dark side' has paid. 'We turned up with a bit of an unknown quantity in the boat. The boat originated in Sweden. It hasn’t done a great deal of racing in Australia yet and we are all still learning to sail it. It’s outperforming anything we thought it would do.'
Williams is looking to Friday when the forecast is for 20 knots. 'The boat is actually more fun in 20 knots. It has more righting moment than a lot of other boats here. We thought we would struggle in the light because we have three hulls instead of two, and our sail area is quite a bit smaller than others. We thought that might hurt us a bit. We are staggered at how well the boat sails,' Williams said.
OMR Multihull Division 2 had Scott Gralow’s Bulletproof ahead of the series leader Andrew Stransky’s Fantasia and slipping along nicely ahead of Rupert King’s Overdrive. On the shortened course finish line, Fantasia held a comfortable lead over the rest of the division.
Fantasia led the fleet across the bay and across the shortened course finish line and take out handicap honours ahead of Bulletproof and Philip Day’s Rhythmic.
The OMR Multihull Division 3 was a tight start with Garry Scott’s Coco Loco trying to squeeze in and ahead at the pin end only to be called over at the gun. Geoff Smith’s Aquilo II held course and got through to leeward of Mike Willcocks’s Hot Option, while Geoff Floyd’s Fifty Fifty lead the fleet across the start and onto the slow course and into first place on handicap. Tony Richardson’s Pocahontas finished second on handicap and Hot Option finished third.
It was clear start for the nine-boat Performance Racing Division. Matt Allen and Walter Lewin's Ichi Ban confidently crossed the start line with Howard Spencer’s Menace and Martin Power’s Bacardi. Charles Wallis’s Reignition was to weather of Menace’s stern.
The fleet slipped across the bay, past the whale and its calf and to the Molles. At Denham Island Ichi Ban was significantly ahead of Menace, lapping up the smooth water and five or so knots of the warm Whitsunday breeze.
On handicap it was, not unsurprisingly, Ichi Ban with Menace just seven minutes behind in second and Philip Grove’s Huntress in third.
The skipper of Local Hero was disappointed the race committee abandoned racing for the IRC Division. They went into day’s racing in fourth overall.
Stand-in skipper Jim Thomas, tactician Leigh Dorrington and second helm Ian Brokenshire have done a super job to get Local Hero out racing on behalf of the owner, Peter Mosely. On registration day Mosely discovered he was too unwell to compete in the series and needed to return to Sydney for medical treatment, handing the boat over to his Manly Yacht Club mate, Thomas.
'We were doing pretty well today as well. They abandoned the racing a little bit early as far as we were concerned,' Thomas said.
The full results are on - www.airliebeachraceweek.com.au