This is the first time OATLEY has brought his 98 foot super maxi to Skandia Geelong Week and his smile said it all as the boat crossed the finish line in race 2 late this afternoon.
Wild Oats had the line honours game sewn up in race 1, when both Grant WHARINGTON's (AUS) super maxi Skandia and Matt ALLEN's (AUS) ex Volvo Open 70 Ichi Ban both crossed the start line early and had to manoeuvre their large yachts back around to re-start the race.
In race 2, Wild Oats XI, fully laden with sailing talent, just had superior speed on the trapezoid windward/leeward courses. Racing was conducted in ideal 10-15 knot sea breezes off Williamstown from host venue the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria.
Two Reichel/Pugh 46's are currently placed second and third overall. Graeme TROON's (AUS) XLR8 representing Sandringham Yacht Club and Geoff BOETTCHER's (AUS) Hardys Secret Mens Business from Adelaide thrilled onlookers as they went toe to toe around the race track in both races.
XLR8 is ahead of her counterpart by just half a point even though each scored a second and a fourth place. BOETTCHER's boat finished equal second in race 1 with a Geelong yacht, Rob HANNA's (AUS) DK46 Shogun, giving them 2.5 points each, putting the Hardys boat on the back foot.
BOETTCHER got off both starts faster, in fact XLR8 missed the second start by around 40 seconds; maybe not listening to their radio when officials broadcast details of the race 2 start, and while BOETTCHER and crew got away from their rivals early in the peace, TROON and co. did not lie down.
Even when the two split tacks, when they came back, they were still neck-and-neck, providing great racing for each other and for spectators.
Two Cookson 50s also raced hard against each other today; Michael HIATT's (AUS) Living Doll from the Williamstown host venue, Royal Yacht Club of Victoria and Ray ROBERTS' (AUS) Quantum Racing from Sydney. However, ROBERTS did not have the upper hand today as is usual of late. Living Doll finished the day with a sixth and an eighth place for sixth overall, whilst ROBERTS went 13th and sixth and is now eighth overall.
In the Sydney 38s too, a clash came with the top two Victorian entries, veteran yachtsman Lou ABRAHAMS' (AUS) Challenge and Bruce TAYLOR's (AUS) Chutzpah. In the earlier race, TAYLOR, from the host venue, looked to have the upper hand, but ABRAHAMS tacked gybed away under spinnaker and when the two met, ABRAHAMS had his nose in front and beat TAYLOR by a mere seven seconds.
Challenge went on to a repeat performance in race 2, but this time by a larger margin. Currently, Challenge is seventh overall and Chutzpah ninth. The battle is set to continue tomorrow with a further two races to be sailed off Williamstown.
In between, Chris DARE's (AUS) Corby 49 Flirt, with Roger HICKMAN (AUS) calling tactics, is fourth overall following well-sailed fifth and third places, while Shogun is fifth after their shared second place and a seventh.
In Division 2, it was Phil SIMPFENDORFER's (AUS) Elliott 11 Veloce and Rod JONES' (AUS) Archembault design Alegria which were best performed with a bullet and a third each on their scorecards to jointly lead their division.
A Skandia Geelong Week regular, SIMPFENDORFER features regularly at the top of the scoreboard and today was no different for the Victorian.
In Division 3, two RYCV members with Adams 10s hold down the top two positions. The well named Topgun leads after two wins.
A further two races will be held tomorrow off Williamstown starting from 13:00, with the 35 nautical mile Passage Race from Williamstown to Geelong starting from 09:25 on Australia Day, 26 January.