by Di Pearson
Quantum Racing, from the CYCA in Sydney, placed second in the final race of the IRC Division 1 series, won by Wild Joe, Steven David’s Reichel/Pugh 60 from NSW, which finishes the series in second place overall.
Gratifying for Royal Geelong Yacht Club when member Graeme Troon, with his Reichel/Pugh 46 XLR8, scored third place overall, pipping sistership, Hardys Secret Mens Business (Geoff Boettcher, SA) by four points.
Boettcher has enjoyed Skandia Geelong Week for some years now, so much so, that the Adelaide businessman has vowed he will take his Hardys yacht and crew to Skandia Cowes Week later this year.
Quantum Racing though, crewed by some serious talent, in former Olympians Steve McConaghy and Jamie Wilmot and Victorian strategist Barney Walker, who literally stepped off Grant Wharington’s Volvo Ocean Race boat in Melbourne and straight onto the yacht, sailed an outstanding series.
Winning three of the six races, Roberts’ boat only once placed outside of a top three results, his eighth place in Race 3 was used as a drop.
‘We got quite a good start – the pin end was heavily favoured, but decided not to go to the left side of the container (ship moored near the course), which was a mistake. But we had a reasonable beat and sailed particularly well downwind.’
The Quantum crew kept up the concentration, picking the shifts well; to sail through Melbourne based sistership Dekadence (Phil Coombs) and others. Dekadence finished equal third with Alan Whiteley’s Cougar in today’s race, both yachts representing Sandringham YC where Coombs is Commodore.
‘We tried to sail calmly throughout. We had a couple of hiccups, but we got the job done in the end, experience paid off – Steve, Barney and Jamie combined well, and we’ll be back next year,’ Roberts said, laughingly adding, ‘Barney’s decided that regatta sailing is too hard, too much pressure, and he can’t wait to get back to his Volvo round the world campaign – the icebergs are easier.’
Having won the Scotchmans Hill Series in 2003, the Sydney businessman commented, ‘I loved the series. Geelong is a super friendly place and this regatta has gone from a small town regatta five years ago to a world class event – thanks to the clubs involved and Skandia. The off-water entertainment helps make the event what it is – you have to enjoy yourself as much off the water as much as you do on.’
Second placed Wild Joe is always a well-sailed boat, continually placing top three. David’s talented crew for this event included Chris Links, Cameron Miles and Darren ‘Twirler’ Jones in the afterguard. Miles has won trophies in a variety of classes, including an Etchells world championship, whilst Jones concurrently held world championships in the Mumm 30 and Farr 40 classes.
‘This is a great series, said David, who was happy to win the final race. ‘We’ve had a lot of fun against some tough competition. It was hard because the conditions were up and down, so you never know with a big boat. We always try to sail consistent and clean regattas - and stay out of trouble. It helps to have pretty much the same crew going from regatta to regatta,’ he said tonight.
Originally set to start at 12.30pm, drizzling rain, 2-3 knot patchy breezes, two general recalls, followed by abandonment half way up the first beat of Race 6, set the tone on the final day.
The abandonment came as yachts floundered in near non-existent breezes, many going backwards or not moving at all – the race committee made the right decision.
Officials had to wait some time for the breeze to settle in before finally getting Race 6 underway and due to time restraints, were only able to sail one race, shortening the seven race series by one.
In a light 5 knot easterly breeze that at most wheezed its way to 7 knots at times, the fleet finally got underway. Wind shifts made it difficult for the entire fleet, the first big one on the left hand side of the windward/leeward course, but then it went right – a bit of a lottery for this strong IRC class.
Skandia, Grant Wharington’s 98ft super maxi from Melbourne, won line honours of every race of the series. Smaller yachts Wild Joe and Sean Langman’s 92ft yacht AAPT, which had a problematic series, gave chase, but were never successful in overhauling the 98 footer.
In IRC Division 2, which was also shortened by a race, Geoff Bagley’s Sandgroper (RYCV), has taken first place from fellow club member, Jon Klestadt (Surprise) and Mike Welsh (Alien, SYC). All three boats are from Melbourne clubs.
Bagley’s Archambault design pipped the Borrensen design by one and half points, with Alien a further 11.5 points behind in their six race series.
Sixty eight yachts contested for the Scotchmans Hill Series and the prize giving will be held at Royal Geelong Yacht Club tomorrow morning.