Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cougar II ambushes its prey

[by Lisa Ratcliff]

Alan Whiteley’s Victorian Cookson built TP52 Cougar II travelled 1,500 nautical miles to outsail a world class IRC Grand Prix division 1 fleet at Australia’s most awarded regatta, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

“It’s a better result than we expected,” said a delighted Whiteley this afternoon. “We have been sailing in very esteemed company...the crew is ecstatic about taking out the grand prix division.

“Logistically it’s hard work getting up here from Melbourne but it’s been well worth it. The courses are great, the event is well run and it’s great fun.”

In the overall pointscore Cougar II finished two points clear of Bob Steel’s sistership Quest from Sydney and nine points from the third placed Victorian Cookson 50 Living Doll, skippered by Michael Hiatt.

Cougar II and Quest have faced each other on the start line – and swapped the lead - many times before but today it was Whiteley’s turn.

“Congratulations to Alan and his team,” said Steel this afternoon. “We were very pleased to come second.”

Eventual IRC Grand Prix division 2 winner Honeysuckle, the Beneteau First 45 skippered by Ray Harris, finished today’s Molle Island Race then waited in the wings, scanning the horizon for Rod Jones’ Archambault 40 Alegria, their series nemesis.

Once the required gap had past, in terms of the number of minutes Honeysuckle had to put between them and Alegria, the crew was confident enough to celebrate their win on board.

“We are very was a tough series,” said a relieved Harris. “Apart from having the sails up to check them and the rig, our first proper sail was last Saturday’s opening race. It’s been a roller coaster.

"The boys had the boat flying today. We had a good downwind leg and we opened up a gap on Alegria then worked really hard to maintain speed,” Harris added.

Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke this afternoon helped sail Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats X to the perfect regatta finish – line honours and a handicap win in today’s race.

“From our perspective we are so pleased with the regatta,” said Bourke. “Sometimes breeze makes or breaks a regatta and we had breeze the whole week. So many have said it’s a further improvement on last year,” added Bourke, who called tactics this week on Wild Oats X.

Island owner Bob Oatley concurred, declaring it “a fantastic regatta...the best ever”.

The three-time Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winning crew on Wild Oats X has had fickle fortunes on the water while learning how to get the most out of their new swept back spreader rig. Yesterday their canting keel motor burnt out resulting in the crew having to work well into the night to install the spare motor, but today it was all smiles on board Wild Oats X after they capped off their week with a third and final line honours win – and an outright win - in the 23 nautical mile Molle Islands Race.

Peter Harburg’s slight development of Wild Oats X, Black Jack, not only proved an excellent sparring partner for Wild Oats X, they broke the Reichel Pugh 66’s two year stranglehold on the fastest boat around the track with five firsts from nine races.

Mark Bradford says the owner is undecided about contesting this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, “we’ll wait for the dust to settle then make up our minds,” skipper Mark Bradford said dockside this afternoon.

One by one 11 divisions lined up in an orderly fashion in Dent Passage this morning for the postcard shot of the series. With most out of silverware contention it was a laid back affair at the start, the 5-8 knot sou’easter providing easy going conditions for the 2,000 plus sailors who have been hard at it – both on and offshore – for a week.

The Roulettes’ final fly over of the fleet at the start was the only noise to be heard, replacing the yelling that accompanied the fresher winds at the start of the week when many crews fancied themselves as top three placegetters.

In the inaugural South Pacific Cup results, the Aussie team of Living Doll, Yendys and Alegria romped home on 45 points, beating the Kiwi team of Pussy Galore, Wired and Carrera by 29 points.

Trophies will be presented tonight at the official prize giving dinner before weary crews head back to their home ports.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Fired up and ready in Kiel

Practice racing on the Kieler Forder before Round 4 of the iShares Cup © Amory Ross

[source: iShares Cup]
Racing begins for Round 4 of the iShares Cup in Kiel, Germany today — and there’s still all to play for on the leaderboard. TEAMORIGIN are in first place in the series overall, just one point ahead of Alinghi.

Today TEAMORIGIN will be pushing hard to extend their lead, having made repairs to their boat after running aground during yesterday’s practice race and damaging their daggerboards. Skippered by defending iShares Cup champion Rob Greenhalgh, the British team have finished second at the three events on the 2008 iShares Cup circuit so far to hold a narrow points advantage overall.

Close behind in second place are America’s Cup Defenders Alinghi, who have won the past two events of the iShares Cup circuit at Hyères in France and Cowes, UK. They’ll be hoping to carry on their winning form at this penultimate regatta and overtake the British America’s Cup challengers TEAMORIGIN.

But it’s also close right throughout the top-class 10-boat field. In third place are Holmatro, skippered by multihull specialist Andreas Hagara. Holmatro had a great result at the last event in Cowes to finish third overall, just one point ahead of BT, who are chasing hard in fourth.

This afternoon’s racing will be held just yards from the shore on the Kieler Førde, making for some great spectator viewing but tricky racing conditions. Nick Moloney, skipper of BT, explained: “It’s going to be very tricky racing, lots of lead changes and tough tactical calls. Yesterday small rain squalls crossed the course throughout the racing with strong gusts in random areas of the course making it difficult to chose the favoured lanes to sail down both upwind and downwind.

“We had a shocking start to the day choosing a port tack start option in race one which did not pay and we were unable to dig our way out of a deep position. The second race was better with a third. Our game plan is to aim for high averages like we did in Lugano and see how we look by Saturday night.

“I think the venue will be pretty awesome. The Germans seem right into it! All the boys are fired up. We feel well prepped and ready to go for it!”

