America's Cup and ocean racing yacht designer Iain Murray today steered one of his most promising IMS racing creations, Bumblebee 5, to the overall lead in the grand prix IMS division.
Bumblebee 5 is making a powerful return to ocean racing after retiring with keel damage during last year's rugged Telstra Sydney Hobart Race, scoring a first and a second on corrected time today in rough and windy conditions.
Another boat to strike form today is the newly launched Hollywood Boulevard, imported from Malaysia earlier this week by prominent Sydney yachtsman Ray Roberts, which had a win and a third today.
She will not race in the final two races tomorrow as the boat must complete her 200 nautical mile qualifying sea passage and pass radio checks before Monday's Sydney Hobart Race documentation deadline with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
With two races to sail tomorrow, Bumblebee 5 has notched up a series of 1-3-3-5-1-2 placings for a total of 272 points after one discard race.
On current form, she will start as one of the favourites to be Overall Winner of the 57th CYCA Sydney Hobart Race starting on Boxing Day, December 26, owner John Kahlbetzer and designer/skipper Iain Murray's sights set on the historic Tattersalls Trophy.
Bumblebee 5 limped into Hobart after last year's blue water classic and has spent most of the year undergoing extensive repairs and modifications, including a new, updated keel.
"It was a bit lumpy out there today, but it suited Bumblebee 5, "designer/skipper Iain Murray said after today's racing.
In race five, sailed in 15-20 knots with a short, steep wave pattern offshore, the MBD 62 scored a 41 second win on IMS corrected time from Sting, Terry Mullen's Farr 50 which, as Yendys, won the 1999 Hobart Race.
Third place, 31 seconds back, went to the red-hulled Hollywood Boulevard, Ray Roberts' Farr 52 One Design which sailed a powerful race to finish third across the line astern of George Snow's 80-footer, Brindabella, and Bumblebee 5.
Brindabella, an 80-footer took line honours in race five by an unusually close 12 seconds from Bumblebee 5 and then did not start in race six, with owner/skipper George Snow electing to do some crew training exercises inside Sydney Harbour.
In race six, top honours went to the brand new Hollywood Boulevard, the Malaysian built Farr 52 One Design yacht which also finished second across the line to Bumblebee 5.
On corrected time, Hollywood Boulevard beat Bumblebee 5 by just seven seconds, with Syd Fischer's consistent Farr 50, Ragamuffin, in third place, 1 minute 32 seconds back, fourth place going to Sting.
After six races, Bumblebee 5 now leads the IMS division on 272 points Ragamuffin, on 267 points, both boats displacing Howard de Torres' IMX-40, Nips N Tux, from the top of the leaderboard.
Nips N Tux had two disappointing races today, placing eighth and sixth on corrected time to drop to third overall on 263 points, followed by Hollywood Boulevard and Sting, both on 259 points and Ninety Seven on 256 points.
Victorian yacht Cadibarra, skippered by Nigel Jones, again showed excellent boatspeed but suffered from her high IMS rating to place 14th on corrected time.
She is, however, only racing under IMS to make up the Victorian Southern Cross Cup team and will revert to her much more favourable IRC rating in Sydney Hobart Race.
"She was never designed for IMS racing and had we been racing under IRC we would have finished much higher in each of the races off Sydney so far," designer Don Jones said today. "The boat is going well, but the IMS rating is knocking her back down the results. We look forward to a much better result in the Sydney Hobart, racing under an IRC rating.
In the IRC division, Stephen Ainsworth's Swan 48, Loki, won race six to retain the lead despite strong performances by the Sydney 38 One Design yachts from Victoria, Another Challenge (Lou Abrahams) and Ticket of Leave (Kevin Wood).
After six races, Loki leads with 276 points from Heaven Can Wait (Warren Johns) on 269 points, followed by Another Challenge on 267 and Ticket of Leave on 262 points, with race five winner London Tavern (Justin Lambeth) fifth overall on 259 points.