SAILING - Airlie Beach Race Week 2019 - Airlie Beach, QLD 11/08/2019 (Photo by Andrea Francolini) THE HULLY TRINITY

Power and the passion at Airlie Beach Race Week

It’s all to play for in the Australian Multihull Championship at Whitsunday Sailing Club’s 2019 Airlie Beach Race Week – particularly for the local rock star – and that became very evident on Day 4, as the wind freshened and the multis showed their power and the crews their passion for racing them.

Make no mistake; local sailmaker, Paul Mitchell, is about as competitive as they get. On the start line this morning, while the rest jockeyed for position, Mitchell’s Ullman Sails came flying through, shaved the committee boat with little room to spare (right on the sound signal) and took off in clear air, leaving the rest to sort themselves out.

In little more than 30 seconds, Ullman Sails, a Grainger Appex, could not be seen for dust. The crew is like well-oiled machinery where the word ‘error’ does not come into play.

There's no slowing Ullman Sails down - Photo: Andrea Francolini
There’s no slowing Ullman Sails down – Photo: Andrea Francolini

The rest flew up the course, Mad Max fully foiling as the strength of the breeze increased. With her blue hull and yellow foils, she resembles a monstrous crab in full foil mode.

Mad Max with her hackles up - Photo: Andrea Francolini
Mad Max with her hackles up – Photo: Andrea Francolini

In the end, Race 4 went to Ullman Sails, making it three wins from four races and a healthy overall lead. Second today went to the Extreme 40, Back in Black, skippered by Michel Van Der Zwaard from the other three Extremes; Deepwater Collective (Brad Cawthorne); High Voltage (Mike Peberdy) and The Boat Works (Julian Griffiths) – all are from Queensland.

The Boat Works and High Voltage - Photo: Shirley Wodson
The Boat Works and High Voltage – Photo: Shirley Wodson

Second placed Van Der Zwaard commented: “We had a bad start; an individual recall. We caught up though. The crew work was good and the boat was going well. High Voltage also sailed well (especially Race 5).

“During the day we got 16-18 knots with strong gusts. There were big lifts to be had in the gusts and in lulls came the knocks. You had to sail aggressively. We like big winds, so today was good for us. A great day today, hard to pick (tactically) and we loved it,” he finished.

Race 5 and it was payback time with High Voltage taking the win by 11 seconds from the unstoppable Ullman Sails, with The Boat Works third. Ullman goes into the penultimate day with a nine- point lead, so is in the box seat.

“We got off start really well; we had good speed and good height,” High Voltage’s skipper, Peberdy said. “The crew work was sensational. The guys did a great job. We’ve come close a couple of times, so we’re pumped to win and to have such close racing with the Extremes and the other boats.”

Peberdy added, “It’s fantastic having four Extremes here, and exciting, as all have had a go at the front. There’s not much between us and the sailing here is challenging, but fantastic.”

This is how 'The Boat Works' - Photo: Andrea Francolini
This is how ‘The Boat Works’ – Photo: Andrea Francolini

Multihull Divisions 1 and 2 sailed two windward/leeward courses. They were the last divisions to start from the 11 divisions comprising 114 boats. Their starts were as exciting as it gets.

Division 2 was last off, this group more evenly matched as they came off the start. Most were flying on one hull and quickly around the course shortly after the start. As good as it gets.

The Evil Gnome put a hex on the rest in Races 4 and 5, NSW’s Clive Kennedy and his three crew mates taking the Farrier 85SR to line honours and overall victory in both races.

Evil Gnome chasing down Mistress - Photo: Andrea Francolini
Evil Gnome chasing down Mistress – Photo: Andrea Francolini

However, Kennedy, from NSW, insists: “I’ve been sailing a long time, I’m old now (all of 62). I’ve never cheated – I just race very hard – all the time.

“We enjoy the bigger winds, but the tide was so strong today, we couldn’t cross the line at first. When we did get off the start, we went the right way. I’m from Lake Macquarie where we don’t have strong tides, so it was a bit to deal with.

John Williams’ Tyee III, a Catana 431 from Victoria, took second place in Race 4. Strange as it may seem, G’nome, the Grainger 075 owned by local, Terry Archer, finished second to Evil Gnome in Race 5.

The various stoushes continue tomorrow, the penultimate day of Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing.

Full results and all information:

By Di Pearson, ABRW media