Mixed bag at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
by Lisa Ratcliff on 20 Aug 2013
At Hamilton Island Race Week, the Race committee had to think on its feet today with a tricky start to the third day of competition then the perfect aperitif before layday, a building afternoon breeze to bring weary crews back to Hamilton Island.
SAILING - Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2013 - Hamilton Island, Queensland (AUS)
© Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
For most of the 157-boat fleet today’s varied island courses were a leisurely meander after some stopping and starting.
The MC38s began their program in Whitsunday Passage only to have the breeze collapse and the race abandoned. The racetrack was moved to the east of Hamilton Island where the best of the day awaited, a 10 knot SE breeze allowing the completion of two races.
Decision making was equally fluid in Dent Passage. Cruising Division 1 boats were sent off the line before the nor’easter swung through to the sou’east and killed the breeze. That race was also abandoned then the pause button was pushed, the AP flag flying while the course was changed.
One boat’s start unfortunately didn’t have a happy ending. On a falling tide ACT entry Azure ran aground at Plum Pudding Island and that’s where the Sunsail 39i remained this afternoon, high and dry on the reef.
IRC Racing, IRC Passage and the Performance Racing divisions completed island courses, Wild Oats XI leading Wild Thing to the finish making it three from three line honours triumphs.
The IRC Racing handicap prize belonged to Darryl Hodgkinson and his Cookson 50 Victoire which enjoyed a leg stretch as they chewed through the ocean miles, and their opponents.
While they recorded a fourth today, Andy Kearnan’s L’Altra Donna is still leading the hotly contested IRC Passage division 2 after three races. Of their race, tactician Steve McConaghy said, 'The hardest part of today was trying to pick the first wind shift and the last current. It was very tricky.'
It was a big boat race for Cruising Division 1 honours with Gerry McGann’s Hammer of Queensland taking out the top result. Mary and Robert Kelly’s immaculate carbon fibre and fibreglass Farr one-off, Virago II, which was built for Alan Bond in the 1990s, placed third behind Eureka II.
The Kellys have brought together a crew who have all worked on the boat - a shipwright, a spar maker and a rigger, old sailing hands who are getting the most out of the boat with plenty of 'bling'.
In the MC38s one-design division there have been five races and five different winners. The teamwork came together today on Cone of Silence helmed by Jono Morris from McConaghy with Michael Coxon calling tactics.
'It all clicked today,' said Morris. 'As a team we first came together here at Race Week, we have been chipping away getting the teamwork right.'
Tomorrow crews will enjoy the traditional layday for all classes with plenty on offer including the Audi Final Drive Challenge, glamorous Charles Heidsieck lunch and Beachside Pool Party with DJs at the main pool.
The most breeze of the week is forecast early tomorrow morning, a 20 knot southerly which is expected to ease to 12-15 knots from the SE for the resumption of racing on Thursday.
The competition at the 30th anniversary of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week wraps up this Saturday.
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