Another summer day in the Australian tropical north for the 20th annual Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week. Light winds again on the Whitsunday coast and two windward leeward races for the Grand Prix IRC fleet.
In this morning's three lap race Living Doll, Michael Hiatt's Farr 55, took line honours and a handicap win from Ray Roberts' Cookson 50 Evolution Racing. Russell McCart's Farr 40 Night Nurse was third on handicap.
Series leader Rob Date's Reichel Pugh Scarlet Runner struggled for pace this morning, finishing behind Evolution Racing and was sixth on handicap.
On the second IRC windward leeward, Living Doll looked to be only just ahead on handicap time as she came down the first run, with Scarlet Runner advancing on the right and Evolution Racing bringing breeze up to the Doll. After a big wind shift, suddenly Evolution was second with Scarlet Runner struggling in third.
As the breeze lightened the last leg was shortened to half the distance, only 0.7 nautical miles. There was sensation as Living Doll on the left kept heading to the original top mark, 1.4 miles upwind. It was not until Evolution rounded the new top mark that the after guard on Living Doll sudden realised what had happened and the bow came away. Having overstood the mark so hugely, they charged down (as much as you can charge in five knots of breeze), rounded the mark in a 270 turn and headed for home, crossing the line in third place behind Evolution Racing and Scarlet Runner.
But the damage was done. As Michael Hiatt said dockside 'We've had better days.'
However Living Doll still leads the series after four races, with 1,2,1,5, from Scarlet Runner 2,1,6,2, on a total of 11 points. Ray Robert's Evolution 3,6,2,1 now with 12, is within striking distance.
If the last three days racing bring winds then expect to see the Cookson 50 up and flying.
Five classes today sailed the 24 mile Gumbrell Island course north from Pioneer Bay.
In IRC Cruising another great result for Barry Kelly's Typhoon; she now has a second and two wins and leads John Moore's Beneteau 44.7 On Y Va, from Geoff Pearson and his Beneteau First 45 Carbon Credits.
This afternoon Kelly commented 'It's always better to be lucky than good. We had a shocker of a start but brought the pressure up to the fleet. We managed to get around the Island without stopping and were lifted most of the way home.
'We always knew the boat would go well in the light conditions. How she will go in heavier stuff remains to be seen.'
In the Performance Racing fleet Sydney sailor Kim Williams lightweight Melges 32 Rock n' Roll looked pressured up in six knots, she scooted around the course in 4 hours and 20 minutes, hugging the mainland shore to stay out of the tide. Second across the line was Local Hero, Peter Mosley's Sydney 36 almost half an hour later. However on corrected time Rock n' Roll won on handicap by only 89 seconds from Whitsunday Sailing Club's Peter Mitchelson's Clubman 8, with another Whitsunday local Damien Suckling steering his Atkinson 24 Fallen Angels into third place.
After four races its still a close run affair with Rock 'n Roll just a point ahead of George Challoner's Elan 37 Airlie Retreat with Charlie Wallis' Reignition third.
In the Offshore Sports Boat fleet Pierre Gal steered his Sports 8 xx Conquistador to a line honours win, ahead of Bruce Tardrew's Stealth 8 No Limits and Bob Cowan's Stealth 8 Stealthy. Gal commented 'A perfect race, wonderful conditions, even better than… Coffs Harbour', which was a big call from the Northern NSW sailor.
Cam Rae and his Thompson 8 Laminar Capital crew made some astute tactical judgements to take the race on handicap; they've won the last three in a row and now equal Townsville sailor Leon Thomas and his T7 Guilty Pleasures both on seven points after five races.
In the Inshore Sports division, on handicap, Shane Smith on his modified Blazer 23 Musto, continued his winning streak and clearly leads the fleet with bullets in all races. Airlie Sails, Jamie Jochheim's (WSC) held form adding another second place to his score (five straight second places to date). Michael McLean's Wagop retains third place on handicap.
Full results soon at www.airliebeachraceweek.com.au