24 May 2016

Quarter Tonners at the Vice-Admiral's Cup 2016

12 Quarter Tonners lined up for the 2016 RORC Vice-Admiral's Cup (20-22 May), including the top four teams from 2015. Sam Laidlaw's Aguila was back to defend last year's final race win, along with last year's runner up, Rickard Melander's Alice II, as well as Tony Hayward's Blackfun and Louise Morton's Bullit (third and fourth respectively last year).
Louise Morton's Bullit, early leader of the Quarter Ton division in the 2016 Vice-Admiral's Cup (photo RORC/Paul Wyeth)
Day 1
Bullit placed third in the first race and went on to win the last two races to lead the Quarter Tonner Class ahead of Sam Laidlaw's Aguila. Blackfun was third.

"We had a really good day today despite the tricky conditions with wind against tide and breaking our pole in the first race was not ideal" commented Morton. "We did have a couple of wipe-outs but we were not alone, Quarter Tonners can be a handful downwind. Well done to Stuart Childerley and his team for getting six classes off for three good races each, I am sure the race committee was as tired as us by the end of the day."
Windward mark action in the Quarter Ton division at the RORC Vice-Admiral's Cup (photo Rick Tomlinson/Sailing Anarchy)
Day 2
Bullit started of the second day of racing with a bullet and a second to take a firm grip on the class, but was adjudged over the line at the start of the last race of the day and having restarted correctly slipped to ninth place. Bullit still leads the class but only by a single point from Sam Laidlaw's Aguila. Tony Hayward's Blackfun remains in third. Rickard Melander's Alice II is fourth having scored two podium finishes today and Eric Reynolds' Magnum Evolution won race five to end the day in fifth position.

Joker bashes her way upwind on Day 2 of the Vice-Admiral's Cup (photo Rick Tomlinson/1/4 ton zeilers Facebook page) 
"Bullit is going well but we can still catch her" commented Aguila's Brett Aarons. "Bullit is a bit larger than Aguila, so she goes a bit better in the heavier air but tomorrow looks to be a bit lighter, so we definitely have a chance. The standard of racing in the Quarter Ton fleet is as good as it gets in the Solent. The boats may be old but a lot of time is spent getting them into perfect condition, and as we sail at about the same speed, it is just like one design racing."
Bullit in action on Day 2 of the Vice-Admiral's Cup (photo RORC/Rick Tomlinson)
Day 3
Aguila won the very last race to take the series by a half point. Aguila, designed by the German design duo Judel/Vrolijk in 1990, was helmed by Sam Laidlaw; all of his crew, from the Isle of Wight, were not born when the boat was built. Bullit had led the regatta from the first day and agonisingly lost the title by just half a point.

Aguila on her way to winning the Quarter Ton division of the 2016 Vice-Admiral's Cup (photo RORC/Rick Tomlinson)
"Very tough close racing" summed up Laidlaw. "I felt that we were capable of beating them in both races but if it hadn't been for Magnum Evolution getting between us, we would have lost by half a point, so we were very fortunate in that respect. This fleet produces really close racing, which is also good fun and bodes well for the Quarter Ton Cup."
The immaculate Aguila, winner of the 2016 Vice-Admiral's Cup Quarter Ton division - seen here during the 2016 RORC Easter Challenge (photo RORC/Paul Wyeth)

21 May 2016

Hamilton Island Race Week 1984

An interesting post and photos regarding the inaugural Hamilton Island Race Week appeared in Sailing Anarchy recently. Huey 2 writes:

Colourful memories of the inaugural Hamilton Island Race Week in 1984 have surfaced this week, with the discovery of historic photos taken at the event.

The German Frers-designed Two Tonner Hitchhiker gets some air time while working upwind in fresh conditions during the 1984 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo Sandy Peacock)
The images are the work of Sandy Peacock, a Sydney-based advertising agency owner, who worked at the 1984 regatta as a yachting journalist and photographer. Peacock found 62 transparencies and a copy of the story he wrote about the event, in a long-forgotten box of images stored at his northern beaches home.
Jack Rooklyn's Ben Lexcen-designed Apollo slogs upwind during the 1984 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo Sandy Peacock)
For its first eight years, Hamilton Island Race Week was staged two weeks after Easter, but the unstable weather pattern at that time of year led to the series becoming known as 'Hamilton Island Rain Week' in the 'Wetsundays'.
An unknown yacht gets into trouble on a tight reach, the Holland-designed Too Impetuous to leeward (photo Sandy Peacock)
Fleet numbers were strong and the parties were legendary, but organisers eventually succumbed to the pressure of the wet season and rescheduled the series to late August.
The Doug Peterson-designed 44 footer Inch-by-Winch in post-race mode during the 1984 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo Sandy Peacock)
Sandy Peacock's images certainly reveal the mood swings of the weather that first year and they also confirm that among the impressive fleet of 93 competitors were some of the great yachts and famous names of the sport in that era.
Syd Fisher's Ragamuffin sails downwind under spinnaker and blooper (photo Sandy Peacock)
The two big maxis at the regatta in 1984 were Jack Rooklyn's Apollo, affectionately known as 'The Gherkin', because the hull was dark green, and Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin.
Apollo has a hard landing during the 1984 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo Sandy Peacock)
The sailing identities were too many to name, but there was no one more saluted than Hugh Treharne, who in September the previous year was tactician aboard Australia II when she won the America's Cup in Newport, Rhode Island. Ironically, it was when the island's then owner, Keith Williams, was in Newport watching Australia II win the cup that he came up with the idea for race week.
Inch-by-Winch's narrow lead over Hitchhiker looks short-lived after her spinnaker tears badly during the 1984 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo from Australia's Year of Sail - 2)