Ullman Sails all the way at Airlie Beach Race Week

Paul Mitchell and Ullman Sails are well on the way to winning the Australian Multihull Championship at Airlie Beach Race Week (ABRW) and to defending the title they won last year, and the year before, such is Mitchell and his crew’s dedication to performing at the top of their game.

Hosted by Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) each year, the 31stedition of the annual event in its closing stages, with just one day of racing remaining. All competitors were doing all they could to cement a podium place in advance of the final day.

Today it was widely reported that the new foiling Mad Max had lost her rig. Not true, as the boat’s skipper, George Owen, explained: “Yesterday after the second start, the main halyard lock, part of mast track, tore out. We tried to fix it with the mast in boat, but it was too difficult.

Mad Max looks bare minus her rig - Photo: Shirley Wodson
Mad Max looks bare minus her rig – Photo: Shirley Wodson

“Instead, we motored back to the Club, as it was low tide, and took the mast out there. It took us six men and four hours. We’re experts now; we’ve had the mast out and back in four times now.”

Owen said of Tony Considine’s TF10; “We’ll be back racing tomorrow. So far 26 knots is the fastest we’ve gone so far, but if we get more breeze, we could get more than that out of it.”

Owen also said of the Queensland entry, “Because it’s new, we’ve had teething problems. We’ve had to learn the inner workings of the mast. We are still learning – we’re getting there though.”

Meanwhile, Day 5’s Race 6 was sailed and won by Ullman Sails, which is proving very hard to sail past. This time the shortfall for second placed Back in Black was seven minutes.

Michel Van Der Zwaard’s Back in Black finished best of the four Extreme 40s, but it’s Julian Griffiths’ The Boat Works that is best placed on the overall leader board. Griffiths’ boat is on 15 points, nine behind Ullman Sails, but has the other Extremes breathing down her neck in third, fourth and fifth places overall.

Back in Black - Photo: Andrea Francolini
Back in Black – Photo: Andrea Francolini

Griffiths commented this afternoon: “We’ve had a good event and a good time. We won’t be able to beat Ullman sails; it’s an amazing boat and they sail it very well. Our score board hasn’t been that flashy, but it’s a bit more consistent than the others.”

The Queensland yachtsman agreed that the fleet “is a very diverse group of boats. Today would have suited the Crowther 50, Top Gun (Darren Drew’s NSW entry) – it loves the wind and the chop.” Top Gun finished fifth.

“Another 5 knots and we would have been out the back the door. The Extremes sail much better in flat water and out of the tide. We sailed away from Double Cones today, as it was rough, and went looking for flat water. Then the tide started picking up. It was hard sailing. The boats only weigh 1500 kilos,” he said.

“We try to do something different every day – you won’t beat the others by following them. We’ll be going out tomorrow looking for a win – hopefully.”

In Division 2, ‘the gnomes’ were hard at it again. This time though, it was Terry Archer’s G’Nome (Qld) that got the better of Clive Kennedy’s Evil Gnome (NSW). Yesterday the top two finished in the reverse order. John Williams’ Tyee III (Vic) broke the ‘gnome code’ to take third place.

Tyee III finished third - Photo: Shirley Wodson
Tyee III finished third – Photo: Shirley Wodson

“It’s good versus evil, that’s why we won! We had a very good day, did not have a good start, but got around the mark and then we got out into the breeze, the conditions suited us. We are good in breeze downwind, so we were able to stretch our short legs,” said the amusing Terry Archer of his Grainger 075.

“It’s been fantastic, the first time we’ve had comparable boats to sail against, like the Evil Gnome – she’s had four line honours, we’ve had two. They have tuned their boat and sailed it very well. They have shown us a couple of things; they are boat on boat with us most days. It’s been a lot of fun.”

G'nome - Photo: Andrea Francolini
G’nome – Photo: Andrea Francolini

Tonight the throngs will be entertained with music from Kieran McCarthy from 3.30pm at WSC and from 6.30pm by Left of Centre, accomplished entertainers with a great range of music.

Full results and all information: www.abrw.com.au.

By Di Pearson, ABRW media