Saturday, 27 August 2011

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week : One Race to Go

Wild Oats XI. Image copyright Audi/Andrea Francolini.

by Susan Sullivan

On the penultimate day of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, two premier divisions have all but been run and won while the rest have one race remaining to make a final grab for points before the curtain closes tomorrow.

Conditions were cool on the water today with a 14 knot average south easterly breeze and a top gust of 21 knots and early light showers.

With the ocean water whipped up by high winds earlier in the week, whale sightings have been rare however today a mother and calf humpback made an appearance in Whitsunday Passage, breeching as Bob Oatley’s supermaxi Wild Oats XI approached.

The line honours order has remained constant all week, Wild Oats XI leading Anthony Bell’s Investec Loyal and Peter Millard and John Honan’s 30m Bakewell White. All three are ramping up for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart and valuable lessons taken away from Race Week will be incorporated into their preparation.

Melges 32s. Image copyright Audi/Andrea Francolini.

Corrected time tells a completely different story with the bigger boats handicapped out of the top spots and a week-long all-in scrap between Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki and the grand prix 50 foot flyers.

For Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 Hooligan, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is the culmination of an 18 month long winning program before the boat is shipped to Singapore for the Asian IRC circuit. Following today’s overall win, their seventh from nine starts, Blackmore seems well beyond the reach of his nearest rivals on nine points to Loki’s 19 points.

It’s a similar story in IRC Class B, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau 45 Victoire five wins, two seconds and today’s third setting them up for a call to the stage at tomorrow evening’s official trophy presentation.

M32 Lumix. Image copyright Audi/Andrea Francolini.

In the remaining divisions the competition is far from over, particularly in Performance Racing Division 2 where just two points separate the first six boats on the results sheet.

“When it’s that close, you have to sail your own race and not worry about the tactical situations of the others,” said leading skipper Tony Coleman, one of three sitting at front of the pack on 38 points with his Sydney based J133 Euphoria.

Coleman’s secret weapon this week is one of the Island’s medical staff members who has never sailed before but has been on board for a day one win and also today’s win in one of the windward/leeward races. “She thinks sailing’s so easy,” laughed Coleman. Of course she’s been invited back for tomorrow’s ultimate race.

Ice Racing. Image copyright Audi/Andrea Francolini.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s concluding on water event is the Molle Islands Race, kicking off from 10.30am tomorrow morning from Dent Passage.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week