In today’s Races 4 and 5, Blackmore capitalised on his two wins of yesterday (one of them shared with Living Doll from Victoria) to increase his series lead to eight points over Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll.
"We thought that barring any mistakes we’d do well in the heavier breeze," Blackmore said. "We were doing 22-23 knots (boat speed); it was fantastic sailing," he said. His TP52 is sailing like a runaway train and with three races remaining, will be hard to topple.
"We sailed really well in the first race, better than in the second. Living Doll lost their headsail which didn’t help them," said Blackmore who has Olympic three-time world champion Tom Slingsby calling tactics among other big names on his yacht.
In Race 4, Hooligan and her crew bested second placed fellow TP52 Shogun (Rob Hanna, Vic) by over three minutes on corrected time, clearly signalling their intentions in this series.
Loki (NSW), the series favourite, based on results over the past year, is third overall, after Stephen Ainsworth skippered his RP63 to third and second places today. He is half a point behind Hiatt’s Farr 55, so is still well in the mix.
It wasn’t a day for the faint-hearted, as 27-30 knot winds blasted across course areas, wreaking havoc on the yachts. Melbourne entry Calm, a TP52 skippered by John Williams and Jason Van Der Slot, blew out a mainsail and Pretty Fly III did some serious rig damage. Both boats were forced out of the race.
In Class 2, none of the top three overall won either of the two races today. That honour went to Darryl Hodgkinson and his Beneteau 45 Victoire (NSW) and crew who cleaned up in both races. When the drop comes into play after Race 6 tomorrow, the Sydneysider will be looking famous.
"We had good racing today – much better than yesterday," Hodgkinson said, confessing the crew was ‘rehydrating’ (having celebratory drinks after their two wins).
"We used to do a lot of one-design racing and that’s what it was today, with the three Beneteau 45’s going at it hard. Now I know why we came here, this is a great place to sail," he said.
However, after two windward/leeward races were put to bed today, Bruce McCraken remains in the lead with his Beneteau 45, Ikon, from Hobsons Bay in Victoria.
In what has been a close series since the first day, Ikon leads by only one point from another Beneteau 45, Paul Clitheroe’s Balance (NSW) and Paul Buchholz’s DK46, Extasea, which represents Royal Geelong Yacht Club which is hosting Audi Victoria Week.
In what second placed David Ellis called "the perfect day for Adams 10’s," Grant Botica sailed his, named Executive Decision into the winning spot in both Races 4 and 5 of Class 3, to increase his lead over Ellis’ new Archambault R31, Penfold Audi Sport to eight points.
Both belong to the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, where Ellis says: "We race against each other every week in summer, so I knew he would be hard to beat coming into the regatta.
"We’ve had fantastic results here. I haven’t sailed the boat in big breeze before and it’s hard keeping pace with the bigger boats, but I’m very happy with Penfold Audi Sport."
While other boats were falling about all over Corio Bay, Ellis maintained conditions were not that bad. "Sure it was windy and gusty, but at least the water is flat on Corio, so you don’t have big seas and waves to deal with," he said.
Ellis, who won Class 3 last year with his previous boat, Secret, concluded: "There was plenty of action out there, we pushed the boat, but not too hard, I didn’t want to break gear."
The 2008 Audi IRC Championship winner, Peter Sorensen, is sitting third overall with The Philosopher’s Club, after ending the day with seventh and second places.
High winds did not detract from some seriously good but difficult sailing conditions that arrived on Corio Bay in Geelong, drawing yachts onto the course early for some practice in the gusty conditions.
After sitting around for hours yesterday waiting for breeze to fill in, today’s stronger winds were a refreshing change to crews and race officials from Royal Geelong Yacht Club alike.
The Audi IRC Series continues tomorrow with a further two races to be sailed on Corio Bay’s Outer Harbour at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club hosted Audi Victoria Week.
The Audi IRC series at Audi Victoria Week is the first round of the Audi IRC Australian Championship.
Follow Audi Victoria Week at: www.victoriaweek.com
By Di Pearson - Audi Victoria Week Media