Festival of Sails Melbourne Premier Racing Series - Dramatic start

Rob Hanna’s Shogun V. Festival Of Sails 2012 - Virgin Garden Organic Tea Premier Series, Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, Melbourne
The Festival of Sails Melbourne Premier Racing Series 2012 has begun.

Drama on Port Philip with a man overboard, breakage on the favoured Scarlet Runner and a ghastly kite drop on Rob Hanna’s new Shogun V bringing the 52 footer to a grinding halt.

'If I had a tennis racket I would have well and truly broken it by now' said Scarlet Runner’s skipper Rob Date, referring to the on-court antics of Cypriot tennis star Marcos Baghdatis at the nearby Australian Open.

'So far things are really panning out for us,' he added sarcastically. 'We thought this weekend would be a training regatta, it’s certainly proved to be that. Thank god it’s a standalone regatta. Anyone want to buy a boat?' Date joked.

Sloppy crew work in race one was compounded in race two when the tiller suddenly broke causing Scarlet Runner to suddenly lose steerage in the decent breeze. Date and his crew scurried ashore and off to storage to retrieve the boat’s two steering wheels, which have this afternoon been put back in and will see the Victorian Reichel Pugh 52 through to the end of the series.

Fortunes quickly turned on Rob Hanna’s new TP52, Shogun V, which finished first on handicap and over the line in race one and two, and was last through the gate in race three.

'We had two bullets and were heading for a third when the spinnaker went in the tide and wrapped around the rudder,' said Hanna. 'It took us quarter of an hour to unravel and it’s in shreds. We are contemplating life without it'.

Hanna put Australian America’s Cup legend Grant Simmer onboard as tactician for the boat’s Victorian debut.

In IRC division B the day belonged to Grant Botica’s Executive Decision. Three back-to-back handicap victories for the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria Adams 10 has put them five points clear of Andrew Saies’ second placed South Australian Beneteau, Two True.

'Today’s conditions were perfect for my type of boat; it loves a bit of sea and 20 knots, when it can get up and plane. It was a bit like going surfing,' said a delighted Botica.

Grant Botica’s Executive Decision. Festival Of Sails 2012 - Virgin Garden Organic Tea Premier Series, Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, Melbourne

In the Sydney 38 class the fleet was, as expected, tightly packed around the windward/leeward course. After three races, Ian Murray’s Cinquante holds a narrow lead over Andrew Mollison’s Sierra Chainsaw.

In 22 knots of solid south east puff, Chutzpah38 crewman John Bennett took an unexpected dip at the bottom mark in race two when the winch handle he was winding suddenly broke. He lost his footing and slipped out through the lifelines.

'You expect a bowman to fall in, but not someone at the back of the boat,' said skipper Bruce Taylor this evening.

'We had him back on board within two minutes, but in one design racing that’s a lifetime. This sort of racing is about stuff-up minimisation and dropping a bloke off the back on day one is not a good start, but was a timely reminder about safety.

'We were leading at the time and I did say to John the only reason I went back for him was because he had the VHF radio in his pocket,' joked Taylor.

The Melbourne Premier Racing Series, sponsored by Virgin Garden Organic Tea, will conclude tomorrow with three more races scheduled.

Full results here