Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 Patrice showed the IRC fleet how it is done when they took centre stage on Pioneer Bay today in the Vision Surveys 25th Airlie Beach Race Week winning two from two races to remain in first overall.
While the remainder of the record fleet headed off on a picturesque passage race north to Gumbrell Island, the IRC fleet had two windward/leeward races on the bay.
The wind had backed off from the previous two days of 25 knots plus to a comfortable 14 to 18 knots south-east. The sea was smoother and the sunshine turned the water into a perfect aqua, all the right combination of factors to create a few upsets in the leaderboards as they heavy weather winners were shown up by some lighter wind specialists.
The IRC fleet however just couldn’t make a dent in Patrice’s performance.
“Both races were close in my mind. It doesn’t take much to lose the fine margins we have. For both races, at the top mark, there was always a last minute wind shift. This morning it was a very fine line and we had to shoot the mark. In the second race we both had a big wind shift and had to do a tack to get to the mark,” Kirby said.
After rounding the top mark for the first time in Race 2, Patrice and Victoire were no more than a second apart. They were still within reach of each other as they approached the bottom mark. Slow kite drops by both of them kept the pressure on as they hardened up and headed out to the right.
“We both didn’t have good spinnaker drops, but theirs was a little bit worse than us. We were just able to get inside them a fraction and hold our line. We kept going and gassed Victoire out and in the end he couldn’t stay there. But that was through good crew work.
“The boat speed is good and we had good crew work. A credit to Victoire as well. It was like a match race out there between us,” he added.
After flying the white flag yesterday, or more accurately, what was left of the blown white kite, Colin and Denise Wilson’s Never a Dull Moment recovered well from their ‘Priscilla of the Bay‘ number to take out the Performance Division 1 race today. However, John Leman’s Bobby’s Girl, racing with great speed in the softer conditions, powered their way to a second today assuring them first place after three races.
In Performance Division 2, Mike Steel’s Boadicca finally found their form to win today’s passage race. The Dufour 36 boat is new and the Townsville team haven’t raced it anything more than a few knots before they hit the Airlie Race course at the start of Race Week.
Series leader, Gary McCarthy’s Brilliant Pearl, raced to a fifth place today which has kept them in first overall, but not before a start line incident almost put them out of the race. “We nearly had a head on. The Farr 400 was over the line and coming back on port tack. We nearly clashed rigs when he went past. He took our wind and we stood straight up,” an anxious McCarthy said.
The combined Performance divisions start line had its fair share of drama as Ray Semmens’s Prime Example and Roger Jepson’s Where’s Wal were OCS. In addition, Trevor Bailey’s Carbon Credits briefly lost a crew member over the side just 30 seconds after the start gun.
The Multihull Racing Division 1 and Division 2 are having great battles. In Division 1, George Owen’s super fast APC Mad Max has two seconds and a first under his belt to hold first overall. Today’s conditions suited the Grainger 10. “We are all bit battered and bruised, but we are doing alright.
“Today we had a good start. The boys did a brilliant set at the first mark and we just gradually extended. The brains trust down the back and I had a bit of discussion about where to go after we came around Olden taking into consideration the tide and stuff. We tried to sail where the wind was,” Owen said.
“Both Fantasia and Chillpill are pretty quick. When it is really rough like it was the first two days, the smaller suffer, where a nice, sleek 50 footer, they tend to get through that stuff pretty well,” he added.
Division 2 is still being led by Drew Carruthers’s Rushour after they won today’s race, but the series is not over yet as Bob Critchley’s Cool Change remains very close with a scorecard of three seconds from three races.
The Multihull Cruising Division clearly enjoyed the today’s gentler conditions. In first place was John Williams’s Tyee III which has moved that team into first overall with Ken Gibson’s Resolute II back to second place after a sixth place in today’s passage race.
It was perfect racing conditions for the Sports Boats. The five boat fleet saw Norman Ryde’s Conquistador stop John Rae and Vivace’s dominance of the fleet as they took first place. Jason Ruckert’s Mister Magoo came in third and remains in touch with podium as they sit on equal points with Conquistador.
Cruising Division 1 saw Rob Marshall’s Femme Fatale move up into first overall after winning today’s race. Still in second and sailing consistently even after a losing tack into the tide during today’s race, is Ian Griffith’s Witchy Woman. In third is Tony Harkings Lee-Way.
Cruising Division 2 was won today by Alan Sneddon’s Pacific Phoenix, but remaining in first place overall is Nic Cox and Col Thomas’s Adams 10, Ella, after they took out line honours and sixth place. “Today was a glorious day. We had a clean start, a good work to the laid mark, a glorious run down to Edwin Rock. We manage to lead the fleet around Grassy and stay ahead of the fleet all the way home.
“We now need to try and stay out the front. We are now scratch boat. It is very satisfying. There are all big boats in our division and she (Ella) is going like a little rocket,” Cox said.
Cruising Spinnaker Division 3, which is subject to protest, was won by Ben Meakin’s Peggy, but it’s Bob Beale’s Kameruka that is in the overall lead ahead of John Fowell’s Ells Bells.
In Cruising Non Spinnaker, Peter Dee’s Rampallion was another to lap up the softer conditions to take out first place and move into first overall.
Tomorrow is a lay day for all divisions.
For full results, go www.abrw.com.au.
– Tracey Johnstone