It was a great start to the Audi Series at Skandia Geelong Week today as some of the best known yachts in Australia hit the start line at 13:00 on the opening day off host venue, Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, and one thing became clear - watch out for the TP52's!
After today's two windward/leeward races, the Victorian TP52 Cougar II, owned and skippered by Alan WHITELEY from Sandringham has a one point lead over a second TP52 Quest and Beau Geste, with a third TP52, Wot Yot, just a further point away.
Bob STEEL's Quest was the most outstanding of the three TPs, in race 1, taking the win from Karl KWOK's Reichel/Pugh 45, Beau Geste, all the way from Hong Kong, which put space between the winner and the next TP, Cougar II, with the third TP in the trio, Wot Yot, owned by Graeme WOOD, finishing fourth overall.
However, in the lighter air Race 2, Cougar II scored the win from Wot Yot, Beau Geste and Quest.
Aboard Quest, Jack GOLUZD, who helped STEEL to a win in the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart on a former Quest, commented on coming ashore: "We had a brilliant first race, but it lightened off in the second race and the other TPs got through us. We're not as quick in the light; there are differences in how the boats are set up and the other two are a bit quicker in light air.
"We're really looking forward to some hot competition with Cougar. We had some great close racing with them before this event and I'm expecting it will be the same here this week. We seem comparable up and downwind."
They should do fine, with Jamie MCPHAIL steering and Julian PLANTE calling tactics.
WOOD was pleased too with Wot Yot's performance today. "The conditions were good. The wind was constant in the first race 8-10 knots. It was lighter in race 2. We made our share of errors - we had a few stuff ups with kites, but it's great racing,"
said WOOD who is experiencing his first Skandia Geelong Week.
"The three TP52's started side by side and we ended pretty much the same way. We did really well in the light stuff, so we're pretty happy. We are still learning though. You are always learning something new in sailing,"
WOOD, from Sydney said.
It was exciting racing. Going up the beat for the first time, the three were so close. Wot Yot was on port tack and had to give way to the others on starboard as they came up to the rounding marks.
"There's going to be some great racing between the three of us, and Beau Geste will probably be in the mix in the results, although they looked a bit sticky in the light airs in the second race,"
Race 2 was not so straightforward, as the yachts in IRC Division 1 crowded the start line, Skandia and Beau Geste clashed. Grant WHARINGTON, skipper of the 98-foot super maxi explained: "Our forestay hit the main leach on Beau Geste. They sailed down on us at the start and left us no space - we had nowhere to go. They tacked away after the incident and we did a 720 penalty turn to exonerate ourselves. It was just one of those things."
Aboard Skandia for the week is defending Audi Series champion Geoff BOETTCHER. "My new boat [a Reichel/Pugh 48] will be ready in time for the Gold Coast Race. It's a shame it's not ready now, we would have liked to defend our title here, but I'm just glad to be back here and sailing on Skandia. It's a great regatta,"
In Division 2, Grant BOTICA's Executive Division looked good. Winning Race 1, unfortunately they were OCS'd in Race 2. Down the track, that will be used as a drop. Leading the division following two races is Dick FIDOCK's As Good As It Gets from South Australia, after scoring third and first results.
Skiff name Peter SORENSEN has steered Philosophers Club, a Sydney 36CR, into second place on countback after scoring a pair of seconds, with Veloce (Phil SIMPFENDORFER) and Patrice Six (Tony KIRBY) next on nine points each.
"We did OK, we got two top three results, so we're happy,"
said Chris "Rissole" CLEARY, an 18ft skiff champion sailing aboard SORENSEN's boat. "We've got a few skiffies aboard, they know their stuff. That second race was a bit choppy and shifty. Officials re-positioned the mark to suit,"
Mike and Mark WELSH's Lidgard 36 Alien currently leads Division 3 IRC on three points, with John LINDHOLM's Masrm 920 Dr Unc in second place one point behind and Palandri Minds Eye (Brad SKEGGS) is currently third, a further point behind in what is shaping up to be a close Audi Series in all three divisions.
For full results and other information, go to the official site at: www.geelongweek.com