On the final day of Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week 2011 tensions were high as sailors left the Abel Point Marina, headed for Pioneer Bay to complete the traditional last day triangular Bay course.
The Pioneer Bay large triangle course has turning marks, at Grimston, Pioneer Bay and Bluff and is between 16-25 nautical miles in length.
With placings at the top of leader boards extremely close today's race would decide the trophy winners.
Dreaded light winds and a variable winds forecast had PRO Tony Denham a concerned man with a furrowed brow this morning.
The Multihulls were first fleet away and at the first mark, TeamVodafoneSailing (Simon Hull) led Malice (Mal Richardson) and Trilogy (Keith Glover). At the second mark, Bluff, it was very soft.
On the way up towards the Grimston mark TeamVodafoneSailing was struggling to hold a gennaker and by the time they rounded, Malice had started to eat into TeamVodafoneSailing's lead. As they headed across the bay towards Pioneer Point Malice was in much better breeze and had cleared away from Trilogy and was closing on TeamVodafoneSailing.
Red everywhere as Team Vodafone Sailing goes through Zoe and Wild Thing - Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach 22nd Annual Race Week 2011 - Teri Dodds?nid=87423
Wayne Millar's Zoe led the IRC Racing fleet at the top mark. She hoisted a fractional kite and just managed to hold it and it was very shy. Neil Paden’s Neat Engineering Wailea and Jeffrey Brown's Double O Seven fell down the course away from the Bluff mark. Gary McCarthy's Brilliant Pearl was amongst a group who did not hoist kites until late and they did better in the light breeze.
Close to Grimston Point TeamVodafoneSailing was almost becalmed and Malice closed quickly. Behind them Zoe initially held a good lead on Iota but the lighter Farr 40 sailed inside her much heavier Townsville rival. Third was Nutcracker with its Victorian team having broken out the tropical shirts for the last race. The Beneteau 34.7 Brilliant Pearl moved forward and held out Neat Engineering Wailea and Double O Seven.
From the start line division after division was streaming across the Bay in a six to seven knot westerly but at the Bluff mark the area was rapidly turning into a parking lot, limp spinnakers hanging from the halyards.
A pod of Pacific bottlenose dolphins provided entertainment as they played amongst the drifting boats, making the only ripples on the bay.
The new breeze kicked in from the north east at around eight to nine knots. It was a colourful site as the yachts headed from Grimston Point towards Pioneer Rock.
Pierre Gal's Sports 8xx Kiss was the first boat to finish the regatta. TeamVodafoneSailing was again the first multihull to finish and second boat across the line, having sailed one more lap than the Sports Boats. Stealthy was third across the line, followed by Blokes World who had a very untidy deck with her headsail crumpled on the bow, partially swimming. Mustard Cutter followed, and then came the rest of the sports boat fleet.
Pierre Gals’ Kiss ended the regatta on top overall in the sports boats - Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach 22nd Annual Race Week 2011 - Teri Dodds?nid=87423
The final race of the Series which was race 10 for the Sports Boat fleet, the SMS Division 2 line honours went to Kiss from Bob Cowan's Stealthy and Blokes World. The handicap win went to Kiss from Blokes World and David Mann's Situation Normal.
SMS Division 1 line honours went to Scott Creedon's Mustard Cutter. Peter Jamieson's Too Hot to Trot was second with Greg Scherwinski's Ray White Mordialloc third. Michael Green's Evergreen took the handicap win from Ray White Mordialloc with Heath Townsend's Kaito third.
Michael Green commented ‘Another great regatta. The strength of the sports boat class is a credit to Cam Rae and the ASBA. We were glad to do so well in the heavy boat class. The Green sails did us proud.’
Winner of Sports Boats Division 2 - Go Majik - Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach 22nd Annual Race Week 2011 - Teri Dodds?nid=87423
The Overall Series winner for SMS Division 1 was Richard Devries' consistent Magic 25 Go Majik from Evergreen and Kaito. Dockside Richard DeVries said ‘It was great to win the heavyweight division, with the heaviest and oldest boat here, this Magic 25 was built in Nowra 20 years ago. We are very pleased to get third overall behind Kiss and Blokes World.
Overall Series winner for SMS Division 2 is Pierre Gal's very well sailed Sports 8 xx Kiss. Blokes World was second, with Stealthy third.
The Overall Sports Boat Series trophy winner for 2011 was Pierre Gal's Kiss. Blokes World finished second with Go Majik third.
Pierre Gal was smiling. ‘Very happy with the boat and very happy with the crew. Not a bad effort for this bunch of old guys, there is certainly some talent here.'
One of the old guys, Jan 'Clogs' Scholten chimed in ‘This win is a great reward for Pierre. He designed this boat, built it, built the sails, motivated this crew together and helmed us to a good series win.'
‘A very much deserved win’ agreed Bob Cowan owner of Stealthy. ‘Pierre has raised the standard of the sports class; he continues to give us something to aim at.’
