Festival of Sails – Tricky conditions fool some – but not all

Day 3 at the Festival of Sails was a hot one with breeze up and down and from all directions, the wind turning south with more pressure after most were ashore, but the entire fleet over 270 taking part in the Royal Geelong Yacht Club hosted event made the best of what they were handed – it’s all part and parcel of being as good as possible across a range of conditions.

The Passage Spinnaker Series has attracted the largest entry across the 13 series in the event.

With one day of racing remaining, Steven Fahey’s Cartouche holds the Division 1 lead by a mere two points to the tongue-in-cheek named Hot Chipps, belonging to John Chipp. There is a further four-point lead to Peter Russell’s Vincintore. The winner will likely be decided in favour of one of these three, although they still have the Twilight Race late today (in lovely conditions) and a race tomorrow.

Fahey described their day thus: “Hot, mixed conditions, but we had a really good start. We’ve had three good starts this week that let us get away from the rest.

“Today was tricky sailing. After the start, the wind dropped out completely, then came back. It was shifty in direction and we had anything from nothing to a moderate breeze. Making decisions was hard.

“Having said that, I handed the decision-making to the boys now (they are 29 and 25). I did mainsail today. I move around the boat to where I’m needed.”

Fahey and his family are big fans of the event. “We love coming for the Festival of Sails. Cartouche has been coming here for the last 10 years. I started here on my father’s boat, Shenandoah.”

The Melbourne yachtsman said racing for him was really about family. “My sons Nick and Damon run the boat. Nick’s girlfriend Kate is aboard, so is her brother and her father, so it is a real family affair. We try to make it even between men and women. We had four of each yesterday.”

Division 2 will come down to the wire. Yesterday, Cam Rae’s Thompson 30, Barracuda, had a handsome lead, carrying a third and first into today’s race. However, 11th place today, coupled with Holdfast’s win, has left the pair on equal 15 points.

Don McDonell’s Adams 10 Cruising, Red Dog, leads Division 3. McDonell has an impressive 10 point lead from Andrew Hesselmans and Brett Blakemore’s Noeleen III, a Steinman 40. Andrew Slagmolen’s Easy Day is a further two points in arrears.

In the Passage Rating Series, Melbourne sailmaker, Blake Anderson, raced on Peter Jackson’s Beneteau First 40, Niche, in Division 1. He said, “We were going well, lifted nicely – straight into a bommie – and that was the end of our race! Had we not got the lift, we would have been fine, in 2-3 metres of water. You just can’t win some days.”

They are not the first to come a cropper with the bommies this week and surely won’t be the last. Some have left their mark more than once…

Zen’s owner, Gordon Ketelbey, said the day was hot, “with another lightish breeze, but we got around the course. We sailed in an easterly and finished in a westerly. It (the wind) was everywhere. Hopefully, it will be better tomorrow.”

In other results, Chris Manton’s Tiger leads the Guyon Wilson Trophy Series in the Etchells from Festival of Sails stalwart, Brendan Garner (Panther). Blake Robertson’s Matilda is third, just one point behind Panther. A close series, there has been little more than seconds between the finishers.

For the full day’s results and more at the Festival of Sails, please visit: https://festivalofsails.com.au/

Di Pearson/Festival of Sails media

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