Around the Island Race caps off another magic Magnetic Island Race Week

What a way to finish 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), the stronger breeze everyone has longed for kicked in and because of it, competitors got to do the much anticipated Around the Island Race, bringing an end to the 16th edition of the regatta that holds a special place in competitors’ hearts.

In a salute to the regatta, heading out to the course, a crew member played ‘We are Sailing’ on trumpet from the bow of Capricorn Dancer, while the rest of the crew sang along. There was also music blaring from Celebrity and others.

End results of Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) regatta were riding on today’s final race. In Division 1, half a point separated leader, Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson, NSW) from Biddy Hui II (Paul Lindemann, Vic) with a further point to Paul Commins’ Carpe Diem (Vic).

As expected, the improved winds produced different winners and so it was that John Kint’s Bundaberg (Vic) won the race from Smooth Operator, but the Division series went to Biddy Hui II, with Carpe Diem second and Victoire third, with the race drop in place.

“We did it. What a crazy week. It was hard sailing. It was tough to win it,” Lindemann said. “We had a bad Day 1 and slapped ourselves on the wrist. This is our first win here. What a buzz.

“The start today was a nightmare, everyone was racked up next to the start boat, I had to go around again as I got pushed out of the start. I think what won it was us was sticking close to the island. I think those that went out, got sucked by the current.

“Denis Thompson (PRO) is a magician and such a nice guy. He does an excellent job. He knows what the yachties want,” Lindemann added.

In Division 2, Stephen Green and David Pinches’ Joint Venture (Qld) led Laurie McAllister’s Z7 (NSW) by one point. Stuart Tivey’s Ragamuffin 111 (Qld) was four points further back. Charm Offensive (James Permezel) won the race, but the top three overall remained the same, Ragamuffin placing third overall on countback. 

“We got our nose in front, we can’t complain,” Green said after sailing in 5-11 knots today. “The best wind of the race. The sight of all the spinnakers behind us coming around the other side of the island was a real spectacle.

“We had a consistent week and got rewarded for it. We’ve enjoyed the whole week, not just the racing. We didn’t even know who’d won or placed till we saw the results. It was that close. We’ll be back next year, it’s very relaxed.”

Division 3 was led by Mike Steel’s Boadicca, by five points to last year’s division winner, Brava (Tony and Selena Muller) and six points to Russell McLaughlin’s Freya. All three are from the host club and the former two are Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore of TYC respectively.

Tim Ford’s Seascape (Vic) won the race, but the series went to Boadicca from Brava and Helena May (Lyndy Sawbridge). The top three represent the host club.

“We’ve been doing this series for the entire 16 years and never won it,” an elated Steel said. “Today was a pleasant breeze, the boat was powered up and the crew worked well, because we knew we had to do that to win.

“My crew is mainly regulars, but we also had Oli (David Oliver, a past Sydney Hobart winner and the official merchandise supplier at the event) aboard. I was going to take the boat back to Townsville at 4.30pm today, but Oli offered to take it back so I can celebrate.”  

Tim Campbell (Private Equity, Vic) went into the day with a large 11-point Division 4 lead having not strayed outside top three places throughout, Craig Picinelli’s Wobbly Boot (Qld) the only one that could realistically beat him.

Geoff Ingram’s Capricorn Dancer (Qld) won the race. However, as expected, Private Equity won the series – by 10 points – from Jack Maguire’s Zen and Peter Webster’s Son of a Son, both of which represent the host club.

Campbell won in 2019, so this is a second win. “It’s good to have a win here. We did really well, we stayed consistent. We love the light conditions and the courses. We had the right team. A lot of us sail reasonably regularly together in Melbourne. Bill Lennon the tactician and I have sailed together over 20 years.

“The boat really loves 8 knots to windward and we used our masthead kite a bit, so the conditions really did suit us,” said Campbell, who added he had already taken the mast out of the boat at Crosshaven Marine, ready to tow the boat back to Melbourne tomorrow.

The Non-Spinnaker division was won by Emma Kate, owned by locals Lisa and Robert Fogerty, whose life story is appearing in the Townsville Bulletin – Part 1 was in today’s paper. The married couple did not have their best race today, but their other scores gave them the win on countback to Thylacine One (Glenn Myler, Tas). Vic Stevens’ Macushla (Qld) won today’s race.

