Ichi Ban will need to produce a special performance in the island passage race tomorrow to salvage a chance to be number one in the international Hog's Breath Race Week regatta over the Whitsunday Sailing Club course on Pioneer Bay.
The Grand Prix Farr 52 One Design owned and skippered by Sydney's Matt ALLEN with former Sydney Hobart race winner Roger HICKMAN as sailing master and tactician needs to win the fourth race to remain in contention to win the series.
Japanese tourists in Airlie Beach have established a cult following of the sleek gold coloured sloop because her name means Number One in their language but Ichi Ban has confused her cheer leaders to be three places off the pace after three interesting light wind races.
Kevin WOOD'S high performance Melbourne yacht Ticket Of Leave is the present 'Ichi Ban' leading the series on count back with her 3-1-1 score over the equally impressive new Swan 45 Joe helmed by Steven DAVID with the Peter HAYES skippered Sydney 40 High Anxiety 11 third.
Wood was expected to have an ace up his sleeve by adding the 2002 World Etchells championship Silver Medalist Mark BRADFORD to his crew as tactician for tomorrow's race.
But Bradford has been unable to arrange a flight and will not join the Ticket of Leave crew until Wednesday.
Bradford an important member of the North Sails racing team has race on the course before and his tactical knowledge could provide the edge for Ticket of Leave to finally break her 'Hog's Breath' hoodoo after finishing third in 2001 and second last year.
"Ticket of Leave will struggle to match the bigger boats like Joe and Ichi Ban in the longer races".
"They will have the time and distance to log the faster corrected handicap course times which means we will need to be on our game to hold our lead".
"As we all know anything can happen in a yacht race and we are not about to see our chance slip away"
. Said skipper Kevin WOOD.
Only four yachts can win the 2003 'Boss Hog Trophy' and Ticket of Leave remains as the challenge for her three rivals to beat in final three races tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.
Meanwhile the championship battle for the major points in the Performance Handicap class title remains open.
Dr Ian NICHOLSON'S Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club sloop Intrigue Of Stornoway leads the Performance Handicap from the Lake Macquarie yacht Kerinda (Len PAYNE) and the Melbourne yacht Starfire (Don CAMERON) of Melbourne.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.