The 2009/10 Summer keelboat racing program started with ideal conditions for competitors in Heat 1 of the Club Marine Series on Saturday 10th October, as south-east to southerly winds of between 6-8kn built to 10-12kn in the afternoon, with a clear sky.
Division 0 were first away on the course west of the shipping channel in their morning race in a south-easterly of 6-8kn. A clear start quickly saw the race dominated by the "big 3" of Calm, Cougar 11 and the new Scarlet Runner, returning from a successful debut at Hamilton Island. Cougar II led the fleet around the first mark, closely followed by Calm and Scarlet Runner. Calm broke through on the following run, and then held on around the next windward-leeward loop to take line honours from Cougar II and Scarlet Runner. In provisional results on IRC, it was the same result with Calm narrowly winning from Cougar II and Scarlet Runner. On Performance Handicap, XLR8 was a clear winner from Rush, with Calm third.
For the afternoon race, the division 1 fleet joined with the big boys over on the western course as the breeze built slightly to around 10kn and moved more south. Another clear start for Division 0 at 14:00 with the fleet splitting between the boat end and pin end. Calm were very pleased with their upwind speed and led the fleet around the top mark, with Scarlet Runner close behind, then Cougar II, Shogun and Audi Centre Melbourne. Around the remaining windward-leeward loops the lead changed a couple of times with very close racing. Coming up the last work, and Calm decided to protect their lead by covering Scarlet Runner on the left side of the course. Cougar II broke away and found better breeze on the right. At the finish, Calm narrowly beat Cougar II over the line, but Cougar II took the win on IRC in provisional results, from Calm then Scarlet Runner. In performance handicap, XLR8 followed up its morning win with another win, narrowly beating Rush, with Audi Centre Melbourne third.
Division 1 also had a clean start with Ikon, the Beneteau First 45 (previously Bluewater), leading the fleet around the track and taking line honours and 3rd on performance handicap. Lou Abrahams' Challenge continued to demonstrate its exceptional form from previous years by taking a clean-sweep win of the measured handicaps IRC and AMS. Executive Decision also continued their strong form with a 2nd in IRC and 3rd in AMS. Swordfish Trombone had a good race with a 2nd on AMS, and Audacious performed well with a 3rd in IRC. On performance handicap, Icefire took the honours from Audacious.
Conditions could not have been better on the Division 2 course.
The fleet of 41 yachts was greeted by an eight knot southerly breeze and at the start Godzilla, Where’s Wal, Frequent Flyer, Watermark II and Flying Fox all got away well from the port end of the line.
From the middle of the start line Surprise, Apache and Serious Yahoo continued out to the left on a long starboard tack. At the first cross Where’s Wal was the first of the left hand boats to come back on port and then continued out towards the right side of the course. In the final few minutes before the leaders reached the windward mark the breeze shifted slightly left which gave Godzilla, Frequent Flyer and Watermark II the early advantage.
Down the first run the wind became quite patchy which gave the advantage to the boats carrying the extra horsepower of masthead spinnakers. By continually gybing into pressure down the centre of the course Apache and Surprise were able to eat into the lead of Godzilla and Frequent Flyer. On the second upwind leg Frequent Flyer was forced out to the unfavoured left side in search of clear air which allowed Godzilla to continue extending its lead. As the wind freshened to twelve knots by the end of the race the Robert Hick designed 31 footer was able to sail away to the line honours/performance handicap double. Stitched Up and Barinya filled the minor placings.
In the measurement system categories Surprise showed a liking to the light winds and took out IRC from Apache and Serious Yahoo and AMS from Godzilla and Apache.
In Division 3, Intrusion flew out of the blocks and sailed a dominant race to take the treble of line honours, 1st IRC and 1st AMS, they also placed 3rd on performance handicap. Rhiannon recovered well from some dirty air at the start to place 2nd on AMS, with Footloose performing well with a 2nd IRC and 3rd AMS. Double Malt placed 3rd IRC. On performance handicap, Forzado narrowly beat Firefox.
The next heat of the Club Marine Series is on 7th November 2009, hosted by HBYC.
By Mark D Welsh (Division 0,1 & 3) and David Ellis (Division 2)
Ends: Jennifer Milligan
Yachting Victoria Media & PR