IRC fleet switches mode for the Australian Championship

The IRC Australian Championship fleet switched modes today, Monday August 17, 2015, to short round-the-buoys racing off Hamilton Island.

Two races in to the championship pointscore that falls under the Hamilton Island Race Week umbrella, Karl Kwok’s TP52 Team Beau Geste (RNZYS) leads the division A results by one point. The newest IRC version of a TP52 showed a vulnerable side after Matt Allen’s TP52 Ichi Ban took a win off the usually unbeatable crew in the first race of the day, in 14-8kt sou’easters.

Based on first impressions Ichi Ban’s tactician Gordon Maguire believes Team Beau Geste has the edge in heavier air and Allen’s Sydney boat is more competitive in the light. “First impressions usually aren’t right though,” Maguire joked. “Beau Geste being experienced TP52 sailors on a new boat and us sailing a new class of boat means we are both feeling our way this week. Each day is a training day. These are very complicated boats; the complexities are there so you can tweak away and make the boat go faster. If you adjust the wrong way though, it can be detrimental.”

Maguire described today’s breeze as “streaky”, adding “it seemed like everyone else was in a better streak”. PRO Denis Thompson made course adjustments during both windward/leewards and set the line at different bearings for each start as the breeze swung to the east and came and went.

On handicap the three TP52s are holding out the other designs so far. Phil Turner’s RP66 Alive with Andrew Hunn on the helm is under pressure to find form among the professional crews, and finished the day with one less spinnaker in the cupboard.

David Fuller and Jamie Wilmot’s Corby 49, Vamp, has hit the lead in IRC division B thanks to two wins. “They were great conditions for Vamp,” admitted skipper David Fuller. Tactician Peter Messenger’s calls were shrewd, making sure the boat banged the start line on the right side and stayed left on the deep-water course.

There was sufficient wind to push Roger Hickman’s weighty but always well-sailed IRC division C defending Australian champion, Wild Rose, around the track fast enough to beat the lightweights on corrected time. Andy Kearnan’s L’Altra Donna is second after three races and is right where Hickman expected, in his shadow.

A key Race Week function for sailors is tonight’s dinner at Romano’s hosted by Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke and featuring gold medallist and Team Oracle America’s Cup sailor Tom Slingsby talking about a range of sailing topics including Australia’s preparation for next year’s Rio Games.

So far whales have stayed hidden from the IRC fleet but over at the Dent Passage start for the remaining divisions a lone snake was swimming mid-channel, oblivious to the amount of fast moving yachts under spinnaker heading its way.

Tomorrow is the pre-layday traditional Classic Long Race for IRC division A and Multihull racing starting from the eastern course area at 10am, a 61 nautical mile endurance test around one of the most beautiful sailing playgrounds in the world. The remaining IRC divisions, Cruiser/racer and IRC passage will line up for a medium distance race of 41 nautical miles and all other divisions will complete another round the islands race in winds that are expected to trend downwards.

Results & progressive pointscores

– Lisa Ratcliff

M.O.S.S Australia