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Home » Sailing » Magnetic Island Race Week: great conditions forecast as competitors prepare

Magnetic Island Race Week: great conditions forecast as competitors prepare


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/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/SMIRW-Credit-Tracey-Johnstone.-Will-Oxley-presenting-the-race-week-forecast.jpg">

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/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/SMIRW-Credit-Tracey-Johnstone.-Will-Oxley-presenting-the-race-week-forecast-642x478.jpg" alt="Volvo Ocean Race Team Alvimedica's Navigator, Will Oxley, adding his expertise to his home-town regatta by presenting the race week forecast" />

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week 2014. Volvo Ocean Race Team Alvimedica's Navigator, Will Oxley, adding his expertise to his home-town regatta by presenting the race week forecast. Credit: Tracey Johnstone / SMIRW14.

The breeze is pumping and the north Queensland sun is blazing as crews competing in the 8th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week prepare for five days of hot competition starting tomorrow.

Townsville’s most famous sailing son, Will Oxley, was on hand at the Competitor Briefing today to share his valuable advice to the fleet on the best way to handle the forecast conditions. Apart from declaring that every day is a good day for racing off Townsville, he confirmed the East Coast low down south will dominate the weather pattern for the first three days before a High kicks in on Sunday.

For the first race day tomorrow he expects 10 to 15 increasing to 20 knots later in the day. Saturday the winds will soften to around 12 to 15 knots before another late afternoon burst. Sunday the winds starts it downward spiral towards a very soft Tuesday.

Oxley is in town for a brief week-long family visit. He then jumps on a plane on Monday to head to the Team Alvimedica new base in Alicante, Spain. He is the navigator on Turkish/American Team Alvimedica competing in the round the world Volvo Ocean Race which starts in October. “It’s a youth team. I have 18 years on the next person on the boat,” Oxley said.

Back in the race office the race committee announced the change to divisions with the IRC entries moved into Performance Racing. Six boats make up the new division led by the high-profile 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race handicap winner, Darryl Hodgkinson with his Cookson 50, Victoire.

With the assistance of Will Oxley, Hodgkinson has rounded up a crew for this regatta which includes five locals – Mick Guinea, Wes Bailey, Mark Vickers, Andrew Torpelund and Brendon Torpelund.

Earlier this year Oxley assisted Hodgkinson with the set up a new navigation system for Victoire and then raced on board for the Lord Howe Island Race.  “We met the Townsville sailors in Lord Howe Island. They were racing on the Martens 49, Ocean Affinity. I said I was coming up to Magnetic Island and they said they would like to sail with us. I said that would be terrific as we needed some crew and some with local knowledge.

“They are used to a 49-foot boat so they will probably have some fun learning this boat,” Hodgkinson said.

The Victoire team headed out in the afternoon for a short training session. “We wanted to make sure everyone is ofay with their potential positions on the boat.

“We also wanted to get familiar with some of the turning points and islands, and get a feel of the nice flat water.

“We are a bit touch intimidated.  Until we get into it we don’t want to touch anything,” Hodgkinson added.

Local sailor Vickers said the Townsville sailors are experienced in big boat racing. “All the local boys have certainly done a few races in all sorts of divisions and boats, from off the beach cats to the 60, 80 footer ocean racer.

“The guys have had a fair amount of offshore experience. With this boat, everything is the same, but just a bit different,” Vickers said.

Fresh from his IRC win in the Airlie Beach Race Week, Patrice’s Tony Kirby is in town to race with his fellow CYCA club-mates, Colin and Denise Wilson, on the 49-foot Never a Dull Moment. While Patrice is located on the Gold Coast awaiting some un-disclosed modifications, Kirby and his family are enjoying a regatta-style holiday. “I have never been here before and Col has done it quite a few times. I asked Col if I could come along and do some exploring up this way for the future of my boats,” Kirby said.

There is some conjecture on the boat as to Kirby’s role. Wilson declared Kirby’s will be tactician while Kirby thinks he is in charge of the bar. However, come race time the winning helmsman will fit in the roles he has previously had on Never a Dull Moment. “I have sailed with Col quite a few times. When he has been away I have skippered the boat for him. I have been tactician and reserve helmsman. Col has two wheels so I am sure I will get a chance to steer,” Kirby added.

On the powerful Volvo 60 Spirit of Mateship another five new Australian Defence Force veterans are on board joining the seven regular crew. Skipper Peter Jones took them out during the afternoon for their only training session.  “We’ll be out for three hours training. What could be possibly go wrong ?” Jones quipped.

The Cruising boats are again well represented taking up a high percentage of the entry numbers and space on the dock. The biggest of their fleet is Geoff and Vicki Player’s 50 foot, 17-ton, Silver Minx. The beautifully appointed vessel has had a make-over this afternoon as the team offloaded a few sails, the inflatable pool and some 300 kilos of water.

“We will be competitive. We have plenty of talent and some nice Doyle race sails, and a magnificent spinnaker with a big minx on it. We are happy to be here and enjoying the atmosphere,” Player said.

The Multihull fleets are small, but the competition will still be hot. Townsville’s 32-foot The Boat, owned by Graeme Etherton, has competed in all seven Magnetic Island Race weeks, six of them on his own boat. This year he is expecting a tough battle with Andrew Stransky’s 50-foot Fantasia and with Dennis Coleman’s 7.3m Mistress.

“Fantasia is very, very fast. I have sailed against them before. We will probably only see them at the start line. A race that takes them two hours, will take us two and half hours.

“The little Mistress also goes pretty well,” mused Etherton.

“I am happy the wind is dropping off. Last year it was very rough. The lighter winds are going to suit us,” he added.

The last entry received came in this morning from John Kint’s Adams Radford 17.4m cruiser/racer, Bundaberg. John and his wife Rochelle have sailed the boat up from Geelong, competing in the Hamilton Island Race Week along the way.

“It was Wally (Andrew Wallace) that was talking to Rochelle at Hamilton Island. He suggested we come up to Magnetic Island. We have a very flexible program,” Kint said as he relaxed on the aft deck of the aptly named boat.

Racing starts tomorrow with all six divisions racing the Strand Bay Race with the first start not before 1055hrs.

For full results and all event information, go here.

By Tracey Johnstone, SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week Media


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