Farr 40 Australian Championship - Amidst treacherous conditions on Sydney Harbour, racing was intense during the first day of racing today. All crews were pushing their boats to the limit, with a man overboard, some near-misses and fierce battles not only on the water, but continuing tonight in the protest room.
The Race Committee was faced with a tough task to lay the course just East of Taylor Bay in the squally conditions. The start of Race One was postponed just seconds before the start due to a wind shift. After re-laying the start line, the fleet were sent off to a cracking start, with Easy Tiger (Chris Way) shooting off the pin end of the line with good speed.
Easy Tiger charged up the western shore whilst some of the fleet split and took the eastern shore. Transfusion (Guido Belgiorno-Nettis) found themselves sandwiched between the two blue boats, Kokomo (Ivan Wheen) and Hooligan (Marcus Blackmore), and was shortly after spat out and forced to tack towards the eastern shore. As the fleet converged at the top mark, Easy Tiger were ahead by a few lengths, however in the midst of a frantic headsail drop, their bowman found himself dragging along in the water, clipped to the kicker. After a swift recovery Tiger managed to retain their lead, with Kokomo hot on their heels.
Guided by tactician Colin Beashel, Kokomo challenged Easy Tiger to a tacking duel up the second beat, managing to edge in front and steal first place ahead of Tiger. In third place were the Queenslanders aboard Lambourdini / Envy Scooters (Howard and David Lambourne), showing that they would not be considered push-overs in the Sydney-dominated fleet. It was precision racing with the majority of the fleet finishing less than one minute after the leader.
Forty (Sam Hill and Steve Barlow) got away to a great start in Race Two, leading the fleet off the line. By the top mark Transfusion clearly dominated with a ten boat-length lead, and the breeze strengthened during the downwind run, gusting to 26 knots. The fleet revelled in the flat water, with Lambourdini / Envy Scooters and Easy Tiger chasing the current World Champion towards the gate. The bottom mark rounding proved to be testing for at least three boats who struggled to retrieve their spinnakers in time, with big gains made by those who were able to complete a tidy mark rounding. Estate Master (Martin and Lisa Hill) took advantage of the chaos at the gate and fought their way up the fleet, finishing in second place behind Transfusion.
The prevailing wind shifted to the nor-east for the third race of the day, with the top mark laid on the western shore, and then a course change for the second beat towards the eastern shore. 'There were a lot of lifts and knocks, especially in the third race.' Belgiorno-Nettis commented. 'That’s what I love about Harbour racing – it is very challenging tactically. Chris Way (Easy Tiger) was ahead and made some good gains, but we managed to get in front of them during the second lap and found it was a case of the rich getting richer.' Transfusion claimed their second bullet of the day, with Easy Tiger consistently at the front of the fleet and finishing in second place, followed by Hooligan.
Transfusion won Boat of the Day on a total of six points, ahead of Easy Tiger (seven points) and Kokomo (nine points). Back at the dock, owner Belgiorno-Nettis was very complimentary of his tactician Nathan Outteridge, a new addition to the team. 'This is a tremendous fleet, and considering this is their first One Design regatta, the Queenslanders (Lambourdini / Envy Scooters) are surprisingly quick. It is great to see that Farr 40s in different parts of Australia are all sailing their boats hard.'
The final three races of the series are scheduled to start at 12.00 tomorrow, with a nor-easterly forecast. With one protest pending, current placings are as follows:
Transfusion (Guido Belgiorno-Nettis) 6 points
Easy Tiger (Chris Way / Ian Burns) 7 points
Kokomo (Ivan Wheen) 9 points
Hooligan (Marcus Blackmore) 13 points
Estate Master (Martin and Lisa Hill) 15 points
Edake (Mark Griffith) 18 points
Lambourdini / Envy Scooters (David and Howard Lambourne) 19 points
Forty (Sam Hill and Steven Barlow) 21 points
by Erin McKnight
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8:23 PM Sat 3 Mar 2012GMT
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