SPORT - Hooligan: Six wins from eight races in Audi IRC Series

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Audi Victoria Week, Geelong. Final Day.

SPORT - Hooligan: Six wins from eight races in Audi IRC Series
SPORT — <I>Hooligan</I>: Six wins from eight races in Audi IRC Series

Wednesday, January 26: Marcus Blackmore did not have to sail the final race of the Audi IRC Series today, but the Sydney yachtsman said there was no way his crew would miss the final race — and the TP52 crew came out and won the final race to make it six wins from eight races to claim a 10-point overall victory of the Division A series.

Melbourne yachtsman Michael Hiatt sailed a good last race, finishing second to Hooligan for second place overall with his Farr 55 Living Doll. Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki finished third overall in the Audi Victoria Race Week event.

Blackmore was disappointed in claims that his boat "is just a regatta boat". "It is a regatta boat, that’s what I bought it for, but even in winds over 20kts we were winning, so it is more than ‘just a regatta boat’," he said at Royal Geelong Yacht Club this afternoon.

"It was great to win the final race. I wanted to go out and change the crew around a bit, but Tom (tactician Tom Slingsby) said we should go out to win and the rest of the crew agreed," Blackmore said. "He did a great job picking the pin end to start and he picked the breeze pressure right all the way — I don’t know how he does it."

Usually the line honours leader, Loki struggled in the early stages of the final race. She spent most of her time on the course playing catch-up, before finally taking the lead on the penultimate leg to take line honours, but was down in eighth overall, Ainsworth not putting enough distance between Loki and the rest of the fleet.

Blackmore, who is originally from Queensland, took a big early lead of the three-lap windward/leeward race, with Living Doll and Rob Date’s RP52 Scarlet Runner giving chase.

The Hooligan line-honours lead looked insurmountable, but changes occurred throughout the race, with some great duels going on in the shifty breeze that pressured up and down regularly, just to make tacticians jobs even harder. Hooligan, Living Doll and Loki had spectators spellbound as the lead continued to change.

Hooligan’s tactician and three-time Laser world champion, Tom Slingsby, explained: "The shifts were big, I noted one at 35 degrees and the breeze clocked between 6 and12kts.

"No side of the course was favoured, it was all about timing; it was an ‘our turn – your turn’ sort of cycle. Whoever got the last shift got the edge.

"I loved this week — this is the best team I’ve ever sailed with. I hope I get to do more with them," he said.

Hooligan (1 point), Living Doll (2 points) and Loki (3 points) are now the top three on the Class A leaderboard for the fifth running of the Audi IRC Australian Championship. Round 2 of the prestigious Championship is the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta in March. All three yacht owners have said they will be on the start line.

The Audi IRC Australian Championship is sponsored by Audi and organised by Yachting Australia. All boats will race as individual entries to compete for the title ‘IRC Australian Champion’ and any prizes awarded by Audi. — Di Pearson, Audi Victoria Week media

Wins for Ikon and Executive Decision in Audi IRC Series
Ikon and Executive Decision maintained the status quo of yesterday to respectively win Divisions B and C of the Audi IRC Series at Audi Victoria Week today.

Bruce McCraken’s Ikon (Vic) has been the outstanding Beneteau First 45 in Division B all week, pushing away the threat of three others of the same design. Even though today was his worst race, a seventh, which became his drop race, McCraken and crew sailed a consistently good series.

However, McCraken, who was unavailable for comment on his win, was kept honest by Paul Buchholz’s DK46, Extasea, which finished second by three points. Darryl Hodgkinson rounded out the top three with his Beneteau First 45, Victoire (NSW).

Buchholz, from Royal Geelong Yacht Club, which hosts Audi Victoria Week each year, was proud of his result and pleased he had stopped the Beneteaus from clean-sweeping the series.

"We had a great regatta," Buchholz said aboard Extasea after racing today. "We go pretty well in the light (breeze), so we were happy it was light-on today, although we only managed a fifth place. We had a nice win yesterday though," he said of their victory in Race 7.

