With just two days of racing remaining at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, it is going to be a fight to the finish to see which boat and crew will win the last round of the Audi IRC Championship to claim the Perpetual Trophy designed by John Woulfe and the major prize of an Audi A6 allroad Quattro valued at $115,000.
The inaugural winner of the Championship in 2007, Rod Jones and his updated Alegria have been sitting in the box seat from early on and had it not been for a penalty in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast race last month, Jones would have been sitting in the driver's seat of the Audi for the second time, prior to coming to Hamilton Island.
However, things never go according to plan and Jones is fighting off challenges from three other boats; Graeme Wood's Wot Now (NSW), which has moved into second place, last year's winner Peter Sorensen, who is at the helm this year of Peter Hill's Ruth Magic (NSW) and Michael Hiatt's Living Doll (Vic).
Making life even more difficult for the main contenders, are the extremely light and tactical conditions the entire fleet has had to contend with this year, not to mention the fact the four are sailing in three different divisions.
Leader Alegria, an Archambault 40, is racing in Grand Prix Division 2, Wot Now (JV 52) and Living Doll (Farr 55) are in the Grand Prix Division 1, while Ruth Magic (Beneteau 45) is in Passage Division 1. Each are fighting to win their respective divisions
Early this evening, Alegria dropped from leading Division 2 to second overall, Ruth Magic dropped down to a divisional fourth overall, not enjoying the light and fickle conditions, Living Doll gained the lead in Division 1, while Wot Now moved up from seventh into fifth place.
Each will have to put extra effort into maximising points in the next two days; easier said than done when they have to face their many rivals in each of those divisions.
“We're more worried about fatigue; staying relaxed and focussed on the whole event. We're very happy with our boat speed – the boat is able – it's more about us (the crew) putting it all together,” Living Doll's owner/skipper Michael Hiatt said.
“We back our judgement each day; it's nerve-wracking at times,” he added.
Rod Jones knows what has to be done too. “In relation to the division mixes, the reality is we can finish no worse than second or third in our division. It's all looking good at the moment and it would be such an honour to win the Audi Championship again,” said Jones who drove away in an Audi Q7 3.6 FSI quattro SUV in 2007.
A huge fan of Audi vehicles, Jones said from the outset he would love to take home the Audi A6 Quattro, the latest in luxury from Audi.
Further information: www.audisailingsport.com.au
Di Pearson, Audi Sailing