by Di Pearson
Darryl Hodgkinson and his Victoire crew remained patient to take out the Flinders Islet Race overall today, while Bill Wild and his Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail claimed line honours in the Blue Water Pointscore series race after hanging on all night and early this morning waiting for a decent wind to reappear.
Hodgkinson’s Beneteau First 45 finished the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s race in the elapsed time of 18 hours 12 minutes 30 seconds to secure overall victory of close to four minutes over Hugh Torode’s Beneteau 40.7, Shepherd Centre. Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose rounded out the podium places, even though she finished last on line at 4.41.43pm this afternoon.
Victoire’s win has lifted her to second overall in the BWPS, five points ahead of Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin and eight behind Loki which retired from the race and has used it as the drop. Hodgkinson, from the CYCA has had a run of wins of late and was pleased with this latest win.
'An amazing race, interesting, long,' the plastic surgeon said late this afternoon. 'We had a great start then it all went pear-shaped. We went the wrong way and then the breeze died. We had our Code Zero up at 1.00am still sailing towards Flinders and finally got there around 4.30am,' he said.
Like the rest, Hodgkinson expected the north-easterly to fill in, so stuck to the coast. 'It (the wind) kept dropping out, then it would come back, finally a north-westerly came in this morning. The crew is very happy and the boat has lived up to expectations,' he said.
'I’m very happy. We won the Audi Docklands Invitational and I’ll be picking up the prize, a new Audi A4 next week. It’s going to be our crew car. Then we finished second at the Audi Victoria Week and now this. I’m not used to being on the podium.
'To be second in the Blue Water Pointscore is fantastic – and we’re second in the Tasman Pointscore too, so we’ll definitely being trying extra hard in the Audi race to Newcastle,' he said.
Hugh Torode was just as happy with his second place overall, which made it Beneteaus first and second. 'It was a long, hot race. You had to work hard to make gains. We thought it would go nor’ east, but it went nor’ west.
'The guys who hugged coast did best. The guys who went out were in big trouble. We took the middle route and did OK out of it. The nor’ wester came just after 10.00am and filled in to around 20 knots,' Torode from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron said.
'One of the best aspects of the race for me was we had a few new young people doing their first ocean race. One guy was an 18 year-old German exchange student who did the delivery back from Hobart with me. Another was a young lady from the RSYS Elliott program and two uni students. All of them were great on the boat and all had a good time,' he said.
After a cracking start in a 12-14 knot north-easterly at 8.00pm, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 92 nautical mile race became a shambles when the breeze shut down shortly after 10.00pm and was a glass out until around 9.00am this morning.
None of the 15-boat fleet banked on a long race. The prediction was for 15-21 knot winds clocking from north to north-east throughout the race and expected to go north-west early this morning, which would have been ideal.
When it became clear the race would head well into Saturday, BWPS leader and race record holder, Loki (Stephen Ainsworth), along with EZ Street (Bruce Dover) and Reverie (John Turnbull) radioed to say they had retired. Other commitments had forced their hands.
On David Pescud’s TP52 Wot Eva, navigator John Hearne gave some indication at 10.00am this morning: 'Ocean racing is supposed to be fun! It’s very light out here at moment, around 5 knots from the north and also about 1 knot of current going south, so slow progress. Still just south of Port Hacking, so we'll be out here for a while I think.'
The remainder of the fleet had to wait it out until shortly after 10.00am when light north-westerly went around to the west and kicked in at up to 20 knots. After struggling in the light conditions, Queensland’s Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail made it from the Hornby Light at South Head to the Rushcutters Bay finish line in just 14 minutes!
Hearne described last evening as: 'Very warm; everyone in shirts and shorts. Trouble was, we would out-sail the breeze and get becalmed. Then the breeze would build a little then die again.'
According to the CYCA’s Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson, 'Shortly after 10.00pm it just fizzled out, after starting in a nice sailing breeze and enjoying beautiful conditions for two hours.'
The final race of the BWPS is the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race starting on April 8; Loki (CYCA) is in the box seat, with Victoire and Ragamuffin likely to fight it out for second place.
Greg Zyner’s Copernicus continues to lead the Tasman (PHS) by seven points over Victoire, with Shepherd Centre third, a further five points adrift, with Loki just one point behind her.
In the Cape Byron (ORCi) Pointscore, Ragamuffin remains the leader from Colin Woods’ Pretty Fly III by six points, with Copernicus two points away in third place.
VICTOIRE, Sail No: 1545, Owner: Darryl Hodgkinson, State: NSW, Division: IRC, Design: Beneteau 45, LOA (m) : 13.7, Draft (m): 2.7 off Tasman Island
Full results here