Audi ARC Championships Day 2. Image copyright Audi/Andrea Francolini
by Lisa Ratcliff
For a bunch of diehard yachties Good Friday was spent out on the brilliant deep blue ocean off Newcastle contesting day two of the Audi IRC Australian Championship.
Race four of the championship started at 0930hrs off Nobbys Beach, a 50 nautical miler for the big boys in division A and a huge 28 nautical mile triangle long distance race for divisions B and C in 10-12 knot WNW winds that turned SE then every which way and lightened off, and a more forgiving swell.
Yesterday’s gruelling three short courses in lumpy seas required balance and stamina, and was wearing on the body and gear. In that type of seaway boats wobble and kites burst. In all his years of sailing around the world Ichi Ban helmsman’s Gordon Maguire had never seen a wave punch a hole in a spinnaker – until yesterday.
Today’s division B finish was a nail-biter, Exile, Nine Dragons, Anger Management and Elena Nova all crossing within a minute and a half after a four hour race.
The two DK46s have traded places and now Bob Cox’s Nine Dragons conventional DK design leads the pointscore at the half way point. Cox, who first came to sailing in his early 60s, owns a lovely old Chinese carving of nine dragons interwoven with calligraphy that says ‘Nine dragons are invincible’. Dragon insignia adorns the boat and crew shirts and invincible is how they appear on the scoresheet this afternoon.
Sunrise. Image copyright Audi/Andrea Francolini
Rob Reynolds’ Exile is a highly developed DK with a new shorter mast and square top mainsail. Their win in last month’s Sydney Harbour Regatta made the Nine Dragons crew revisit their program and decide to race this weekend with two tacticians, regular Mitch White and Will McKenzie on back up. “My brain’s fried,” commented White on today’s 40 degree wind shifts and breeze dropping out to 4 knots that made the closing stages so draining.
In Division C it’s the battle of the 40-foot Beneteaus. Justadash and Schouten Passage finished the 28nm race first and second on corrected time this afternoon and the same pair now lead the progressive pointscore. Phil Dash’s Middle Harbour Yacht Club based Justadash has a three point buffer over Ron and Jan Howard’s local boat, Schouten Passage. Lake Macquarie based RP36 Spirit campaigned by Ian Bower rounds off the top tier.
“We are enjoying the tussle with the local boys,” said Dash this afternoon. He also commended Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club for its hospitality and Denis Thompson’s race management team for setting fair courses in changeable winds.
Matt Allen’s Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban, the largest in the fleet, and its bevy of high profile names finished first over the line after seven or so hours at sea, the drivers and tactician Tom Slingsby dog-tired after a long day concentrating in the sun. Karl Kwok’s Team Beau Geste was second.
Ichi Ban’s hydraulics are back to working order thanks to the mechanics who repaired yesterday’s glitch, but the player’s player award goes to North Sails’ Richie Allanson who drove back to the Sydney loft last night, worked until midnight to rebuild the owner’s torn spinnaker and presented back at the boat early this morning at Newcastle to re-join the crew as trimmer.
PT73 and Long Time Dead. Image copyright Audi/Andrea Francolini
Division A handicap results will be available later this evening here. The last boat in division A, currently Celestial, has until 7.30pm to complete the course within the 10 hour time limit. Their current ETA is 6.30pm.
Good news for local followers was Mick Martin’s older generation TP52 Frantic representing the championship host, NCYC, returning to the track having sorted out a right old pickle involving a spinnaker snarl.
Tomorrow’s format is one short course and a medium distance race and Sunday’s final two sprints will deliver Easter goodies to the three new IRC champions in the form of trophies and a brand new North Sails spinnaker emblazoned with ‘2014 Audi IRC Australian Champion’.
The closest the 31 crews contesting the Audi IRC Australian Championship went to a traditional Easter lunch celebration involving seafood was seeing frolicking dolphins on a stunning but drawn-out autumn afternoon. Tonight’s Good Friday Fish Fry at the NCYC will mark the traditional seafood feast instead.
Refer to the website for the results