Two boats rejoining the racing at Kiel are Tommy Hilfiger, and Team Aqua — who retired from the Cowes event after breaking their mast. “The last few weeks have been a busy time for the Team Aqua Extreme 40 team, both on the water and on shore. You may well have seen our spectacular capsize during the Cowes iShares Cup event in early August,” said Team Aqua trimmer Jim Turner.

“Five boats capsized in strong winds and choppy waves on the Solent and we were one of the three unlucky teams (along with BMW ORACLE Racing & JPMorgan Asset Management) who broke masts. Our support team of Tim Corney and Alec Richardson rose to the occasion and along with repair work carried out by Richard Woof, we’re now in Kiel ready to go.

“Kiel also sees a new crewmember join our Extreme 40 team. Jeff Brock is no stranger to Team Aqua as he is a regular member on the RC44 team. Yesterday was our first sailing since the capsize and everything went well. We had two practice races and we had placings of second and fifth so it was a good feeling to be back in amongst the leaders. All the best from Germany!”

Audi Hamilton Island RW to be decided on final day

'Alegria downwind at speed - 2008 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week' Crosbie Lorimer

[by Lisa Ratcliff]

The momentous tussle at the top of the IRC Grand Prix Division 2 pointscore will go down to the wire tomorrow with Rod Jones’ Alegria and Ray Harris’ Honeysuckle still separated by just one point after six days of racing.
'We’ll just have to keep the throttle down' said Honeysuckle’s navigator Michael Spies this afternoon. The final result will depend on who beats who tomorrow...if it goes to a countback we will be better off.'

After scoring sixth and seventh in today’s two windward/leewards, Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest has moved the wrong direction in the podium placings. Quest, which was called OCS in the second race, has slipped from second to third on the series leaderboard whereas they need to be moving in the opposite direction if they are to have any chance of winning the prestigious Audi IRC Australian Championship which will be decided tomorrow.

With Quest no longer breathing down their necks, Alan Whiteley’s TP52 Cougar II from Melbourne has a more comfortable lead on 18 points from Michael Hiatt’s Victorian modified conventional keeled Cookson 50 Living Doll which has moved into second overall on 25 points in IRC Grand Prix Division 1.

The week’s line honours contest has been stamped Black Jack’s with their fourth and fifth fastest times from eight races in today’s two short course races. The score stands at five to Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, two to Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats X and one to Andrew Short’s Shockwave – Club Marine with one race to go.

Regatta director Denis Thompson sent the rest of the 225 boat fleet contesting the 25th anniversary regatta on a 21 nautical mile course around Long Island. There was plenty of colour and action on the Dent Passage start line and overhead with the Airforce Roulettes weaving their aerobatic magic for the on-water procession.

In the PHS Passage division, Mike Freebairn’s classic 1968 built S&S 49 MBDS Spirit of Koomooloo scored its first bullet of the series, the heavy 22 time Rolex Sydney Hobart entrant quick off the start line in the 10 knot sou’east breeze.

'Today we had a nice breeze and good crew work, and when we went around Long Island we think those behind us were hurting,' said Freebairn this afternoon. 'On the last work we had good height and just enough breeze to keep the boat pressured up. Short tacking into the finish is not our forte but the final results went our way.'

In the PHS Grand Prix division, Rob Reynolds’ Middle Harbour Yacht Club boat Pla Loma IV has found form in the second half of the regatta, continuing to hold a three point lead over which won today’s islands race.

Reynolds suffered fractures to his vertebrae and face when he fell down a set of stairs a few months back. He’s been out of action for the last ten weeks but with his doctor’s blessing he was not only allowed to contest Audi Hamilton Island Race Week but has helmed his DK43 in every race, taking the opportunity to steer sitting down whenever possible.

And the plan for tomorrow’s decider? 'Sail as well as we have been sailing for the past couple of days and keep a close eye on and Hitchhiker,' said Reynolds this afternoon.

Tomorrow, Saturday 30 August, is the final day of competition at the 25th anniversary Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

The 23.3 nautical mile race Molle Islands Race for all classes will signal the close of Australia’s most awarded keel boat regattas.

The Club Marine Cruising Division 1 fleet will lead the fleet out of Dent Passage following the 9.30am start in what is usually the ‘cover shot’ of the week.

Between 9.30am and 10.35am 11 divisions will peel off, most likely under spinnaker, creating a stunning spectacle that is published worldwide as the showcase image for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and Hamilton Island.

Trophies will be presented tomorrow evening at the Convention Centre prize giving dinner.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Squark arks up after false start

'Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2008,BLACK JACK' Andrea Francolini / Audi ©

[by Lisa Ratcliff]

A jittery IRC Grand Prix division 1 fleet lined up for this morning’s Whitehaven Beach Race off the Eastern starting line in Fitzalan Passage in a lighter sou’east breeze and lumpy seas.

In the countdown to the 10.30am start signal the race committee was calling out those over the start line but for some it was already curtains, even for the headlining acts.

Peter Harburg’s Brisbane based Reichel Pugh 66 Black Jack was 'a bit eager trying to get to the boat end of the start line' then found they couldn’t manoeuvre in amongst the smaller end of the grand prix fleet and had to re-start.

Despite suffering at least a two minute penalty and a couple of other minor issues around the track, the dynamic duo of Etchells and 2007 America’s Cup sailor Mark ‘Squark’ Bradford and his tactician, round the world sailor Peter ‘Billy’ Merrington, managed to peg back the rest of the fleet to claim line honours by 20 seconds from Andrew Short’s 80 foot maxi Shockwave – Club Marine.

'It’s difficult to build speed and start with the smaller boats when the boat’s not very manoeuvrable. That’s the sacrifice you make sailing a big boat,' said Bradford minutes after claiming his third line honours win from six races.

Describing their entire race as 'a bit unorthodox', Bradford paid full credit to ‘Billy’ Merrington. 'The tactics were superb...Billy got us out of trouble.'

