WILD AND WOOLY: Local boat Anthea rounding the mark in blustery conditions on day one of the regatta.
WILD AND WOOLY: Local boat Anthea rounding the mark in blustery conditions on day one of the regatta.

Damage to rigs, rudders and reputations on first day

THE weather models said there would be wind and rain on day one of the Vision Surveys 25th Airlie Beach Race Week and they were right.

Competing crews were faced with gusty conditions as the record 135-boat fleet took to the water for the traditional first day Cones Armit Race.

Regatta Director Denis Thompson said he was comfortable with the course, the only concern being a small area just outside the Cones, where it was "pretty woolly" and gusting 30 knots.

During the race three boats lost their masts, including Sports Boat division's Conquistador and Jonathon Smith's 24 footer Fallen Angels, which lost it rig just before the finish line.

Jeffrey Brown's Performance Division entry I Believe, lost its rudder and the team 'New Zealand Boys on Tour', sailing aboard the chartered Sea Fox were another crew to head home early after suffering sail damage.

A few more retirements were recorded during the afternoon as more of the fleet struggled to sail the long course in the breeze that pumped across Pioneer Bay and out to the islands. Gusts of 29 knots were seen regularly in both locations.

For those that stayed and played, the results were well deserved. In IRC it was Tony Kirby's team on the Ker 46 Patrice who took handicap honours. His four minute lead on Colin Woods's Pretty Fly III proved Kirby meant what he said about loving strong wind.

The Multihulls also lapped up the conditions as they powered around the course with plenty of rooster tails to prove they owned the 'speed machines' title for the day.

Vision Surveys flew the lead sponsor's flag as they sailed their way into first place in Multihull Cruising. Brian Forrester's ORAM 62 Drumbeat, with all its cruising gear still in tact, enjoyed the tough conditions.

Other locals who did well on day one included Craig Piccinelli's Wobbly boot in Cruising Division 2, Tom Vujasinovic's Masquerade in Cruising Division 3 and John Galloway's Queensland Marine Services in Cruising Non Spinnaker.