Audi Showdown - Protest upsets long race fleet

Cougar II powering to windward - 2012 Audi Showdown
Dane Lojek
A protracted protest hearing at the Audi Showdown in Hobart resulted in the disqualification of all but six of the competitors in Group 1 of the Combined Clubs Long Race, sailed as part of the three-day regatta.

The protest committee found that only these six boats had sailed the designated 32 nautical mile course down the River Derwent and into Storm Bay to round Betsey Island and the Yellow Bluff mark before heading back to Hobart.

All other Group 1 boats in the fleet had incorrectly sailed the shorter course direct to Yellow Bluff and return.

The committee also ruled that the Audi Showdown segment of the long race should be abandoned, as there were differing sailing instructions for this segment of the event.

An apparent misreading of signals from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s starting box at Castray Esplanade saw lead boats Cougar II and The Fork in the Road sail the Group 2 course direct to Yellow Bluff and return, with other boats astern of them doing the same thing.

Six boats, Intrigue, Doctor Who, The Protagonist, TasPaints, Pirates Pride an Prima Donna read the signals correctly and sailed the full course around Betsey Island and Yellow Bluff before heading back to the finish at Hobart.

Revised corrected time results tonight gave first place under PHS handicaps for the Combined Clubs long race to Peter Masterton’s Pirates Parade from TasPaints (Ian Stewart) and Prima Donna (Andrew Norman).

Intrigue, which was one of the yachts that protested the original result, was declared winner under both AMS and IRC scoring. Under IRC, Intrigue won from Colin Denny’s Protagonist, third place going to Doctor Who (Roger Jackman) which also had lodged a protest.

Under AMS scoring, Intrigue placed first from Pirates Parade and TasPaints.

Despite the handicap outcome of the Combined Clubs Long Race and the abandoning of the Audi Showdown Long Race, the event proved that Cougar II, owned and skippered by Beaconsfield medico Tony Lyall, is the fastest ocean racing yacht in Tasmania.

The Audi Showdown marked the start of Cougar’s campaign for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with two high-powered performances on Hobart’s River Derwent.

Racing for the first time this season after modifications at Beauty Point, Cougar II has spreadeagled the Group 1 fleet of keelboats in the first two races of the huge Audi Showdown.

Cougar II, a TP52 design, dominated the Group 1 fleet in both races, hitting 18 knots on the final run to the finish of Friday evening race. 'She was absolutely smoking,' was the comment from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s principal race officer ‘Biddy’ Badenach.

Although Cougar II took line honours, skipper Lyall had to be content with a second place on PHS corrected time to Taspaints, a Mumm 36 skippered by Ian Stewart.

Today, Cougar II overcame a mediocre start in light wind to sail through the fleet as the seabreeze freshened and then make the most of a spinnaker run back up the Derwent.

Hitting 12 knots under a shy spinnaker, she finished 21 minutes ahead of the next boat in Group 1, The Fork in the Road, Gary Smith’s 45-footer. Cougar II sailed the 32 nautical mile course in just under five hours, an average speed of 6.4 knots.

The upset of Group 1 results did not affect the outcome of the Group 2 and Group 3 results, with the Group 2 boats sailing their proper course to Yellow Bluff and return and Group 3 to marks in Seacroft Bay and off Piersons Point and back to the Castray Esplanade finish.

In Group 2, overall first place on PHS went to Jigsaw (Neil Snare) from Moonshadow (Anthony Ellis) and third to Just in Time (Mick Sheehan). Under AMS scoring, Footloose (Stewart Geeves) won from Moonshadow and Twitch (Clive Anning) which was actually the first boat to Castray.

In Group 3, the Adams 8 Grizzly Adams (Joel Bultman) won from the J24 Another Toy (Greg Rowlings) and Shazza (Nathan Mills).

Shazza is the first I550 sports boat to race in Hobart and actually was the first boat to finish the race, crossing the line ahead of Cougar II with an elapsed time of five hours six minutes and 34 seconds for the shorter 22 nautical mile course. Cougar II’s time for the 28 nautical mile course that she sailed, incorrectly, around Yellow Bluff, was four hours 59 minutes and three seconds.

With the second Audi Showdown race for Group 1 abandoned, the race committee may decide to run two medium distance races, instead of one, on the Derwent tomorrow.