Sail Port Stephens 2011 Commodore's Cup Day 2.
Today was straight out of the tourist brochure with its postcard autumn weather, gusty westerly winds blowing 15-20 knots, blazing blue skies and a wonderful course.
Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson sent the fleet away on the Three Islands Race; 16.5 nautical miles for the Cruising with Spinnaker (Division 1) and 12.5 nautical miles for the Cruising Non Spinnaker competitors.
It was a spectacular down wind start, as thousands of NBN Newcastle television viewers saw tonight. In 16-18 knots of north westerly breeze the spinnakers popped on Nelson Bay, straight in front of the d’albora Marina wall.
ColorTile skipper Warren Buchan (Bucko) wearing the ‘Dunces’ shirt his crew awarded him after hooking up on a turning mark in yesterday’s Pub to Pub race, had a perfectly timed start.
ColorTile was surfing away from her rivals and with sharp gusts hitting the fleet a few boats did their very best to broach in front of the television cameras.
A much more conservative start from Margaret Rintoul V, the German Frers designed pocket maxi, owned by Graham Mobuckson. She was in the second row but once her big blue spinnaker reached the masthead she powered through the fleet and sailed well in the lead.
The course had the boats weaving around Cabbage Tree Island, Little Island and Boondelbah Island outside Port Stephens and then retracing their passage back into Port Stephens.
Quite long parts of the course were romping beam reaching legs favouring waterline length and the leaders quickly sorted by size.
The wind stayed steady into the afternoon and just over two hours after the start, Margaret Rintoul V slid along the breakwater with her mainsail almost over the finishing line crew.
ColorTile followed just eight minutes later, with Ian Humpris’ Rhumb third, a minute ahead of yesterday’s winner Iota, the IRC modified Farr 40.
The most enthralling battle of the Commodore’s Cup series continued again today.
Midrace George Snow’s Beneteau Oceanis 50 Argo Blue had opened up a 300 metre lead on her sistership, John and Kim Clinton’s Holy Cow. But it must have been milking time because the Cow was gaining pace as she headed in. Argo Blue was still in front but it was desperately close.
Just a mile from the finishing line the two rivals crossed, Argo Blue was just metres in front. George Snow stayed out in the channel and double tacked. Holy Cow crept along the marina rock wall saving distance but losing time.
Argo Blue had more freedom and cracked sheets, rolling her rival. George Snow, a picture of concentration all afternoon at the helm, blinked and managed a smile … quite a broad smile actually.
It was certainly a big boat race with Margaret Rintoul V completing the course in two hours 12 minutes, winning on corrected time from Holy Cow. She might have been 11 seconds behind Argo Blue on the water but with more furniture and below deck apparel, the Cow’s handicap gave her victory by two and a half minutes.
ColorTile, second on the water today, finished fourth overall. Yesterday’s winner John McNamara’s Iota placed 19th.
After two days the cumulative Division 1 score has Noel Gough’s eXcapade atop the leader board with today’s 10th placing added to yesterday’s third. In second place overall is ColorTile with an eleventh and a fourth place.
In the Non Spinnaker Division 2, Jim Thomas’ Dances with Waves, the Beneteau 40.7 handled the sail changes better to take line honours from Ron Jacobs and crew aboard the Jeanneau 409 Mirage. In third place on the water was Greg Newton’s Beneteau 523 Antipodes.
Dockside Jacobs explained his defeat. ‘We only have one headsail halyard so the change up to the number four and back has us bareheaded through the changes. Each time we did it, Dances danced away.’
On handicap Niven James’ Menace won from Antipodes with Dances with Waves third.
Overall in Division 2 after two days of racing, Jim Thomas and his Dances with Waves crew with second and third scores are ahead of Ron Jacobs and his Mirage crew, with a first and fifth. Third overall is Russell Waddy's Allsail the Frog.
Corlette Point Sailing Club Commodore Dom Grundy was a smiling like a cheshire cat this afternoon. ‘How good was that! One of the best days of sailing we’ve had at Sail Port Stephens!’