The last day of racing delivered enough weather challenges to force changes to the podium places in many of the six divisions racing in the 8th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.
As the results were announced around the dock, the cheer went up on Peter Jones’s 60-foot Spirit of Mateship after they sailed a smart race and put enough distance and time between them and previous series leader, Colin and Denise Wilson’s Never a Dull Moment, to win the final race and the Performance Racing Division.
In second place across the line was Darryl Hodgkinson’s 50-foot Victoire. They led the fleet around the course, but lost to Spirit of Mateship on handicap.
All the fleet members had a race of mistakes, tough decisions and good luck to get them out of and around the wind holes and massive shifts on Cleveland Bay.
At the official start the wind was a variable three knots with many of the 57-boat fleet expecting not to race. The race committee sent them back ashore for about an hour while they called on the wind whisperer and a lot of patience to wait out the possible afternoon easterly.
With about an hour left to the cut-off time for a race start, the wind started to build from the east-north-east with just enough to puff to call the fleet back out.
By the time the Performance Racing Division were on the start line there was over six knots to send them away on a work up the northerly course around the shipping channel mark and then a run down to the Inner East Beacon. Victoire was ahead of the fleet quickly reveling in the soft air and flat water. Close on his stern was another soft air specialist, Leon Thomas’s Guilty Pleasures VI, and Never a Dull Moment.
Everything seemed to be going to plan for all the divisions. The wind was building and the fleet were enjoying the short 13 mile race. Then the ‘this never happens here at this time of year moment’ occurred. As Victoire was running down to the beacon, the wind shifted close to 180 degrees and they feel into a hole.
Victoire floated through the shift going from kite to jib to kite to jib, while Spirit of Mateship came to a standstill. Luckily the other Performance Divisions boat were affected worse than the lead boats which ultimately made the difference at the finish line. Victoire and Spirit of Mateship tacked out to the right and found enough of the returning north-easter to sail neck and neck right to the finish line.
Hodgkinson expressed some bemusement at the end of the race. ‘I can’t understand with all this local knowledge that this was a ‘once in a lifetime event’. We thought we had everyone on toast, but then it’s twice now we have done this, showing everyone what not to do.
“It was an amazing change. We had a east-north-east on the way down and we were going beautifully. We thought the race committee were going to stop the race there (at the beacon) as we saw the start boat go down there. That caused some confusion.
“That, plus the wind change. Let’s put it this way, there was a couple of minutes of mild pandemonium,” Hodgkinson said.
A quietly pleased Jones said the day was about keeping the boat moving. “We needed two boats between and Never a Dull Moment.
“I was watching the breeze coming down, funneling between the islands. We tried to weave our way through that. We saw the shift just before it happened.
“We actually stopped for a minute or two like everyone else did. The breeze was very shifty with the pressure going from 11 to 15 knots and swinging through 15 to 20 degrees,” Jones said.
“We have had a fantastic regatta,” Jones added.
Both Hodgkinson and Jones have already started talking up being back on the start line at Magnetic Island in 2015.
The final top three results for the Performance Division was first to Spirit of Mateship, second to Never a Dull Moment and third to Victoire.
Wilson was reflective at the completion of racing. “We couldn’t have sailed any better today. We had them on toast and then we sailed into a hole and watched as the other fleets came to join us,” Wilson said.
In Cruising Division 1, Geoff and Vicki Player’s Silver Minx finally regained their overall division lead, but only just. They were having a good work to the top mark before their main halyard broke. “We got to the mark, went around, got the spinnaker set and then sent Andrew up the top of the mast. We ran a secondary halyard up and kept the main.
“We had a really great spinnaker run all the way down, right on the edge of the wind shifts. They were all becalmed in there and we just sailed straight in and carved them up. They shortened the course and we were over the line,” a chuffed Player said.
Wayne McNees’ little Celebrity had a superb day to take out first place ahead of Own Stanley’s Tap Dancer and Vic Stevens’s Northern Moment.
The final top three results for Cruising Spinnaker Division 1 were Silver Minx in first, Doug Ryan’s Shazam back to second and Peter Byford’s L’Esprit into third.
In Cruising Spinnaker Division 2, Robert Clayton had another win today with Douglas Sockhill’s Zen in second and Rod Finucane’s Sealink’s Quinkin in third. After finishing seventh today, Chris and Lyndy Sawbri Helena May moved up to first place overall pushing a disappointed Tony Muller and his Brava team back to second after they finished 17th today. In third overall was Peter Cox’s Valhalla.
The Cruising Non Spinnaker Division saw Margaret Chapman get her second podium finish of the regatta. In second place was Ivor Burgess’s Still Dangerous and in third place, Mike Walter’s Mim. Russell McLaughlin’s Freya finished ninth today which kept him in first overall. In second overall was Phil Bates’s Psycho II. In third on count back from Midnight Saga and Mim was Still Dangerous.
Multihull Cruising was won today by Rob Finucane’s Promiscuous as Ken Gibson's Resolute II packed up and headed off on the start of their cruising trip to the Louisiades. The overall results for this division was Resolute II in first place, Promiscuous in second and Ian Johnson’s Salacia in third.
The Multihull Racing division were the last to have their results processed. A collision prior to the race start saw Andrew Stransky’s Fantasia protesting Rupert King’s Overdrive. The Jury decision went against Fantasia who was then disqualified from the final race.
Overdrive took out today’s race with Graeme Etherton’s The Boat in second and Dennis Coleman’s Mistress in third. On the overall results Overdrive won the division with Fantasia relegated to second and The Boat in third.
For full results and all event information head to Magnetic Island Race Week.
– Tracey Johnstone