It’s rare for Mark Richards to miss a start but today he misjudged the line and was also individually recalled, sending the Bob Oatley owned Wild Oats X back to the start line once they heard the ‘On Course Side’ call, which took a little time to filter through to the three-time Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winning crew.

Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest threw off yesterday’s collision with Surprise Rock and subsequent damage, to record its second win on corrected time putting them one point behind Division 1 series leader Cougar II, Alan Whiteley’s Melbourne based sistership to Quest.

It’s a big effort bringing a boat to Hamilton Island from Melbourne and Whiteley is 'quietly confident' that it’s been well worth his while.

'We have no great expectations, we are just here to have a good series but having said that, the boys are not making any mistakes and the conditions have been similar to what we are used to on Port Phillip Bay,' said Whiteley this afternoon.

In IRC Grand Prix Division 2 Stephen Ellis’ modified Farr 40 Splash Gordon rallied to win today’s race on corrected time from Nick George’s DK46 Exile. Exile’s second today has put them into the top three on the progressive pointscore which still has Rod Jones’ Alegria leading Ray Harris’ Honeysuckle by one point.

There were barely two boat lengths between Honeysuckle and Alegria at any stage today, the two creating some action at the top mark rounding when Alegria tried to shoot the mark inside Honeysuckle and almost drifted back onto it.

Kevin Horne’s Elliott 9.6m Wild Spirit from Maroochy River beat the rest of the Performance Grand Prix fleet today, outsailing Garry Holder’s The Real Thing and Walter Carpenter’s Pacific 50 Samarkand.

As the IRC Grand Prix and Performance Grand Prix fleets kept themselves sensible for racing, the remaining divisions enjoyed their second lay day for the week. A steady procession of yachts of all shapes and sizes began heading out of Hamilton Island Harbour early this morning to join the locals and tourists who’d already taken up position on the award-winning Whitehaven Beach.

A huge crowd gathers annually to enjoy the spectacular white silica sand, turquoise waters and to be entertained by the many planned activities including beach cricket and volleyball.

Today the Airforce Roulettes RAAF Aerobatic team wowed the crowd with their twists and turns at the Whitehaven Beach Party, the biggest social gathering of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

Tomorrow the IRC Division 1 and 2 fleets will sail two windward/leeward races starting from Eastern start line and all other classes will sail a short around the islands race with the course yet to be announced.

Friday’s forecast has the breeze building back up to 15-20 knots from the SE/E for the penultimate day of racing.

In the nine race inaugural South Pacific Cup the Aussies have a handy 20 point lead over the three boat Kiwi team.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Australia's secret weather weapon helps win gold medals

BORIS has never been to an Olympics before. Never hoisted a sail, never even set foot aboard a boat. Until now, in fact, Boris has been kept well and truly under cover.

But the '18th member' of Australia's gold-medal winning sailing team has been unmasked as the secret behind their success.

Commissioned two and half years ago by the CSIRO, the sophisticated weather program _ nicknamed Boris by the Australian sailing team for no particular reason - propelled Australia's most successful sailing team to their best Games since Sydney 2000.
Read on…

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 2 - Audi Hamilton Island RW

[by Lisa Ratcliff]

Today the formula one component of the 25th anniversary Audi Hamilton Island Race Week split from the bulk of the 225 strong fleet for some thrilling round the cans action in Fitzalan Passage, to the east of Hamilton Island.

The line honours battle continued at the front end of the fleet with Peter Harburg’s Black Jack gaining the upper hand, scoring two crucial wins over the Mark Richards skippered Wild Oats X.

The 2006 built Black Jack, named after the three time formula one world champion Sir Jack Brabham in honour of his sporting achievements and launched in Brisbane last month, is a slight development of the previous Wild Oats X model.

In race 1 the two got away side by side, Black Jack finally edging out Wild Oats to finish comfortably ahead of Wild Oats X, but in the second race just a boat length separated the two at the finish, PRO Denis Thompson reporting “in the end it came down to the best gybe”.

In the all important handicap stakes, the Victorians stole the show today. The crew of Michael Hiatt’s modified Cookson 50 Living Doll redeemed themselves beyond doubt with consecutive handicap victories after scoring OCS in yesterday’s regatta opener. Living Doll is a member of the Australian South Pacific Cup team and today’s bullets will stand them in good stead against the kiwis who were left in their wake in the heavy seaway.

“The crew work was fantastic and we worked hard,” said a delighted Hiatt this afternoon. “The boat has been prepared for this sort of racing.”

Alan Whiteley’s TP52 Cougar, also representing Victoria,finished runner up in the first and second race of the day and Graeme Troon’s Reichel/Pugh 46 XLR8, yet another Melbourne boat which is sailing this week with Ian ‘Barney’ Walker at the helm, rounded out the top three in race two this afternoon.

A number of kiwi boats had issues on the track today including Rob Bassett’s Bakewell-White 52 Wired which was in irons for a number of minutes when a button jammed in the canting keel’s control system leaving the keel stuck on the wrong side and the boat stopped in the water. John Meadowcroft’s stunning Marten 49 Carerra from Auckland ripped its kite at a bottom mark turning and couldn’t crack the top three in IRC Grand Prix division 2 in either race.

In IRC Grand Prix division 2 Rod Jones’ Alegria, also a member of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club team representing Australia for the South Pacific Cup, took the double with two firsts.

There was some drama on the course in the second race of the day with Stephen Ellis’ modified Farr 40 Splash Gordon losing 30 year old Sydney based crewman Sam Horgan overboard at the last top rounding. He was retrieved in less than two minutes, one witness describing it as one of the most perfectly executed man overboard recoveries he’d ever seen. The crew has nicknamed Sam ‘Splash Horgan’.

