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Audi IRC Australian (Keelboat) Championship 2014 - in profile

by Lisa Ratcliff on 13 Apr 2014
NCYC Marina Aerial - Audi IRC Australian Championship 2014 © NCYC http://www.ncyc.net.au/
2014 Audi IRC Australian (Keelboat) Championship - As you may be aware Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) will be hosting the 2014 Audi IRC Australian (Keelboat) Championship over Easter 2014 (17-20 April 2014).

With 31 thoroughbred race yachts entered in the four day regatta from NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Hong Kong the 2014 Audi IRC Australian Championship will be by far the largest sailing event ever staged from Newcastle.

Below are some facts - interesting information regarding the event:

• The regatta will be hosted by Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (still one of if not the youngest yacht club in Australia).

• IRC is the rule (handicap - corrected time) under which the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is conducted each year. This event is the pinnacle of IRC short course racing in Australia and is one of the largest ‘round the buoy’ IRC events in the world in terms of fleet numbers.

• At present there are 31 race yachts entered ranging from 30 feet through to 60 feet in length.

• The combined value of the fleet is approximately $14 million dollars.

• The Australian Championship will be run across three divisions (Classes A, B and C) dependent on size and speed.

• Three Australian Champions will be crowned on Easter Sunday afternoon.

• The format of the regatta consists of six short course races (two-three hours in length), one medium distance race of circa four hours in length and a long race of circa seven-nine hours in length which could take the big boats as far North as Cabbage Tree Island off Hawkes Nest and as far South as Swansea.

• All racing will be held offshore with the starts and the short courses likely to be set directly off Newcastle Beach.

• Great vantage points to watch the fleet racing will include Kind Edward Park, Newcastle Baths, Fort Scratchely, Nobbys Break wall and the Lighthouse.

• NCYC’s marina will be open to the public to inspect these thoroughbred race yachts each morning.

• The Club will be open each day with private regatta events being held in the evenings.

• The regatta is expected to bring 400 racing sailors to Newcastle and up to an additional 400 related volunteers, families, friends etc.

• Host club NCYC will have representatives across all three classes as follows:

Class A – Frantic (Michael Martin)

Class B – Anger Management (Phil Arnall), PT73 (Tony Lobb), Long Time Dead (Matt Fensom)

Class C – Schouten Passage (Rob Howard), Marta Jean (Steve Rae), One for the Road (Kym Butler), Summersalt (Tim Gleeson)

Lake Macquarie yachts competing in the event include Spirit (Ian Bower), Rhumb (Ian Humphris) and Wallop (Wally Hewson).

Yachts furthest travelled to attend the regatta include Cougar 2 from Tasmania and Beau Geste which is a Hong Kong Team with the yacht based in New Zealand. Also from Victoria is Ikon which will be racing in Class B.

The big boats in the regatta will compete in Class A and they include Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, Beau Geste, Frantic, Cougar 2, former Sydney Hobart winner Quest (owned by Bob Steel), Celestial and Patrice. These boats are all 46 feet to 60 feet in length and serious racing machines.

Classes B and C contain slower yachts in the 40-46ft and 30-40ft ranges, respectively. While slower, the competition in these classes will be just as intense if not more due to larger fleet numbers and the race yachts being of very similar speeds.

Current Olympic Gold Medallist and America’s Cup Champion, Tom Slingsby, will be sailing on Ichi Ban during the regatta.

World renowned match racing and America’s cup sailor Gavin Brady will be on Team Beau Geste.

8ft skiff world champion and America’s Cup sailor, Australian Sam Newton, will be on board Quest for the regatta.

Well-known local offshore sailor Anthony Paterson (former owner of a variety of race yachts named Tow Truck) will be on board Spirit from Lake Macquarie for the regatta.

Former Etchells World Champion Peter McNeill from Lake Macquarie will be sailing on Spirit.

Racing will not take place in the harbour due to shipping.

There will be about eight race committee, safety and support vessels on the water each day including two 60ft spectator boats.

The IRC Australian Championship is unlikely to be held in NSW for at least two-three years due to the event rotating amongst the states.

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