by John Curnow
A very strong interstate contingent (56%) heads the entries for 2013 Audi IRC National Championships. To be staged on the waters of Corio Bay in Geelong from Thursday, January 24, the three divisions have attracted some of the Australia’s greatest yachts and crews, but there is still time for you to join them, provided you’re quick.
Apart from the prestige of standing atop the podium of your own division, without the need to calculate your final position against other, vastly different vessels, there are three awesome reasons to join in the action and see who is best.
Firstly, principal sponsor, Audi Australia, have put three prizes in place for each of the place getters in the three divisions. The winners will receive an Audi branded Code 2 spinnaker from North Sails as a constant reminder of their achievements and to compliment the stunning Audi trophy back at home.
Being on second place will see you and one other off to lunch or dinner at either Matt Moran’s Aria in Sydney or Brisbane, whereas Melbournians will go to Shannon Bennett’s Vue de Monde. The three ‘bronze medallists’ will receive Audi Sailing Sport team uniforms, which will include sailing jackets, polos and caps.
Little wonder then that the event Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, said ‘It’s still not too late to enter and we’d love to see you for these wonderful national titles. There will be three champions to cover the fleet completely, so it is really worth being at Geelong’s Festival of Sails.’
‘A damn fine opportunity for the smaller IRC boats to do it in their own waters, without the need to transport the vessel long distances. Great prizes certainly add to the whole equation, as well.
Thompson went on to add, ‘The recent J24 Nationals had a strong local presence and given the variance of weather in Melbourne, we have the real chance to see true, all-round champions in the making next week. Perhaps you should join in too?’
The second reason to be a part of the Audi IRC National Championship is the great racing that is going to be on offer. Division A will have the likes of the super-quick Reichel-Pugh Mini Maxi, Blackjack, racing against an array of TP52s and the fast reaching Rogers 46, Celestial - Assistance Dogs. In Division B, Leslie Green will be bringing his newish MC38, Ginger, and looking for fresh breezes to really see how much they can crank her up. There are four Beneteau First 45s in there as well, with the very much favoured, Ikon from Hobsons Bay, keen to add another trophy to the cupboard. In Division C, look for Tasmania’s Farr 1104, Invincible, to be eying off a new kite.
21, CELESTIAL - ASSISTANCE DOGS, Sail No: 421, Owner: Sam Haynes, Design: Rogers 46, LOA (m): 14.0, State: NSW
Invincible battles towards the windward mark as another boat struggles with its spinnaker in the strong NNW breeze on the Derwent today - Hobart Combined Clubs Harbour Race Series 2012
Thirdly, a good mix of courses and renowned sea breezes with flat water should make it all interesting, indeed. ‘On the Thursday, we’ll begin with some Windward/Leeward racing with two top marks at say 2.2 to 2.4nm for the larger vessels and 1.5 to 1.6nm for the smaller craft of the Divisions B and C. A long race on Friday will see the fleet either cover up to 52nm or 32nm, depending on their division’, said PRO, Denis Thompson.
‘Saturday we’ll go back to Windward/Leewards before staging a final one on Sunday and then a short 7.5nm passage sprint race to conclude the series.’
Now that all seems pretty compelling and no doubt a major reason why so many vessels have made the effort to be in Geelong from Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. If you were in Victoria and you race in the Club Marine Series on Port Phillip, you’d have to ask yourself if it was ever going to get any better to have bragging rights at the bar. Your boat is already in the right spot, the competition is also on station, ready to see who’s best and if you do get on the podium, then there are some amazing prizes to help you remember why you did it in the first place.
Effectively, you have to ask yourself why aren’t you there? There is just the one Adams 10 booked in, Grant Botica’s Executive Decision, no Beneteau First 40s racing, or the irrepressible Watermark II and the omnipresent S80s like Intrusion and only a compact, albeit exclusive, fleet to beat to get the gold!
Jav Greaves, Festival of Sails Director, said ‘We would thrilled to have some of those smaller vessels come to Geelong and have a great swing at this event whilst it is in their home waters. So if you’re thinking about it, then the chance to get a new North Sails spinnaker with Audi branding to remind everyone of your achievement could be more than enough motivation.’
One thing is for sure. Your last chance to enter the Audi IRC National Championship is by the end of Friday, 18 January. See festivalofsails.com.au for more information.