Day 1 of the 23rd annual Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week sailors were presented with perfect trade wind sailing, underlining the reason why the Queensland winter regattas are so popular.
Simon Hull’s Team Vodafone Sailing. Airlie Beach Race Week 2012
As the 122 boat fleet sailed out to the start line of the Double Cone-Armit Island Race under a clear blue Whitsunday sky, the breeze was 10-12 knots and building.
The IRC and Multihull Divisions were set a 31nm course, IRC Cruising, Performance Racing and Cruising Division 1 a 23nm course, while the Cruising Division 2, Non-Spinnaker and Sports Boats a 19nm course.
In a 15 knot breeze the Multihull fleet faced the starter's gun.
OMR (Offshore Multihull Rule) Multihulls race start in Pioneer Bay. Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012
Team Vodafone Sailing, Simon Hull's flying ORMA 60 from New Zealand, started on the pin end while the rest of the multihulls started close to the committee boat end.
Team Vodafone Sailing was clear of the fleet as she approached the Mandaly mark. Mal Richardson's Nacra 36 Malice was second with Keith Glover's Trilogy third.
The other divisions started progressively.
It was a colourful sight, with spinnakers flying in a building breeze on a perfect day for sailing.
Long before the final division, the wet and fast sports boats, crossed the start line, Team Vodafone Sailing had disappeared out of sight.
For the giant ORMA 60, it was a quick sail around the course and by 12.45pm Team Vodafone Sailing was nearing Grimston Point and in sight of the finish boat.
The rest of the fleet were spread widely across the race course, from Double Cone to Gumbrell Island, but all were enjoying the conditions and the building breeze, which would guarantee them a fast ride home.
Several boats lost their kites in the freshening conditions.
At 13.15.20 the giant red hulls of Team Vodafone Sailing crossed the finish line, in an elapsed time of 2 hours, 15 mins and 20 seconds.
Dockside, Simon Hull had obviously enjoyed his day, despite reporting some damage.
‘Beautiful day in Airlie’ he grinned.
When asked about the damage he replied ‘I reckon it was a manta ray we hit, a lot of blood in the water and we hit hard.
‘There’s a lot of damage to the foil but it's repairable so we will get onto that this afternoon. We hit it down near Cones in the shallow stuff.
‘But happy days, 30 knots down the bottom and good breeze with a bit of chop. Nice race!'
Malice was the next multihull, crossing the finish at 13:48:40, some thirty three minutes after the red giant.
Keith Glover’s Trilogy took the handicap honours from Scott Gralow’s Schionning G Force, Bulletproof with Mal Richardson’s Malice third.
The Performance Multihull win on handicap win went to Rum Raider, Scott Millar's Grainger Raider Cat. Kieth Roberts Wild Thing was second, while MC Moggy, Alasdair Noble was third. Line honours also went to Rum Raider.
Raptor, Mark Buchbach's Stealth sports boat, sailing the shorter 19nm course, was the first monohull to cross the finish line after a wet and exciting ride.
Buchbach was a happy skipper.
‘It was a bit scary at times out there today. We were shy going up the islands in 16 knots and put the gooseneck in the water going down the waves. The flat water was great sailing.
‘We stayed with our Code 0, then two sailed closer to the island, put the shute back up and then got stuck in cruising fleet traffic, so we lost a bit of ground at the back of the island. We were hard on the breeze on the way home. We were pretty quick downwind.
‘We (sports boats) started 45 mins after the multihulls and it gave us time to watch the sail plans of the other divisions.
‘If we can get around the track first in every race … this is the first gold for us and we are pretty stoked.’
Mark Buchbach’s Raptor. Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012
The Sports Boat division handicap winner was Brett Whitbread’s Egan 7 Blokes World from Heath Townsend’s Melges 24 Kaito, with Graham Sherring’s Leech 650 BJ Barwick Electrical third.
The IRC Racing division honours went to Geoff Ross’ impressive J/V TP52 Yendys, taking both the line honours and handicap wins.
Bob ‘Robbo’ Robertson’s Beneteau First 40 Lunchtime legend was second on handicap, with Tony Kinsman’s Beneteau First 40, Blunderbuss, third.
UBS Wild Thing, Geoff Lavis’ Inglis/Murray 50 took the Performance Racing double win. Second across the line and on handicap was Matt Allen’s Farr 400 Ichi Ban. Local Whitsunday Sailing Club sailor Charles Wallis onboard Reignition (MBD 41) was third on handicap.
Optimus Prime, Trevor Taylor’s Marten 49 from the Townsville Cruising Yacht Club, took line honours in the IRC Cruising division. The handicap win went to Phil Bedlington’s Under Capricorn from Bernie Van’T Hof’s Tulip. WSC local Ross Winterbourne’s Farr Bobby D placed third.
In the Cruising Non Spinnaker division Darryl Hodgkinson’s (Beneteau 45) Victorie was first across the line. Whitsunday Sailing Club sailors filled the three handicap places today. Keith McGuire’s Fargo (Beneteau 361) took the win, Dan White’s Riff Raff (Beneteau Oceanis 440) was second and John Galloway’s Queensland Marine Services (Holland) third.
Fargo’s skipper Keith McGuire was indeed happy.
‘Really nice day, good breeze. Nice to sail against other skippers.
Tactician David Taylor said ‘We really enjoyed being out there. The breeze varied between six and seven knots in the bay to 18-20 knots down at the bottom. It was good sailing on a great day.’
Crew Chris White agreed. ‘Great day out, good sailing.’
It was a indeed a good day for the local Whitsunday Sailing Club with Leo Rodriguez’s Volvo 60 Merit taking line honours in the Cruising Class Division 1.
The handicap win went to Mick Eckert’s giant Hammer of Queensland (Kel Steinman Maxi) from Don Algie’s elegant Warwick 66 Storm 2, with Paul Effeney’s Ior Maxi, Condor third.
Hammer of Queensland winner of the Cruising Division today. Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week 2012
In Cruising Division 2 Shiraz, David Leslie’s Cavalier 395, took line honours. The handicap win went to Gary Bruce’s Fly ‘N High (Ross 780 Mod) from John Fowell’s Beale 780 Ells Bells, with Shiraz third.
The day was summed up by Airlie Beach Race Week stalwart, personality and Holy Cow (Beneteau Oceanis 50) skipper John Clinton.
‘We came to Queensland for the sun and we got it today. There was plenty of breeze and great sailing. We had a ball and we didn’t break anything.
‘We love it here, it’s so friendly and everyone is so helpful. It’s always good to be in Airlie Beach.’
Racing at the 23rd annual Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week continues tomorrow August 11 and continues until Thursday August 16.
For full results and more information please visit the Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week website http://www.airliebeachraceweek.com.au
* Results provisional