by Rob Mundle
As if the start gun was the cue, the whales broke the surface like submarines only metres in front of the South Australian entry Ausmaid, owned by Kevan Pearce,
Helmsman Roger Hickman slammed the helm down to dramatically alter course. Ausmaid missed the pair by the narrowest of margins.
Each year hundreds of humpback whales cruise up Australia’s east coast to the tropical Whitsunday islands region to calve.
Apart from the whales there were no other surprises on the 35-nautical mile test over a triangular course on the Whitsunday Passage. It was a race sailed in perfect conditions with the southeast tradewind fanning across the course at 15 knots.
It started with a reach across the passage to Double Cone Island. Then it was a 12-nautical mile beat to the tip of South Molle Island before a spinnaker run back to Hayman.
The smooth water reach across the passage proved ideal for Warren Johns’ recently relaunched 50-footer Heaven Can Wait. It’s powerful new IRM rule hull shape proved to be super quick and as a result she held a comfortable lead at the first turn.
For the first time David Pescud’s new Lyon’s 54 Aspect Computing showed good speed and slotted into second place in the fleet, a position held to the finish.
There were plenty of options open on the upwind leg. Most crews sought relief from the 1.5 knot adverse current by ducking behind headlands and skirting coral reefs along the shore.
IMS division winner Sword of Orion (Rob Kothe) chose the western side of the Molle Passage and made considerable gains. Zoe (Wayne Millar) chose the eastern shore and finished second on time to Sword by just 52 seconds.
The win for Sword came after a night of soul searching by the crew. It was a reversal of form from the previous day.
In the IRC division Heaven Can Wait claimed the first place trophy by almost four minutes from the American entered Farr 40, Barking Mad (Jim Richardson).
It was a great course, said Richardson back at Hayman marina. Beautiful scenery and a good result made for a perfect day.
With four of the scheduled seven races completed Heaven Can Wait is strengthening its grip on the championship trophy in the IRC division and is co-leader in the PHS division with Aspect Computing.
In the IMS section Ausmaid leads by only four points from Zoe with the Sydney 40 Sword of Orion third.
Tomorrow’s lay day will allow the crews to experience the Five Star hospitality of Hayman, which is the northernmost island of the Whitsunday group.
For more information contact the Regatta Director,
Rob Mundle, on 0417 323 573. Email: email@example.com