Mickey Ink Port Douglas Race Week
The first day of the Mickey Ink Port Douglas Race Week was a write off, with PRO John Graham putting up the AP over A flags at 1pm. It was one of those days that was marginal – the big boats could have handled the 25 knot winds which were gusting just over 30 knots but the multihulls and smaller boats would have had a miserable time.
On the second day the conditions were a little better but the strong 20-25 knot south-east trade winds, combined with a short chop of around a metre in height, still tested the 32 entrants. An early casualty was David James' Seawind 1000 Two Easy, which found the conditions anything but. Rounding the bottom mark for the first time in the first race, the skipper noticed a big area of torn stitching in the main and made the decision to pull out. The sail has already been repaired and the boat will be out tomorrow.
However, the most spectacular effort of the day was the “launching” of a crew member from the J24Viva La Beaver. After turning the top mark, a bit of a muddle on the foredeck distracted skipper Peter Chapman momentarily, causing a gybe. Crew member Amber, who was serving as a human gybe preventer, was catapulted straight off the boat. She was quickly picked up and racing resumed.
Also out of the eight-boat multihull division early was the striking, green-coloured Grainger catamaran Barefoot. Owner Warren Innes said it was a combination of small things rather than a major problem that caused the DNF. “There were a couple of rope clutches not doing what they're supposed to, little things like that. We decided to go in and fix them so we're ready to go in the passage race tomorrow.”
Out in front of all divisions was another multihull, the Nacra 36 Malice owned by Malcolm Richardson. With a big square-topped carbon main she was easy to spot as she raced through the Division One yachts which had started first. A major benefit of lapping the fleet, according to the crew, was being first back in the bar.
The six entrants in the Multihull division did another passage race around Snapper Island but this time they didn't have to beat south to the Low Isles. That made it another early day for the crew of the Nacra 36 Menace, which flew around the course in just over 55 minutes to record her fourth first and fastest from four races.
Every other boat except the modified Grainger Barefoot took twice as long which, as one wag commented, meant they had twice as much fun.
On handicap the Seawind 1000 Indigo owned by club Commodore Colin Simpson took second place ahead of Barefoot, and they hold the same places overall. Menace leads the division by six points with one race to go, meaning her name will almost certainly be engraved on the Clipper Cup tomorrow night.
Wednesday was supposed to be a lay day at Port Douglas Race Week but because of Monday's bad weather, racing was scheduled. And most competitors are glad it was as Huey turned on a terrific day with 15 to 20 knot trade winds and a blue sky with occasional cloud.
Leading into the final day Malice lead the multihull division on handicap. Colin Simpson's Seawind 1000 Indigo was five points behind, with the modified Grainger of Wazza Innes, Barefoot, bouncing back from a DNS yesterday to hold third.
On the final day the Multihulls did a passage race around Snapper Island and it was again the beautiful Nacra 36 Malice, owned by local sailmaker Mal Richardson, which dominated the field. Churning through the 30nm course in 2 hours 11 minutes, the crew were back in the marina in time for lunch.
“It was a good ride,” Richardson said. “The wind had moderated a lot since yesterday. It was just perfect... brilliant.”