Festival of Sails 2012. On day 4 a favourable south east breeze allowed for the early start of a short course race for the cruising, classic yacht and multihull divisions followed by a glass-out during the middle of the day, and finally, Geelong’s Corio Bay put its best foot forward for the afternoon session.
The short course starters enjoyed an early sea breeze, which had run out of puff by the time they were heading for the finish gate as the wind transitioned between a south easterly and a northerly. They were the lucky ones.
The first race of the day for the Melges 24s contesting their national championships, Sydney 38s and Premier Racing Series Division B was abandoned when the breeze dialed north and faded, creating a ‘drifter’ as they say in the business.
Crews trod lightly on deck and tried to find shade from the sails as the hot sun bore down on those feeling drained from yesterday’s Australia Day celebrations.
Melges 24s clubhouse leader by two points after five races is the Warwick Rooklyn skippered Bandit.
'Half way through the series and it’s tight,' Rooklyn said tonight. 'It was tough racing and a long day today, but by the third race the wind had increased and we were able to shift modes. Kevin Nixon’s Accru crew are too good downwind, but we are strong upwind'.
The Bundaberg Rum sponsored SB3 Victorian championships is being led by triple world Laser champion Glenn Bourke after five races.
Bourke, the CEO of Hamilton Island where the class’ world championship will be held in December this year, has four firsts and a fifth under his belt with SB3 Club Marine Hamilton Island – and that’s despite being rusty having last raced with his crew at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August.
Mainsheet Rod Jones and bowman Greg McAllamsmith is the combination Bourke will take to the worlds where around 80 SB3s, half from Europe and half from Australia, are expected to vie for their international crown, back dropped by the beautiful Whitsunday Islands.
'It’s tricky sailing on Corio Bay, you have to be clever to stay in the money,' said Bourke this evening after racing finished late given the closing stages produced the best conditions. On the regatta he added, 'It’s great, the whole precinct is the regatta!'
Newcomer to the SB3 class is former big boat owner Chris Dare, who picked up his new dinghy, Flirtatious, just a fortnight ago. 'It was a case of sheet on and let’s go,' said Dare who has combined with Olympic Finn sailor Oliver Tweddle and Dan Morrow for the Victorian champs.
In the Coca Cola Multihull Series, Tim Pepperell’s trimaran Bare Essentials took line honours in this morning’s short course race while Sknot took handicap honours. In this evening’s twilight David Renouf’s Yabb beat Bare Essentials on handicap, Pepperell’s Granger 8 taking its third back-to-back line honours win.
The event media boats were put to good use today, not only whizzing media covering the Festival of Sails between the different course areas, but acting as support vessels.
John Newbold’s Tasmanian Farr 40, Midnight Rambler, from the Cruising Spinnaker Series division 1 was one of three boats that ran aground and had to be towed off the sand by the Parks Victoria boat while another media boat was used to ferry a crewman with a minor head injury from Mike Welsh’s Beneteau, Wicked, to an awaiting ambulance.
This evening many cruising entries were back out doing what they do best – twilight racing. The initiative to include a twilight race in the on-water program and take the colourful fleet close to shore to show the ‘ice-cream crowd’ was a result of a collective request from the cruising boats.
'The cruising entries are the growth area of the event and tonight they came right in close to the waterfront where the crowds are enjoying the evening’s shoreside entertainment,' said Festival organiser Jav Greaves.
Tomorrow the cruising, multihulls, classic yachts, Noelex 30s will undertake the Portarlington Race while the Premier Racing Series, S80s, Super 30s, Sports Boats, Melges, SB3s and Super 30s will continue windward/leeward racing.
The Festival of Sails will conclude this Sunday, 29 January.