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Just a few days to Race Week - Performance Racing Contenders

by SOS Ocean Racing on 6 Aug 2010
SOS Ocean Racing flying off the breeze. - Airlie Beach Race Week Ian Thomson
Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week - The Pacific Pier and Pontoon Performance Racing division of Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week will be one of the tightest fought divisons both on the water and on handicap. The range of boats is vast however each boat has its own pros and cons. Here we take a look at the fleet, we'll leave you to predict a winner.

The Performance Racing division is about boats that don't rate so well on IRC or for those who prefer to race under a 'Performance' handicap rather than a boat measurement system. This means you are rated based on previous performances, if you race better than previously you will have a chance to win. This years fleet is probably one of the most varied when it comes to the type of boats competing and is proving a headache for race handicappers.

At one end we have boats made for downwind ocean racing and at the other we have course racing specialists. However the mix of races that is thrown at competitors in ABRW will mean there is a combination of both and picking a winner is anyone's guess.

If the racing was all downwind then you would have to back Ian Thomson's SOS Ocean Racing. Having proven its offshore ability by smashing the solo circumnavigation of Australia record by 26 days earlier this year, this boat is made for downwind, yet struggles going upwind. Any race that has very little upwind work will favour this express racer. Look to see it behind the fleet at the upwind mark and chase them down off the wind.

Two mini 6.5's have entered this division. Scott Cavanough's Skippy and Mike Keyte's Wings are both purpose built boats for the mini Transat, a solo race across the Atlantic. They are extremely light weight and have large sail areas for their size. This gives them early planning ability off the wind and courses that don't have massive upwind legs will also favour these boats. Sheer waterline length does not favour them but in the right conditions they will fly.

The Whitsunday Sailing Club fleet has traditionally done well is this division over the last 20 years.

Local boats Questionable Logic (Terry Archer), Reignition (Charles Wallis) and Another Fiasco (Damien Suckling) have been fighting over line honours for some time now and the results are varying. Race week will see these three boats match race each other from start to finish. All boats are very capable on all points of sail and they should be leading the way in the upwind legs.

They will have to be careful of Nick Cox's Hans-On and Bruce Mackay's Wasabi who will be challenging in this group and may upset the locals on their home turf.



Not to be left out of the handicap results are the slower boats who may use late afternoon sea breezes to fly home to take the win. Kevin Fogarty's (Idle Time) local record is enviable and will again be in with a serious chance.

Mike Roper's Ropabull is back for another year and should never be left out, nor should Peter Mitchelson's Lorna Rose Too or Roger Down's True Love. All have plenty of local knowledge and should the conditions favour the slower boats, then results could swing their way.

And the final entry is a true unknown. David Turton's Likatiger is a Flying Tiger 10m. His title as 08/09 Moolooaba Club Champion proves he has the ability to race at the front however the conditions will need to be on the lighter side or this light weight vessel will not handle the gnarly Whitsunday Passage too well.

So you can tell it will be a horses for courses battle. The Performance Racing divsion line honours battle will be intriguing and there will likely be more lead changes in this division than any other division as the races take each boat into and out of their comfort zone.

All will be revealed on the Friday, the first day of the regatta when they are likely to race the Double Cones and Armit Race.

Usually this is a downwind slide to the islands and then a beat upwind.

Can SOS Ocean Racing and the mini's get enough of a lead to hold back the pack, will the course racing boats stay close enough to overtake upwind or will the wind come in late and favour the slower boats? Picking a winner daily will be hard, picking an overall division win is almost impossible.

No matter what the results, this will be a division to watch and with the proven party record of the crews, the tall stories are likley to flow long into the evening in the Meridien Marinas Abel Point Marina Marquee.

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