Friday, 15 January 2010
Off and racing in the King of the Docklands at Audi Victoria Week. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.
by Di Pearson
The King of the Docklands starts off an action-packed week of racing at Audi Victoria Week starting January 21, when winners from each of the 19 competing divisions from the previous two years’ events gather at Waterfront City at the Docklands to take their chances.
A huge crowd gathered at Waterfront City last year to take in the fast and thrilling SB3 identical keelboats racing. Some of the world’s best known sailors crossed tacks with every day sailors – from young teenagers to the older generation – some of the latter giving the pros a lesson in sailing, having a better feeling for conditions on their home waters.
One of those was father and son combination, Jock and Hamish MacAdie from Melbourne, who did not let Jock’s recent hip replacement or Hamish’s sprained ankle; three cracked ribs and a perforated ear drum stop them!
The two, who will be back in better shape this year, were a little surprised by their winning performance last year. “We were up against the runners-up of the SB3 Nationals and the pre-race favourites to take home the prize, so we’re pretty pleased,” father Jock said.
“The SB3 is a fantastic little boat and it’s a great racing format. It’s good the organisers are inviting back those from 2008. We were one of the semi-finalists,” he said.
In a major disappointment for all concerned, the 2009 King of the Docklands was abandoned due to severe weather conditions, but those crews that missed out get a second chance this year.
Event Coordinator Doug Jarvis commented: “We were devastated when the weather gods forced us to cancel. We’re installing a second tier semi final, which will see the winners of 2008 and 2009 race off for the prize.”
Not only is it cool to win the crown in this knockout series, similar to 20/20 cricket, at stake too is the richest prize in Australian sailing, a luxury Audi vehicle and a new SB3 keelboat.
A highlight of the Audi Victoria Week program, the event is sailed in the production SB3 boats with spinnakers, so everyone has an equal chance. Those with the best crew work and decisive minds will win.
In this “liquorice allsorts” of the sailing world, players for this great spectator event include multihull sailor Rob Remilton, whose big Farrier F9r Wilparina II is a regular on the on the podium. All the way from SA, Remilton’s son Philip, a flying doctor pilot based in Alice Springs, will fly in to join his dad.
The “youngsters” are well represented. Lachlan Stephens, currently sailing an International Cadet dinghy his father built, will take the helm for his team, as will Royal Geelong Yacht Club sailor William Kelly, who has competed in eight national titles and two worlds in the Cadet, a popular Youth class.
On the ‘Home Team’ are young RGYC sailors Brendan Garner, Jake Newman and Tim Clarke. These stars of the future were highly fancied last year, but came unstuck, perhaps nerves and a bit of stage fright. One year on, this crew will have matured and learnt from their mistakes of last time.
Competing against them is the crew of Alegria, winners of the 2007 and 2009 Audi Australian Championship. In the crew is Adrian ‘Aidz’ Finglas. Alegria’s tactician is also an Olympic and Paralympic coach who helped bring home Paralympic Silver from the 2008 Games. He is also owns 11 Australian titles in various classes. Having represented Australia at Sailing and Triathlon world championships gives him an edge.
A third father and son crew with a proposed team name of ‘The Wicked Aliens’ could have what it takes. Mike and son Mark Welsh finished the Rolex Sydney Hobart in second place overall with their new yacht Wicked, but the mast came tumbling down on the way home to Victoria.
Veterans of Audi Victoria Week, where they are regulars on the podium, their former yacht was Alien – hence the team name. Along with crew Alex, the three have sailed together for over 30 years.
The larrikins on the little Thunderbird Larrikin II, skippered by Darren ‘the smiling assassin’ Pickering, could cause an upset. Crewed by his regulars, Stefan Treurniet and Bec Bohling, Pickering always has something up his sleeve and won’t disappoint. Bohling will be sailing on the SB3, Oceanburo Girls during Audi Victoria Week, so could be the guys’ secret weapon.
Mako Melges is the apt name of Heath Walters sports boat. Crewed by, Rob Brewer and Murray Walters, the three have a ‘take no prisoners; attitude in the Melges class at Audi Victoria Week each year and have multiple titles between them.
However, they will all have to deal with the talented multiple world and national champion Nathan Outteridge, who is looking down the barrel of a second Olympic campaign. He has gun sailors John Harris and Scott Babbage with him who own a few titles of their own.
Outteridge, who will turn 24 later this month, is a keen Audi fan, having been privileged enough to drive one as part of Audi’s sponsorship of the Australian Sailing Team. About as cool and calm under pressure as one could possibly be, Outteridge won the 2008 and 2009 49er World Championship titles and a week ago finished with the silver medal in the Bahamas.
The King of the Docklands, one of two Audi Victoria Week events to be held at Melbourne’s Docklands precinct, will be sailed on January 21 and 22, with live commentary from the incorrigible Ian Cover of ABC radio’s ‘Coodabeen Champions’ fame and Nick Moloney, a successful single and double-handed round the world yachtsman and long time Audi Victoria Week supporter from Melbourne.
Audi Victoria Week