The penultimate day of the Australian Yachting Championship battle among the four fleets contesting the standalone series at Hamilton Island played out in 12 – 15 knots SSE wind, gusting up to 19.
All Audi Hamilton Island Race Week fleets contested passage races of varying lengths around the islands and this afternoon two of the championship divisions are being controlled by New Zealand sailing teams – Karl Kwok’s Team Beau Geste at the head of Rating division A and Simon Hull’s Frank Racing, which is running away with the first-ever Multihull Racing top prize.
Sailing manager of Team Beau Geste, Gavin Brady, reckons Thursday was the defining day, particular for Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban. “It was a big day for all the teams, there was no real method to the madness. That last race when Matt got fifth….it’s a long way back from there. When Ichi Ban gets it right like in race three, they win races.”
Beau Geste leads Ichi Ban by four points and there is no way the slick international team – headed up by owner Karl Kwok and so close to three straight Australian titles- is going to ease off.
The Rating Series is all about the battle for the top handicap performance, each boat trying to sail better than its rating, except for the two supermaxis. They’ll never challenge the likes of the TP52s for the handicap trophies – for the 100-footers it’s about being first to the finish line, especially in the lead up to this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart ocean classic.
Over the 25 or so nautical mile race on Friday August 26, the Oatley family’s supermaxi Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards, left the same-size David Witt skippered Scallywag trailing well behind.
“It might have been oats for breakfast the other day, but it certainly wasn’t that today,” Richards said adding, “we must have beaten them by 15 minutes, we couldn’t even see them.”
“It’s been a good week for us, we are significantly quicker downwind with the mods and we are stoked for Scallywag, they are going so well,” Richards said, “We have a lot of work to do in the light air, they have a lot to do in heavy air.
It’s a good lead up to the Hobart.” Wild Oats’ crew wore yellow shirts today, to mark Daffodil Day.
Stephen Barlow’s Forty continues to hold out Bruce McCraken’s Ikon in division B.
Ray Roberts’ chartered Sydney 38 Team Hollywood has edged out Rob Date’s Victorian Adams 10 Scarlet Runner after five of their six-race Passage Rating series.
Roberts has found this Race Week particularly interesting, “It’s been challenging racing, breeze up and down in pressure and racing around the islands you can easily get into low wind zones and current, and you get mixed up with other fleets.”
“The Whitsundays is always a very beautiful place to sail and when you come ashore it’s a hive of activity, and where you meet people from different yacht clubs and states.”
Matt Owen’s remarkable scoresheet at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week isn’t going to be tarnished anytime soon. Charles Curran’s Murray 60 called Sydney caught up to the Owen skippered Sydney 32, Onyx, after the windward/leeward race, then in the final islands race both scored poorly. Owen has enough in the bank to retain the overall lead with a day to go.
It’s been 11 years since the 17.5 ton Sydney was at Race Week, or “schoolies for old fellas” according to sailing master David Kellett. On the boat’s return Kellett said it was a simple decision: “I put an email out and within two hours we had a crew.”
Simon Hull’s New Zealand based GC32 Frank Racing is in the final stages of tidying up the newest championship division, for hotted-up catamarans and trimarans. Only George Owen’s APC Mad Max and Chris Williams’ Morticia has come near the high-tech foiling cat, which is easily foiling others’ designs on the silverware.
This afternoon the entire Australian Sailing Team, including the individual Rio 2016 gold medal winner Tom Burton and three teams silver medallists – Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (49er men’s), Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse (Nacra 17) and Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (470 men’s) – were honoured with a tickertape parade down Hamilton Island’s Front Street led by the local primary school children.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for the most wind of the regatta, 18-22 knots of SSE wind to close out the 33rd edition of the famous yachting and lifestyle regatta that attracted a record fleet from every Australian state and the ACT plus New Zealand, and sailors from around the world.
by Lisa Ratcliff