Monday, 7 June 2010

Audi Winter Series: Wind throws competitors for a loop

Substantial Damage sustained by The Stick, will probably keep it off the race track next week. Image copyright ACE Marine Photography.

by Di Pearson, CYCA media

Race 7 of the Audi Winter Series looked likely to be another one of those ‘ho hum’ winter Sundays on Sydney Harbour when the 134-boat fleet set sail today, a fickle light west-sou-westerly wind giving no inkling of what was to come – and when it did - it had tough repercussions for some.

The yachts made their way slowly towards the Point Piper start line, knowing apart from light wind they would have to also take on an incoming tide. Without warning, the breeze veered south, just after the 11.30am start, kicking in at a solid 15-18 knots. “It peaked at around 22 knots,” Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson said.

Incidents that transpired throughout the day would not normally happen, but today they did. Conditions breezy for the first time in Series caught many by surprise, but at least the heavy rain of the past week held off until the last boat finished shortly after 2.00pm.

Crew member Simon is hauled safely back aboard Quatre Quart. Image copyright ACE Marine Photography.

As the temperature dropped, the first incident occurred aboard Robert Segaert’s Beneteau 44.7, Quatre Quart from Division C. “We lost a crew member, Simon, overboard at the first rounding of the Bradley’s Head mark, but we retrieved him in seven or eight minutes,” a relieved Segaert said.

“He was fine, actually, and the Ace Marine Photography boat stood by until we had him back aboard. We continued the race and finished last, but at least we finished,” he said.

Segaert said Simon got caught between the boom and the boat’s fence “and over he toppled,” he said. “One of my other crew joked that Simon’s wallet was onboard, so Simon would naturally make it back!”

Segaert was a little astonished at how the day panned out: “There were some big gusts that were a little treacherous and we saw some good round-ups under spinnaker and others struggling to get around the course,” he said.

Ginger's owner Leslie Green generously handed the keys of the Audi A5 3.0 TDI quattro to Brad Kellett for the week. Image copyright ACE Marine Photography.

In the second Man Overboard, it was actually a novice female crew member who fell from Howard de Torres’ IMX 40, Nips N Tux, also from Division C.

“We were north-west of Lady Jane near South Head and had trouble with a jib sheet, so had to tack. We had to tack back quickly to avoid other yachts and Margaret, who has had little sailing experience, got caught out and fell overboard,” de Torres told.

A member of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, which conducts the Audi Winter Series, de Torres said crew from Wasabi threw Margaret a life buoy. “I was disturbed that some other yachts just kept sailing and made no attempt to pick her up, even though they were in a better position to do so than us, as we were to windward of her,” he said.

However, like Robert Segaert before him, the well-respected plastic surgeon was just happy to get his crew back aboard. “She was getting sick of me, so she jumped ship,” he joked. “She was very cold when we got her back onboard, so we gave her a dry change of clothes and retired from the race. I would suspect she is soaking in a hot bath right now,” he said.

In the third incident, The Stick, formerly known as Broomstick, was holed around one and half miles from the finish. “It all happened so quickly, we’re yet to establish who hit us,” said the downhill flyer’s new owner, Nick Athenios, who is better known as the owner of the Beneteau Kioni.

“We could hear the bowman on the other boat yelling ‘down, down’, but it was only after we heard the thud that we realised the yacht was coming at us and that the skipper of that boat did not hear his bowman yelling,” a disappointed Athenios said this afternoon.

“There was nothing we could do, because we didn’t know it was coming. We’ve got substantial damage – a hole in the starboard side at the back of the boat – we had to pull out straight away,” he lamented.

Denis Thompson said it was good to finally have decent breeze after weeks of tricky light airs. “A number of yachts did not finish the race; I think they were a bit thrown by getting some breeze after weeks of very little.”

After weeks on end of little breeze, the old yachties’ adage of: “A quick race is a good race’, held true. “It was great to come back to the Club and see so many smiles on so many faces – those who finished and enjoyed their Sunday race,” Thompson commented.

Divisional winners today were: Garry Linacre’s Vamp (Division A), Howard Piggott’s Flying Cloud (Division B), Pacific Sailing School’s Cadenza (Division C), Steve Hatch’s M (Division D), John Ackland’s The Luge (Division E), Robert Hunt’s Attitude ( Division F), Chris Antico’s Selkie (Division G), Ken Chase’s Kirsten II (Division H), Ken Hudson’s Viva (Division J) and Phillip Dennison’s Gusto (Division K), while Geoff Bonus’ Calibre won the Sydney 38 Division.

CYCA Director David Champtaloup announced the winners at the Club this afternoon. Leslie Green’s Ginger, third place getter in Division A, was the lucky recipient of the keys to an Audi A5 Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro for the week. Green very generously handed the keys to crew member Brad Kellett, who will now have the pleasure of driving the luxury vehicle.

In other news, CYCA director John Markos (Eye Appeal) after winning Division D and the use of the Audi Sportback two Sunday’s ago, was so impressed he decided to purchase an Audi from the German car manufacturer – and that is when sponsoring an event is a worthwhile and valuable tool.

Audi Winter Series