Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Bertarelli roped in
by Lisa Ratcliff on 23 Aug 2013
Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi team sailing on Wild Oats X won on the water today, but lost on the rope. The penultimate day at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week finished on a fun note with the finals of the Audi Tug O’ War Sports Challenge held in front of the Tavern.
Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2013 - Hamilton Island, Queensland (AUS)
© Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
A six man team from Wild Oats XI and Wild Thing went head to head in the final, the Oats boys straining on the rope and dragging the Audi A3 Sportback across the marked line.
Then a late international challenge came from Ernesto Bertarelli and his Alinghi crew. A huge crowd gathered to watch the two sides of 11 strong men, with an impressive number of America’s Cups between them, pitted against each other. With island owner Bob Oatley in the passenger seat of the Audi, the Wild Oats team showed their strength and prowess, easily beating the overseas challengers and rousing the patriotic gathering.
On the water it was a different story in today’s island race in a shifty SE breeze which transitioned to the east throughout the afternoon, catching a few out midstream then settling into a pleasant eight knot sea breeze.
The Reichel/Pugh 66 Wild Oats X, skippered by Bertarelli with Brad Butterworth as tactician, beat the favoured TP52 Hooligan around the island course. Hooligan still comfortably wrapped up the IRC Racing division with one day remaining.
'It’s been a fantastic week,' declared a smiling Bertarelli this afternoon.
Rob Hanna’s TP52 Shogun V, with Stu Bannatyne in the brains trust, swallowed a bitter pill in the fluky breeze when they parked up for an hour and a half in zero wind, even throwing the anchor out to try and stop the slow drift backwards. Shogun is hanging onto second place overall with Celestial still third.
At the completion of today’s two windward/leeward courses, Performance Racing 1’s top spot is in the hands of Philip Grove’s Sydney 39 Huntress from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. Grove’s boat load of mates have been entrusted with finishing off the job tomorrow as he has to fly to California, where he lives for part of the year.
'With one more race we’ll have to see if we can hold them [Ichi Ban],' said Grove.
'I’ve given them crew a reasonable start,' joked the leading skipper this evening.
Huntress is leading Matt Allen’s Farr 400 zippy Ichi Ban, which has just one race to mount its Performance Racing division one defence. Allen, Yachting Australia’s Vice President, and his top crew only have to close a three-point gap to Huntress.
'We are still in for a prize, it’s all on for tomorrow,' said Ichi Ban’s navigator Brett Filby, adding 'Huntress belted us at Airlie Beach so we are dying to beat them at Hamilton Island.'
First on the Performance two division scoresheet is Tassie boat Rum to Paradise, 1.5 points out in front of Greg Hyde’s Jump and on equal points with Peter Briggs’ Hitchhiker, the media star of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week given Briggs is the only owner with the same boat which he raced at the inaugural Race Week in 1984.
The jousting for top spot in the MC38s is even tighter at the end of the penultimate day of racing, just one point now between Chris Hancock’s Vino and Leslie Green’s Ginger following the class’ two windward/leeward races to the east of Hamilton Island.
Vino’s navigator, Brett Ellis, says his advice to the crew will be the same for tomorrow, even though there is a lot more on the line.
'I’ve been saying that every day is a new day and for us the regatta starts again tomorrow.'
It will be a restless night for those hovering near the top of the scoresheet, many planning to take it easy and hit the pillow early.
Tomorrow is the series deciding Lindeman Island Race, which is expected to be another light air affair as a weak high pressure holds firm over the Whitsundays. Cruelly, 20 knot south east trade winds are due on Sunday through to the middle of next Hamilton Island Race Week