Airlie Beach Race Week - Difficult sailing in picture-perfect location
by Tracey Johnstone on 14 Aug 2013
Racing in day four of the Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week was postponed for three hours until sufficient breeze arrived to give the fleet a fighting chance of finishing a course.
Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, IRC Division leader Tulip at the top mark in race four Shirley Wodson
There was plenty of joviality among the fleet as they waited out the postponement. Some of the sailors took the chance to cool off with a swim, others created a 'megamaran' multihull raft-up and one boat had a crew man up the mast looking for the evasive wind line.
Earlier in the day PRO Ross Chisholm said he expected a north-east sea breeze to come in, but just in case, he had also briefed all race officials to be ready to shorten the courses.
Ultimately the decision was made for all 11 divisions to be kept in Pioneer Bay with the monohulls allocated the northern area and the multihulls the southern end. The race committee tried hard to set courses that were fair and had the best chance of being completed.
One windward/leeward race was finally completed for each division and then racing was abandoned for the rest of the day.
It was tough going for the Cruising division boats. Division one was sent off on 1.8 nautical mile leg with many of the boats struggling to finish the course. Division two, three and Non Spinnaker were given a slightly shorter course at 1.4 miles.
The fleets headed off from about 2.10pm, slipping across the start line and gently up the course. There was little chance for early starters in the four knot breeze.
In Division one the top three boats on handicap were Mal Robertson’s Eureka II, followed by Richard Fader’s Infinity and David Molloy’s Condor. In Division the top three boats were Mike Keyte’s Take Flight, then Graham Jiggins Grizzly and Craig Piccinelli’s Wobbly Boot. For Division three, the top boats were Tom Parker’s Synchronicity, then Warwick Maudsley’s Final Descision and in third place, Andrew Barney’s Barney Army.
The Non Spinnaker division was won today by John Galloway’s QLD Marine Services. In second place was Nick Smail’s Huahine and in third Dan White’s Riff Raff.
The top three overall results for these divisions at the end of today’s racing are – Division one is being led by Eureka II on seven points, followed by Infinity on eight points and Hammer of Queensland on 12 points.
Division two is being led by Wobbly Boot on 12 points, then Take Flight on 15 points and in third, the Melbourne team led by Chris Carlile’s Nautical Circle.
Division three is still being led by Barney Army on six points. In second place is Synchronicity on 13 points and last year’s division winner, John Fowell’s Ells Bells on equal 15 points with Gary Bruce’s Fly ‘N High.
The top three overall placings in the Non Spinnaker Division are being held by QLD Marine Services on six points, Huahine on seven points and Peter Harrison’s Rumgutz on 10 points.
While there are no discards now available for these divisions, all of them can still see changes in some or all of the top three places during the final two days racing.
The light conditions were more suited to the Performance Racing fleet. Matt Allen and Walter Lewin’s Ichi Ban were at the pin end and to leeward. Charles Wallis’s Reignition squeezed out Roger Jepson’s little Where’s Wal? as the fleet crossed the line for a clear, slow start.
It was weight forward, down and out for all the boats.
At the top mark Menace rounded, went for a kite and then struggled to hold course as it was tightly twisted during the hoist. Finally free and lightly filled, the returned to course, but by then Ichi Ban had sailed significantly farther ahead.
It was another win to Ichi Ban ahead of Menace with Where’s Wal? on the podium for the first time
The top three overall results for this division at the end of today’s racing are close with Ichi Ban on 11 points, Philip Grove’s Huntress on 15 points and Menace on 16 points.
The IRC Racing fleet enjoyed the soft conditions. They had a clear start with John Woodruff’s Frantic in clear air and with speed, and Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire to weather, at the pin end.
Bernie Van’T Hof’s Tulip had a mid-line start keeping her clear of Frantic. The Tulip team sailed a smart course in the softening breeze to take out handicap honours. Peter Mosely’s Local Hero, with Leigh Dorrington on the helm, came in second. Gary McCarthy’s Brilliant Pearl came around the top mark and headed out to right to find a puff more of breeze and to get out the tide. The tactic worked giving him a third place.
