August 12 - 18, 2018: Issue 371

Airlie Beach Race Week starts at a cracking pace: Hooligan and Heat win

Hooligan crew gets down to work - photo by Andrea Francolini, ABRW 2018

August 10, 2018
What a way to start Whitsunday Sailing Club’s 30th Airlie Beach Race Week – a mass two-line downwind start with billowing spinnakers sailing towards Double Cone Island in a light breeze – and a little sports boat, aptly named ‘Heat’ leading the fleet.

Geoff Williams cranked up Luke Ratcliff’s Viper 640, Heat, thumbing his nose at the Tasmanian RP66, Alive, the two Sydney TP52s, Ichi Ban and Hooligan, along with others of that calibre, leading the entire fleet until the expected 15-20 knot breeze funnelled through and the bigger boats mowed the little sports boat down.

On board Heat from NSW were three Ratcliff siblings, Luke, Paul and Kristen - the combination obviously worked well, as they took out the Sports Boat division from Situation Normal, a Shaw 650 from Queensland which finished just shy of two minutes adrift.

Williams, who has been honing his steering in the Laser Masters class, said: “We really enjoyed the day – how could you not? There was lots of chaos at the start, having big and little boats, with some trimarans thrown in for good measure.”

Heat leads the fleet! photo By Pic @WaspNQ

Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan won the highly anticipated stoush of the TP52’s, winning IRC Passage by a mere 24 seconds from Matt Allen’s Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Ichi Ban.

The friendly rivalry between the two TP52’s goes further than their two owners – as there is a Merrington brother aboard each one. Peter is aboard Hooligan while Anthony is racing on Ichi Ban. Their mother Rosemary is on the finish boat, and dad, Steve, is on the jury!

Blackmore, of course, enjoyed his win. “Interesting day – it’ll be an interesting week between Matt’s boat and mine. There was little in it today. I think we’re a bit faster off the wind and we got a better start – they got boxed in a bit,” he said.

“The breeze died off towards the end of the race, so we took a bit of time out of Ray’s boat (Team Hollywood, a Botin 40 which finished third). I think they’ll give us a bit of curry this week though,” said Blackmore, whose crew includes Spanish sailing star Juan Vila navigating and Joe Turner on tactics, along with all-round man Richie Allanson.

Blackmore, with his usual candour, admitted, “Sailing on my boat is quite intense. I’m half deaf and have a few people yelling instructions at me, but we get there in the end. We debrief at dinner and discuss what we could have done better – we’re a close knit crew.”

A third Sydney entry, Ray ‘Hollywood’ Roberts’ Team Hollywood filled out the top three, his Botin 40 more than 10 minutes adrift of Ichi Ban.

In Cruising Division 1, a golden oldie recently purchased by the syndicate of Graham Eaton, Joe Akacich, Andrew Torti and former rugby league second rower Mike McLean took the spoils. Bumblebee 4 is a famous name of the seventies, eighties and nineties, taking Sydney Hobart line honours three times – 1979, 1988 and 1990. The latter two were as Ragamuffin.

Second place went to the equally famous Condor (Sydney Hobart line honours in 1983 and 1986), which does charter duty in the Whitsundays these days, so her crew will be over the moon with their ex-skiffie skipper, Dave Molloy.

As forecast, Brett Whitbread’s Fareast 28R, Pipeline Drillers is the hotshot in the Performance Racing division and also for the Fareast Australian Championship title. The Queensland crew picked the winnings from both –their nearest rivals were Bill Trueman and crew on Goggo Chikara, a Murray30 Sports Boat from the host club by nearly 10 minutes.

‘Goggles’ put in another superb performance with Mister Magoo, the Queensland entry sailing to third place. Always hot to trot, the Magoo crew won the Trailable Yachts division last year.

Multihull fans were taking bets on their favourites in the Multihull Racing Division. Would it be a Kiwi or Aussie victory? That question was answered when the top three spots went to the Aussies. Last year’s winner, Ullman Sails skippered by local Paul Mitchell, won they day from NSW entry Morticia (Shaun Carroll) and Queensland’s MCJAK (Shaun Jackson). All in all it was a good day for Queensland competitors.

Race Director Denis Thompson was pleased with this new innovation: “It was a perfect breeze and everyone behaved – nobody was over the start early. A good first race – competitors will have had a good day out and will all be buzzing when they finish later this afternoon.”

Weather models are predicting more of the same for tomorrow, which will, without a doubt, make everyone happy.

