Audi Victoria Week 2011.
Red Faces with a major upset in today's 36 nautical mile Melbourne to Geelong Passage race. Heavy overcast and soft breeze for the 300+ boat start of today's race. A new course took the fleet from St Kilda Pier down the shoreline towards Sandringham, before turning south west towards Corio Bay.
Stephen Ainsworth's Reichel Pugh 63 Loki started midline and extended on the beat towards Sandringham with the 52 footers all in a row.
Marcus Blackmore's tactican Tom Slingby had positioned the former Emirates Team New Zealand, now Hooligan, well and she was most windward boat but Rob Hanna's Shogun slide through ahead of her.
As the spinnakers went up as the fleet headed towards Fawkner Beacon, it looked like 'follow the leader' for a while but the wind swung and down came the kites.
As the leaders headed towards the Bellarine Peninsula the locals hit the Port Arlington shore, while Loki, Michael Hiatt's Living Doll and Hooligan tacked back to the rhumbline.
Rod Date's 52 foot Scarlet Runner was the big winner. Tactician Dave Eichmeyer made sure the Reichel Pugh 52 stayed close to the land. All the boats at some stage parked up and with more pressure she sailed into the lead. Behind her came Colin Wilson's Pretty Fly III, Williams Van Der Slot Calm, Nicholas Bartel's Terra Firma and then Rolex Sydney Hobart handicap winner Geoff Boettcher's Secret Mens Business 3.5.
Scarlet Runner was at one stage almost a mile in the lead and there were definitely red faces aboard Loki.
But the wind lifted and gradually Loki's waterline length began to pay. One by one the 50 footers fell, but Loki was in the channel before she managed to overtake Scarlet Runner. Behind her Terra Firma was well placed and she was confirmed as the handicap winner
Audi IRC Div 1 [IRC & AMS] ~ IRC Div1 Race No 1 PRELIMINARY RESULTS 110122 17:38:13 1265
||Williams Van Der Slot
||SECRET MENS BUS. 3.5
||PRETTY FLY III
||FinTim to Win
||P. Blake K. Mitchell
Dockside Rob Date, the owner skipper of Scarlet Runner was smiling. 'We almost got away with that one. Dave (Eichmeyer) placed us perfectly and the other 50 footers followed us. The Terra Firma guys did very well to grab the handicap win. It was a lot of fun but this is the start. There are four days more racing in this regatta.'