Beau Geste Holds Out Local Challengers
The Gavin Brady master class in match racing continued on Port Phillip today, but hot on Team Beau Geste’s stern and chalking up their first bullet in race five was Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan.
The Hong Kong registered Team Beau Geste is still leading the Australian TP52 Southern Cross Cup series by four points. Hooligan from Sydney has moved into second and local boat, Calm 2, has slipped back to third. One dropped race will come into play after six races.
Australians and New Zealanders have a sporting rivalry that spans many codes, and sailing is no different. Between the two frontrunners at the first owner organised hit-out for the Australian TP fleet, it’s the Kiwi tactician on Hooligan Stu Bannatyne and mainsheet hand Don Cowie up against many of their countrymen on Team Beau Geste.
Bannatyne and Brady sailed P-class dinghies against each other as juniors in Wellington back in the mid-1980s. They both graduated and moved to other classes, racing with and against each other in one-design right through to Whitbread round-the-world races.
“We race hard and play hard in a very small world,” smiled Bannatyne this evening after a late finish on day two of the TP52 Southern Cross Cup.
Nearly three hours after the scheduled start, the warning signal sounded for race four, which got underway in an 8 knot SE breeze. That race required two course changes due to massive wind shifts and only just hung in to see the boats over the finish line before the AP flag was again flying while dark clouds and a new breeze line moved across the bay from the south.
Showing plenty of the brilliance that has delivered the primarily Aussie crew pretty much every major regatta trophy on the Australian east coast, Blackmore’s crew out-smarted Team Beau Geste at the start, banging the pin end and gaining the early advantage before serving up some of the same medicine Brady dished out to them yesterday.
“You need a good start in this fleet,” nodded Blackmore this evening. “We gave Beau Geste a bit of what they gave us yesterday, but it’s still going to take some effort to catch him. I think we were quicker upwind today and he had the edge downwind, particularly when the wind dropped. It makes it interesting when each boat has their own area of peak performance.”
“Hooligan got in front in that race 20 seconds before the gun,” agreed Team Beau Geste’s tactician John Cutler. “They had a bloody good start on the pin end and smoked across us all, we got close but never close enough to make anybody stressed.”
Going into tomorrow’s final two or three races, depending on the breeze, Jason Van Der Slot’s Calm 2, representing the host club Sandringham Yacht Club, is six points off Brady and his band of merry men, and counts himself still in the running.
A late change of helmsman this morning threw a spanner in the works for Calm 2, Peter Williams stepping in to fill regular driver Barney Walker’s shoes following an accident. Walker was out with his dog when it became involved in a fight with another dog. Walker stepped in and was badly bitten in the process. This afternoon he was receiving regular updates to his hospital bed while he awaited surgery on a broken and torn finger.
Tony Lyall’s Cougar II from Tasmania is the best performing of the early edition TPs, currently fourth on the points table ahead of Rob Date’s RP52 Scarlet Runner and Rob Hanna’s Shogun. Date has made a hero’s return to sailing this weekend, wearing a support boot while helming as he recovers from foot surgery. Not conventional rehab he admits.
To assist interstate and international crews to make evening flights an amendment has been posted and breeze dependent, racing will get underway at 11am tomorrow rather than midday.
A very successful owners’ meeting this morning to decide where the series goes to from here Brady thinks was a key motivator today for the Australian owners contesting this inaugural series. “We are getting to the crux of the regatta and the pressure is coming on, but also I think this morning’s meeting gave everyone more to play for.”
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting south to southwesterly winds 10 to 15 knots tomorrow, increasing to 20 knots during the afternoon
One of the series charters was to increase the level of engagement between the public and competitors and regatta sponsor Brighton Jeep along with a number of sailors from the Victorian Institute of Sport and SYC High Performance Squads have been taking advantage of the guest position offered up by each TP owner.
Coopers 62 Pilsener has had the big job of rehydrating crews each afternoon on the SYC deck.
Results below and at http://www.syc.com.au/raceresults/1011/kb/tp/SGrp29.htm