At the 2012 Festival of Sails, a trio of Royal Yacht Club of Victoria boats precisely executed a clean sweep of the Melbourne Premier Series on what was described as a magic summer's day on Port Philip.
Rob Hanna’s rocket ship, the TP52 Shogun V, blitzed the IRC division A field in its debut Victorian regatta. Shogun V finished the six race series with a near perfect scorecard of four firsts and a second after their worst result, a third, was dropped.
'Today was a better day,' said the winning skipper. 'The light air early on made it hard to put distance on the rest. When the breeze came in at 21 knots we were doing 19 knots of boat speed.
'This boat’s definitely faster than my previous Shogun, both upwind and downwind. Now it’s about learning to sail it properly.'
Shogun V’s crew has the advantage of having two days to blow away the cobwebs before the Festival of Sails gets into full swing with the Australia Day passage race from Williamstown to Geelong.
'It takes two or three races to get it right, and that can cost a regatta. This IRC series has been fabulous for training and settling in a few newcomers to the crew,' added Hanna.
The two strongest blips on Hanna’s radar for the next stage of the Festival of Sails are Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55, Living Doll, and Jim Farmer’s Botin & Carkeek 52, Georgia. 'Living Doll will be hard to beat,' he warns.
Second in Division A in the Virgin Garden Organic Tea sponsored IRC series, which was hosted by the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, was Jason Van Der Slot’s TP52, Calm, and third was Nicholas Bartels’ Cookson 50, Terra Firma.
The Division B winner was incontestably Grant Botica’s Adams 10 Executive Decision. Six wins from six races meant his worst dropped result was the envy of all – a first.
'Today’s results were much closer,' said Botica. 'Everything went right for us, everyone did their job and there were no mishaps. Six races in a fair bit of breeze was a good workout and it’s given us confidence going into the Geelong series'.
Botica is cognisant the field will widen considerably come Thursday and all the way through to Sunday’s final day of racing. 'There will be a lot of good sailors at Geelong; we hope we can keep them at bay'.
Andrew Saies’ former Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner, Two True, was the division B runner-up and Bruce McCraken’s Beneteau 45 First, Ikon, placed third.
The Sydney 38 scoreboard was the closest among the podium placegetters, Bruce Taylor’s Chutzpah 38 claiming the victory with a two point advantage over Ian Murray’s Cinquante.
'This series was a great warm up for us,' said Taylor tonight. 'It’s easy to forget how different the Sydney 38 is to my IRC 40, and how different fleet racing is to class racing.
'The racing was so close today, the leader kept changing. Oh, and we managed to keep the swimmers on board,' he added drily.
The full schedule of six races was completed in ideal conditions, sunshine and south east breeze which trickled in at six knots before clocking left and building to a decent 18-20 knots.
'It was one of those magic days, and there were quite a few onshore enjoying the action,' said principle race officer Denis Thompson this afternoon.
The remainder of the 300 plus Festival of Sails starting list will gather en masse on Australia Day, Thursday January 26, for the traditional 34 nautical mile Williamstown to Geelong Passage Race, one of the highlights of the extensive water and shore-side program.
Festival of Sails website