After six days of sublime sunshine and sailing, a wild westerly has put paid to any further racing across all divisions, leaving overnight results standing.
The AP flag was hoisted at 9am, with race officer Denis Thompson declaring that the committee would reassess the weather hourly. At 12.15pm, the siren’s mournful wail was dispersed by winds gusting to 39 knots.
A freak storm front also wrought havoc on Saturday night, with 60-knot gusts accompanied by horizontal hail and lightning. Mast-top instruments bore the full brunt while stray sails and gear were sent flying.
Luckiest of all was Wild Oats X which, with its 4.5-metre draft, was awaiting the tide to enter The Anchorage Marina. The crew saw menacing green-tinged clouds approaching and made a dash for the harbour with minutes to spare, bumping the keel but sustaining no damage.
It was a slightly sour end to a sweet day of sailing aboard Oats, which blitzed the Broughton Island race to cross the line 10 minutes clear of Marcus Blackmore’s latest TP52 Hooligan. Navigator Adrienne Cahalan noted that the 30-mile course, which also weaves through the three islands off Port Stephens Heads, presented numerous challenges for the canting-keeled 66-footer.
Ultimately, they needed more time or distance against the smaller and more nimble rivals, finishing a creditable fourth overall.
Of the four races sailed in IRC, Hooligan won three and took third in the other to wrest the NSW Championship title from last year’s winner, the TP52 RKO. Despite the dominance, they were only 1.5 points clear of Tony Kirby’s Patrice, which won the opening race, had a rare dead-heat with Celestial in Race 2, then posted two 2nd placings.