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23 August 2005, 10:25 am
Fast Racing Off Hamilton Island
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Hamilton Island Hahn Premium Race Week 2005
Hamilton Island, Australia

In a building 15 knot sou'east breeze and with only the media boat contingent for company, the New Zealand super maxi Alfa Romeo took her third and fourth consecutive line honours wins at Hamilton Island Hahn Premium Race Week.
Today's racing format consisted of two 12-mile windward/leeward courses in Catseye Bay for the IRC, Sydney 38 OD and PHS fleets while the Cruising fleets sailed one 20-mile race.

In the IRC division, Race 1 started cleanly at 11.00am with Bob OATLEY'S Wild Oats, Steven DAVID'S Wild Joe and Irish entry Chieftain, skippered by Gerard O'ROURKE, making an early break on the fleet.

Alfa Romeo, skippered by owner Neville CRICHTON, took the left hand side of the course and stuck to her guns while the rest of the fleet tacked off to the right looking for clear air and more pressure. While it looked like this might have been a costly manouevre for the 98-footer, she only had to execute one tack to lay the top windward mark while those that went right had to put in a number of tacks to reach the mark.

At the first top mark rounding, Alfa Romeo had a two minute advantage over Wild Oats and by the second top mark rounding, this had extended to more than seven minutes.

After a fast final downwind run reaching 17 knots of boat speed and one hour of race time exactly, Alfa Romeo ploughed across the finish line of the 12 mile course to take line and IRC handicap honours.

In an enormous show of power, on her way to the finish line Alfa Romeo lapped Mike FREEBAIRN'S 1968 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race overall winner Ray White Koomooloo which is competing in the same division as Alfa Romeo which is almost two and a half times its size and barely out of its wrapping.

Bob OATLEY'S Reichel/Pugh 66 Wild Oats was second boat to finish, nine minutes astern of Alfa Romeo, and second on handicap while Steven DAVID'S Reichel/Pugh 60 Wild Joe finished third on line and handicap honours. The first conventional keeled boat to finish and the best placed on handicap was Stephen AINSWORTH'S Loki which finished fourth for both in Race 1.

In the Sydney 38 division of Race 1, Geoff BONUS' Calibre was the top scoring boat ahead of Guido BELGIORNO-NETTIS' Transfusion and Stephen KULMAR'S Shining Sea.

In amongst the IRC fleet, the sistership Reichel/Pugh 46s Hardys Secret Mens Business (Geoff BOETTCHER) and XLR8, sailed by three generations of the TROON family from Victoria today enjoyed some close match racing in Race 1 as did the three DK46s Hollywood Boulevard (Ray ROBERTS), Shogun (Robert HANNA) and Philip COOMBS' Dekadence, which finished within eight seconds of each other.

The provisional PHS results from Race 1 have Ken Hart's Night Owl as the first placed boat ahead of Jeff MITCHELL'S Cavalier Express and Dan Nolan's My Girl.

In Race 2, Wild Oats and Wild Joe again found themselves well placed at the start as did Ian OATLEY'S Farr 36 Inner Circle Rum, Chieftain, Hardy's Secret Mens Business and George SNOW'S Brindabella.

In a re-run of Race 1, Alfa Romeo soon stretched its legs over Wild Oats although the margins were narrower with two and then five minutes between the two lead boats at the top mark. The finish order remained the same however with Alfa Romeo again beating Wild Oats and Wild Joe over the line.

Alfa Romeo's tactician Michael COXON admitted the boat suffered a few glitches today including their engine stalling close to the finish line of Race 2 which meant they lost all power to the canting keel and mainsheet, resulting in an unplanned gybe.

COXON also said they sailed today minus the help of instruments. 'We were eyeballing the shifts. It was like sailing Etchells,' he said.

Lisa Ratcliff (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Vanguard and Shogun © Andrea Francolini
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