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Gul 2017 April

Airlie Beach Race Week - Day 3

by Di Pearson, ABRW media on 13 Aug 10-17 August 2017

Day 3 at Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing hosted by Whitsunday Sailing Club and the breeze from the 11am start was at 13-16 knots, ideal for the 100 plus competitors who are also enjoying the tee-shirt conditions the venue offers.

However, the wind did not hold, dying down as the boats progressed through their courses during the day.

The Performance Division 2 boats today tried their luck in three windward/leeward races which sorted the chaff from the wheat. Todd Huggonson and Craig Humphries' Conquistador, a Bethwaite 8 from Queensland, has taken the lead, adding 2-1-5 results to his scorecard.

Fellow Bethwaite design, Vivace, the 79er of Gary Smith and John Rae (Qld), is second, their 3-3-1 results leaving them three points off the money. Andrew York and his REO Speedwagon (NSW) are third, after finishing the day with 1-8-2.

Huggonson sails at the back end of the boat and Humphries is on bow, leaving helm duties on Conquistador to Sally Turner.

"We're from the Gold Coast and we've raced here before. We expected Vivace and REO Speedwagon to be our strongest rivals, and they are – Andrew York (REO owner) is a very sharp sailor," Humphries said.

On today's three windward/leeward races, Huggonson said: "Conquistador was built for windward/leeward racing, so today was ideal for us."

"We came here for challenging racing and that's what we're getting, along with some pretty nice scenery. Weather-wise, we're getting what we came here for – the conditions so far are just what our boat likes," Humphries ended.

In IRC Racing, Phil Turner's RP66 Alive took the gun again, to finish third overall behind The Goat, Mitch Gordon's Sydney 38 (NSW) which is proving hard to beat, but today she only got David Currie's Ponyo (Vic) by five seconds.

Steven Proud's Kernan 44, Swish (NSW), is the only boat to beat The Goat so far and is third placed overall in the series behind The Goat and Ponyo.

In fifth place and here for the first time is the West Australian TP52, M3, skippered by Brent Fowler.

"We've been sailing well, but we haven't cracked it yet – our last two races we finished fourth. We came here short crew and the first day we picked up crew and eight haven't sailed a boat of this size before," Fowler said. "We're having a lot of fun anyway."

For the time being, M3 is calling Sydney home as Fowler prepares for the Rolex Sydney Hobart. They recently finished fourth overall and won Division 1 in the Sydney Gold Coast race and continued on here to Airlie Beach Race Week.

The Cruising Division 1 boats are as driven as ever and the likes of Condor and Hammer, from a bygone era when they were the latest and greatest, still have what it takes, not afraid to get amongst in the tight mark roundings. Cruising be damned!

But it's another famous name, Helsal 3, which is leading the division with her crew of mainly year 5 medical students that leads the pack, one point ahead of both Guilty Pleasures VI (Gary Cripps, Tas) and Eureka II (Mal Robertson, Qld).

The 10 Trailable Yacht entries are also not afraid to get amongst it. The division is currently led by Luke Mairs' locals on Sticky Fingers, which won today's race adding to its earlier third place and win and giving it a five-point advantage over Goggles Ruckert's Mr Magoo with a further point to Derek Foley's Wicked – which amounts to an all Queensland showdown.

Tomorrow is lay day, allowing competitors to kick back to the sounds of the Cadillacs playing all your favourites from the fifties and sixties this evening following the nightly prize presentation.

For full results go to:

G'Nome flies in for Airlie Beach Race Week

Desperate times call for desperate measures – so when you haven't missed Airlie Beach Race Week for 15 years and you don't want to change the trend you don't let obstacles stand in your way – just ask Terry Archer, owner of the Grainger 075, G'Nome.

"Desperate people do desperate things at times – this was our desperate time, says Archer, who found a novel way to get his boat to Whitsunday Sailing Club in time to sail in the Multihull Passage Series – he flew his Grainger 075 into the Club's pond by helicopter!

Archer takes up the story: "I had arranged with a local trucking company to take the boat by road, but they had to have permit, as the boat is 6.2 metres wide. Then you have to get Telstra and others to say it won't interfere with their infrastructure, then you have to go to the police for a permit and a road escort, because the boat is so wide.

"It was all too hard for a truckie to do in a timely manner, so I had a chat with a person who has a helicopter, and he said as long as the boat doesn't weigh more than 800 kilos, he could do it. We weighed the boat, and it was fine."

The chopper came to Woodwark at the back of Pioneer Bay, rigged the boat ready to move and flew it the approximate five kilometres to the Airlie Beach based Whitsunday Sailing Club.

"It arrived about 8.30am – it had straps around four corners of boat – it's a trimaran - it took around 15 minutes before it was sitting in pond at the Club," recalls Archer, who had jumped in his car and raced round to meet the boat.

"I had two-way radio so I could talk with the helicopter pilot. I released hook that was holding the straps, then the wash from his rotors blew us up onto the pontoon at the Club, but it just left a little scuff on the side – just cosmetic.

"It was so easy to organise, compared to trying to take it by road. I reckon if I had to move the boat again, I'd use the chopper again," added Archer, who said the chopper cost was about 50 percent more than by road, but 100 percent easier.

The boat hadn't been in the water for seven or eight years. Archer and co. have been working on it for 18 months.

"We had a few teething problems when we first got back in the water. We went for a sail Wednesday and Thursday and had small problems, small glitches, but we're going good now. It's a good little boat. In the 8-10 knots we've been sailing in, it probably hit a top speed of 13½ half knots.

"I had the GPS going when it was flying by chopper and she did 35 knots through the air. We're calling that our top boat speed!"

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