SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week: Breeze picks up and spirits lift
Another hard one for Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson and his team at 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), as light fluky airs necessitated three course changes from Around the Island to a race to White Rock and a further change to a course taking in Picnic Bay, Middle Reef and Cleveland Bay, for Lowes Petroleum Race Day.
Townsville Yacht Club’s (TYC) annual event has been plagued by light airs since it started last Friday, but Thompson has managed to get races in each and every day, a credit to him and his experienced team. Those participating are happy just to be able to race. The beautiful surrounds and the ease of Peppers Blue on Blue, it’s restaurant and marina, only add to the allure of SMIRW. However, most would dearly love more breeze.
The bulk of the fleet started in a 5 knot breeze and it died in places thereafter. However, further down the track, the speed dial hit 8 and then 10 knots, pushing and pulling the yachts, multihulls and sports boats along nicely - spinnakers billowing in the fresher breeze – the bay a mass of colour.
Stephen Green and David Pinches’ J122, Joint Venture (Qld), won Division 2 from Laurie McAllister’s Beneteau First 45, Z7 (NSW). It was on all day. It means Joint Venture now leads the series by one point from Z7, with a day of racing remaining.
“It’s all riding on tomorrow,” Green conceded at Peppers Race Headquarters this afternoon.
Talking about today’s weather, Green said, “The pressure came in, but it depends where you were in the bay. It maintained for us. It was a nice sail, provided you picked the shifts. It got down to 3 knots in a couple of spots. Mostly it was 7 to 10 knots.
“Everyone on board (seven of them) enjoyed it. It’s a very competitive division – we found the clear air and got away well and kept going. It all.”
Green was not exaggerating. Half the division left the start line at the same time, bang on time.
An ex-local boat, the Beneteau Oceanis 45 Champagne, won Non-Spinnaker Division today. Now owned by Chris Haskard and David Elliott from NSW, they beat Glenn Myler’s Thylacine One, a Beneteau Oceanis 43 from Tasmania. The two were over three minutes apart when the handicaps were put in place. Joe Niven’s Beneteau Oceanis 34 Daylight was third.
Scott Creedon’s Mustard Cutter had the goods today. The Thompson 750 from Tasmania arrived here after competing at Airlie Beach Race Week where he finished second in division at the Trailable Yachts & Sports Boats Qld Championship. Fellow Tassie, Andrew Jones’ Thompson 8, Cutting Edge (Tas), was second. Series leader and local boat, Bambalam, Justin Van Stomm’s VX One was third.
Van Stomm leads the series on countback to Stephen O’Rourke’s M24 Panther (NSW). There are others in the picture; Burke Melia’s No Mercy (NSW) and Cutting Edge are just one and two points respectively behind, so all hinges on tomorrow’s final race.
“Win or lose time tomorrow,” Van Stomm admitted.
On how they have kept on top, he said with a smile: “Diabolical cunning, old age and treachery and a sprinkle of local knowledge. Actually, we’ve been working hard. And the handicapper has stayed kind.
“We are the smallest boat in the division. We keep pushing and chasing the big boats down in front of us. Some of the best sailors on the planet are here, so we feel humbled. Tonight I’m going to eat, sleep and have another crack at it tomorrow,” the local boat broker ended.
Tonight’s entertainment is Tess Latu on the deck at Peppers Race Headquarters from 6pm.
The final race at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week will be held tomorrow 11am – weather permitting – and will decide the outcome across the seven divisions.
For all information including results, please visit: www.magneticislandraceweek.com.au
By Di Pearson/SMIRW media