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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hooligan Crowned Australian IRC Champion at Hamilton Island

Marcus Blackmore’s Sydney based TP52, Hooligan, has been crowned Audi Hamilton Island Race Week Class A winner, the first time a boat has taken back-to-back wins in the grand prix division in 29 years.
Photo: Andrea Francolini/AUDI
The final outcome in Audi IRC Australian Championship Class A came down to today’s Molles Islands Race and a victory was enough for a big comeback from fourth this morning to first by one point as Audi Hamilton Island Race Week closed in dramatic style. Rob Hanna’s Victorian TP52, Shogun V, placed second overall and Peter Harburg’s RP66, Black Jack, finished third.
Photo: Andrea Francolini/AUDI
"We set ourselves the goal of back-to-back wins and to win the Audi Championship again," said a beaming Blackmore on the dock before he, crewman Don Cowie and tactician Stu Bannatyne took a cooling unplanned dip.

"There are probably three of the best TP52s in the world here, it’s been fantastic sailing,’ Blackmore added. ‘In the end it’s about where you finish on the last day. Black Jack took nearly half the race to get us back after a poor start. We learnt the importance of a good start early in the week, you’ve got to be persistent and never give up."

As well as the crew that nailed today’s win, Blackmore paid tribute to ‘the three guys we threw off the boat today to lighten it up’. With no more than 12 knots of ESW breeze on the instruments, minimal crew was an important part of the game plan.

On the Audi IRC Australian Championship prize, a new North Sails Code 2 spinnaker, Blackmore added, ‘a new spinnaker will be really useful’.

Hooligan began the week slowly but came home strong, finishing with 24.5 points after nine races and seven days of intense battle with the other Tp52s to finish just one point ahead of Shogun V.

"So close yet so far," said Steve McConaghy, helmsman and tactician on Shogun V.

"We gave it every opportunity and Hooligan kept us honest. We broke the outhaul three miles from the finish today and we couldn’t hold onto them, they are a talented team and you can never write them off. It was such a good regatta, by far the hardest I’ve done," he added.

Going into today’s race in pole position, Peter Harburg was praised by his contemporaries. "Talk about perseverance," said Gavin Brady, America’s Cup sailor and helmsman this week on Yendys.

"Peter’s one of those owners that keeps coming back. He keeps investing in his boat and now he’s shown Black Jack is one of the best IRC boats in the world."

Full Audi IRC Australian Championship results at http://www.topyacht.net.au/results/2012/ahirw/series/ircDivA/SGrp1.htm

Lisa Ratcliff

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