Marcus Blackmores Emotional Hooligan has a firm grip on the lead at the Inner Circle Rum Farr 40 Regatta at Pittwater. The 10 boat fleet raced off Pittwater on the Barrenjoey circle in a shifty breeze that fluctuated from eight to 15 knots.
The first race of the regatta had Blackmore's Emotional Hooligan and Lang Walker's Kokomo recalled after being too keen at the start. Ivan Wheen's Sputnik, with National Match Racing champion Michael Dunstan as tactician, took the pin end of the start line with Blackmore. South Australian David Urry steering Brighton Star for an absent David Gotze led the fleet around the top mark for the first time. Brighton Star has 2004 11metre World Champion brothers Steve and Scott McConaghy onboard. Matt Allen's Ichi Ban followed Brighton Star around the mark with Richard Perini's Evolution in third.
Steve O'Rourke's Panther snuck to the front at the first bottom mark with Allen and Urry in hot pursuit. On the second upwind beat a breeze shift of 20 degrees mixed up the places with Chris Meehan's Belle Property and Matthew Short's Short Shipped leading the fleet around the top mark for the second time. Meehan held onto his front position to finish three minutes ahead of Blackmore's Emotional Hooligan and Brighton Star finished third.
Race two had the breeze swing to the south east with Panther and Brighton Star at the boat end of the start line. O'Rourke's Panther got out to the front at the top mark with Allen's Ichi Ban and Perini's Evolution close behind. O'Rourke maintained his lead for the entire race while Blackmore pulled back two boats on the second upwind leg to finish in second place again.
Ichi Ban jumped the start in race three and had to return to respond to an individual recall. They started at the pin end of the line with Emotional Hooligan while Panther started at the boat end. Brighton Star charged to the front and led the fleet to the top mark and stayed there for the first time around the bottom mark. O'Rourke stayed with them in second while Blackmore held the third spot. At the second top mark rounding Emotional Hooligan worked the shifts to take first place from Brighton Star. Blackmore held Brighton Star off to finish ahead of them with O'Rourke in third.
Racing in the Inner Circle Rum F40 regatta will continue on Sunday at Pittwater.