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Cyclops Marine 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Hamilton Island RW: Black Jack turns the tables in lighter airs - Day 4

by Richard Gladwell 22 Aug 2018 23:21 PDT 23 August 2018
Black Jack rounds the windward mark - Hamilton Island Race Week - Day 4 © Richard Gladwell

Light winds were forecast to prevail as the 233 boat Hamilton Island Race Week returned to the Whitsundays after a no-race day yesterday, Wednesday.

In contrast to the fresh southerly breezes which have marked the second and third days of the six day regatta, today saw the arrival of light northerly and easterly wind. The forecast was for 3-5kts, but we were assured by MAPFRE navigator, Juan Vila in the hotel lift that the seabreeze would come in later in the day, which it did.

Yesterday was a lay-day, which proved to be a masterpiece of foresight by the race schedulers as there was no wind all day, and the big fleet enjoyed a day off without having to go through the agony of postponements and all that race management routine entails.

Ashore the main action was scheduled to take place in the Jury Room with Wild Oats XI and Black Jack both protesting each other other over similar incidents at the start of both races on Day 2 and 3. After going through the performance of finding video and other evidence to support their respective points of view, neither party were willing to take their chances in the Jury Room. They shook hands outside and agreed to cut their losses. And, of course they could enjoy the rest of the day with a cool drink in hand. Wild Oats XI was the winner of that sideline deal - holding her two wins from the two races.

While Vila may have got the forecast right, today, it didn't do his boat, Wild Oats XI too many favours. The nine times Rolex Sydney Hobart winner proved very sticky in the 8kt seabreeze finishing five minutes behind Black Jack owned by Brisbane Property investor Peter Harburg. The 17nm race took the 24 boats in Divisions 1,2 and 3 out around Edward Island - one of the mostly easterly in the Whitsundays group.

Double Olympic Gold medalist Iain Percy is aboard for this regatta, and has certainly put some edge into the racing.

The win by the Black Jack, the former Richel Pugh designed Alfa Romeo, has put some real interest into the regatta which is just past the halfway stage.

In the second race of the day a short 10 mile course, Wild Oats XI struck back.

After getting away to a slow start, Wild Oats XI crossed the transoms of the other five boats in her fleet and headed for the seaward or right hand side of the course. She tacked on what looked to be a lift and certainly in clear air, and was first to reach the laid mark about a mile from the start, easing around a boat-length clear of Black Jack who had to contend with the 50fters and their chopped up air.

Once around the laid mark, the fleet set off for Pentecost Island, also given its name by a dateline-confused Cook back in 1770. Wild Oats XI sailed away, on the windward leeward course - winning the race by five minutes - a similar margin to Black Jack's win in the first race of the day.

Racing for the Divisions 1, 2 and 3 was conducted well offshore. These waters are surely God's racecourse - unchanged from the time they were discovered by Captain Cook 250 years ago, and with only a few showing signs of human habitation.

Collectively, they are quite a remarkable sight - and a real step back in time - made all the more surreal by the sight of racing yachts sailing through the same waters traversed by the square rigged bark Endeavour - of the same 30metre length as the two supermaxis racing today. The scenery may have remained unaltered, the vessels could not be more different.

And who needs racing marks when there are 74 islands scattered around all points of the compass?

The forecast for Friday, the penultimate day of the regatta is for stronger winds from the east of around 11-12 kts and increasing further into the low teens on Saturday. That should make for some very exciting sailing as the two supermaxis lock horns in the pristine sailing waters of the Whitsundays.

Full results can be viewed by clicking here

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