Tomorrow is the 59 nautical mile Club Marine Classic Hayman Island Race, the longest race of the series for the IRC Grand Prix, IRC Premier Passage, IRC Passage and Performance Grand Prix. It’s an early start ahead of a long day with the first division off the line at 8.15am from Dent Passage.

The cruising divisions will sail the 41 nautical mile Double Cones Island Race starting from Dent Passage at 11am.


Images Day 1- Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

Day 1 images of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week by Crosbie Lorimer.
In surprisingly cool 18-20 knot southeasterlies and a nasty chop the fleet left the Fitzalan Passage to the north of the island on a tough beat to Lindeman Island. From there it was a fast and more relaxed kite run north to the finish at Dent Passage.
Wild Oats X heads south towards Kennedy Sound - 2008 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Crosbie Lorimer

Pussy Galore at speed - 2008 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Crosbie Lorimer

XLR8 and Audi Centre Melbourne round Spitfire Rock - 2008 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Crosbie Lorimer

Living Doll loses a sheet - 2008 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Crosbie Lorimer

Shockwave 5 leads the fleet - 2008 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Crosbie Lorimer
Peter Harburgs Black Jack - 2008 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Crosbie Lorimer

Tough at the Top - Audi Hamilton Island RW

[by Ian Grant]

The 2008 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Australia’s premier blue water yacht racing regatta, started in testing 20-25 knot trade winds and lumpy 1.5m white capped wind waves in the windy Whitsunday Islands earlier today.

A typical winter trade wind which peaked at 27 knots before dawn presented the record fleet with a supreme torture test during the 23 nautical mile Lindeman Island race where the leading yachts power sailed to exciting speed on the spinnaker sailing leg from Spitfire Rock to the finish off Hamilton Harbour.

The race for line honours between the almost identical Reichel Pugh 66 class sloops turned into a match racing tactical dog fight with the new challenger the Peter Harburg owned and Mark Bradford helmed Black Jack staging an absorbing match race against Bob Oatley’s, Mark Richards helmed, defending champion Wild Oats X.

This was by far the most exciting line honours clash ever decided in the 25 year history of racing at Hamilton Island.

Interest naturally focused on this clash with each of the talented crews holding the winning edge at various turning marks of the course.

Black Jack with her superior clear wind start held the edge on the tough slog into the breeze while the Andrew Short skippered maxi Shockwave Club Marine utilising her sail power and waterline advantage was the first to weather Spitfire Rock closely pursued by the match racing Black Jack and Wild Oats X However it soon became evident that the smaller Black Jack and Wild Oats X were faster on the spinnaker reaching angles hitting speeds in excess of 18 knots.

Initially Black Jack looked poised to capture an upset when she power sailed away to a 32 second lead but that changed when Wild Oats X advantaged with a slight wind change was able to run deeper and recaptured the lead in the final 4 miles.

As expected the Black Jack crew never gave up drawing to within a boats length with the finish line in sight but the Wild Oats X crew cleverly maintained first use of the breeze to win by 29 seconds with another 3 minutes 45 seconds to the outpaced Shockwave Club Marine.

Former Hamilton Island Race Week champion Bob Steel and principal helmsman Jamie McPhail produced unmatched handicap rated speed over the final spinnaker run to claim the major IRC class corrected time points.

The skilfully sailed TP52 Quest rating 1.345 defeated the Geoff Ross skippered defending champion Yendys (1.377) by 1 minute 46 seconds with Ray Roberts Quantum Racing (1.355) another 2 minutes 23 seconds astern.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Gitana 13 aboard the Indian Ocean Express

21/08/2008 - 11:00 - The weather window selected by the crew of Gitana 13 to set out on the Tea Route record has proven to be the right one. Heading off from Hong Kong on Thursday 14th August at 07h55’32’’(UT), following on from the influence of the tropical storm “Kammuri” and prior to the arrival of typhoon “Nuri”, the maxi-catamaran in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group has racked up a great time to the Sunda Strait, despite conditions which did little to favour performance. Passing through the passage last night, less than a week after setting off, this strait marks the entry of Lionel Lemonchois and his nine crew into the Indian Ocean.

The Sunda Strait, which separates the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java, is now in the wake of Gitana 13. Last night, shortly after 0100 hours (UT), the 33 metre maxi-catamaran slipped into this narrow 12 mile wide passage: “The first part of this course was very tricky but we’ve come out of it rather well. Prior to setting out from Hong Kong, the most optimistic forecasts gave us 8 days to reach the Sunda Strait. In the end we covered the 2,000 miles of this initial section in 6 days 16 hours. It’s very satisfying, particularly as the weather didn’t really favour us; dishing out what felt like some rather interminable days sailing close-hauled and a rather long passage across the equator” resumed Lionel Lemonchois this morning.

This entrance into the Indian Ocean marks a change of rhythm for the sailors of Gitana Team. After a week spent in the closed waters of the China Sea and Java Sea, tacking upwind, Gitana 13 is now slipping along downwind on the steeper waters of the Indian Ocean. Benefiting from some well-established SE’ly tradewinds, the ten sailors will finally be able to express the potential of the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild: “The SE’ly tradewinds are well and truly here! We’ve got 22 to 25 knots of breeze, which is enabling us to drive Gitana 13 at speeds close to 25-30 knots. The seas are building gradually and the atmosphere is wetter on deck now. The sailors on watch have swapped their T-shirts for foulies, which are better suited to these new sailing conditions. Everything seems to be in place to enable us to pass the Reunion Islands at a steady pace… some big surf awaits!” said the cheerful skipper of Gitana 13.

