The two ingredients that make racing in the tropical Whitsundays an exciting challenge - wind and tidal currents - combined today to hand domination of the third day of racing at the Hayman Regatta to the big boats.
Matt ALLEN'S Farr 52 Ichi Ban and Andrew SHORT'S Volvo 60 design, Andrew Short Marine, crushed the smaller opposition when the wind died for the closing stage of the 35 nautical mile race from Hayman to Border Island and return.
The race management team of Bob BRENAC and Scott FINSTEN were forced to abbreviate proceedings off the northern tip of Hayman, Dolphin Point, when it became apparent that with the breeze fading and a tide change imminent the small yachts would struggle to complete the passage.
Until then it appeared that the smallest entry, Wayne MILLAR'S well sailed 41-footer, Zoe, would take top honours in the IRC division from Steve and Mary CHIODO'S Gomez. But the intervention of Mother Nature turned things upside down.
Andrew Short Marine glided around the point and across the new finish line less than six minutes ahead of Ichi Ban. After that it was a wait of more than 90 minutes for the next yacht, the 47ft Gomez, to drift home just two minutes ahead of Zoe.
The huge gap between the front-runners and the next group handed a decisive win to Ichi Ban on handicap. Corrected time placings saw Matt ALLEN'S team claim first by almost 40 minutes over Andrew Short Marine with another 24 minutes to Zoe. It was a result that saw Andrew SHORT celebrate the fact that this was his yacht's best ever result on IRC.
The tough luck story on the day came from Don ALGIE'S Storm II. As the big spinnaker filled on the 62-footer at the start it brushed against Zoe's rigging, a contact that meant Storm II was required to do a 360-degree penalty turn before continuing in the race. That penalty and the light winds saw the powerful cruiser-racer struggle to stay in contact with the fleet over the distance.
With three races remaining Ichi Ban holds a two-point advantage over Gomez in the race for the crystal Hayman Regatta championship trophy. Andrew Short Marine holds the same advantage over Zoe in PHS.