Focus and determination a prerequisite at Magnetic Island Race Week

A fondness for extremely light testing conditions, focus and determination were qualities that were needed in spades on Townsville City Council race day, the second day of 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW); race officials monitored the weather for two hours before racing got away at 1pm on flat water, the sun out in full force again over a blue sky.

The wind and tide gods must have been laughing their heads off in unison at those taking part in Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) much anticipated annual event. The fleet milled around for two hours with mains up only, waiting, waiting, while the tide took control near the start. A handful of lighter boats, sports and multihulls, found enough pressure to set spinnakers and have a run or two on the bay, just to whet the appetite – or was it just in case?

Finally, Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, was able to start the fleet off Peppers Race Headquarters. The tide took control of Division 1 entry, Victoire, a novel sideways slew to the start line, but at least she wasn’t over early in the 8 knot breeze. As divisions started behind them. Individual recalls were heard in various divisions.

Down the run, many struggled to keep their bows pointed in the right direction and to fly their kites, gybes were requisite for a number, as the breeze was all over the shop. The lightweight boats made the most of their size and weight, mainly sports boats and a couple of multihulls, such as Mistress.

Boadicca scored a big win in Division 3 today. Owner, Mike Steel, is the Event Chairman and Vice Commodore of Townsville Yacht Club, so has that thing called local knowledge. The Dufour 36 Performance design beat another local, Russell McLaughlin’s Freya, by just shy of eight minutes when the handicaps were in place. Tim Ford’s Seascape (Vic) was a further 10 minutes behind in third place – such were the conditions.

“We had every sail on the deck at the start; spinnaker, Code Zero and the jib hanked on because we didn’t know what was going to happen with the breeze. I had my foredecky change the kite four times it was so iffy.”

On winning, Steel said laughing, “We were just lucky.” He described their race thus: “It was interesting start. We were near the pin and decided we’d start on port tack. There was one boat still above us though, Hotel, but we sailed away from them. It was an interesting course too, a windward/leeward.  We tacked into Florence Bay, and I think that won the day for us.

“We sailed through a lot of Division 2 boats. They were starboard rounding while our division and Division 4 had a port rounding at the same mark. It was definitely challenging,” Steel admitted.

“We set the kite (at the top mark) and seemed to clear out. There was a pack of yachts behind us, so they would have caused each other problems, while we were on our own in clear air.”

Steel said of the run to the finish, “Working the spinnaker, we were constantly pole forward, pole back, pole forward. Near the finish we were headed and went prawning with the kite. Fifty metres off, we had to get the heady up to cross the finish line.” 

Division 4’s race on the same course was just as interesting, except the top two places went to Victorian boats. Andrew Clark’s Adams 10, Single Malt (Vic) took the gun from Tim Campbell’s Corby 25, Private Equity, which has become a regular at SMIRW. There was six minutes between the pair and a further two minutes to third placed Vaya Con Dios, a Farr 1104 owned by local, Wayne Simonsen.

Clark described Single Malt’s start: “The start line was chaos. We were going in the opposite direction to the one we were supposed to! It was like a washing machine with the breeze swinging 360 degrees.

“It was all about attrition and concentration and weight distribution on the boat and changing gears. Everyone spent just about the whole race to leeward. You had to keep changing gears all the time, judging where to put the boat. “

Having said that, Clark went on to admit, “We loved this race. We were all calm on board. We knew what we had to do and just did our thing. We have crew from Melbourne, different yacht clubs though and from Darwin. We don’t normally sail together, we’re not a proper team, we’re just together for this event.” 

The Victorian yachtsmen added, “The race management of this event is second to none and Magnetic Island is the best. The people from Townville Yacht Club and Peppers just make this the best regatta.”

Tomorrow is lay day for Townsville Airport Father’s Day at Picnic Day. Celebrations will be varied and fun where there will be anything from the markets to free kids’ activities, food stalls, a sandcastle competition, Arcadian Surf Club’s ‘The Great Inflatable Race’, fundraising barbecue, mud crab races and entertainment from Godfathers of Funk.

Racing resumes from 11am on Monday.

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

By Di Pearson/SMIRW media

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Further information: Di Pearson, SMIRW media manager, phone: 0410 792 131

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