Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beau Geste, Nine Dragons and Wild Rose Crowned Audi IRC Champions in Newcastle

Two crucial final races off Newcastle’s Stockton beach on Easter Sunday completed the eight-race Audi IRC Australian Championship and three new national champions have been crowned.
Beau Geste Photo: Andrea Francolini/AUDI
Team Beau Geste’s division A triumph was taped up yesterday giving owner Karl Kwok and his TP52 crew from New Zealand the clean sweep of the TP52 Southern Cross Cup in December, the NSW IRC title last Sunday, and now the cheeky fellas from across the ditch are Audi IRC Australian champions.
Will Tiller Photo: Andrea Francolini/AUDI
Twenty-four year-old youth America’s Cup skipper Will Tiller drove Kwok’s 52-footer to its maiden national IRC victory and also the state IRC victory at Sail Port Stephens. “It was challenging; not the easiest place to sail with the sea-state,” said Tiller this evening adding, “Newcastle is a cool city”.
Patrice Photo: Andrea Francolini / AUDI
Only Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 Patrice and Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest managed to take a win off Team Beau Geste during the series hosted by Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club. They finished second and third on 15 and 19 points respectively to the victor’s eight points.
Nine Dragons Photo: Andrea Francolini/AUDI
Division B’s four-day nail biter between the two DK46s, Nine Dragons and Exile, added grey hairs to both Middle Harbour Yacht Club crews. Apr├Ęs racing it was all smiles across the bar, but each badly wanted the coveted title and the North Sails’ Audi IRC Australian Champion emblazoned spinnaker.
Nine Dragons Photo: Andrea Francolini/AUDI
Bob Cox’s Nine Dragons was the stronger of the pair this time, four points the final difference. “The crew did a magnificent job and our focus on tactics using our main tactician and back-up really paid off. The racing with Exile was awesome; it was touch and go as to who was going to take out the championship from start to finish.”
Nine Dragons Photo: Andrea Francolini/AUDI
After the champagne was sprayed the Nine Dragons crew cornered Cox and first tactician Mitch White and threw them off the marina, a sailing ritual.
Wild Rose crew Photo: Andrea Francolini/AUDI
Roger Hickman’s near 30 year-old Farr 43 Wild Rose from Sydney’s Cruising Yacht Club of Australia was clapped into the marina by an appreciative crowd as the new division C Audi IRC Australian champion. Hickman is an ocean racing hero to many, and again he’s shown the pedigree of his years on the circuit, and his steed’s.

“We are delighted to be the new Audi IRC champion,” said the winning skipper. “We were nervous this morning knowing it was going to be light and lumpy, then a superb 13kt nor’easter came in for the second and final race.”

Phil Dash’s Beneteau First 40 Justadash (MHYC) finished second and Ian Bower’s RP36 Spirit from Lake Macquarie third in division C.

Race seven got underway in a 6kt sou’easter following an hour and a half postponement. Race eight was christened the ‘Newcastle BBQ’, a triangle, triangle and sausage format also called the ‘two chops and a sausage’ course.

NCYC CEO Richard Howard praised his large team of 30 plus volunteers involved in the planning phase through to the hosting of 31 top level international crews. Howard says the club has excellent engagement with its members and volunteers put their hands up to pick up glasses, cook the BBQ, make sandwiches, sell raffle tickets and host competitors. On the race management side, members spent long days in the sun laying marks and assisting PRO Denis Thompson.

“From the time of the bid announcement the membership and staff really embraced the championship,” said Howard.

On behalf of the Audi team, Audi Australia’s managing director Andrew Doyle congratulated all competitors. “Audi is proud to support the IRC Australian Championship and we congratulate each and every owner and crew member for their strong sportsmanship this Easter long weekend. To win this event is a great honour, and to be crowned the national Audi IRC Australian Champion is no easy task. It’s a fierce contest and we appreciate the support shown by all participants, family members, and the organising committee.”

Yachting Australia President and owner/skipper of Ichi Ban, Matt Allen, also commended the host club, “Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club has delivered a spectacular and memorable weekend for all those competing in the Audi IRC Australian Championship. On and off the water the event has been held in a great spirit, thanks to the hard working and friendly volunteers and staff at the club.”

