Tough competition lined up for second half of Airlie Beach Race Week

With Lay Day over the 135-boat record fleet competing in the Vision Surveys 25th Airlie Beach Race Week regatta and the Whitsunday Sailing Club race management team are starting to turn their attention towards the next three day’s weather and races.

Regatta Director Denis Thompson has been watching carefully the forecast for remaining race days. “It looks like it going to be good up to Thursday when it may get up to 23 or 24 knots. I expect there to be some good sailing from here on in.

“These conditions are fairly normal for this time of year. It’s all being driven by the large high pressure down in Bight in South Australia. They drive the ridge up the east coast producing good trade winds. The last two or three years we have had light conditions. I would say the light conditions are not really normal. It’s normal to have 15 knot trade winds at this time,” Thompson said.

Thompson has confirmed that there are no plans to change the race schedule for the rest of the regatta. He will however send the divisions doing passages races on the southern courses. “The tide is starting to become a bit favourable to sending the fleet more down into the southern islands with the high tides in the afternoon, which means the flow is going south. So we will set courses that go down that way so that we are with the tides both down to the islands and back again,” Thompson added.

The race schedule for Wednesday has Performance Racing and Multihull Racing divisions on windward/leeward courses while the remainder of the fleet will be on a passage race.

Wednesday's forecast is for another day of brisk east-south-east winds and some rain.

After three days of racing and without drops, the top places in each division are, for most divisions, still tight.

In IRC Racing Tony Kirby’s Patrice is on four points after four consecutive handicap wins. In second is Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban on 10 points while in third on 15 points is Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire. In fourth place on 16 points is Colin Woods’s Pretty Fly III. Both of these Cookson 50s have a fifth place as their worst result to date.

Woods is looking forward to more strong wind. “We like the forecast. We like it a bit heavier and we also like the passage races. The windward/leewards we didn’t expect to be as competitive in. Passage races are what we really want to do and with that strong breeze, if we get a good start, we can get out in front and get a good downwind leg, we will be pretty competitive for second or third hopefully,” Woods said.

Performance Racing Division 1 is in the hands of John Leman’s Bobby’s Girl. They are on six points. In second place is Trevor Bailey’s Carbon Credits on 11 points and in third, Stewart Lewis’s Ocean Affinity on 13 points.

The Performance Racing Division 2 is being led by Gary McCarthy’s Brilliant Pearl on nine points. Second place is held by Jeff Rice’s Rogue on 11 points while Angus Fletcher’s Tevake II has slipped back to equal third with Rob Davis’s Treasure VIII, both on 18 points.

Multihull Racing Division 1 is being led by George Owen’s APC Mad Max on five points. However, he will be keeping an eye out on close competitors, Andrew Stransky’s Fantasia and Wayne Bloomer’s Chillpill, when the race format changes and they go head-to-head in tomorrow’s windward/leeward races.

Multihull Racing Division 2 is being dominated by Drew Carruthers’s Rushour. They have placed first in all three races. In second place is another consistent performer, Bob Critchley’s Cool Change on six points after three second places. In third place is Peter Millar’s Quick Skips on 10 points.

The Sports Boats fleet is currently being led by John Rae’s Vivace on five points after four races. However, with Conquistador founding their pace again after returning from a broken mast on Day 1 and having a sixth place as their likely drop, the scoreboard is still open to movement between those two boats and Jason Ruckert’s Mister Magoo which is placed on equal second with Conquistador.

Cruising Division 1 has two consistent performers equally on first place. Rob Marshall’s Femme Fatale is sharing the spotlight with Ian Griffith’s Witchy Woman, both on them sitting on 10 points. In third place is Tony Harkings’s Lee-Way on 12 points.

The battle for Cruising Division 2 honours is between Nic Cox and Col Thomas’s Ella on 12 points and at least three other boats all on equal 18 points – Bob Penty’s Great White, Titch Timmermans’s Against the Wind and Craig Piccinelli’s Wobbly Boot. Ella has been sailed consistently throughout the three races while the other contenders have struggled to keep their results in single figures.

Cruising Division 3 is another fleet where the racing is tight and just one point separates the top five places. In first place is Bob Beale’s Kameruka on 11 points. In second place is John Fowell’s Ells Bells on 12 points and in third place is Peter Mitchelson’s Lorna Rose Too on 13 points.

Non-Spinnaker monohulls top three places belong to Peter Dee’s Rampallion on 13 points followed by John Galloway’s QLD Marine Services on 14 points and Belinda Cooper’s La Quilter on 17 points. 

The leader of the Multihull Cruising Division is John Williams’s Tyee III on eight points. In second is Ken Gibson’s Resolutee II on 11 points and Wooler Drew’s Lickity Split 2 on 13 points.

– Tracey Johnstone

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