Monday, 8 March 2010

Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta: Loki Takes the Series

* Wild Oats X takes line honours
* The day and event win belongs to Loki
* ‘Money Man’ Paul Clitheroe wins Division 2

Close racing at the 2009 Ausi Sydney Harbour Regatta. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

by Di Pearson

Division 1 of the Audi IRC Series at the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta again belonged to Stephen Ainsworth and his well-sailed Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki (NSW) today, his second overall win handing him the Series win after Wild Oats X, (Bob Oatley’s Reichel/Pugh 66, suffered generator problems again and shredded two spinnakers, while Geoff Ross’ Reichel/Pugh 55, Yendys (NSW) could not keep up the Loki pace.

This afternoon, a thrilled Stephen Ainsworth commented: “We went out there with the boat set up properly; we sailed cleanly and avoided damage. The crew did everything right and the boat is fast. We’re very happy with our win.”

Loki, with international yachtsman Gordon Maguire at the helm, handled the short sharp chop on the windward/leeward course with aplomb. “Winds were in the 17-22 knot range, and as usual, they were shifty,” Ainsworth said.

There was no out-pacing Loki - she was too quick. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

While Wild Oats X, with Mark Richards at the helm and Loki went head-to-head, Yendys battled it out with Melbourne entry, Living Doll, the Farr 55 owned by Michael Hiatt. Ross and his crew including VOR sailor and Olympian Chris Nicholson calling tactics and round the world yachtsman Will Oxley navigating, had their way to notching up a pair of second places to finish the regatta in second overall , with Living Doll third.

As a divisional winner, Ainsworth is eligible to enter the Audi Final Challenge, which will take place at Eastern Creek International Raceway tomorrow, Monday morning. The Final Challenge will be held in the Audi TT RS coupes and the winner, which will come from the 24 divisions competing at the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta, will drive away in an A4 Avant 1.8 TFSI multi.

Media‚ ‘Money Man‘, Paul Clitheroe, won Divison 2 of the IRC Series with his Beneteau 45 Balance. However, it was not all smooth sailing, the Sydney financial whizz admitting:“We saw the bottom of the ocean this afternoon. We were feeling comfortable and felt we could win when we lost control and the pointy end of the mast was pointing downwards!

“We saw the jellyfish and the remnants of Wild Oats‘ spinnaker,“ Clitheroe joked All jokes aside, the Syndeysider was over the moon with his win: “We’re very honoured; it was a really good quality fleet. We reached speeds of 15 knots at times, but some of the bigger boats made us look like we were standing still.“

It was that sort of day on the three-lap (for Division 1) and two-lap (for Division 2) Passage Race that started off Watsons Bay and finished at Rushcutters Bay on Sydney Harbour.

Many got caught out in the gusty north-easterly wind that chopped up the sea, keeping all competitors on their toes – or not.

Having to front for his radio show tomorrow morning, Clitheroe can’t make the Audi Final Challenge, but is sending along two crew members including‚‘rev head‘ Andrew ‘Cribby‘ Cribb.

Balance overcame challenges from the second and third placegetters, Flying Cloud, Howard Piggott’s Beneteau F40 and Bandit, Allen Rooklyn’s Farr 40. All three represent the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, as do the top two from Divison 1.

Piggott scored a Divisional win with a previous yacht at the inaugural Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta in 2006 and after winning the the Audi Final Challenge, drove away in a new Audi A4 Avant.

Aroona - new and quick. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Harvey Milne and crew on his new Archambault 31 Aroona (NSW) continued on with their success at Audi Victoria Week, at which they finished second overall in Division 3.

This time, Milne, from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, went one better to win Division 3 from Matthew Bassett’s BH36, Local Hero from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, which hosted the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta. Andrew Hurt’s Sydney 36 CR , also from MHYC, finished third.

“I’m thrilled to bits,“ Harvey Milne said this afternoon. “We’re getting better with every race we do and getting to know the boat better. It’s a new boat and my crew are sailing it really well.“

The Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta concluded this afternoon, with crew members kicking back at Middle Harbour YC after racing, comparing stories over a few drinks at the Wrap Up Beach Party and BBQ.

In a first for the Championship series, major sponsor, Audi, has partnered with ONE in 2010 and the highlights from each regatta will be shown nationally following each round of the series.

Highlights from Round 2 of the Audi IRC Australian Championship can be viewed on March 24 at 9.00pm on ONE in Australia.

Audi IRC Australian Championship 2010

No comments: