It is early days, but there are three yachts putting the pressure on in the MC38 Australian Championship, and following two more races being completed on Day 2 of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week today, the glasses were being charged to winemaker, Chris Hancock, and his Vino crew.
Hancock, the Deputy Executive Chairman of Robert Oatley Vineyards, held by friend and Hamilton Island owner, Bob Oatley, has so far sailed consistently in the top three, adding a second and a bullet to his third place in yesterday’s shortened Lindeman Island Race.
Winning at Hamilton Island last year, Hancock has made a solid start to defending that and aiming at the Australian title, which is wide open as defending champion, Andrew Hunn (Voodoo Chile) is missing from the event.
Hancock, who is representing Hamilton Island YC and Middle Harbour YC, said early tonight: “Yes, I had a couple of celebratory wines with the crew, but I’m quite tired, so it will be an early night.”
The Sydneysider put their performance down to: “Excellent crew work with no mistakes. Brett (Ellis – tactician) was on top of his game – we took our chances and they paid off.”
However, the Vino crew are not resting on their laurels, as the expected sparring between the current top three has been tense and will continue to be so, according to Hancock. Vino and Leslie Green’s Ginger (CYCA) are on equal points, with John Bacon’s Dark Star (RPAYC) just three points behind, while others are giving chase.
Races 2 and 3, conducted on windward/leeward courses, were hotly contested. Ginger came away with the spoils in the earlier race, with Vino less than a minute behind. Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan followed just over a minute later for third place. The seven-boat fleet sailed in a light 6-8 knot southerly that shifted left as the race wore on.
There was a longish break between races as officials waited for the breeze to settle. Once it did, the course was moved closer to Catseye Bay as a light 6 knot breeze just south of east came into play. Once again, it shifted left throughout the race.
In Race 3, Vino had the upper hand over Dark Star and Ginger, with 42 seconds between the top two and Ginger a further 19 seconds adrift. Hooligan was fourth, and akin to the lone international entry, Sergio Sagramoso’s Lazy Dog from Puerto Rico, this is Blackmore’s first outing in the class, and he is already making her presence felt
Maybe local knowledge helped Hooligan (RPAYC) along today. Decorated sailor Glenn Bourke, the Hamilton Island CEO for the past six and a half years, replaced an ill crew member. He totally dominated the SB3 class at Hamilton Island in 2011, so he would have been a godsend for Blackmore who has sailed at the Island multiple times himself.
Unable to contest yesterday’s shortened Lindeman Island Race, Ross Hennessy (RPAYC) got his eye in quickly to take fourth in Race 2 of the Championship, before falling to fifth in Race 3.
A good dose of sunshine did not go astray or unnoticed either. Moods improved accordingly, especially for those who have escaped cold winters elsewhere. Crews described it as a ‘glamour’ day.
Racing continues tomorrow (Tuesday) with officials planning up to three windward/leeward races starting from 11.00am local time.
Full results for the MC38 Australian Championship will be available at: www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au/
Di Pearson, MC38 media