Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, organised by Hamilton Island Yacht Club Inc, is currently underway.
In the hard-fought IRC Class B Darryl Hodgkinson’s slippery Beneteau 45 Victoire has padlocked the top placing and thrown away the key with today’s fifth consecutive handicap win from six starts.
An island course in a gusty 18-20 knot SE breeze proved another easy hit out for Victoire which is demoralising its Class B competition.
Hodgkinson, a Sydney based plastic surgeon, and his Cruising Yacht Club of Australia team pre-planned their season well in advance. They have put significant effort into boat maintenance and their sail wardrobe as well as time on the water to gel the crew.
There’s no doubt tactician and the linchpin Hodgkinson describes as 'a magician on the helm downwind in 30 knots plus', Sean Kirkjian, has been instrumental in the boat’s success which so far includes divisional wins in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast and Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week. Now a win at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is at their fingertips.
Guest crew aboard Victoire for this week include Ros Urwin and 16 year-old Kristie, the wife and daughter of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s rating director Mike Urwin, who is part of the Race Week jury.
Sistership Paul Clitheroe’s Balance was today shuffled out of second place by Ray Roberts’ Evolution Racing, the two tied on equal points with two races remaining.
'Because ours is a sistership to Victoire the tragic truth is we can’t blame the boat,' laughed Clitheroe today on the dock.
'We have periods where we lose concentration, we have a drift off and Victoire slips away. Full credit to them.'
Beneteau designs make up a quarter of the almost 200 strong fleet enjoying the 28th edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
Ross Wilson’s First 47.7 Eagle Rock is second on the Performance Racing 1 pointscore on a countback while the all Japanese crew on Kiwamu Takahashi’s chartered First 40 Chancellor is runner up in Performance Racing 2 by a slim one point margin.
A very different looking Beneteau, a mini version of the Open 70, has made its Australian regatta debut at Race Week.
Gold Coast owner Paul Laurence was a cruising sailor who was in the market for something sporty. He put in his order last November for the new generation Beneteau First 30 in May this year and just prior to the Sanctuary Boat Show it arrived and immediately went on display.
Called G2, Laurence’s First 30 is one of only two in the country. It found early success club racing out of Southport Yacht Club in light conditions. At a windy Race Week Laurence and his crew are still finding their feet in Cruising 2 Division of the wide, snub nose sports boat design.
'My first impression is that it’s a fantastic boat, a weapon,' said the delighted skipper today.
'It feels solid. It’s a better boat than I imagined it would be.'
The design, which measures 9.52m in length and 3.2 in hull beam, includes a wide open cockpit, twin transom hung rudders and mast that’s aft to create a larger triangle so the mast doesn’t have to be too tall or the keel too deep.
'The boat actually enjoys being over on its ear....the crew don’t mind this either.... and the leeward rudder stays vertical. It’s also a very dry boat,' added Laurence.
With the breeze trending down after a blustery start to Race Week, Laurence is looking forward to tomorrow’s island course and Saturday’s final Molle Islands Race to gauge G2’s potential in more moderate conditions.
Designed by the talented Juan Kouyoumdjian, well known from the America’s Cup and the VOR, and technical advisor Michel Desjoyeaux, the First 30 has made a spectacular comeback more than 30 years after its predecessor. Audi Hamilton Island Race Week website