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Festival of Sails - Scarecrow dominates in Cruising Division 2

by Lisa Ratcliff on 25 Jan 2014
Festival of Sails 2014 © Festival of Sails http://www.festivalofsails.com.au
At the Festival of Sails 2014, on the penultimate day of competition, a boat from the 1950s supposedly designed to sell more plywood in the USA and named after a Native American symbol is dominating Cruising Division 2.

Two wins from two starts has Tony Minchin’s local Thunderbird, Scarecrow, ahead of the rest. With more than 90 years’ combined Festival of Sails between Minchin and his two sons Matt and Stuart it’s not surprising that they know these waters well.

A cool and gusty 15-20 knot SSE breeze and stacks of afternoon summer sunshine was the perfect sailor’s recipe for the Club Marine cruising division’s passage race today, Saturday 25th January 2014.

Yesterday’s win in the 34 nautical mile Melbourne to Geelong passage race, Scarecrow’s series opener, came after a shaky start.

'We were run over at the start by a 50-footer which spun us around by our rigging and dragged us backwards over the start line. We unclipped then found we were facing oncoming traffic with no rights,' recalls Matt.

From there the Minchins rallied to find clear air and beat 36 others in their division, including five other Thunderbirds, on corrected time.

Father Minchin jokes that the winning formula is him sitting and providing moveable ballast while his sons sail the boat. In the beginning it was him in charge teaching his sons the ropes from age five.

There is one major glitch for the family with so many on hot on their heels. Stuart was due to return home to Canberra tomorrow with his family - including his children who are Optimist sailors and the next generation of crew - but with today’s top result plans are now up in the air. Tony is circumspect about the chance to finish off the series; Stuart is feeling the pressure of a top position.

The results tell a similar story in Cruising Division 1. Paul Lindemann’s Beneteau 50 Biddy-Hu II from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria finished day two with the perfect result of two points, five points clear of the Bavaria 44 Summer Wind.

'Super Saturday' is how the event’s Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson describes the day when every race official, volunteer, support vessel and competitor is out on Corio Bay and the outer harbour before returning windswept to Royal Geelong Yacht Club to swap yarns and enjoy the ongoing entertainment program into the evening.

There are multiple facets to running an event of this size and there’s plenty happening behind the scenes with marks to be inflated, support vessels to be refuelled and lunches to be made daily for the near 90 race officials and on-water volunteers.

The safety auditors for the RGYC’s major event and the largest keelboat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere have been busy conducting spot checks to make sure owners meet the specifics of their safety category.

'The Royal Geelong Yacht Club takes safety seriously and a number of spot checks have been undertaken so auditors can make sure boat owners comply with their relevant safety category,' said Thompson.

'I’m delighted to say that so far every boat has met the standard set plus auditors have been well received with owners happy to show that they comply with the regulations.

'It has rippled through the fleet that RGYC is doing spot checks and these will continue through to the end of the regatta,' Thompson advised.

The final points grab ends tomorrow for the majority of the 14 divisions racing, the largest cruising divisions sailing a day race then a final twilight race before a huge line-up of bands hit the RGYC band in the evening to celebrate Australia Day.

The Racing Series will spill over into Monday, 27th January Full results.
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