Audi IRC Australian Championship (Festival of Sails) – The Business
by John Curnow on 28 Jan 2013
The business of determining winners and conducting race management is complete at the Audi IRC Australian Championships. Part of Victoria’s Festival of Sails at Geelong, the whole regatta has been blessed with good winds, sunshine, festivities and laughter, much to the delight of event management.
Malcom Page gets covered in Mumm Champagne for the third time - Audi IRC Australian Championship Alex McKinnon © http://www.alexmckinnonphotography.com
Now as to the business of winning, well there were to be three winners of the Audi IRC Australian Championship. They would comprise one from each of Class A, B and C. By regatta’s end, one was a shoe in, another was a virtually unbackable favourite and determining the other would go down to who would get home first in the last race. It certainly was exciting and for some, totally surprising stuff, indeed.
One person to find himself in the middle of this heart-pounding situation was Shogun V’s owner/driver, Rob Hanna. Quayside after racing, Hanna said, ‘We actually thought that Hooligan had won it regardless, so I only found out a few minutes ago after we’d docked. Celestial got in between Hooligan and us on Saturday, which is what has won it for us on countback.’
‘We made too many mistakes this morning. There was a knot in the spinnaker halyard and we could not get it down quickly’, said Hanna of their first run of the day where they lead the TPs around the bottom mark. ‘Afterwards, we did not check it, so we did not see the tear in it or spot the knot that was also in it until we went to hoist it again at the top mark. That put paid to any ideas we had for that race. Hooligan had got there just ahead of us, but I think we may have got them on the run again, if not for the mangled kite.’
‘In the second race of the day, we held our #2 kite on the reach and must have put a mile on the others to finish minutes ahead of them. I think Hooligan went with a fractional and Calm 2 adopted a headsail to look for a better angle.’
In terms of being in Newcastle in 2014, Hanna commented, ‘Yes. We definitely had it in the program, but did not want to be there if the others weren’t. I cannot say enough about the competition over the last few days. Both of the other late generation TPs are great and super-quick. This made the whole regatta for us. All congratulations to my fellow owners for funding their campaigns, the other competitors and especially my crew for the work they have done.’
‘Well done to the Royal Geelong Yacht Club for making it happen, given the trouble they had putting it on, but the results and sheer number of people here have vindicated them’, Rob finished with.
So then, the man who certainly enjoys a victory and many had thought would get back to back wins, Marcus Blackmore, said of his rival’s victory, ‘Yes, it is good to hand it around a bit. It will make for good racing with the TP52 circuit starting here in Melbourne in a couple of weeks. What we’ve seen here is that we have three of the fastest TPs in the world, racing against each other and we’ve had a spectacular tussle, all regatta long. Well done to Rob and the crew. They sailed well, so it is great for them and the class.’
‘Shogun V is quick off the breeze, once there is a breeze. We lead to the top mark a lot, so we are quite happy with our efforts and we have a good crew. We are delighted with our uphill progress and ability to change gears and pass the others. It’s all on again in a couple of weeks. Terrific stuff.’
Now the one who virtually became unbackable, but still had to fend off all comers, was Class B winner, Ikon. On being congratulated, Bruce McCracken said, ‘Thank you very much. It’s been a long, hard regatta and we’ve certainly had to work for it. Wonderful, strong competition and we did not have it all our own way, so to come out on top is great.’
‘The boat went really well and there was fantastic crew work, which is what did it for us, so thank you to them. Could not be happier, you know. Good to turn it around today after some lacklustre performances yesterday.’
Of their quiet and work oriented focus on board, McCraken said, ‘You do need to concentrate all the time in this sport and blowing your stack does not work for anyone. If you make a mistake you have to cover for each other and just work through it. I think this part of our success and why we’ve been able to stay together as crew for the last six or seven years.’ Note too, that there are multiple family and extended family members on board Ikon…
‘We are very pleased and certainly looking forward to flying our new Audi kite when it arrives. Many, many thanks to Audi for providing such a great prize in addition to the trophy. Geelong has also done a wonderful job with the regatta and race management have excelled. So yes, much appreciation goes to them and also Ikon’s great crew. Well done, team!’
Peter Elliott was tapped on the shoulder to be the spokesperson for Class C winners, Grant Botica’s Executive Decision. They certainly were hot, hot, hot favourites for the regatta, but you still have to do the work to win. Peter said of it all, ‘Thank you very much. We did work hard for the consistent results (seven wins form nine starts). We knew we’d be pretty competitive, but did not want to get tangled up with the larger craft during the starts, so we took a conservative approach to starting and just got on with it.’
‘We really looked for clean air and utilised that as best we could. Yes. You could say that we snuck through under the cover of darkness and in a lot of ways it was a bit like the old saying, never let your left hand know what your right hand’s doing. I think it worked well, as it was our clear intention to sail our own race.’
Of the intensive racing program and testing conditions, Peter said, ‘Yes we are tired and the crew did a fantastic job. Grant did a great job in preparing the boat and has not sailed every race with us, due to a back injury, so we are glad to have rewarded him with this win.’
‘We really enjoyed the regatta and thank Audi for their involvement and promoting the sport for the future. It does mean that we will be there for the Audi IRC title in 2014 and we are quite focussed on picking up the Adams 10 National Championship early next year, too.’
Greg Sinclair was the Race Officer out on the IRC courses for the entire regatta. Afterwards he said, ‘What a result! We could not believe it. Having a tie in Class A that went down to who won the last race after a nine race series is both incredible and fantastic. At the other end of spectrum, you get our Class C winners blitzing away. They had clean starts all the time and had a strong work ethic, which showed in their results. The family affair on Ikon are also deserving winners in Class B.’
‘As the race management team, we had a pretty good regatta on the whole. Saturday was a tough one for the first two races and it moved around on us today a little from 170 to 160 and thence on to 180 degrees, went soft and then it built from 9s through to 15 knots. It was great to come back and work with my team here and congratulations to them for such a fantastic job.’
For the next instalment of the Audi IRC Australian Championship, you will have to be in Newcastle on April 17 to 21, 2014. This will be the first time that the event has been conducted as a stand-alone regatta, so it will be fascinating and offer many a vantage point from the many beaches and cliff tops of the areas just South of the famous Nobbys Beach.
Heading up the event management team was Gold Medallist form Sydney 2000, Mark Turnbull. He commented, or rather croaked from having surpassed his quota of words for the long weekend, ‘There’s a lot of smiles and more than a few sunburnt faces, but it has been awesome weather for both sailing and the involvement of the local community, as well. Wind, sunshine and deserving winners is a terrific mix and we could not be more pleased with that as an outcome.’
‘Tired sailors and tired spectators from all their partying is a good thing. We’ve had the RAAF Roulettes, skiing exhibitions and terrific bands to help the 100,000 non-sailing spectators also enjoy Australia Day. In terms of showcasing the sport it has been great and the cruising division is out doing a twilight race off the end of the pier right now, which they love and is really something for the 30 odd thousand viewers to experience as well.’
‘In terms of targets, we do have Kieler Woche in mind. To get there, we have two avenues to pursue. One is quality, by attracting National and World Championships to be part of the equation and the other is to ensure that we get all of the people who may only do the one regatta a year. Our high-end Off The Beach and Grand Prix racing is then the proverbial icing on the cake.’
Well done to all crews, race management and especially the myriad of volunteers that help to make an event like this possible. See festivalofsails.com.au for more information and make sure you’re in Geelong for 2014.