Easing into racing on a light day glamour at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week
The opening day of 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW) was an absolute glamour, if you were thinking of a picnic or going to the beach, but as Denis Thompson predicted, a light breeze did fill in and patience was rewarded when racing started at 12.35pm.
Division 1 was first away in the 16th running of Townsville Yacht Club’s regatta. Just after the start, the breeze looked like it would drop out completely, but there was just enough there to carry on. Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire (NSW) and the Annika Thomson skippered Ocean Crusaders J-Bird (Qld) were best away.
Ten minutes of frustratingly light air took every bit of patience and control, as skippers could see the breeze further up the course. Victoire, a Carkeek 40, was the first to catch it and took off like a scalded cat, with the TP52, Ocean Crusaders, hot on her heels in a lovely 10 knots. It didn’t last though, dropping to around 5-7 knots as those behind them gave chase.
Ocean Crusaders was first to the top mark and chose the left of the course for the spinnaker run back down the bay and did not look back. Victoire gybed and went down the centre. Behind them, the rest were playing catch up.
Smooth Operator (Charles Weatherly) did not have a smooth time. The big pink kite (matching the crew shirts) refused to budge from its sock. At the pointy end, Morgan Staley and others wrestled with it and out she came!
In the end, Paul Commins’ Beneteau First 50, Carpe Diem (Vic) lived up to her name and seized the day to win Division 1 from Ocean Crusaders, which sailed well all race. Peter Lowndes Wine Dark Sea, a Lyons 49 from NSW, took third place. Later this year, Lowndes will sail the yacht two-handed in the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Both Wine Dark Sea and Kayimai (Peter Byford and Rob Aldis’ Azuree 46 from NSW) came home with pace on downwind, Kayimai settling for fourth place.
Paul Commins and crew, including his wife Helen, were aboard Carpe Diem after the race celebrating their victory. “She loved the race and won the lotto guessing how we would finish,” Commins said.
“We brought the boat up from Melbourne in April. We hadn’t sailed it until we did Hamilton Island Race Week, which was a big contrast to today. It was very windy there. We took the boat out for a training run yesterday in light air to practice our spinnaker work and it paid off today,” Commins said.
On the race, the Victorian sailor said, “We could see the breeze there (up the course heading to the first mark) and said, ‘Let’s be patient’. We’re waiting and waiting, but knew it was going to come eventually. We tried to keep the boat moving and stayed away from other boats, then off we went. It was a lot of fun.”
Carpe Diem is crewed by family and friends from Melbourne. “We have 17 people here, 12 on the boat racing. We’re loving Magnetic Island. We’re having lots of fun. We’ve already booked Father’s Day dinner (Sunday). We’re here to race and to have fun.” Commins ended.
As each successive division started, there were plenty of individual recalls. No names, no pack drill, they know who they are.
The day was light, but it’s a nice way to ease into the first day of a regatta. If you were going to make mistakes, today was the day with the conditions so forgiving. There are quite a few crews here who have not sailed together before and others who are not sailing with their usual full contingent. It’s difficult to take time off to take on the entire northern circuit of regattas.
Annika Thomson was just as pleased with her and husband Ian’s day. They took Division 1 line honours and placed second overall.
“We had two tacticians onboard and they agreed; stay close to shore after the start and it worked. We had good speed on Victoire - and this is the first time we have all raced together,” Thomson said.
“The crew are from NSW and Queensland, including seven women. Ian (her husband and co-owner in the boat) did tactics and bow. It all went like clockwork. We didn’t leave anything on the race course,” she said.
Ocean Crusaders J-Bird is the first electric boat to sail at SMIRW. The boat is powered by solar, wind and wind generation – a one of a kind on the racing circuit in Australia.
For all information including results, please visit: www.magneticislandraceweek.com.au
By Di Pearson/SMIRW media