Friday, 21 January 2011

Audi Victoria Week: Over 400 boats signed on for Audi Victoria Week

Geoff Boettcher steers Secret Mens Business 3.5 towards an overall win in 2010. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

by Di Pearson

As of today, 420 boats and over 4,500 competitors have signed on for Australia’s oldest and largest ongoing regatta, Audi Victoria Week, which started with the Audi King of the Docklands at Waterfront City, Docklands this afternoon.

As the big boats continue to roll into town to get ready for the Audi Docklands Invitational and Audi IRC Series, which is round one of the Audi IRC Australian Championship, some of Australia’s best known small boat sailors are thrashing it out on Victoria Harbour today and tomorrow, to lead the series off in the Audi King Docklands.

The Audi IRC Series is the centerpiece of the annual regatta and has inveigled Australia’s premier yachts and their crews, including some new blood, in the form of Marcus Blackmore, of Blackmore’s Natural Health Products, who recently made a return to grand prix sailing.

Blackmore raised a few eyebrows in December when he cleaned up a fleet of grand prix racers in Sydney, winning multiple races. “I’m keen to win another trophy,” Blackmore said at Waterfront City this afternoon before going out for a training session with his crew of ‘names’.

“If you have a good boat, then you have a good crew,” said Blackmore from NSW, who can count triple Laser world champion and Etchells world champion Tom Slingsby among his names.

“I’ve never done this event, but it has a reputation as one of Australia’s greatest and it’s attracted a good fleet. I plan to enter Hooligan (one of three TP52s that will sail the three windward/leeward races at the Docklands Invitational tomorrow) and continue on for the rest of the regatta. We are racing at all the Audi events,” he said.

The past two Sydney Hobart winners are also in the mix, both from South Australia; Andrew Saies bringing his 2009 winner, the Beneteau First 40 Two True and 2010 winner Geoff Boettcher with Secret Men’s Business 3.5, who was also the winner of the Audi IRC series overall last year.

“I’m coming with an all-Adelaide crew this time and we plan to just enjoy ourselves – no pressure,” said Boettcher of his Reichel/Pugh 51 crew which includes decorated skiff and Etchells sailor Chris Tillett.

However, Audi Victoria Week is so much more. A hot fleet will contest the Morris Finance Sydney 38 National Championship, with last year’s winner Ian Murray (VIC) returning with Cinquante, who will do battle with the likes of veteran champion Lou Abrahams and his famously named Challenge, also from Victoria.

Other series’ include the William Angliss SB3, Bundaberg Rum Sports Boat, BIA Super 30, S80, Performance (for yachts), a huge fleet in the Club Marine Cruising (spinnaker and non-spinnaker), Parks Victoria Classic Yacht, Noelex 30, Bluebird, J24 One-Design, Coca Cola Trailable Yacht, the big cats in the Geelong Taxi Network Multihull and finally the young sailors in the International Cadets WL Curtis Trophy Series.

The famous 34 nautical mile Passage Race from Melbourne to Geelong denotes the fact that Audi Victoria Week is well and truly underway. Once the fleet sails into Geelong, all the action moves to Corio Bay in Geelong, hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

Holidaymakers and locals line the shores around Geelong to partake in some of the finest racing in Australia and all the onshore entertainment that Audi Victoria Week provides, including over 60 live performances, fireworks on Australia Day evening, the William Angliss ‘Go Sailing’ program offered free to those would like to try sailing, the traditional Australia Day Sail Past and so much more – for adults and kids.

Audi Victoria Week