Weather analysis for the second part of the course: The Indian Ocean
Sylvain Mondon, loyal onshore router for the Gitana Team, explains the setting for the next 4,500 miles: “The SE’ly tradewinds are well established in the Indian Ocean. These highly favourable winds will enable Lionel Lemonchois and his crew to maintain an average speed of around 25 knots throughout the first half of this ocean crossing. This regular tradewind air flow is currently being produced by two vast zones of high pressure: the first close to Australia and the second close to Africa. These two systems are shifting slightly eastwards as they fill in and the second zone of high pressure will settle between the Kerguelen and Reunion islands and stretch right across the breadth of the Indian Ocean on Saturday 23rd August. A fine and slightly favourable SSE’ly swell is accompanying the maxi-catamaran so Gitana 13 should make fairly rapid progress over the next four days. Following on from that, they’ll have to line themselves up nicely in order to negotiate several passages of fronts to the south of Madagascar, prior to reaching the Cape of Good Hope. The second half of the crossing won’t be as direct and close-hauled sailing will prevail once more in increasingly big seas as they approach the African continent”.

A little history about the Tea Route
Beyond its commercial appeal, the Tea Route stood out during the XIXth century as one of the great nautical races. In 1868, Bernard Weymouth built the Thermopylae in Aberdeen, Scotland. On its maiden voyage the Thermopylae made it to Melbourne, Australia in 63 days, an incredible performance for the time. In order to challenge this record, the most famous clipper of all time, the Cutty Sark, was built in 1869, in Dumbarton, Scotland.

Today’s figures
Departure from Hong Kong: Thursday 14th August at 07h55’32’’ (UT)
Thursday 21st August at 07h46’ (UT)Latitude: 07°11.75 S – Longitude: 103°28.65 E
Speed over 4 hrs: 26.3 knots – average speed since the start: 13.29 knots
Distance left to go: 11,000 miles

Quantum Racing takes IRC on countback - MMABRW

Quantum Racing winner IRC1 - Photography by Peter Campbell ©
[by Peter Campbell]

Sydney yachtsman Ray Roberts, at the helm of his canting keel 50-footer Quantum Racing, today outsailed an international fleet of grand prix racing yachts to come from behind in standings and win the Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week IRC division 1 title.

Roberts, one of Australia's most successful ocean racing yachtsmen in recent years, won the final three races on corrected time but the last race was an outstanding combination between him, steering the Cookson 50, his tactician Steve McConaghy and a dedicated crew as they sailed the 20 nautical triangle course on Pioneer Bay in moderate but shifty breezes.

Quantum Racing, from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, led the IRC division 1 fleet around the course to take line and handicap honours to finish equal on points with Melbourne yachtsman Michael Hiatt's Living Doll, also a Cookson 50 but with a conventional fixed keel.
On a countback of placings in the seven races, Quantum Racing won the regatta with three first places to two wins by the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria's Living Doll.

Living Doll went in to today's final race with a one-point margin over Quantum Racing. To be assured of victory, Roberts had to win the race, with Living Doll second, or worse.
Roberts, who always steers his boats, gained a perfect start and at the end of the short first windward legs was 17 seconds clear of the New Zealand 52-footer Wired, with Living Doll in third place, closely followed by another Victorian boat, Chris Dare's Corbey 49 Audi Centre Melbourne.

'Our good start enabled us to consolidate our position on the first beat to windward and from there on we were able to dictate the way we wanted to go,' said Roberts, who recently took the line and IRC overall handicap double in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Race. 'We were able to sail in clear air almost all day in the 12-15 knot breeze. We increased our lead on every leg except for halfway up the final work when Wired hung into a 35 degree wind shift and got in front of us. We took his stern and with Steve (McCOnaghy) again calling tactics superbly, we sailed into good pressure, coming back to regain the lead and get the gun.'

Living Doll lost time at the wing mark when pushed above the rounding buoy by the New Zealand yacht Pussy Galore. 'We went for the gap and they closed it - as was their right - but we had to drop our spinnaker and tack back to round the mark, probably costing us a couple of minutes,' a crew member said.

On corrected time, Quantum Racing won the final race by almost 5 minutes on corrected time from Living Doll, third place going to Graham Jones' Beneteau First 45 Bluewater from Port Douglas Yacht Club.

Quantum Racing placed 6-3-3-3-1-1-1 to finish with a net 12 points, with Living Doll scoring the same points form placings of 3-1-2-1-4-3-2.Quantum Racing's three firsts to Living Doll's two wins gave her the series from the Victorian yacht, with Bluewater taking third place overall on 18 points , followed by Audi Centre Melbourne on 19 points.

IRC division 2 was sewn up yesterday with Arajilla, Geoff Pearson's Archambault 35 from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, winning six straight races. She was beaten in the final race by the Sydney 38 Zen (Gordon Ketelbey), also from MHYC.

Arajilla, the overall IRC winner last year, finished this year's regatta with 6 points, Zen tasking second overall on 11 points and third on 19 points to Treasure VIII, a new Sea Quest RP36 skippered by 79-year-old Whitsunday Sailing Club member Harold Menelaus with Chris Pomfret as tactician.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Crunching time for 50-footers at MMABRW

Living Doll. Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week Day 4 racing
Photography by Ian Grant ©

[by Peter Campbell]

