Light start

Stellar first day for the SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.

Photography by Andrea Francolini

31 August 2018

The IRC Racing division was on the receiving end of the best of the light weather at Townsville Yacht Club’s SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, which started off the Island today. 

Behind the IRC boats, it melted into a drifter. Some of those in the SeaLink Spinnaker, Non Spinnaker and Multihull classes were seen going sideways and backwards on the run. Dare I say, it was a bit like watching paint dry – or grass grow – or so it seemed, because during the afternoon the breeze returned in the 8-20 knot range, bringing most home in good time. 

Either way, laughter could be heard from the water and many insisted it was a lovely first day’s sail on the Bay.

Paul Clitheroe’s Balance went from hero to zero. Starting well, the TP52 from NSW put enough distance on his rivals to win – or so we all thought. Balance found the big wind hole, and as first timer Clitheroe said: “Never speak too early. It looked easy for a long time, until… 

The ‘Money Man’ explained, “We could see the transition of wind in front and Miss Scarlet (William Goodfellow) sailed low and Vamp (David Fuller) sailed high, but somehow we got caught in the middle of it.

“We had the pleasure of watching the two of them run us down under spinnaker.  We had a lovely day out though – a good first day.” the ever-positive yachtsman said.

From the Corby 49, Vamp, which took first place overall from Balance, owner David Fuller said, “She’s a good boat and we had a good race, especially with Miss Scarlet (William Goodfellow and Graeme Wilson). We’d overtake them, then they’d overtake us, and then Balance fell into a hole and that levelled the playing field again.” 

Vamp had the expertise of Olympian Jamie Wilmot in the tactician’s role and all-rounder Pete Messenger keeping the crew honest.

On Board the bright red New Zealand boat, Graeme Wilson admitted it was a hard day for the tacticians. “We wish we’d had a bit more breeze; the boat’s (RP52) underpowered in 8 knots and less. But we had good racing anyway – it’s a beautiful bay to sail on and it was a nice sunny day.

“If it looks like being lighter tomorrow, we’ll be taking the esky out,” he said smiling. 

On the trimaran Ave Gitana, crew, Krystal Weir, said the earlier part of the day “was painful.”  But, she said, “The beat to the finish was great. The wind picked up and we finished quickly.” 

“It’s really fast in a bit of breeze, it really gets going, but when I’m on it, the weather seems to be light,” Weir, a double Olympian from Victoria, said. 

Tasmanian crew, Joanna Breen, has done hundreds of miles on it already, admits: “It’s a wet boat. It’s like a fire hose when it gets going. During the Groupama Race, one of the crew’s life vest auto-inflated because we got so wet!”

The trimaran has been loaned to New Zealand double Olympian Sharon Ferris-Choat with her all-female crew, who are sailing for the Magenta Project, which gives women opportunities in sailing. The owner, Antonio Pasquale, is also setting up an academy for offshore sailing.

At 5pm, boats were still on the course as Donna Dewhurst’s Soul Sister romped into the marina, her female crew dressed to the hilt in pink, pom poms and all, as they danced into their berth. It just shows the diversity of entries here at the 12th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.

Tomorrow is the Strand Bay Race, which will take the fleet along The Strand in Townsville, making a great spectacle for the people of Townville who will be able to get up close and almost personal with the yachts.