Monday, 11 July 2011

Audi Winter Series : Audi Winter Series decided after racing abandoned in excessive winds

Division B’s Mr Beaks Ribs didn’t let the bigger boats spoil her party. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/AUDI.

by Di Pearson

The 10-race Audi Winter Series, conducted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, was decided before the day started, when the final race on Sydney Harbour today was abandoned due to excessive winds that gusted to 45 knots this morning.

Those who hoped for a last chance to redeem themselves, were sorely disappointed. Rugged up against the elements and icy winds that have plagued Sydney for the past few days, the sailors waited to see whether they would be hitting the water or not.

Just before 11.00am, the Club’s Sailing Manager, Justine Kirkjian announced the abandonment of the race, so the series was decided in favour of those who were at the top of each division’s score board at the end of Race 9 last week.

“We were monitoring the weather all morning and when it stayed at 30 knots for over 15 minutes, we abandoned the race,” said Kirkjian, whose decision was the right one, because by the time 11.30am rolled around, crews aboard their yachts reported 40 knot winds gusting to 45 knots.

The day was at odds with the bulk of the series, which was typically a light and shifty; the norm for autumn and winter. And although the sun was out, it was a brittle day.

Eye Appeal won Division D on countback. Image copyright

Most crews stayed at the CYCA and kicked back, catching up with their nearest rivals to discuss the Audi Winter Series and where it was won and lost.

Aboard the Beneteau 44.7, Mr Beaks Ribs, David Beak and his melded crew were celebrating their Division B win over the Archambault A40, Papillon, owned by Phil Molony.

“We had Papillon’s three wins hanging over our heads, so today’s race would have been interesting, because a third drop would have come into play and who knows what would have happened,” said Beak, who was conscious that his score only included one win.

“While we are sorry not to finish the series, because it doesn’t feel quite right to win this way, we agree that the CYCA made the right decision – they have to consider the safety issues,” said the producer of delicious spare ribs.

“It’s been a very much up and down series, Papillon was extremely competitive and made it an exciting and challenging series,” Beak said of their nemesis, which they beat by two points in the end.

“My crew has been together for close to four years and that made all the difference,” Beak said, adding: “that and Ian Short Sails. Ian calls the shots on the boat.”

A further two points in arrears, CYCA Vice Commodore Howard Piggott rounded out the top three with his Beneteau F40, Flying Cloud.

Non spinnaker Division K winners, Jon Short and Miles Bastick, were very happy with their win; it came by a lone point over Jeffery Taylor’s C&C 41, Nemesis, which lived up to its name by keeping MRX on her toes the whole series.

Aware they had got off easy with today’s abandonment, Jon Short, who was enjoying a few drinks with the crew aboard his Farr 34, MRX, said: “As we sit here it’s blowing 40-45 knots and gusting – you can hear it whistling through the yachts’ rigging all around the marina. The Club made the right decision to abandon, but we’d have loved to sail one last race.

“We’ve been doing the Winter Series for the past 20 years with various boats, and this is our first win ever! This current boat’s nine years old and we’ve had a good series on her and it was fun sailing against Nemesis; we had such a close regatta with her,” he said.

Going into Race 10, the battle for Division D honours included CYCA director, John Markos (Eye Appeal) and Past Commodore Hans Sommer (Sommer Breeze). Markos had the added pressure of being on equal points with Andy Kearnan’s Summit 35, L'Altra Donna.

Due to the abandonment, Markos prevailed with his Sydney 36CR, but like the other division leaders, would have preferred to contest the final race. “It’s a pity – and we do have sympathy for the crews of L’Altra Donna and Sommer Breeze,” he said.

“It’s been a wonderful Audi Winter Series. Our main competitors were well-sailed yachts,” he said. “L’Altra Donna appeared at the top towards the end of the series, and we asked ourselves “where did she come from?” But the reality is, that crew sailed really well.

“I want to add my thanks to all the volunteers for an excellent series; we’re very grateful to them,” Markos said.

Solahart - Rum Jungle won Division C by three points. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/AUDI

Other Audi Winter Series overall winners are: Bob Steel’s ever-competitive Quest in Division A1; Walter Lewin/Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban (Division A2); Tony Johnson’s Solahart-Rum Jungle (Division C); Sandor Tornai’s Skeeter (Division E); Alun Lewis' Perfect Match (Division F); James Francis’ New Territories (Division G) and Jason Klaas’ The Holy Gale (Division J).

Larki Missiris’ Wild One scored a runaway win in the Sydney 38 division, with a nine-point lead over Phil Barnes’ Livewire. One point behind Livewire in third place was Next, owned by Richard Holstein.

Next Sunday’s, Ladies Day closes the winter season. The ladies aboard the Sydney 38 Thirlmere; owner Sally Warneford and gun helms Nicky Bethwaite and Vanessa Dudley, have something special planned for the day.

“We figure because Vanessa and I steered the boat to its only two wins, that the guys have to dress in drag next week – and Brad Favell – who’s always full of advice – has to steer and win by at least five minutes,” it won’t be pretty,” Bethwaite foretold.

“The girls will sail in sail in the middle of the boat and see if the guys can do as good a job as us girls have in the past weeks,” she said. Stay tuned…..

Swords will be drawn next week, as one of the winning helmswomen will drive away in an Audi A5 Sportback 2.0T multitronic for a week.

Audi Winter Series