All information:

By Di Pearson, ABRW media

Reignition (202) and her followers -  photo by Andrea Francolini, ABRW 2018

Light Airs Mix It Up At Airlie Beach Race Week

August 11, 2018
Competitors in Whitsunday Sailing Club’s 30th Anniversary Airlie Beach Race Week sailed in conditions quite different to yesterday’s when a light 7 plus knot breeze wafted across Pioneer Bay and beyond, giving the light air specialists their chance to shine in the game of concentration.

Unlike yesterday, Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban was off the start quick smart in clear air, but halfway up the beat, Philip Turner’s Alive (Tas) and Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan had reeled the Sydney Hobart winner back in.

A little behind them, in a battle of the newer 40 footers, Ray ‘Hollywood’ Roberts’ Botin 40 Team Hollywood was going at it hammer and tong with Darryl Hodgkinson’s Carkeek 40 Victoire – neither Sydney yacht was giving any quarter.

But it was David Currie’s modified Farr 40, Ponyo, which make light work of the equally light airs to win the day from Team Hollywood. Only yesterday Marcus Blackmore predicted Roberts would come into his own and the Sydney yachtsman is currently at the top of the leaderboard with two races away.

“That was a very good day for us – must be because we had the Sydney Gold Coast winner with us (Bruce Taylor, Chutzpah) calling tactics and one of his crew joined us too. Our boat loves the light conditions, goes well, it didn’t enjoy yesterday’s hard reach,” Ponyo’s Victorian owner said.

“We went around the first mark with Victoire (Darry Hodgkinson, NSW) and Yarrandi (David Griffiths, NSW) was a reasonable distance behind us. The tide was interesting; it changed a lot later than forecast. It changed when we went round South Molle and we came home with it.”

40 versus 40 -Team Hollywood and Victoire - photo by Andrea Francolini, ABRW 2018

The bigger boats saw 13 knots, but mainly sailed in around 9 knots. Towards the end it averaged around 7-9 knots.

“We were trying to hang on to the Martin 49 (David Griffiths Yarrandi). They were sailing really well, and of course Flying Cloud is about the same size, but rate differently. As long as we weren’t too far out of touch, we knew we were doing reasonably well.”

It was not a day for the TP52s. Today, however, the tables were turned when Australian Sailing President, Matt Allen, sailed Ichi Ban to seventh place against Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan in eighth – less than a minute between them on corrected time.

George Kompolthy from NSW took out Race 2 in the Performance Racing Division with his Mr Mojo. Dan Haynes’ Poco Loco (SA) and Graham Paterson’s Tow Truck (NSW) rounded out the top three.

“Absolutely delighted,” Kompolthy said after winning. The weather was just perfect for us – made to order. We have a fantastic crew – a mix of guys and girls who all performed well - and it all seemed to fall into place.

“We passed a few cats and trimarans and kept track with one, so we were happy with that – it’s always nice when you see a monohull go faster than a multi,” he added laughing.

“Yesterday was too windy for us and we had a new Code Zero up that we hadn’t used before. I have to admit we saw the keel a few times – it’s still painted white!

“We had light to medium conditions and the currents were pretty strong in some places. It was best to sail out of the current obviously, so we hugged the shore.

“Initially we thought it was going to be a drifter, but no, it lightened and we saw a big boat sailing backwards with the spinnaker on – that’s what you get when you sail in the current,” Kompolthy finished.

Paul Ullman got away well again in the Multihull Racing aboard his Grainger Apex, ‘Ullman Sails’ leaving his adversaries to pick up the crumbs, as he and the crew representing the host club, added a further win to their victory of yesterday. They are well on the way to defending their title of last year.

“Using the right the sails at the right time and pointing in the right direction,” he says in their recipe for success. “We’ve only had one change in the crew from the last couple of years and that definitely makes a difference too,” the straight talking Ullman said.

Today he beat his older brother Dale, who skippered Morticia, a Lombard tri from NSW to second place. There was five minutes in it when handicaps were applied.

“Dale usually sails with me – but he’s skippering Morticia here. We are competitive together and separately,” he says of his brother.

Can Ullman Sails be beaten? “Everyone’s beatable,” Ullman states. “Morticia got an unlucky wind shift – there’s not much in it, in this fleet, believe me.”

Ullman doesn’t have preferred conditions, “We just need to get the simple things right and that in turn makes everything easy,” he ends.

Condor led the Cruising Division 1 fleet off the start, but it was Victorian Robert Green’s perfectly named Pacific 50, Dream, that won the day from a second Victorian boat, Gerry Cantwell’s Marten 49, Carreras.

For the rest of the fleet, it was a long day on the water. For those truly in cruising mode, it was time to enjoy the spectacular scenery and sun, with the odd whale tail spotted here and there.

Racing at Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sails resumes tomorrow.

All information:

By Di Pearson, ABRW media