Thursday, 6 January 2011

About Time and Quest share the spoils in Solitary Island Races

'About Time' crosses the fleet on the downwind run in Race One. She leads the overall Series. Image copyright Damian Devine.

by Damian Devine

Julian Farren-Price's Cookson 12 ' About Time' and Bob Steel's TP52 'Quest' shared the spoils today in IRC in the two offshore sprint races off Coffs Harbour, part of the five race 30th Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Offshore Series. In PHS, Garry Holder's ID35 'The Real Thing' and John McConaghy's Custom 47, 'Second Time Around' were on level pegging in the PHS series.

Condtions were rather benign after the Southerly finally blew through, with a light Nor' Easter greeting an overcast and humid day.Twenty five boats set sail from the marina around 10am this morning to contest the first two of four races remaining in the five race overall series.

By the time the fleet arrived at the start two miles to the North East of the Harbour, the breeze started to fill in to around 10 knots with Race Officer Ted Anderson wasting no time to set the course at 040 and to get the first race, a seven mile windward / leeward sprint, underway close to the scheduled time of 1100hrs.

The fleet jockeyed for positions in the pre-race looking for the best starting position. When the gun went, a clean start was called and the fleet were evenly spread down the line with the two biggest boats in the fleet, Bruce Absolon's Volvo 60 'Nikon Spirit of the Maid' and Bob Steel's TP52 'Quest' opting for opposite ends of the line with 'Quest' starting from the pin end, 'Spirit of the Maid', the boat end.

However, it was John Bacon's Sydney 39CR 'Hussy' and Bruce Staples Farr 40 'Witchcraft', getting off the start line first just in front of 'About Time' and 'Quest', below them at the pin end of the line. It wasn't long before the breeze clocked up another couple of knots to peak at around 15 with 'Quest' building boat speed to assert her authority on the rest of the fleet as she beat her way to the top mark, rounding it in first position before popping her spinnaker for the downwind run home.

The Cookson 12 'About Time', proving she's no slouch, came out once again with all guns blazing after her Coffs race win and was in front of her bigger rivals as she rounded the top mark in second position. She was followed closely by the Hudson/Murphy/Lockley Farr 45 'Pretty Woman', Nick Johnston's Lidguard 50 ' Santana 3' and the two Farr 40s 'Witchcraft' and David Elliot's 'E11even'. They all set kites in unison and set for the sprint to the finish.

With the breeze dropping slightly on the windward run 'Pretty Woman' and 'Santana 3' followed in the same lane as 'Quest' at the top of the course, with 'About Time' gybing first looking for more pressure in the centre of the track.

'Quest' dominated both races taking line honours and a handicap win. Image copyright Damian Devine.

However, it was all all 'Quest', clearly dominating the race to go on and take line honours in just over 38 minutes with 'Pretty Woman' making good ground on the downhill run to finish six minutes behind with 'Santana 3' in third.

On corrected time, it was 'Quest' getting the double in a corrected time of 51mins 8secs winning by 30 seconds over 'About Time' with 'Hussy' third, in IRC.

'The Real Thing' the ID35 skippered Garry Holder sailed a great race well to also get the double in the PHS Division winning in an elapsed time of 48mins 55secs from 'Nikon Spirit of the Maid' and John McConaghy's Custom 47 'Second Time Around'. On corrected time, 'The Real Thing' won by more than two minutes from Rob Alder's J35 ' Jayhawk' with 'Second Time Around' rounding out the podium. Holder and crew looked determined pre-race and the focus paid off to surprise many of her larger rivals.

For Race Two, Ted Anderson extended the course, with the top mark moving back to five miles in the direction of Solitary Island and the finish inside the Harbour, making it a 12 mile course. The conditions were a carbon copy of Race One with 10 knots from the North East.

The results weren't much different either only the longer course gave Absolon's Volvo 60 ' Nikon Spirit of the Maid' the opportunity to stretch her legs and build boat speed and round the top mark in third behind 'Quest' and 'Pretty Woman' and use her length to pick up one position on the downwind run to finish second behind 'Quest' with 'Pretty Woman' in third. "We needed the extra distance to get the big boat going," offered Absolon who was much happier with his performance in the second race. 'Quest' finished with an elapsed time of 1hr 39min 55secs.

IRC Handicap honours went to 'About Time' in a corrected time of 2hrs 10mins with 'Hussy' and 'Quest' three and four minutes behind respectively.

'About Time', with their collective results to date in the five race series has them sitting on top of the series leader board going into the final day tomorrow. With half points awarded for the 226nm Pittwater to Coffs they have a 2.5 point lead over 'Hussy' and a 4 point lead over 'Quest'.

Farren- Price commented after racing, "We had a great day's sailing today, there were quite a few wind shifts and a strong Northerly current running. We got two good starts and we just kept working the boat hard, gybing and tacking constantly to work the shifts. The crew worked hard and we're just happy to be up there amongst our bigger rivals."

In terms of the overal series crown going into the final day he added, "With two races left, it's still really anybody's series. It all comes down to tomorrow. One poor result could decide the series. It should be an exciting day."

In PHS, first and third traded places in race two with 'Second Time Around' grabbing the Handicap spoils in a time of 2hrs 8mins 9secs with 'Jayhawk' knocking up another consistent 2nd with 'The Real Thing', content with a third.

'The Real Thing' is sitting in second in the overall PHS series with a 1-3 finish today, a half point behind 'Second Time Around' and a point ahead of last year's series winner Rob Alder's J35 'Jayhawk' leading into the final two race.

Skipper Garry Holder commented after today's racing, "The boat went well today and we're happy to be up there with some of the 40 footers. Our starts were good and we just tried to stay out of the current and maximise the shifts. It's going to be an interesting day tomorrow with nothing between the three of us. We'll just do our best and see what happens. Looking forward to it."

Racing continues tomorrow with a further two races to conclude the five race series and crown the overall series champions.

Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race