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Audi IRC Australian Championship welcome mat out - Wild Rose
The welcome mat is out and the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club marina filling with the last of the arrivals for the Audi IRC Australian Championship commencing tomorrow, Thursday 17 April, and running through to Easter Sunday.

Conditions off Newcastle today for final training sessions, 25 knot winds, 4m swells and showers, point to an action-packed series opening and the media crew has wet weather gear and camera protection at the ready.

The Bureau of Meteorology advises a low pressure system over the south-eastern Tasman Sea and ex tropical cyclone Ita to north over the Coral Sea are moving slowly to the south-east and a high pressure system is moving south of Tasmania extending a ridge along the New South Wales coast. This ridge is set to bring a decent S-SW 15-20kt air flow to Hunter coastal waters tomorrow and Friday, April 18.

Six short course races, one medium distance and a long race likely to take the big boats as far north as Cabbage Tree island off Hawks Nest and as far south as Swansea is the planned schedule of racing over four days.

Weather dependent, the stage for race starts and the short courses is straight off Newcastle beach offering holiday-goers the unique chance to see 31 high performance crews and yachts from 30 to 60 feet strut their best work.

Newly crowned NSW IRC champion Wild Rose left Port Stephens yesterday, Tuesday April 15, 2014, bound for Newcastle. They followed division 1 IRC state winner, Karl Kwok’s fancied TP52 Team Beau Geste and other crews who used Sail Port Stephens’ IRC series as a pre-nationals shakedown.

“Division C is the biggest division at the Audi IRC nationals and there are lots of quality boats,” said Wild Rose’s skipper Roger Hickman before docking out. “We were lucky to have three days of tuning up in the IRC series at Port Stephens and we are looking forward to going up against our great competitors L’Altra Donna and Spirit again.”

The championship entry list of 31 has been broken up into three divisions so boats of a similar size and with comparable handicap ratings race together. Within divisions there are multiple ongoing duels set to resume at this next encounter.

Four TP52s part of last year’s standalone TP52 Southern Cross Cup are due to meet again in division A. They’ll share the limelight with Tony Kirby’s runner up at the IRC states, his still new Ker 46 Patrice gaining pace with a bolstered crew, and Matt Allen’s shmick 60-foot Carkeek design, Ichi Ban, launched last November.

The grudge match between Middle Harbour Yacht Club sistership DK46s, Rob Reynolds and Neil Rechlin’s Nine Dragons, picks up where it left off in division B. Behind them Matt Fensom’s modified Farr 40 Long Time Dead, fully re-tuned having raced solidly for five days at Sail Port Stephens, meets NCYC stablemate PT73, Tony Lobb’s also modified Farr 40.

Division C’s formidable line up in the 35- foot range includes Local Hero, a BH36, Spirit, an RP36, Cocomo the Sydney 36 and L’Altra Donna, a Summit 35. All but Local Hero ironed any wrinkles at Sail Port Stephens.

NCYC has developed a solid social program to complement the on-water schedule including daily entertainment, activities for the kids on school holidays, Westpac Rescue helicopter winch demonstration and sunset drinks combined with an informal forum on Saturday so IRC regatta organisers can take on board valuable feedback from competitors.

From April 17 - Sunday 20 the final starter’s list will vie for the pinnacle of IRC handicap racing in Australia and the chance to win a brand new North Sails spinnaker emblazoned with ‘2014 Audi IRC Australian Champion’.

Photo : Andrea Francolini
Quest___Frantic_TP52s_credit_Andrea_Francolini.jpg ASYGC2012__NINE_DRAGONS_credit_Andrea_Francolini.jpg FOS2013_WILD_ROSE_credit_Andrea_Francolini.jpg Quest_and_Team_Beau_Geste_credit_Crosbie_Lorimer.JPG Anger_Management_credit_NCYC.jpg