Multihull Race 6 line honours went to TeamVodafoneSailing from Malice. Dave Chittleborough's Cynaphobe overtook Trilogy to finish third by some five minutes over her rival. The handicap win went to Peter Berry's J'Óuvert from Trilogy with Bob Thomson's Sirocco third.
The Overall Multihull Series winner for 2011 was J’Óuvert, Peter Berry's Prescott Whitehaven 11.7 on count back from Trilogy. TeamVodafoneSailing finished third.
Line honours in IRC Racing went to Iota from Zoe with Neat Engineering Wailea third. The handicap win went to Gary McCarthy's Brilliant Pearl. Nutcracker (Rob Davis) was second with Wailea third.
The Overall IRC Racing Series winner for 2011 is Peter Sorensen's Sydney 36CR The Philosophers Club finishing one point ahead of Brilliant Pearl and Nutcracker, who were tied on points.
Gary McCarthy said ‘It was hard work out there today. The team worked hard to win the last two races and to knock off Nutcracker was more than we expected.
‘We are all exhausted; we focused so hard on getting every element of our racing right all day. We worked the tide in the very light conditions and that really made a difference to our final result.’
At tonight's prize giving, Peter Sorensen announced very seriously that The Philosophers Club had today voted this event the Best Regatta in the Universe for 2011.
The IRC Cruising line honours win went to Evolution Racing from Cracklin Rosie (Tony Ross) and Wicked (Mike Welsh). The handicap win went to Evolution Racing from Wicked with Whitsunday boat, Charles Wallis' Reignition third.
The Overall IRC Cruising champion for 2011 was Darryl Hodgkinson's Beneteau 45 Victoire. Second was Evolution Racing with Wicked third.
Today was race 7 of the Series for the Performance Racing fleet. Robert Green's Dream took line honours from Damian Suckling's Another Fiasco and Terry Archer's Questionable Logic. The handicap win went to local, Kevin Fogarty's Idle Time, from Duncan Hine's Redshift with Another Fiasco third.
Performance Racing Overall Series winner for 2011 was Duncan Hine's Custom Steiner 29 Redshift. Surefoot (Rod Sawyer) was second with Sandpiper Wutba (Colin Purden) third.
Duncan Hine commented ‘This little boat is going faster than ever. The conditions suited us particularly over the last few days so we very much enjoyed our first tilt at the class.'
Line honours in race 10 of the Series for the Super 30's went to Jeanine and Jon Drummond's Loco from Leon Thomas' Guilty Pleasures III with John Lindholm's Dark Energy third. The handicap win went to Loco from Guilty Pleasures III with Jeff Paul's RBS Morgan’s Immigrant third.
The Overall Super 30 Series Champion for 2011 was Townsville's Guilty Pleasures III, sailed very well by Leon Thomas and his crew. Second was Loco with Dark Energy third.
Cruising Division 1 line honours went to Phillip King's Last Tango from Chris Stockdale's Eureka II and Don Algie's Storm 2. The handicap win went to Last Tango from Arthur King's Wave Nine with Paul Crockett's Spritz third.
The Overall Cruising Division 1 champion for 2011 was Phillip King's Salona 44 Last Tango. Cloud Nine (Ron Hayden) was second with Fantasea Vitesse (Ian Thomson) third.
Cruising Division 2 line honours went to Nick Thomas and Col Cox's Hans-On. Peter Johnson's Amadeus was second with Malcolm Mitchell's Caledonia third. Handicap went to Mike Keyte's Wings from Peter Mitchelson's Lorna Rose Too. Andrew Turnbull's Ya Mum made a podium appearance in third.
The 2011 Cruising Division 2 Overall Series winner was Peter Mitchelson's Austral Clubman 8 Lorna Rose Too from the Whitsunday Sailing Club. Second was Pacific Phoenix (Alan Seddon) with Hans-On third.
Tulip, Bernie Van'T Hoff's Swan 45 took line honours in the Cruising Non-Spinnaker class. Wayne Banks-Smith's Joie De Vie was second with Stuart Garner's Rumgutz third. The handicap winner today was Rumgutz from Tulip with Roger Boast's Serendipity third.
The champion for 2011 in the Cruising Non-Spinnaker class was Henry Kelder's Bavaria 34 Bluenose from the Whitsunday Sailing Club on count back from fellow Whitsunday Sailing Club boat Serendipity. Third was Blownaway Too (Graham Manvell).
Principal Race Office Tony Denham was much relieved when he came ashore. He said ‘After a superb week the weather was certainly tricky today.
‘When the breeze dropped out we positioned finishing boats at every mark, but the sea breeze came in stronger than we expected and we finished the fleet inside our expected time.’
At the Prize Giving ceremony, the prestigeous Boss Hog Trophy went to Leon Thomas and Gulity Pleasures III
For those of you who missed this year's superb weather racing, entertaining and camaraderie at Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week remember there is always next year.