by Rob Mundle
The breeze, which varied in strength from five to 15 knots, created a nightmare situation for race organisers and competitors as it moved unpredictably through 60 degrees.
At the end of the day however the competitors agreed that the result sheet showed just who got it right and who didn't in the tactically testing conditions.
The other thing for certain at the end of the day was that Warren Johns' revamped IRM 50-footer, Heaven Can Wait, cannot be beaten for the Big Boat Championship trophy in the IRC division.
In the IMS class Kevan Pearce's Farr 47 Ausmaid looks assured of overall victory. It is a different story for second and third with two yachts, Zoe (Wayne Millar) and Sword of Orion (Rob Kothe) tied on points with one race remaining.
Today's first of two races to decide the Joico Trophy, a 10-nautical mile windward-leeward course comprising four legs, experienced the lightest winds to date. The breeze was at just six knots when the fleet set sail 30 minutes after the schedule start time of 10am.
While it was brochure weather for the spectators and the humpback whales, which again appeared on the course, the crews were confronted with a tactical dilemma. Should they sail to the centre of the passage for more wind and more adverse current or stay closer to the Hayman Island shore where the opposite was on offer.
Halfway up the first beat the gun boat of the series, Heaven Can Wait, was second last, that was until helmsman Jamie Wilmot, assisted by Hayman Island Yacht Club commodore Sir James Hardy, mastered some significant shifts and extracted themselves from their almost embarrassing situation.
While the red-hulled racer managed to go on and take line honours, she lost too much time and had to accept fifth place on handicap. American entry Barking Mad, a Farr 40 sailed by Jim Richardson, which is entered in both IMS and IRC divisions, claimed first place in both classes.
With that result followed by fourth places in IMS and IRC during the afternoon race, Barking Mad was the top dog on the day.
The big surprise of the day was the improved performance of the new Lyons 54 Aspect Computing (David Pescud) which, despite being short staffed and having a limited sail wardrobe, managed to lead the fleet around the first two marks in the second race of the day. Representing the Sailors with disAbilities organisation, Aspect Computing's crew now holds an unbeatable lead in the PHS division with just one race to go.
Winds of between 20 and 30 knots are expected for the final race, a 25-mile sprint around some of the more spectacular islands in the Whitsunday group. It will start off Hayman at 10am.
For more information and regatta photographs contact the Regatta Director, Rob Mundle, on (61+) 0417 323 573. Email: email@example.com