Melges 32 Magic at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

21 August 2012

For the second year the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week has kick started the 2012-13 Melges 32 regatta schedule. It's hard to top a regatta that has everything, great atmosphere, entertainment, friends, family, quality competition, tight one design racing in an amazing location. The Melges 32 is like a pig in mud racing around the islands of the Whitsundays.

Last Sunday evening, Angus Reid, owner of Maxstar was awarded winner of the prestigious Melges 32 Asia Pacific Cup for the 2011-12 Series. Hamilton Island Yacht Club hosted the Melges cocktail function. Chief Executive officer of the Island and Olympian Glen Bourke presented the trophy to Angus Reid. In his speech to competitors, Bourke described Hamilton Islands commitment to supporting the One Design aspect of this premier event.

This years Audi HIRW is the first in the 2012–13 Cup series. The race schedule is broken into the Melges 32 Asia Pacific Cup Series, eight windward/leeward races over three days. The Hamilton Island Race week incorporates the Denman Island passage race, two days of short round the island races followed by the Molles Island race to finish the regatta on Saturday.

Heading into the regatta competition was always going to be tough, 2012 Australian Champion Noel Leigh Smith's Desperado was looking to add to his mantle. Reid's Maxstar wanted the win that eluded him at the Nationals. Melges 32 Australasia Fleet President Kim Williams' Rock and Roll was looking to kick off the series in front. Stefan Walker and Mike Turner aboard Sticks from Gosford Sailing Club had the momentum of Olympic gold in their camp. Stephen O’Rourke's Panther was racing in his second Melges 32 regatta and Tasmanian boat Greg Prescott’s 2 Unlimited were looking to dominate from the outset.

Race one of the Asia Pacific Cup, for the Melges 32 fleet started on day two with overcast skies, the breeze certainly showed up for the start of the windward leeward series 12-15 knot building breeze out of the Southeast. The first start was away at 12.50pm, Prescott wasted no time in getting to the front of the fleet in the unsteady shifting breeze, they lead at the top mark and extended down the run playing the shifts and setting a high standard for their competitors in fleet management and crew work. Greg and his team sailed to victory followed by O'Rourke, and Williams in third place.

Race two and again team Prescott showed a clean pair of heals leading Reid, the current APC holder to victory in a building breeze by 32 seconds followed in third place by the Australian Champion Smith, a further four seconds behind.

Race three and Prescott turned up again with another strong display to lead Reid home by another healthy margin followed Williams.

Race three saw an end to day two of racing with the Melges 32 fleet heading back to the island wondering how to break Greg Prescott, and the 2 Unlimited team domination of the days sailing.

Day three and race four of the Regatta saw a forecast SE –ESE 16 -22 knots, clearing showers. Racing started at 11.10am, 2 Unlimited with Darren (Twirler) Jones calling the shots backed up by a keen young crew drew every ounce of speed out of the boat. Prescott found his way to the front of the pack again to win over Reid by 24 seconds, and then Smith with the fleet slowly closing the gap to the runaway Tasmanian team.

Race five finally broke the Tasmanian streak, Williams set up a dominating victory with a 50 second win over Prescott followed 13 seconds later by the O'Rourke crew.

Race six and seven saw order return to the Melges 32 fleet, Greg and the boys scoring an 8 second victory over Reid in race six and led Smith over the line in race seven.

Race eight showed that the Prescott and his 2 Unlimited team were human after all with a complete form reversal and their worst result for the series. Finishing on a high ahead of Smith and Turner was Reid.

The 2 Unlimited team achieved their goal, six wins from eight races dominating the Cup series, the Hamilton Island Series continues.

Lay day tomorrow and teams can enjoy the beachside pool party, the Audi Q3 Drive Experience, a pearl discover session, the Moet Chandon lunch or just relax and regroup for the remainder of the regatta.

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