Michael SPIES has a great infinity with Hobart - he was co-skipper of the Volvo 60, Nokia, when it set the race record for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in 1999 and in 2003 he skippered his previous First National Real Estate to an Overall handicap in the Sydney Hobart.
The new First National Real Estate placed second in IRC Division C of the rugged 60th Sydney Hobart, and has reveled in the flat water sailing on the Derwent River and in today's distance to Betsy Island in Storm Bay.
First National heads the IRC division pointscore with five points under the low-scoring system, with local yacht Intrigue, Don CALVERT'S Castro-designed 40-footer, Intrigue, which represented Australia at the Admiral's Cup almost 20 years ago, still showing great sailing ability.
Intrigue is on 16 points after four of the six scheduled races, with placings of 5-2-5-4, with the veteran Farr 43, Wild Oats, skippered by Sydney-based Tasmanian Howard PIGGOTT, holding third overall on 21 points with placings of 6-3-2-10. However, when the one discard race is taken for the top three boats, Wild Oats is equal second overall with Intrigue.
The Bellerive-based Invincible, a Farr 37 skippered by Harold CLARK, returned to racing today on a winning note after damaging her bow in a collision with Matt ALLEN'S Farr 52, Ichi Ban in yesterday's race two.
Invincible retired from race two and did not start in race three yesterday afternoon, but today she again proved a handicap nemesis for the bigger boats with a 46 second corrected time win in the Betsy Island Race from First National Real Estate, with Ichi Ban regaining some of her status with a powerful line honours victory and a close third on handicap - just 11 seconds behind First National.
From the start this morning, Ichi Ban was clocked at15.5 knots close reaching down the Derwent under shy spinnaker, with some added speed from an outgoing current. Then, with another fast spinnaker run back from Betsy Island, Ichi Ban covered the course in a fast two hours 56 minutes 56 seconds.
However, Ichi Ban, a two-times winner of Sailing South Race Week and current Australian IRC Champion, is out virtually out of contention for a top placing this year after a disqualification from race two, followed by a tenth place in race three.
The protest committee at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania earlier today dismissed Ichi Ban's claim for redress in race two, lodging a claim that the race committee had incorrectly signaled a change. Having done this, the protest committee then disqualified the Sydney yacht for sailing an incorrect course.
Sailing master Roger HICKMAN said skipper Matt ALLEN'S intention had always been to voluntarily retire from race two if the protest committee found against their claim for redress, but the outcome had been a disqualification. 'The umpire's decision is final,' he added.
In PHS Division One, first place in the Betsy Island Race went to David O'NEILL'S Redback, but overall leader is Andrew SUTHERLAND'S Farr 37, Silver Mist, on 14 points. Second overall is Planet X (Mike ROWLEY) on 19 points with third is David TAYLOR'S Pippin, another Farr 37.
Heading PHS Division Two after four races is Michael DENNEY'S Wild West on 13 points, just one point clear of Roy BARKAS' Serano and Neil SNARE'S Jigsaw, both on 14 points.
Richard FISHER'S Shoot the Dog from the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club on the Tamar River leads the Sports Boats division five points from three firsts and a second, while in the Trailable Yacht division, Jock YOUNG'S Hobart Ports is sharing first place overall on ten points with T42 Fish Frenzy, skippered by John WEARNE, and Tequila Shorta, skippered by John RADONIC. All three boats are Elliot 5.9s.
Today's Cruiser division results are subject to protest.
The final day of the Boag's Sailing South Race Week tomorrow will see two windward/leeward harbour races decide the IRC, PHS, Sports Boats and Trailable Yacht divisions while the Cruiser division will sail a distance race.