Today was day 3 of 2011 Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week and it was another perfect sailing day in the Whitsundays.
Faced with another great weather forecast, 12-20 knots of breeze from the south east, Principal Race Officer Tony Denham chose to send the record race fleet to fight the tide in the Molle Channel to White Rock.
The Race Committee gunned the divisions away from 10.30am.
The Multihulls were sent on a 29 nautical mile course from Pioneer Bay, upwind to the Mandalay clearing buoy, down the Molle Channel where the tide flows can approach three knots, to the guano covered White Rock, then back inside West Molle Island (Daydream Island Resort), then across Pioneer Bay to Grimston Point and back to the finishing line.
The IRC Cruising, Super 30s, Performance Racing and Cruising Division 1, were set a similar course but round the Bluff mark rather than the Grimston Point mark, 24 nautical miles in all.
Cruising 2, Non-Spinnaker and Sports Boats classes faced a shorter 20 mile course, back from West Molle, around Pioneer Point and directly to the finish line.
The Multihull division was first away and started in six to eight knots of breeze. Just two tacks for the red trimaran TeamVodafoneSailing (Simon Hull) to the top mark, a polished performance indeed. Behind them on the port lay line followed Trilogy (Keith Glover) and Cynophobe (Dave Chittleborough), while e-Marine Bare Essentials (Tim Pepperell) crossed the line about three minutes late.
As the majority of the boats headed up the Molle Channel, TeamVodafoneSailing was heading back to Pioneer Rock in about 12-14 knots of breeze and she finished well ahead of the rest of her multihull rivals.
Coming down to the finish Malice was sailing in about three to four knots and close to the shoreline. Outside her, 500 metres wider and in more pressure was Trilogy. Cynophobe came flying down from Grimston on the left in the middle of the bay, sailing around Malice and possibly Trilogy.
TeamVodafoneSailing took line honours, followed by Cynophobe and Trilogy. On handicap Peter Berry’s J’Ouvert won race 3 from Trilogy and TeamVodafoneSailing.
Overall Trilogy leads the Series by two points from J’Ouvert with TeamVodafoneSailing one point further back.
IRC Cruising was next away with Stewart Lewis’ blue hulled Ocean Affinity, Michael Keough’s Evolution Racing and Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire starting just up from the pin. Ocean Affinity cleared the fleet and as she sailed around the last mark, Bluff Point, there was not another boat from her division in Pioneer Bay.
Ocean Affinity took line honours. In the end it was a very tight finish between Victoire and Evolution Racing, Victoire taking second by less than one second after she snuck around the Committee Boat. Victoire took the handicap win from Wicked with Evolution Racing third.
Overall IRC Cruising leader is Victoire from Evolution Racing with Wicked third.
At the Performance Racing start Redshift, Duncan Hines Custom Steiner 29, came down the line on the pin end, was a little early, did a port end start and only just trailed the much larger Inglis 47 Wild skippered by David Jackson as the fleet started out towards the passage.
Today’s handicap win went to Redshift from Wild and Questionable Logic. Dockside the Redshift skipper was smiling. 'We had a good start, worked the shore really hard and then coming home we stayed really wide, well out in the pressure and that was our winning move.'
Dream took line honours in Performance Racing, from Wild, with Terry Archer’s Questionable Logic third across the line. The Overall Series leader after three races is Dream by one point over Redshift, with Questionable Logic third.
The breeze lifted briefly to ten knots as Cruising Division 1 crossed the start line. Don Algie’s magnificent Storm 2 won the start after crossing near the Committee Boat end. She led the fleet right but Ron Hayden’s Cloud Nine started bang on the Committee Boat on port, crossed ahead of the fleet, and forced Storm 2 to duck her stern.
Line honours went to Storm 2 from Hammer of Queensland and Eureka 11. The handicap win went to Phillip King’s Last Tango, from Eureka II and Cloud Nine.
After three races, Cloud Nine leads the Series by two points from Last Tango, with Eureka II third.
In Cruising Division 2 Sunrise, Jeff Shipsey’s Elan 37, a veteran of many an Airlie Beach Race Week, had plenty of room down the line and was very fast on the pin. Whitsunday Sailing Club sailor Leigh Bayliss’ Cavalier Bob, was second up from the pin while fellow local Alan Sneddon had Pacific Phoenix just up from the Committee Boat end and looking good for the start.
Peter McAdam’s Manly Too won line honours from Nick Thomas’ and Col Cox’s Hanse Hans-On with Anthony Dyson’s Eternity third. Eternity took the handicap win from Manly Too and the fast starting Sunrise.
Overall after three races Manly Too leads Hans-On, with Gerard Young’s Spike third.
At the Cruising Non-Spinnaker start Greg Sier’s Valdolese was over early, Wayne Banks-Smith Joie De Vie was midline and well placed as was Tulip, the Swan 45 of Bernie Van’t Hof.