Extasea had a couple of legends aboard this week; American sailing guru Dave Ullman and the return of Geelong sailmaker Tony Bull. According to Buchholz, both helped lift his crew to the next level at Audi Victoria Week.

Buchholz conceded Ikon was well sailed though. "She was definitely hard to beat and pushed us hard all week, but we’re happy with our result," he said.

Last night, Grant Botica made an ‘executive decision’ to race today’s final Division C race, "because I’d love to win AMS as well as IRC classes," he said.

Botica and his Adams 10 crew were unbeatable once the final points were tallied, but the Victorian was right to hang on and sail again, as he now goes home with the IRC and AMS trophies for Division C.

Executive Decision had an 11-point victory over Penfold Audi Sport, a new Archambault 31 owned and skippered by David Ellis, who won Division C last year with his 20 year-old BB10, Surprise. The two yachts are from different ends of the spectrum.

Third overall went to Peter Sorensen and his Sydney 36CR The Philosopher’s Club from Sydney. A former skiff and sportsboat champion, "Sorro", the 2008 Audi IRC Australian Championship winner, finished two points behind Ellis’ boat.

Ikon, Extasea and Victoire are now the top three on the Class B leaderboard for the fifth running of the Audi IRC Australian Championship, while Executive Decision, Penfold Audi Sport and The Philosopher’s Club are the top three in Class C.

Round 2 of the prestigious Championship is the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta in March. All three yacht owners have said they will be on the start line. — Di Pearson, Audi Victoria Week media

Winners announced as Audi Victoria Week comes to a close
Racing has come to a close at the 2011 Audi Victoria Week and once again, more than 400 boats and their crews, including the Audi Performance, Sydney 38 One-Design Nationals Series, S80, Super 30, SB3, Sports Boats, Trailer yachts and the Cruising classes had a ball at Royal Geelong Yacht Club’s (RGYC) huge annual event.

Many return year after year to one of Victoria’s oldest sporting events and Australia’s largest sailing event, for a great week of sailing and shore-side activities.

"We can’t get enough," is heard so often and is proved by the thousands who flock to Melbourne and Geelong each year.

Here, we take a look at how the various series’ panned out.

Audi Performance Series
Division 1 under EHC was won convincingly by John Lindholm’s Dark Energy. Lindholm, from Victoria, scored a solid victory with his Thompson 980 against fellow Sandringham YC competitor, Tony Manning and his Ultimate Tune crew who sailed an 11 Metre One-Design.

Only two points behind were the ‘Larrikens’ on SixFootSix Larriken2, headed by well-known RGYC local, Darren Pickering, whose crew makes the best of both the racing and onshore activities each year.

Girl power played a big role in Division 2, when Tanya Stanford raced her Scampi 30, Nounannie (Vic), to a close one point victory over Unami, a Beneteau First 31.7 owned by Geoff Adams (Vic) with a further five-point gap to Ian Rowbottom’s Spirit of Rani, a Jeanneau 36 also from Victoria.

Morris Finance Sydney 38 Championship
A few classes were only decided in the final race on the final day, and the Morris Finance Sydney 38 One-Design National Championship was one of them, NSW yachtsman Bruce Foye (The Goat) skated home for a win and a second in the final two races to wind up the series.

Leading into the final day, there were five boats queued up for the National title. Mistakes were costly in the fluctuating light- to mid-range north to northeasterly breezes on Corio Bay’s outer harbour.

Victorian stalwarts of the class, Bruce Taylor (Chutzpah 38) and Lou Abrahams (Challenge) were tied on 18 points apiece, with Taylor leading the series on countback going into the last three races. It did not finish that way.

At the end, only four points separated the top four. The tables were turned on the Victorians’ when a second NSW boat, Zen, skippered by Gordon Ketelbey, stole their thunder to finish second overall with Challenge third and Chutzpah38, whose crew included America’s Cup Noel "Nitro" Drennan, fourth.

The One-Design yachts contested eight races with no drops, as is the norm. They sailed in predominantly light to mid conditions, although there was one big day out on Corio Bay that had everyone sitting up and taking notice.

