Competition ramps up at Australian Yachting Championships Day 5

An overcast day, breezy and chilly at the 2022 Australian Yachting Championships (AYC) was sent to brush the cobwebs away from those who are tired after nearly a week of hard racing and the glittery social activities that entice competitors to Hamilton Island Race Week in Queensland each year.

Rating Divisions Zero, 1 and 2 sailed Course 30. Starting in Dent Passage, it took the fleets to Dent and Pentecost Islands, Isolated Rock, Ann Island, Spitfire Rock, Dent Island. The finish was in a south to north direction on a line between the jetty and a mark on the eastern side of Dent. Regatta Director, Denis Thompson, planned the day for all entrants to finish by 4pm before the tide turned. It worked.

Meanwhile, Divisions 3 and 4 and Multihull Racing took their turn on windward/leeward courses off the Eastern starting line.

Division Zero
Hamilton Island Wild Oats (Oatley family) and Alive (Phillip Turner) got away well, but Grant Wharington positioned Stefan Racing (Qld) below the pair, closest to Hamilton Island Yacht Club (HIYC). The Botin 80 flew under spinnaker, Wild Oats picking them up a little way down the course.

Andoo Comanche (John Winning Jr) and Phillip Turner’s Alive (Tas) were just behind and it made for a spectacular sight as the division of six, spinnakers set, headed down the bay on the penultimate day of the event.

The ‘supers’ finished in double quick time – Andoo Comanche took 2hrs 1min 51secs and Hamilton Island Wild Oats 2hrs 5mins 1sec. The local super’s result gave her third place once the handicaps were applied.

Alive, skippered by Duncan Hine, won the race from David Griffith’s Whisper (NSW) by nearly four minutes. A real tussle has existed between the two since the opening day. Tomorrow being the final day of the regatta will be a curtain raiser, with the two tied on points and Alive in the lead on countback.

“The time has come,” Hine said with a nervous laugh, referring to tomorrow’s final race and the fact that Alive leads the series on countback.

“It was an exciting race. It was quite a tactical one and a lot of fun. You’re going through lots of islands, so it gets a bit funky with the breeze. If you’re leading, you try to play it safe and not gamble. But if you’re behind, you have to take a few risks.

“I reckon we won the race on the last leg. We are very equal boats and the handicaps are very good. It comes down to the luck of the draw a bit, if you get a little edge, a good shift.

“We don’t sail in the exact same winds, so you have to avoid making mistakes. I have a nice chat in the morning with David (Griffith) and another one in the afternoon when we get back. It’s all very friendly!

“Tomorrow the winner takes all. It’s cattle stations time. Whatever happens, we’ve all enjoyed ourselves here. It seems longer than five days,” Hine ended.

Division 1 – TP52’s
Matt Allen’s reigning champion, Ichi Ban (NSW), got a cracking start with Andy Kearnan/Peter Wrigley’s Koa alongside her. As they moved off the line, the ever-present Caro (SUI), skippered by Max Klink, put herself between the two boats, the rest left to play catch up. A couple of boats gybed low on the course heading to the first mark, but the rest were not drawn in.

Ichi Ban won the race from Caro by just over three minutes and David Doherty’s Matador (NSW) placed third, just 45 seconds behind Caro.

Caro, the newest boat in the fleet, built in 2021, will be hard to beat. With one day remaining, she has a three-point lead over Matador and four on Ichi Ban.

“The line was biased towards the yacht club. We took a massive risk going there and got lucky to get away with it. That got us out in front of pack. We extended from there. Once we got ahead we were able to point the boat where we wanted,” Gordon Maguire, Ichi Ban’s Sailing Master, said.

“It was desperately needed win for us and we worked hard for it,” Maguire ended.

Maritimo scored a win – Salty Dingo, HIRW pic

Division 2
Brendan McAssey timed the start perfectly on his Farr 40, S1 (NSW), with double Olympic gold medallist, Malcolm Page, calling tactics. As is usual, Maritimo (Bill Barry-Cotter, Qld), was there amongst it, at the start, as was Rob Dawes’ Marten 49, Indigo 2 (NSW).

Maritimo won the race with Ikon second and S1 third. Ikon leads the series from Maritimo and Gerry Hatton’s Bushranger.

Maritimo’s Michael Spies described the day: “We went round Dent. While the tide hadn’t turned in the middle, it had on the edges. Then it was a fetch from Dent to Pentecost – and how you approached Pentecost was critical. There were literally a hundred boats between Ann Island and Spitfire Rock, so you had to carve a path through there.”

Of the conditions, Spies said, “We got wind from 8 and up to 20 knots and round Penetecost it was lumpy.”

Ikon leads Division 2 – Salty Dingo, HIRW pic

Division 3
Ray Roberts and his Team Hollywood (NSW) made it six wins from six races. It’s not often you get to drop a first place, but that was the case today when a discard came into play. The Sydneysider is in the enviable situation of an unassailable lead over The Cadillac (Peter Chappell, WA) and PPI (Jeremy O’Connell, Vic).

The Cadillac at full bore – Salty Dingo, HIRW pic

Division 4
Ari Abrahams’ X Yacht, Xpresso (Vic) had the bit between the teeth and beat Garry Holt’s Adams 10, Get It On (Qld) by less than a minute, but it was enough. Mark Hellyer’s Cicero placed third.

Get It On leads the division overall by two points from Xpresso. It will come down to these two for the trophy tomorrow. Third place overall will be fought for by the other Adams 10, Flyaway The Red Boat (Ian Ford/Jared Macquart) and Cicero, which are joined at the hip on points, with the former leading on countback. It’s all to play for.

Farr N Away chases Get It On – Salty Dingo, HIRW pic

Multihull Racing
Michel Van Der Zwaard (Qld) had the goods with the Extreme 40, Angus today. Disparate in every respect, the OMR rule sorts them out. The gap to the Dale Mitchell skippered ORMA 60 Rex when the handicaps were applied, was over four minutes.

With a day of racing remaining, Angus leads the pointscore by two points to Rex – one or the other will take the trophy tomorrow. Bob Engwirda’s Stealth 12 cat, Coconuts, is third overall.

The Australian Yachting Championships are being held in conjunction with Hamilton Island Race Week. Racing continues tomorrow morning.

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By Di Pearson/Australian Sailing media

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