The top three overall results for this division at the end of today’s racing are – Tulip on six points then Bob Steel’s Quest and Howard Piggott’s Flying Cloud equally on nine points.
The little Sports Boats were led around the course by Jason Ruckert’s Mister Magoo. On their stern were Brett Whitbread’s Crank and Leon Thomas’s Guilty Pleasures.
As the breeze settled into a three knot drift, Mister Magoo held the lead to take out line honours in their only race of the day. Mister Magoo also won on handicap ahead of Noel Leigh-Smith’s Viper QLD and Ray Carless’s Junior.
'There was supposed to be three boats ahead of us, but we were the first boat through. It was painful though. It wasn’t fun. We managed to get past the big 80 footers down the run. We rolled past Condor and Hammer. When you have 70 boats on a 1.2 mile leg and we’re starting last, it was hard to find the right lane to find some air to get up there.
'We had maybe three, four knots at the start. This thing (Mister Magoo), because it is so heavy, I think it drifts faster than the others. As much as hated the conditions, we did all right,' Ruckert.
The top three overall results for this division at the end of today’s racing has Viper QLD still in first place on eight points. Mister Magoo remains in second on 14 points while Brett Whitbread’s Crank just holds onto third.
Across on the Multihull course, the four divisions competing in the 2013 Australian Multihull Championship were lining up for the first of two races. They also had soft conditions to contend with along with a whale and calf inside the top mark.
Division one leader Chris Williams’s Morticia was well ahead of George Owen’s APC Mad Max and Jason Gard’s Spirit, and took out handicaps honours.
At the start of the day Williams was very hesitant about how he thought his Sea Cart 30 would perform. 'We are yet to do windward/leeward racing. We haven’t tackled that one yet. It will be a challenging day for us as it will be very light, fickle, and I don’t think the type of boat you have is going to be too relevant. I think it is going to be who sails the smartest today.
'In these conditions we try to limit the number of turns that we do because the difference between tacking speed actual ramped up maximum speed is huge. You have to figure what knocks are worth tacking on and which to leave. It’s a learning curve for us that’s for sure,' Williams said.
Morticia won the race on handicap, with Darren Drew’s Indian Chief in second and APC Mad Max in third.
In Division two, it was Scott Gralows’ Bulletproof off the line ahead of Andrew Stransky’s Fantasia. At the finish and on handicap, first place went to Philip Day’s Rhythmic, followed by Fantasia in second and Rupert King’s Overdrive in third.
In Division three it was close racing among the top boats. Tony Richardson’s Pocahontas was the leader ahead of Mike Willcocks’s Hot Option, Geoff Floyd’s Fifty Fifty and Bill Ferguson’s Midnight Rain. On the line it was first place to Midnight Rain. In second on handicap was Hot Option. In third place came Pocahontas.
A second race was set-up and Division one set off. Divisions two and three were told to head home, while Division one, led by a surprisingly quick Morticia, headed to the top mark. Before the first rounding the race committee called an abandonment sending the Division one boats home and with only one race to add their results.
The overall results for these divisions at the end of today’s racing are – Division is still being led by Morticia with four points, Spirit in second place with 15 points and Robert Remilton’s Wilparina II in third place with 17 points. Division two is still being led by Fantasia with five points, then Philip Day’s Rhythmic on nine points and Bulletproof in third place with 15 points.
The little multihulls in Division three are being led by Hot Option on eight points, then Fifty Fifty on 12 points and in third is Pocahontas on a close 13 points.
In the Multihull Performance Division today’s race winner was Clare and Wayne Kirby’s Clear Horizon’s which give them a series score of four points.
Regatta director Denis Thompson described the today as 'another difficult day'. 'Weather permitting tomorrow will be long races for all divisions except the IRC Racing and Sports Boats,' Thompson said. The IRC Racing and Sports Boats will race windward/leewards.
The forecast for tomorrow is looking similar to today which will probably force the race committee to again look at keeping the 110 boats inside Pioneer Day.
For further information visit the event website