The Melbourne yacht Living Doll has retained her pointscore lead in the grand prix IRC division 1 of the Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week, despite a boat-crunching start, a broken headsail halyard and a blown-out spinnaker in today's heavy weather passage race.
Sailing in a 25-30 knot south-easterly, the IRC division 1 surfed northwards to Saddleback Island before facing a testing beat back into Pioneer Bay to complete the 34 nautical mile race.
International yachtsman Ray Roberts steered his canting keel 50-footer Quantum Racing to an impressive victory, taking line and handicap honours, as he did in the recently Audi Sydney Gold Coast Race, to move into equal second place overall.
Quantum Racing scored a massive 16 minute win on corrected time from Chris Dare's Corby 49 Audi Centre Melbourne, third place going to Graham Jones' brand new Beneteau First 45 Bluewater, with Living Doll, Michael Hiatt's Cookson 50, recovering well to place fourth.
Living Doll's problems began at the start when the CYCA-based Swan 45 Tulip, with Sean Kirkjian on the helm, appeared to push the New Zealand 52-footer Wired (Rob Bassett) above the barging buoy - as he was entitled to under the racing rules of sailing!
Living Doll, Michael Hiatt's Cookson 50, was close to windward of Wired and the two big boats crunched gunwales, Living Doll having two carbon fibre stanchions on her portside smashed. Living Doll took a penalty turn but both she and Wired were also forced to go around the end of the line and re-start.
As Living Doll and Wired set off in pursuit of the leaders, Living Doll's woes continued, with a headsail halyard breaking, forcing her to sail bareheaded for a minute or more. However, a freshening breeze in Pioneer Bay saw her planing downwind under her big spinnaker, hitting 20 knots in the 25 knots breeze, gaining considerable time on the rest of the fleet.
The crew of Quantum Racing was elated with their double win. 'Carrying out big spinnaker, we hit 22 knots on the downhill run to the islands,' tactician Steve McConaghy said. 'Beating back into 27 knots, with the fast-ebbing tide and lumpy seas, we started with a No 4 but later went up to a No 3. It really was a good day for Ray (Roberts) and the crew!'
Roger Hickman, sailing master on Audi Centre Melbourne, was also pleased with the Corby 49's second placing today. 'It was a lovely course, with the big tides kicking up steep seas,' Hickman said. 'While it's not like sailing on The Solent (off Cowes, England) the tides play a big influence here in the Whitsundays.
After five races, Living Doll has a three point lead in IRC division standings, on 7 points after discarding her worst race (today's 4th). Equal on 10 points are Bluewater and Quantum Racing while Audi Centre Melbourne is only 11 points after the one-race discard.
Tomorrow the IRC division 1 fleet will sail the long distance race of Race Week over a course of 40 nautical miles around several of the 74 islands in the Whitsunday Island Group.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ronstan Bridge to Bridge

Howie Hamlin and his 18ft skiff crew sponsored by Harken won the bridge to bridge on San Francisco bay on Friday beating a bunch of Formula Boards and Kiteboards. The kiteboards came in 2nd Chip Wasson , 3rd John Gomes and 4th Anthony Chavez.
Here are the overall results.

All photos thanks to Christophe Favreau

2008 Suzuki Figaro

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Living Doll takes Airlie Beach day two IRC honors

[by: Peter Campbell]
Melbourne yachtsman Michael Hiatt today steered his Cookson 50 Living Doll to a fine IRC handicap victory in the 29 nautical mile Molle Islands Race, race two of the Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week.
Sailing a clever tactical race around this striking island group in the Whitsundays of Far North Queensland, Hiatt kept the conventional keeled 50-footer within a minute of the leading group of the canting keel’s yachts to finish a close fourth across the line and a clear winner on corrected time.
Today’s race was sailed in perfect ‘sponsored again by Queensland tourism’ weather, which brought out on the water some 800 sailors aboard 107 racing yachts, dozens of cruising boats and also a sun-baking whale and calf. ‘They were within a metre or so of us when we spotted them on the spinnaker run across to Grimston Point; we had to take some quick evasive action,’ skipper Hiatt said after the race. ‘We sailed a good all-round race, keeping out of the tide by going close inshore down past the Molle Islands and holding our own on the spinnaker run back up the eastern side of the islands where the tradewinds were a steady 15 knots plus,’ he added.
Provisional IRC corrected time results show Living Doll winning by a comfortable 3 minutes 21 seconds from Pussy Galore, skippered by New Zealander Anatole Masfen, with Sydney yachtsman Ray Roberts’ Quantum Racing just seven second further back.
All three are Cookson 50s, with Living Doll a conventional keeled boat, the other two fitted with performance enhancing canting keels.
After two races, Living Doll, from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, heads the IRC Division 1 leader board with 4 points from a 3-1 score. Another Melbourne boat, Chris Dare’s Corby 49 Audi Centre Melbourne, is second overall on 5 points (1-4) followed by Pussy Galore on 7 points (5-2), Wired (Ray Bassett, NZL) on 8 points (2-6) and Quantum Racing on 9 points (6-3).
While he notched up a third today, Ray Roberts said he was looking for 15 knots plus in future races. ‘We need 15 knots and more to sail to our canting keel rating,’ he said. ‘Nevertheless, it was great to see five boats of similar size racing round the track together…it’s as good a fleet that you get anywhere in the world,’ the international yachtsman added.
In IRC Division 2, last year’s overall IRC winner (this year the fleet is split) Arajilla, Geoff Davidson’s Archambault 35 from Middle Harbour Yacht Club scored her second successive handicap win.
With former Olympic sailor Neville Witty calling tactics, Arajilla again sailed impressively from Treasure VIII (Harold Menelaus) from the Whitsunday Sailing Club and another MHYC entrant, Gordon Ketelbey’s Sydney 38 Zen.
After two races, Arajilla leads with 2 points from two wins, followed by Zen on 6 points (2-3) and Treasure VII on 5 points (4-2). After Friday’s problems with the light and flukey winds in Pioneer Bay, Principal Race officer Tony Denham moved the starting area further east toward Pioneer Rocks and also eliminated the first leg to windward from the course.
The IRC fleet and subsequent divisions enjoyed a windward start, heading straight out into the Molle Channel before tacking down the channel to circumnavigate the Molle Island Group. Once past Denman Island the IRC divisions set spinnakers for a long run back to Pioneer Bay and a leeward mark off Grimston Point, before beating back the finish just off Airlie Beach.
Quantum Racing. AUS ©

