The Audi IRC Australian Championship Class A has a new leader. Peter Harburg’s Queensland 66 footer, Black Jack, goes into tomorrow’s final deciding race with a three point advantage.
Olympic gold medallist Tom Slingsby is again making his mark, the combination of the master tactician and brilliant crew work, plus boat modifications designed to produce a podium result the perfect recipe for Black Jack.
Tomorrow’s final Molles Islands Race will decide who takes home the prized IRC Class A silverware after a week-long campaign in the stunning Whitsunday Islands.
‘There are five or six boats that could win tomorrow,’ said the grinning Mark Bradford, who drives for Harburg. ‘It’s good to see that the 52’s are still competitive, but we have shown you could win in a bigger boat, which I don’t think has happened anywhere for a long time.
‘We’ve sharpened up as the week’s gone along,’ he said, heaping plenty of praise on the guru, ‘you can see why Slingsby won the gold medal, he dug us out of a pretty big hole in today’s second race after a bad start, and got us into third.’
Geoff Ross’ chartered TP52, Yendys, is three points behind Black Jack after today’s two windward/leeward races. In a big wrap for organisers, Yendys’ helmsman Gavin Brady this afternoon declared, ‘the standard of racing here is higher than the Med Cup’.
Third and fourth placed TP52s, Rob Hanna’s Shogun 5 and Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan are neck and neck on 23.5 points. Hooligan was involved in mediation this afternoon with Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire after allegedly touching a mark of the course.
Mediation is currently underway however Hooligan’s navigator, the world renowned Tom Addis, was relaxed about the outcome.
Assuming the protest is dismissed and the points table doesn’t change Addis had these words, ‘it’s hard now because when you are fourth you’ve got three boats you’ve got to do better than. It only takes one of those three to have a good run as well and you don’t go anywhere’.
‘There’s three latest generation 52s here now so close in performance and with tiny handicap differences, but the numbers are so small....there’s nothing in it really.’
The IRC Class A boats are not only gunning for the honour of the Audi IRC Australian Champion title, they are also racing tomorrow for a new trophy dedicated to ABC helicopter pilot Gary Ticehurst who was killed in a crash last year and who was well known among the sailing community.
‘Gary Ticehurst was a vital part of every Sydney to Hobart race,’ said Hamilton Island owner Bob Oatley who was on board his supermaxi, Wild Oats XI, for today’s short races.
‘Gary’s presence in that race meant so much to so many of the sailors and with so many them competing here at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week this year we thought it only appropriate to take the opportunity to pay tribute to such a great man’.
Wild Oats XI has an unbroken line honours record in IRC Class A at this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and is using this regatta to prime for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart and a sixth line honours attempt.
The South Pacific Cup is slipping away from the Kiwis, not helped by individual recalls in today’s second race for Jim Farmer and Chris Mead’s Georgia and Chris Hornell’s Kia Kaha, both New Zealand boats.
The top wind recorded on the eastern course area was 9 knots out of the south east and the seas were calm.
Whales were sighted today by many of the 163 crews contesting Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, one very close up.
In order to avoid a sleeping mother and baby whale, Sean Langman’s Orma 60, Team Australia, ended up on the
rocks to the east of Hamilton Island, cutting short his Race Week.
All classes apart from the SB20s will contest the final 23.5 nautical mile Molles Islands Race tomorrow and in most divisions the last grab at final points will separate the winners from the runners up.
Full results here
by Lisa Ratcliff
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9:25 AM Fri 24 Aug 2012GMT
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