Living Doll wins Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

Melbourne 55-footer Living Doll, launched 10 months ago by Michael Hiatt and sailing for the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, has finished top scoring boat in IRC grand prix division 1 at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

Living Doll's mostly amateur 16 man crew, with an average age of 41, squeezed the last out of the boat for the final Molle Islands race. They polished off the series with a second in today's race, owner/skipper Hiatt at the helm of his winning Farr design.

Hiatt's victory comes off the back of his title win last week at the Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week and gives him the trifecta after he took out the IRC crown at Skandia Geelong Week in January.

“The back guard did a great job getting us in the right place at the right time,” said Hiatt today.

“We went out yesterday to do well in the windward/leewards as those three races can catapult you forward,” added Hiatt, who scored a first, second and third yesterday and a second today to cement victory.

Speaking on successive wins at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week by a Victorian boat Hiatt commented, “Sailing is alive and well in Victoria”.

“For the current season we have 13 evenly handicapped boats and a great group of owners who meet once a month to put a racing program together.”

Next on the calendar for Living Doll is the continuation of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Blue Water Pointscore Series, which includes the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. As well as contesting local events, Hiatt plans to have the boat delivered to Sydney for each of the remaining six of the seven-race series that stretches from July to March 2010.

Living Doll finished six points clear of Ray Roberts' Cookson 50 Evolution Racing (CYCA), the same order the pair finished (40 seconds apart) at Airlie Beach, with Graeme Wood's JV52 Wot Now (CYCA) third on the IRC grand prix division 1 ladder.

“We tried to reverse the Airlie Beach finishing order,” said Roberts this afternoon. “I actually enjoyed today's race, it was very strategic and a lot like the light air sailing we do in Asia. Living Doll is a hard boat to beat when the pressure's down; they sail around a lot of boats.”

Rod Jones' Archambault 40 Alegria (MYC) capped off the series with an IRC grand prix division 2 win in today's shortened Molle islands race.

“It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but I'm sure it will shortly,” said Jones dockside this afternoon.

It's the strength of our team – they're all good at what they do.

“It's been a tough week one way or another, but we had a great tussle with Dekadence. They're a great crew and we both enjoyed the competition.”

Jones beat Phil Coombs' DK46 Dekadence (SYC) by two points over nine races, Andrew Saies' brand new South Australian Beneteau First 40 Two True Evolution taking home the third place silverware from its very first regatta hit-out.

Today's 23.3 nautical mile Molle Islands race for the IRC grand prix, IRC passage 1 and IRC Invitation divisions started from Dent Passage in favourable tide and a light 6 knot SW breeze. All divisions, bar IRC grand prix 1, later had their courses shortened in the fading sou'easter.

Division after division lined up in Dent Passage this morning to set off in a northerly direction at five minute intervals, creating a magnificent march past for the onlookers standing atop the new Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the club's flagstaff marking one end of the start line.

It was no-man's land in Molle passage for those first on the scene; Bob Oatley's RP66 Wild Oats X caught short while Stephen Ainsworth's RP62 Loki moved into first, staging a remarkable comeback after being called OCS at the start. Loki picked up a handy land breeze off South Molle Island and scooted along the shoreline before they were challenged by Peter Harburg's RP66 Black Jack .

The lead changed several more times before Alan Brierty's RP63 Limit stormed home in what was one of the best finishes of the regatta, narrowly pipping Black Jack and the Adam Beashel helmed Wild Joe to get the gun by one minute, and record their second bullet of the series.

A final word from the regatta director….

This afternoon as the Audi race buoys were being deflated and packed away for the next Audi sponsored sailing event, regatta director Denis Thompson took some time to think back over the past week, which began with light and variable breeze and closed with the return of the Trade Winds, although uncharacteristically light.

“It's been an almost Trade Wind-less regatta which meant the race committee had to work so hard to chase the breeze and make sure the fleets had some good racing.

“Once again the quality of the IRC fleet has been outstanding, probably the best ever seen in the country,” Thompson added.

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