William Angliss Institute SB3… and the prize goes to Nathan Outteridge
In the William Angliss SB3 keelboat, Nathan Outteridge (NSW) was the clean champion, with a perfect score of eight from eight races. There is no stopping this Aussie; not even reigning national champion Jono Shelley, who finished second, could steal his thunder.

Outteridge owns two 49er world titles and added the Moth World title to his resume earlier this month. The Beijing Olympian’s talent knows no bounds. His perfect score at Audi Victoria Week holds him in good stead for the SB3 World Championship to be held in Britain in July.

The entire series was sailed on Corio Bay in the mixed conditions it is renowned for.

Bundaberg Rum Sportsboats Series
Audi Victoria Week host, Royal Geelong Yacht Club, was well represented at the annual event and there were a few sailors doing the club proud including the Bundaberg Sportsboat winner, Cam Rae.

The series was settled on the last day and it was settled in the protest room after a mark incident found Rae and his Laminar Capital crew in 11th place.

Following the protest, Rae ended up with a win in the final race and finished the series on equal 12 points with his longtime nemesis Paul Heyes (Foamfast) from Mornington, after Heyes scored a second place in the final race. Rae won the series on countback because of three wins on his scorecard to Heyes’ two.

Greg Scherwinski from Mordialloc rounded out the top three with Ray White Mordialloc, but he was 17 points away from the top two.

Geelong Taxi Network Multihull Series
The 10-boat fleet in the Geelong Taxi Network Multihull Series enjoyed very close competition in their eight-race series which included the Passage Race.

Chilli, skippered by Geoff Floyd from MYCV, won the series from Ross McOmish’s Scharnhorst (GRYC) by a lone point; both are Corsair Sprint 750 designs. Peter Boyd’s Farrier F9a, Goldfinger (RSAYS), was third.

S80 Series
A field of nine represented yacht clubs across Victoria in the six-race S80s series and Outlaw, sailed by the Outlaw Gang from Hobsons Bay (Vic) brought home the bacon with a six-point win over Flying Circus, proving that sometimes, being on the run does pay!

The rest of the one-design fleet battled back and forth for the minor placings, Flying Circus (David Collins) overcoming a challenge from Merak (Bas Huibers) to take second place on countback. Does it get any more competitive?

Coca Cola Trailable Yacht Series
Although there were only four entries, the Coca Cola Trailable Yacht Series at Audi Victoria Week was just as pleasurable as the multitude of other classes racing this week.

Phil Clements ended up on top of the pile at the end of the week with Rum Runner; two wins and a pair of second places on her scorecard meant a win over two fellow Noelex 25 designs, Plane Sailing (Peter Kalin) and Pisces (Terry Caldwell).

In fourth place, waving the RGYC flag was Billycart, Jock Forbes’ Quintet 7.

Parks Victoria Classic Yachts Series
The most admired yachts in the fleet — because of their age and beautiful timber beauty — the Classic Yachts finished their four-race series and the top three were standouts in the performance stakes.

Maatsuyker, William Newman’s Henry Morgan 31 design, was the evident victor with a five-point win over Banshee, the SS30 owned and skippered by Graeme McNie. James Woods’ Windward II was third in this all-Victorian event that had spectators’ mesmerised as they were taken back in time to a more elegant and relaxed era.

Club Marine Cruising Series
The Club Marine Cruising (spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions) yielded by far the biggest entry with 159 yachts gracing the event.

Never did Corio Bay look more dazzling and colourful than when these yachts made up the bulk of the fleet in the 28nm Portarlington Race.

The huge fleet set Corio Bay ablaze with colour as each division popped kites in a big breeze shortly after the start and headed up the Channel — you could not drag your eyes away from the eye candy.

Split into three spinnaker and one non-spinnaker divisions, these yachts took over Corio Bay for the remainder of their four-race series.

