by John Curnow
Club Marine Series 2011-12 second round was held on Saturday 5th November on Melbourne’s Port Phillip. Round Two could probably not have been more different to the first.
Light weather start equals a fair amount of flapping sail - Club Marine Series 2011 Round Two
Yes, around 120 vessels of varying sizes and styles came out to race in four divisions across the three categories - Australian Measurement System (AMS), Performance Handicap System (PHS) and International Rule Club (IRC). Yes, they were spread over a large portion of the top of the Bay on two separate courses. Yes, the competition was tough and yes, there were a lot of smiles out there.
But no, the big difference was that there were not the wildly changeable conditions, strong breezes and lumpy seas of the first day’s welcome to the season. Nice one, Melbourne and the Bay, for making it a lighter session on both equipment and crews.
This particular round was run by Hobson’s Bay Yacht Club, right up the top of Port Phillip, just to the West of the mouth of Yarra River, where it joins the Bay. Low 30’s were predicted with mostly clear skies, ensuring the crews needed to worry about sunscreen just as much as sail trim. The forecast called for winds from the North to Nor’east of 5 to 10 knots increasing to 10 to 15 knots as the day unfolded, with local afternoon seabreezes to about 10 knots. Flat water with barely a ripple, but maybe getting to half a metre, would ensure a dry outing for all, unless you got a spinnaker in the water during a drop. This really meant that it would be shifty, with no real direction to it, which would make it hard for Race Management and crews, alike.
Just before racing, Ashley Stevens, Commodore of the Hobson’s Bay Yacht Club said, 'We are proud to be associated with the Club Marine Series. It is one of the last, truly great inter-club racing series. We’re also hoping our boats can repeat their winning performances from Round One.'
From out on the course, Principal Race Officer David Leroy of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, provides some extra detail. 'It certainly was a long day, but we did get in two good races in a shifty Nor’easterly. The maximum breeze was 11 knots and the Maximum something like 5’ish. There was a little bit of a parking session at one point down at the leeward marks, however. Generally speaking, all was OK.'
'Mostly, we saw smiling faces out on the track and it was a lot cooler on the water than ashore. The first race of the day for Divisions Two and Three was a four-leg Windward/Leeward return and the second was five legs. This puts us ahead of the game with the Club Marine Series now, as we now only need one race per day for them, for the remainder of the season. We will do the extra race for Division One the next time we have a decent forecast', said David.
So then, we move on to some standings. With so much racing taking place on the one day, we’ll highlight some of the achievements, with the full details to be found online. In Division Zero, the TP52, Calm, continued on from their wonderful efforts in the recent offshore race to Stanley to take out IRC and PHS from Veloce and Cadibarra 8. As a result, Calm has a commanding early position over the series, with both Veloce and Cadibarr8 sharing in the standings with other vessels like Rush and Scarlet Runner.
Division One was all about Ikon and Chutzpah38 on the day, with Wicked, Swordfish Trombone and Audacious taking third place in IRC, AMS and PHS, respectively. Also in the mix for discussion as the series unfolds for this very closely contested division, will be likes of Bandit, Bombora and Jazz Player, who are already hovering near the podium.
Divisions Two and Three had a big day, getting two races in each. For Division Two, Penfold Audi Sport continued on her winning ways, with Executive Decision showing all how they can sail and Gienah making a case, as well. Bullet took out some AMS honours and dark Energy featured in PHS. Stitched Up made a good case for exactly that in the second race of the day, but the omnipresent Toecutter 2 shone, as is somewhat usual. Overall in IRC, Penfold Audi Sport holds a significant lead from Top Gun and Absolut. AMS goes to Toecutter 2 for now, but they have just the one point as a lead over David Ellis’ Penfold Audi Sport. Dark Energy are in third, but have the lead in PHS, with the former two holding the minor places, presently.
Division Three may be for the smaller boats, but certainly has its share of big battles going on. Wavelength, Watermark and Intrusion are names that certainly come up regularly. Today was no different, except that others like Siren, Unami and Duckmobile, the latter back after shredding a mainsail in the last outing, occupied a bit of the podium, as well.
So as the series gets some good racing covered off IRC is currently led by Intrusion, with Wavelength and Siren in behind, but Watermark II and Footloose are with the latter on points. AMS is even tighter with just seven points separating first and tenth. In amongst them are boats like Rhiannon, Sea Eagle and Red Rocks, so expect that division to be one to have lots of movers and shakers over the remainder of the season. In PHS, Sea Eagle hold a slender lead over Outlaw and then it goes a bit further back to Duckmobile and Good Question.
As it is such a big event, the organising authority is suitably delighted that all are smiling. 'The Club Marine Series is a fantastic series of races. The series attracts in excess of 120 yachts and the 800 crew who sail them on various Port Phillip courses. The fiercely contested races are conducted in good spirits by the skippers and crews. Spectators can even see part of this spectacle from some vantage points around the Bay, like Brighton pier, the beach at Elwood and from their car whilst traversing the Westgate Bridge', commented Steve Walker, the CEO of Yachting Victoria, after the day’s activities.
The Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron will run the third round of the Club Marine Series on December 3, 2011. Before that, crews will get the opportunity for further practice and glory during the Lipton Cup Regatta on November 19 and 20. Details for that can be found on the Lipton Cup website.
Many thanks to the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria and Yachting Victoria for providing their vessels to the media crew, thus enabling them to get out on the water.
The Club Marine Series is proudly sponsored by Australia’s largest marine insurer.
Club Marine Series website