Audi Showdown - Dramatic start on Day 1

SP20 Toll handled the conditions well for a fine win - Audi Showdown Regatta 2012
The Audi Showdown 2012, Tasmania’s big spring regatta, got off to a spectacular and, at times, dramatic start with a twilight race on a windy River Derwent in Hobart last evening.

With the 18-20 knot southerly gusting to the mid-20 knots at times, a crewman was knocked overboard from the Farr 40 War Games and the SB20 sports boats interspersing downwind surfing under spinnaker with some spectacular broaches.

The tactician on War Games, John Choroszy, lost his balance at the leeward mark rounding and toppled into the water, but skipper Wayne Banks-Smith and his able crew quickly retrieved him from the cold waters of the Derwent.

Shortly afterwards, Chorozy reported by radio to the Committee boat that the 'Polish Tadpole' had thawed out and that he was fine.

With War Games out of the running, but still completing the course, Stephen Boyes steered Wired to a hard-fought 25 second win in the Farr 40 one-design class from Andrew Hunn’s Voodoo Chile, third place going to POW (Craig Clifford).

The SB20s enjoyed some incredibly fast spinnaker runs in the 20-plus knot southerly, and some spectacular broaches. However, there was only one non-finisher, Mind Games (Peter Reid) which lost its kite under the keel on the first run.

Wedgewood had some problems with her spinnaker in the SB20 class - Audi Showdown Regatta 2012

State champion Nick Rogers revelled in the fresh weather sailing with Toll, winning by one minute from Brainwave (Scott Brain) and Wedgewood (David Graney).

In the open sportsboat class, WA Cromarty Engineer (Steve Harrison) won a close race from Fang to the Max (Fred Barrett).

The keelboat and sportsboat fleets began their regatta in a fresh to strong, and chilly, southerly breeze blowing straight up the Derwent, kicking up a short choppy seaway against the ebbing tide.

By the time the twilight race had started, Hobart’s temperature at dropped to a cool 11 degrees; on the water the wind chill factor reduced it about 8 degrees. Although varying in strength, the wind direction was relatively constant.

TP52 Cougar II at speed in last night's twilight opening race of the Audi Shodown - Audi Showdown Regatta 2012

Tony Lyall’s TP52 Cougar began her campaign for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with an awesome display of power sailing over the windward/leeward course along the eastern shore of the river.

This is the first race back in Tasmania for Cougar II after competing in the mid-water Audi Sydney Gold Coast Race.

Cougar II cleared out from the Division 1 fleet over the windward leeward course, described by principal race officer ‘Biddy’ Badenach’ as 'absolutely smoking' when she crossed the finish line.

The TP52 finished 16 minutes and 39 seconds ahead of the second boat, TasPaints, Ian Stewart’s Mumm 36, but on PHS corrected times TasPaints reversed the result, beating Cougar II by 1 minutes and 25 seconds, third place going to Andrew Sutherland’s Farr 37, Silver Mist.

Cougar II did place first on IRC corrected times, which is the rating system used for the Rolex Sydney Hobart, but only a handful of competing boats have an IRC rating.

First place under AMS rating went to veteran RYCT member Don Calvert with his 28-year-old Castro 40 Intrigue by just 18 seconds on corrected time from TasPaints and a further eight seconds to Silver Mist.

In Division 2, first place on PHS went to Ernest Targett’s Beneteau 47 from Rousabout (David Inglis) and Mistral (Brett Cooper) while the J24 Another Toy (Greg Rowlings) won Division 3.

Today a huge fleet of more than 170 cruiser/racer yachts, one-design yachts, dinghies and catamarans are on the river, with the Hobart Combined Clubs Long Race fleet joining the regatta for a 9.20am off Castray Esplanade.

Later in the morning two days of intensive racing will start for the Farr 40s, SB20 and Division 1 and 2 keelboats and for as many as ten off-the-beach dinghy and catamaran classes.

Among the strongest off-the-beach classes will be the Paper Tiger catamarans and International classes such as International Cadets, Laser 4.7 and Laser Radials and Optimists. The Cadets, Lasers 4.7 and Radials and Optimists will be contesting their national championships on the Derwent in December/January with the Cadets also sailing in a world championship in Hobart.