by Craig Heydon
Festival of Sails 2013. Close racing is on the cards when Australia’s leading IRC yachts head to Geelong to contest the 2013 Audi IRC Australian Championship, beginning this weekend.
Hooligan competing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
For 2013 the Audi IRC Australian Championship will take place as a part of the Festival of Sails, the second year in a row where the Australian Championship will be decided in just one regatta.
With the 2013 Audi IRC Australian Championship to be run and won over four days of racing, from Thursday 24 until Sunday 27 January, the racing is set to be tight across the fleets, with competitors split into three classes, A, B and C, creating a level playing field.
Marcus Blackmore and his TP52 Hooligan created history in 2012, becoming the first yacht to win the grand prix division back-to-back in 29 years, and the crew is back to race for the triple-crown in 2013.
But Blackmore and crew won’t have it all their own way on the waters of Corio and Port Phillip Bays, with close competition expected in Class A.
Rob Hanna’s Shogun V and Peter Harburg’s Blackjack will be out to take Blackmore’s title, having finished second and third respectively in 2012.
Alongside the top three from 2012 will be another four yachts in Class A, with John Williams’ Calm, Jason Van Der Slot’s Calm II, Sam Haynes and crew on Celestial Assistance Dogs, and Michael Martin’s Frantic all set to give the leaders a run for their money.
There will be a new Australian Champion in Class B with Darryl Hodgkinson and Victoire not defending their 2012 title.
In fact it’s an entirely new Class B fleet with seven yachts making the trip to Geelong for the 2013 event. Included in the fleet is Anthony Dunn’s Equinox II, Leslie Green’s Ginger, Bruce McCracken and crew on Ikon, Stephen Richardson’s Local Mocean, Reverie, owned by Alan Woodward, Denis McConnell’s Schuss and Brendan Garner’s Senna.
There will also be fresh faces in Class C, with a number of boats set to contest their first Audi IRC Australian Championship in a number of years.
Included in the list of returning yachts will be Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose and Sally Rattle’s Archie, with both crews racing in Geelong for the first time in five years.
Taking on the pair for the Class C title will be Grant Botica and crew on Executive Decision, and Harold Clark’s Invincible.
The crews will contest nine races over the four days, with a mixture of windward/leeward and distance races on Corio and Port Phillip Bays, all based out of the Royal Geelong Yacht Club.
At the conclusion of racing, the winners of classes A, B and C will be presented a letter confirming their prize of an Audi branded Code 2 spinnaker, produced and supplied by North Sails Australia, along with a custom designed Audi IRC Australian Championship trophy.
Second placegetter's receive an exclusive dinner or lunch for two people at either Matt Moran's Sydney or Brisbane restaurant ARIA or Shannon Bennet’s Vue De Monde in Melbourne. Both Matt and Shannon are brand ambassadors for Audi Australia.
Third placegetters in each class will receive an Audi Sailing Sport merchandise pack including sailing jackets, polo shirts and sailing caps.
Festival of Sails