For full results see >>>

Lisa Ratcliff

Video - 2014 Audi IRC Australian Championship - Day 3

Hi Fi Declared Overall Winner - Rolex China Sea Race

The second major prize of the 2014 Rolex China Sea Race was decided in Subic Bay this morning, as Hi Fi held Bryon Ehrhart’s TP52Lucky to a two minute lead on the water to ensure that Neil Pryde’s Welbourne 52 collects the coveted IRC Overall title for the second time in four years.
Hi Fi crosses the line in Subic Bay Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Unaware of his triumph, as there were boats still racing which could have potentially beaten his handicap corrected time, Pryde was delighted with their race, saying that it was a “fantastic race, probably the best we’ve ever had. We were in pressure most of the way apart from a couple of very light hours this morning, other than that, we kept moving all the time.”
Tight finish Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Ehrhart was equally enthusiastic, claiming that this year’s Rolex China Sea Race was “the classic we were promised. It was great the whole way with great competition as expected. We don’t know how it all shakes out (regarding IRC) but we had a great race and lots of fun. There was very strong competition from the TP52’s and the Santa Cruz .. and the Welbourne 52, I don’t think we lost sight of them for the whole race.”
Lucky Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Geoff Hill of Antipodes echoed those sentiments saying “ It was fantastic that you could start with four boats (in Hong Kong) and finish with those four boats within 1nm of each other – that’s champagne sailing!”
Antipodes Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
The IRC Racer 0 boats certainly made light of the pre-race forecast, with Ernesto Echauz, bringing home Standard Insurance Centennial mid-afternoon, commenting that his race highlight was that “in 20 years of CSR, this is the fastest we have done the race, (including the record setting year of 2000) and even though we finished last on the water in division, it was a very fast race – unbelievable that we only stopped for a short time near the finish boat.”
Standard Insurance Centennial Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
With six boats home, the remaining 28 from four divisions will continue to race towards Subic Bay, with the IRC Premier boats expected to cross the line at around midnight tonight, and Racer 1 to start arriving towards dawn and throughout Sunday.

China Sea Race Media - Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

Black Jack Wins Line Honours - Brisbane to Gladstone Race

Peter Harburg's 70 footer, Black Jack has taken line honours in the 2014 QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race finishing at 8:50pm on Saturday night with an elapsed time of 1 day 9 hours 50 minutes and 17 seconds.
Black Jack Photo: Julie Geldard / VidPicPro.com
She crossed the line shortly after a fantastic firework display thanks to the Gladstone Harbour Festival, causing many of the spectators to remember the days that the first boat home was traditionally welcomed over the finish line in the same manner.
Black Jack crew Photo: Nigel Statham
Whilst the crew of Black Jack will now enjoy the hospitality of Port Curtis Sailing Club, all bar one other yacht are still out on the race course. Alive, the second yacht has finished just over an hour behind Black Jack but the bulk of the fleet will not be seen until well after dawn on Sunday; the last yacht in the fleet has a current ETA on Monday April 21

Because the fleet is so spread out, the crews of both Black Jack and Alive are in for a long wait until they find out if they are going to be the winners of the prestigious Courier Mail Cup which is awarded to the overall winner of the race on corrected time.

Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford summed up the race “slow but a great race, light tropical yacht racing at it’s finest.”

For further information see www.brisbanetogladstone.com.au

Nigel Statham

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2014 Audi IRC Australian Championship - Day 2

2014 Audi IRC Australian Championship - Day 1

Rolex China Sea Fleet Start Arriving in Subic Bay

At midday on Saturday, five of the 34-strong international fleet had completed the 27th Rolex China Sea Race. Syd Fischer’s Maxi Ragamuffin 90 claimed line honours at 22:51.18 local time on Friday evening having led the race from start to finish.
Ragamuffin 90 Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
“The modifications we’ve done on this boat helped a lot. Our boat speed was well above the wind speed and that’s good,” Fischer said. 
Ragamuffin 90 Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
Ragamuffin 90 completed the 565-nm course from Hong Kong to Subic Bay, The Philippines, in 57 hours, 31 minutes and 18 seconds, almost ten hours outside the current race record.
Ragamuffin 90 Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
“The race got a little bit frustrating especially at the end. It was a very light race, we only saw 18 knots in the last two hours on the approach to the harbour. Until then we never saw breeze over 10 knots. It wasn’t tactically hard, we stayed near the rhumb line and stuck to our own race,” Ragamuffin's boat captain David Witt added.
Lucky Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
At 11:05 on Saturday morning, American Bryon Ehrhart’s TP52 Lucky was the second boat to arrive only two minutes ahead of 2010 Rolex China Sea Race winner Hi Fi, owned by Neil Pryde. In contrast to Ragamuffin 90, the second group of boats reported a tactically challenging, exhausting race. 
Hi Fi Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
“It was incredibly close racing. To be this close after so many miles is amazing. It was the same all the way down (from the start in Hong Kong), we were never out of site of the other boats. You could not relax one moment,” Pryde said. 
Antipodes Photo: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
On arrival in Subic Bay, Hi Fi moved to the top of the leaderboard and now must wait to see if any of the 29 yachts still at sea can overhaul her time on handicap. Geoff Hill’s 72-ft Antipodes (GBR) was the fourth boat to arrive followed shortly afterwards by the TP52 Freefire (HKG).

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