Day 2 of the Commodores Cup, part of Sail Port Stephens 2012, dawned overcast and with showers. Sailors enthusiasm was not dampened by the weather as the fleet headed to the start line to face the 11:00 gun.
Holy Cow and Firefly (background) - Commodores Cup day 2 Sail Port Stephens 2012
The wind was blowing eight knots from the west, ahead of a southerly change sweeping up the NSW coast.
It was a colourful spinnaker start with the tide running with the fleet.
Division 1’s Iota, John McNamara’s Farr 40 Irc was fast just near the pin, but countered her good work with a slow kite hoist. Secret Men’s Business 1, Robert Curtis’ Murray 42, was close behind her while over on the shore side the Tony Kirby helmed Patrice Six was fast along the rock wall. The Farr 40 Long Time Dead (Matthew Fensom) and the J133 Euphoria (Anthony Coleman) were followed by Margaret Rintoul V, Graham Mobuckson’s Custom 18.5m German Frers.
In Division 2 yesterday’s line honours and handicap winner, Len Payne’s Kerinda, a Lidguard 10.6, was fast off the line ahead of the Beneteau First 30 Boules, skippered by Micha Lane but Boules, on the outside had more speed. Third was Greg Wilkin’s Archambault 30 Esprit with Chris Ryan’s Beneteau 36.7 First Light inside her.
With decent breeze the division leaders were back abeam d'Alboras at Shoal Bay within thirty minutes of the start.
As they approached Salamander Shores Iota was 300 metres ahead of Euphoria, then came Long Time Dead, just ahead of Margaret Rintoul V.
Another 100 metres further back was Patrice Six, who rounded the Salamander Shore mark with Last Tango, skippered by Adam Brown. However Patrice Six cleared away from her rival.
Patrice Six - Commodores Cup day 2 Sail Port Stephens 2012
As they rounded the top of Middle Island, the red shute of Iota appeared to be just ahead of Long Time Dead and Margaret Rintoul V. The three boats were all within 150 metres of each other, quite a shock for the three fishermen in a small tinny caught in the middle of the action.
Euphoria followed then Last Tango, who had sailed through a slower Patrice Six after going above her and picking up a puff.
In Division 2 Kerinda at the top of Middle Island, was well clear of her division rivals.
Excapade (Noel Gough’s Northshore NXS 38), Firefly (Dean Gillies X-43), Bear Necessity (Andrew Daley’s C&C 115), and Menace (Niven James’ Phillips Simson 11.7) were all bunched together, but Firefly with her longer waterline sailed through her rivals on the reach in the softening conditions.
Through the gloom, Europa's navigation lights could be seen. Behind them came Antipodes, Greg Newton’s Beneteau 523 and next was Boules, 200 metres ahead Anthony Patterson’s Tow Truck (Beneteau 34.7) in the very light and ever softening conditions.
Kerinda was ten minutes ahead of the rest of the fleet and looked to be heading for her second line honours win.
The well charted Manton Bank was doing good business, with George Snow's Argo Blue motoring backwards before retiring.
Their key rival John Clinton's Holy Cow sailed high around them with broad smiles. Several other boats visited the same spot and were sighted with sailors out on their booms.
By 1330 the southerly front had reached Williamtown with winds of 16 knots recorded, while at Nobbys Head it was 19 knots, but at Soldiers Point there was glass.
Euphoria - Commodores Cup day 2 Sail Port Stephens 2012
Racing was abandoned at 1513, the N over A flags flying at the finish line.
The leading boat Iota was still three quarters of a mile from the finishing line just holding her own against the incoming two knot tide, with between zero and two knots wind speed.
Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson said ‘It is likely the front runners would have finished before the 1600 cut off if even the slightest slice of the coming front had reached them.
'However 90 percent of the fleet would have scored DNF (did not finish) and that would not constitute fair racing.
‘It has been a frustrating afternoon but as the southerly front stalled there was nothing else that we could have been done.'
With the abandonment announcement made over the VHF radio, the boats started their engines and the race to reach the Hogs Breath Hospitality tent began.
Racing concludes tomorrow for the Commodores Cup fleet and tommorow's likely course will be the Explorer the Bay course.
After a lay day on Thursday, racing continues in the Trophy Series at Sail Port Stephens 2012 and concludes on Sunday 22 April.
More news and photos at www.sailportstephens.com.au
BOM Radar day 2 Commodores Cup Sail Port Stephens 2012