Douglas Lithgow and his Archambault 40, Soiree Bleu (Vic), had a runaway success in Division A with a massive 22-point conquest over Biddy Hu II (Vic), a Beneteau 50 owned by Paul Lindermann, who last night commented: "We won Race 3, so we’re pretty happy with ourselves — we’re celebrating."

It was an 11-point victory in Division B for Gus Dawson’s Red Dog (Vic), an Adams 10 cruiser, while Paul Smedley’s Duncanson 34, Liquid Asset, won by one point in Division C.

The more relaxed Non-Spinnaker division was taken out by Allen Ainslie with his Northshore 340, Salt Whistle from Victoria.

Super 30’s, Noelex 30’s and Bluebird’s fly
The BIA Super 30 series was a hotly contested six-race event that kept getting better and better as each day passed. It was one of the closest competitions with wins shared between five boats.

In the end, McKenzie Composites, the Bull 9000 skippered by Tony McKenzie (Vic), won the series by three points from two Adams 10s.

Two "Marks", Mark Halton and Mark Holter, were the outstanding entries of the Noelex brigade. The two Victorian owners fought it out daily for the trophy in this series of four races, Halton claiming the crown by two points with Maitresse over Holter’s Silver Cloud.

Marshall Gibbs had the ‘secret’ to success, sailing his Bluebird named Secret to a convincing five-point win over Drambuie and Nunyarra, which finished second and third respectively on countback.

These cute little 22ft boats, designed around 1947, are still very competitive, but look so tiny heading out to the course next to the bigger 40- to 50-footers that are the average size of racing boats these days.

Cadets WL Curtis Trophy
Counting two wins on their scorecard, young sailors Nicola Armstrong and Jack Thornton (White Missile) proved too good for their Victorian counterparts in the Cadet’s five-race series sailed on Corio Bay near the Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

Armstrong and Thornton’s winning margin was six points over second placed Charlie Friend and Felicity Freeman on Midnight Magic. Calum Butler and Cameron McKenzie sailed Swiftsure to third place, a further three points off the leaders.

Audi Victoria Week gets even better…
John Kint, commodore of Royal Geelong Yacht Club, was pleased the event had exceeded expectations. "The feedback is that Audi Victoria Week is going very well," he said.

"The change of the Passage Race start line to St Kilda is a definite improvement. More spectators followed the race, especially powerboats. I’d like to see even more," the commodore said.

"I can’t wait until the Yarra Street Pier comes to fruition. There’s a big chance we’d get some cruise ships come to Geelong that would be an added benefit to Audi Victoria Week. It also means participating yachts would be better protected and safe in all conditions," he said.

City of Greater Geelong Mayor, Cr John Mitchell agrees. "Audi Victoria Week could be even bigger if our plans to rebuild are realised," he said.

The Yarra Street Pier project would replace the original pier that was destroyed by fire in 1988 with a new structure, part fixed, part floating. A total of 78 new small-craft berths would be made available through the construction of floating pontoons.

"One of the most important upgrades would be the ability to provide berths for maxiyachts in sheltered water, which would add considerably to the event’s international appeal," Mayor Mitchell said.

The City of Greater Geelong has committed $5m towards the project and RGYC $2.5m. "We’re now seeking a funding commitment from the State Government of $15 million — so that this long-awaited infrastructure project can get underway," he said.

Hopefully the Government can see the benefits such funding can bring. — Di Pearson, Audi Victoria Week media

For more information, visit www.victoriaweek.com

Photos: Marcus Blackmore's Hooligan earlier in the week. (Photo by Andrea Francolini); Living Doll was in peak form today. (Photo by Andrea Francolini): Executive Decision chases Penfold Audi Sport. (Photo by Teri Dodds): It was a pattern through the week — Balance and the rest following Ikon. (Photo by Teri Dodds): Local sailor Cam Rae and his crew hike towards victory aboard Laminar Capital. (Photo by Teri Dodds): A snapshot of what competitors enjoyed at Audi Victoria Week. (Photo by Teri Dodds); All the colour from a fabulous week of racing. (Photo by Teri Dodds).

 


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