Audi Centre Melbourne and Wired - AUS ©
It was a perfect race, sailed in a south-easterly tradewind that varied from 10 to 12 knots in the Molle Passage, freshening to 15 knots as they ran back up the Whitsunday Passage.
Ray Roberts’ Cookson 50 Quantum Racing and race one line honours winner, Wired, Ray Bassett’s Bakewell-White 52 Wired, started well at the pin end of the line and took one long starboard tack to the east. Race one IRC winner, the Corby 49 Audi Centre Melbourne, with owner/skipper Chris Dare again on the helm, elected to tack inshore of Pioneer Rocks.
As the fleet converged to leave West Molle Island to starboard, a close tacking duel saw Quantum Racing briefly gain the lead from sistership Pussy Galore, skippered by New Zealander Anatole Masfen, with Wired back in third place, closely followed by the Melbourne-based Cookson 50 Living Doll (Michael Hiatt).
Pussy Galore led the IRC Division 1 around Roma Point and into the freshening breeze, just ahead of Quantum Racing, Wired and Living Doll, but on the long spinnaker run up the eastern shores of the Molle Island, Wired, with her longer waterline took the lead briefly.
However, a couple of less than perfect gybes saw their New Zealand compatriots regain the advantage. Little separated the leading four boats at the Grimston Point mark and the margins changed little on the final windward leg to the finish, Pussy Galore crossing the line 35 seconds ahead of Quantum Racing with Living Doll only 54 seconds further astern. In fourth place, a well within her rating, came the eventual IRC winner Living Doll, 1 min 06 seconds astern.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kiwis fly - but not fast enough at Airlie Beach

Living Doll and Wired - Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week 2008 Peter Campbell ©

[by: Peter Campbell]
New Zealand sailors took first day line honours today at the 2008 Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week being sailed in the Whitsundays of tropical Far North Queensland, but handicap honours went to the Victorian boat Audi Centre Melbourne.

Wired, Rob Bassett's canting keel Bakewell-White 52, obviously faster than she was a year ago, sailed away from the fleet to get the gun by more than 12 minutes from compatriot Pussy Galore, Anatole Masfen's Cookson 50, also from Auckland.

However, with her high rating of 1.401, Wired could not hold her time on the Corby 49 Audi Centre Melbourne, the former Flirt owned by Chris Dare from Melbourne's Sandringham Yacht Club and helmed by newly elected Yachting New South Wales President Roger Hickman.

The well-sailed Corby 49 is provisional winner of IRC division 1 of the 19 nautical mile Cone Island - Armit Island Race, with a handicap margin of 43 seconds from Wired, third place going to another Victorian boat, Chris Hiatt's Cookson 50, Living Doll.

Wired got an early break over the rest of the fleet on the frustratingly light breeze that dogged the IRC fleet on the two nautical mile beat to windward.

Smart tactical sailing saw the Kiwis hoist their code 0 spinnaker to close-reach out into the Passage, seeking the wind. 'We knew there was breeze out there and we sailed in that direction rather than the more direct rhumbline course down to Cone Island, ' skipper Bassett said.

'Once we got out in the Passage between the mainland and the islands, we had 14 knots and went charging north at 14 knots under spinnaker.

'We were far ahead at Cone Island and when we crossed the line back off Airlie Beach we had a margin of more than 12 minutes from our fellow Kiwis on Pussy Galore,' Bassett added.

Bassett, a member of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, said that since last year's rather disappointing IRC result at Arlie Beach Race Week they had worked on the boat's rating back in Auckland. 'The boat is now much more balanced now and obviously faster,' he added.

Winning owner/skipper Chris Dare said he and the crew had been frustrated by the early light winds but once out in the trade winds, the Corby 49 had sailed fast. 'Coming back (from Armit Island) we took some long tacks and that paid off to give a narrow, but satisfying win on corrected timer,' Dare said.

Michael Hiatt (Living Doll) from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria described the Cone Island - Armit Island Race as a 'tough one' adding that his Cookson 50 had been stuck in a hole before they reached the trade winds. However, an eventual fast spinnaker run and a good beat back to the finish saw Living Doll take third place on corrected time,

Steve McConaghy, tactician aboard Ray Roberts' Quantum Racing said it was a 'a horrible way to start the regatta... but once we picked up the sou'easter we regained lost ground to round Double Cone Island with Pussy Galore and Living Doll.'

However, it was not good enough and Quantum Racing, the pre-regatta favourite following her recent Sydney Gold Coast Race win, had to be content with a sixth on corrected time.

Last year's overall IRC winner Arajilla, skippered by Geoff Pearson from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, with Olympian Neville Wittey calling the shots, scored an impressive win in IRC Division 2. Second place went to another MHYC boat, the Sydney 38 Zen (Gordon Ketelby) and third to Secret Mens Business 1, now owned by Robert Curtis from Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

As the IRC divisions slowly worked to windward in a light south-westerly breeze to the first round mark in Pioneer Bay, the breeze behind them died away to zilch and Principal Race Officer Tony Denham temporarily abandoned race for the other divisions.

Two hours later, with the breeze finally filling in, he started these divisions on the Cone Island - Armit Island course, with the fleet enjoying a good sail in a 10-12 knotter.

In the Performance Racing, Division 1 handicap honours went to Lake Macquarie, NSW, sailor Mick Hinchey in his Melges 32 Ian Short Sails, with a 14 second corrected time win from local Whitsunday Sailing Club boat Rising Farrst, a Farr 1104 skippered by Tim Osborne. Third place went to another local boat, Another Fiasco, a Jutson 43 skippered by Damian Suckling from Abel Point Yacht Club.