Cruising Non-Spinnaker line honours went to Tulip, from Joie De Vie with Morgan Rogers Wave Sweeper third. The double went to Tulip, with Graham Manvell’s Blownaway Too filling second on handicap. Joie De Vie placed third.
Overall Series leader is Joie De Vie by one point from Henry Kelder's Bluenose with Greg Sier’s Valdolese third.
The Sports Boats start was exciting as Blokes World, Brett Whitbread’s Egan 7, started on the pin, tacked early and crossed the fleet. Evergreen, Michael Green’s Elliott 7 attacked the line, was a little too fast and was over early and had to go around. Evergreen was badly punished and forced right. Monkey Business, Geelong skipper Cam Rae’s Shaw 650, started on the Committee Boat end and went right.
Once out in the Molle Channel an amazing battle ensued as the fleet almost became ‘on the beach boats’, hugging the shore line closely. Pierre Gal’s Kiss was just ahead of Bob Cowan’s Stealthy, with Blokes World in hot pursuit.
Behind them the T7s and Shaw 650s were tacking every twenty or thirty metres right on the shoreline, just about bump tacking in fact, turning just a few metres away from the shore.
While boats out in the Molle Channel were broaching in quite fresh conditions, the breeze dropped away in Pioneer Bay particularly in the lee of Mt Connor.
Pierre Gal’s Kiss went wide in pressure and Blokes World tried to take the short cut, paying the penalty as Stealthy came round outside her.
The Sports Boats completed their shore hugging exploits with Scott Creedon’s Thompson 7 Mustard Cutter taking line honours in SMS Division 1. Heath Townsend’s Kaito was second with Jason Ruckert’s Thompson 7 Mister Magoo third. The handicap win went to Kaito from Go Majik with Greg Scherwinski’s Thompson 7 Ray White Mordialloc third. Overall SMS 1 Series leader is Kaito from Go Majik and Mister Magoo.
SMS Division 2 line honours went to Kiss, ahead of Stealthy and Blokes World. Handicap honours went to Blokes World from Kiss and David Mann’s Shaw 650 Situation Normal. Overall Kiss is the SM2 Series leader from Blokes World and Stealthy.
The SMS Overall leader is Kiss from Bloke’s World and Stealthy.
Roger Jepson’s Thompson 870 Where’s Wal? started the Super 30 race on the pin. Jeff Paul’s Mumm 30 RBS Morgan Immigrant was next while Jeanine and Jon Drummond’s Farr 30 OD Loco was fourth up and well placed.
Funnelweb led the Super 30s as a close battle raged between Guilty Pleasures III and Loco, both going tack for tack along the mainland shore. Guilty Pleasures protected the inside and gradually sailed ahead in less adverse current. Funnelweb extended her lead to two miles as she rocketed across Pioneer Bay towards the finish in 13-14 knots. Soon after she finished however a radio call from the skipper signalled her retirement, she had not sailed the full course.
Guilty Pleasures III took race 5 line honours from John Lindholm’s Dark Energy, with Loco third. The handicap win went to Guilty Pleasures III from Loco and Dark Energy.
Guilty Pleasures now holds a Series lead of seven points, after scorings bullets in all five races. Her nearest rival Loco in turn holds a substantial lead over third placed Dark Energy.
IRC Racing started later than the rest of the fleet, today racing windward leewards on Pioneer Bay.
As the fleet approached the top mark for the second time, Zoe (Wayne Millar) was way left, Iota (John McNamara) right and behind her was Double O Seven (Jeff Brown). About half a mile from the mark, Zoe was on the port lay line as Iota lifted towards the mark. Iota rounded eight to ten lengths ahead of Zoe, then came Double O Seven, fourth was Nutcracker (Rob Davis’ X-35), Gary McCarthy’s Brilliant Pearl then Neat Engineering Wailea (Neil Purden).
Buried deep was The Philospher’s Club. Dockside this morning skipper Peter Sorensen said ‘We don’t like the light stuff’ and that is what he was getting, with barely seven knots blowing as they headed to the finish line.
In Race 2 Iota led Zoe back up the course in soft conditions. Zoe went left and Iota went right out into the Bay. Nutcracker had sailed through Double O Seven by the second top mark.
Rob Davis’ X-35 Nutcracker sailed exceptionally well taking the doubles in races 3 and 4 of the Series. In race 3 Double O Seven was second, with Brilliant Pearl third. In race 4 Brilliant Pearl moved up to second, with Neat Engineering Wailea third.
Overall the Series could not be closer with The Philosopher’s Club and Nutcracker tied on twelve points, with Brilliant Pearl and Neat Engineering Wailea also tied three points further back on 15.
Regatta Director Denis Thompson 'We are at the half way point, So far the regatta is going exceedingly smoothly. We've had no protests.
'Huey is doing his best to deliver fair breezes, warm sunshine and clear skies.'
And now for a lay-day!!