“The week has been quite amazing. We had a sensational crew – we started the week with no crew, so made a callout and we are very grateful. There was a lot of experience and listening on board,” said Lisa, explaining this is their last with the boat they are selling.

“Our normal crew all had work commitments, so we thought we’d have to pull out. We didn’t know any of our crew until the morning of the first race. We are extremely grateful. Our Emma Kate handled everything well.”

Multihulls

William Richards’ Kay Cee (Qld) led Division 1, but it was anyone’s as the pointscore was that close. And the winner is…. Gordon Beath’s Roamance, which came back with a win today. John Brand’s Alba Dash (Qld) took second and Kay Cee was relegated to third.

“As I mentioned the other day, I have three lovely ladies aboard, including my sister. They did not make a mistake. We started, got round the first buoy first, put up our screecher and pulled away. We won the regatta and I feel so pleased for my crew. We left all the gear on board, as we just came to enjoy.

“This is the second time I’ve been here with Roamance and it might be the last for a while, as we are going out of the country to race and cruise. We are all so happy to win,” Beath said.

Division 2 was similar. Kevin Lord’s Vivacious (NSW) was a touch in front of Ken Plowman’s Red Undies, Max Billing’s Twin Spirit (Qld) and Ian Johnson’s Salacia from TYC.

Salacia won after taking today’s race out. Three others finished on equal points one point behind Salacia: “I can’t believe it, I’m still a bit stunned,” Johnson said. I had a shocker yesterday, but we won today. Today suited us. More breeze. It’s been great. We really enjoyed it. As usual it’s been a great regatta.”

Sports Boats

It came down to the wire in the Sports Boats. The local Bambalam (Justin Van Stom) led the M24 Panther (Stephen O’Rourke, NSW) on countback. No Mercy (Burke Melia, NSW) and Cutting Edge (Andrew Jones, Qld) were breathing down their necks.

Bambalam won the series on countback to No Mercy, with M24 Panther taking third: “It was tough today, but we didn’t lose concentration and we got there. It always feels really good to win. An achievement. Through the week there was two, three and four of us. Today I had my 17 year-old son, Hugo aboard.

“I also had Jessie Goodheart aboard (she lost her rig here last year) and Aleisha McMillan. The competition was great and everyone in the division were good people, including some of my heroes, like Julian Bethwaite,” ended Van Stom, the local Townsville boat broker.

TYC can be proud of yet another magic event, even if winds were mainly light, which put a lot of pressure on Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson and his experienced team.

“It has been quite stressful,” Thompson confessed. “Chasing the breeze every day, making sure the people got to race and finish. Changing courses and adapting the races to suit each division was difficult. Our volunteer team worked very well. They knew exactly what I needed and what I was going to do every day – and they did their jobs,” said.

Like everyone else, Thompson said he was pleased to see a decent breeze this morning. “It was great to look out and see sheep in the paddock, which meant we could do the Around the Island Race. It’s the race everyone had been waiting for.

“This is a great regatta and it’s especially good to see so many interstaters here. They made up around 60 percent of entries, which bodes well for next year. We’ll see if we can beat the 16 minute sell-out of last year,” he ended.

The final word goes to SMIRWs enduring Event Chairman, TYC Vice Commodore and competitor, Mike Steel, who with his team works tirelessly to ensure the smooth running of the regatta and to make sure everyone has a good time. “It’s been superb,” he said, unable to believe the week had gone so quickly.

“It’s been a bit soft (the wind), but at least it hasn’t bee howling with wind in the afternoon, so everyone could enjoy the deck experience at Peppers Race Headquarters. The Around the Island Race is our classic and everyone had been waiting for it and fortunately we delivered it on the final day!

“Our competitors make the week the great event it is, so for management and committee members, they have made the job easy for us. I want to thank our Event Manager Jodie Kennedy, our sponsors who help make the event what it is and our volunteers. We could not do this without you,” Steel said.

“Book your accommodation for next year now and be ready on 1 March 2024 at 10am Queensland time to click on the entry button – and remember your Top Yacht password!

“Thank you all for taking part in SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves. We look forward to welcoming you again next year,” Steel ended.

For all information including results, please visit: www.magneticislandraceweek.com.au

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

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