Gold Coast yachtsman Noel Leigh-Smith, a former National JOG champion sailed the Bethwaite-designed Vivace to a hard-fought win the Sports Boat division, taking honours under the new SMS (Sports Boat Measurement) handicapping from the little Egan 6 Quantum Sails (Graham Shering) also from Southport Yacht Club. Third place went to Coffs Harbour-based French sailor Pierre Gal in the Sports 8xx boat Conquistador.

In the One Design SB3 division, Magees IGA (Paul Hunt) from Tasqua Youth (Matthew Jones) and Wagop (Michael McLean).

After the delayed start the Cruising division boats did not finish the Cone Island - Armit Island Race until late this afternoon.

In the Cruising Non Spinnaker Division, Rainbow, Peter Hall's Beneteau 473 won on corrected time from Time Lord, Keith Munro's Bavaria 50, with Joie De Vie (Martin Cross) third.

Don Algie's Storm 2 won the day's prize in the Cruising with Spinnaker Division 1, with Double O Seven (Jeffrey Brown) finishing second. Garry Anderson's Espirit was third.

Mr Bojangles, Pauline Cleaver's Northshore 38, took the handicap honours in Cruising with Spinnaker Division 2, from another Northshore 38 Full Frontal, hemled by Mark Travis. Completing the top three was yet another Northshore 38C, More Intrigue, skippered by Merv Stephensen.

All results are provisional and subject to protest. Full results are available on the website -

IRC split into two divisions at Airlie Beach

[By: Peter Campbell]

In the interests of fairer racing, race officials have split the IRC fleet for the Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week, which starts on Pioneer Bay tomorrow with the Double Cone - Armit Island Race.

In broad terms, IRC Division 1 will be the larger and faster IRC boats, including the Bakewell-White 52 Wired from New Zealand, the Cookson 50s Quantum Racing from Sydney, Living Doll from Melbourne and Pussy Galore from New Zealand, along with the Corby 49 Flirt, now racing as Audi Centre Melbourne, and the Farr 40s Cracklin Rosie and Night Nurse.

Division 2 includes the Archambault 35 Arajilla, the Sydney 38 Zen and the Murray 42 Secret Mens Business 1 and the RP35 Sea Quest.

'Splitting IRC into two divisions will make for better and fairer racing and give us the ability to set courses more suitable to the various sizes of boats,' Principal Race Officer Tony Denham said this evening at the Abel Point race centre.

Race officials also announced that the Cruising with Spinnaker Division, the largest in the regatta, had been split into two divisions - Division 1 comprising 17 boats and Division 2 of 21 boats.

The Double Cone - Armit Island Race is a traditional opener to the Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week, with the larger boats likely to sail a course of about 19 nautical miles.

The forecast is for south-easterly tradewinds of 15-20 knots, giving expectations of some fast and spectacular racing, particularly among the 19-boat fleet of Sports Boats.

Race Week this year has drawn entries from all Australian States and Territories and New Zealand, competing under IRC, Performance Racing, Performance Cruising, Cruising with Spinnakers, Cruising Non-Spinnakers, and Sports Boats and One Design categories.

Aussies breeze into contention

[source: Sydney Morning Herald]
Six Australian sailing crews currently competing are within reach of medals after a day of reduced sailing competition in Qingdao.

It was an agonisingly slow day on the water today as a hazy fog hung over Qingdao and the wind barely blew an average of three knots. In the tough conditions, the Australian team’s strategy was about lowering risk and consolidating positions. Read on...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Sailing- Day 3

It seems our Aussie sailing team is doing well in Qingdao. The conditions have been light as predicted, but that old nemesis the green slim is back, with those on the spot reporting that a flotilla of chinese junks make their way onto the course area in the evening to spend the night cleaning up the mess.
Here's a link to the latest report on the Australian Sailing Team webiste. Day 3 report

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Olympic Sailing Schedule, Qingdao China

For those interested, here is a link to the Olympic sailing schedule.
Sailing Schedule

The Finn and Yngling are the first to get away. Let's hope our mate Nocka gets a great start to the regatta in the Finn class. It's his 3rd Olympic games and I am sure he is going for a podium finish. Here's a link to his profile.
Nocka Finn Profile

Friday, August 08, 2008

Audi Med Cup Round 4

Without a doubt the best sailing on the planet at the moment is in the Audi MedCup TP52 class. Here is some video of the latest round in Palma, Spain.

Video in a new window

Friday, August 01, 2008

Wot Chicks Make the Cut

[source: Wot Chicks Media]
Day 3 in Lysekil saw the completion of the Stage 1 Round Robin, with the 6 highest scoring teams qualifying for the next stage.

The draw meant Wot Chicks were racing for all of the last 6 races of the round supported by a cheer squad of Liz Baylis, Camilla Ulrikkeholm and their teams as well as the occasional seal.
In a light and fluky sea breeze, the conditions were once again challenging. The 5 knot breeze emphasized the importance of boat speed and gauge in pre-start manoeuvres in order to maintain control. Having trailed off the start Wot Chicks learnt their lesson, dominating subsequent starts.

Our races today were against some of the top European teams who regularly race these boats. Capitalising on the DS37 training in Denmark proved invaluable for both boat speed and boat handling. Our racing this trip has shown a marked improvement since Marstrand, highlighting the importance of time and experience in what will be the boat used for the next Worlds.
Finishing the round with 7 wins, the slate is wiped clean for the next stage.
Teams through to the Stage 2 Round Robin are:

Claire Leroy
Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen
Lucy MacGregor
Katie Spithill
Jenny Axhede
Linda Rahm

Wot Chicks would like to thank their sponsors Graeme Wood, co-founder of, SLAM & Rudy Project.

As well as their coach and extra crew member sitting back in AUS pacing the hallway.