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MC38 Australian Championship: Ginger retains lead on Day 4 - Ghost Rider exacted revenge on Ginger in Race 8
Despite arriving back at dock without having won any of the three windward/leeward races today, Leslie Green (Ginger) has maintained his lead of the MC38 Australian Championship at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, a pair of second places and a fifth good enough to keep him on top.

Ginger (CYCA) provisionally holds a six and a half point advantage over John Bacon’s Dark Star (RPAYC) and 14 points over Chris Hancock’s third placed Vino (MHYC), which was ultimately disqualified from yesterday’s Race 6 following a protest with Robin Crawford’s Assassin (CYCA) after Vino failed to keep clear.

Vino has since made a request to re-open the protest. Vino is involved in another protest from today’s Race 9, after Dark Star protested her. At the time of writing, both were yet to be heard.

Dark Star and Vino claimed their second bullets of the series today; Bacon’s boat scoring in the first race of the day, Race 7, and Hancock taking out Race 9, provisionally, pending the protest result.

After being pipped to the post by four seconds in Race 5 on Tuesday, RPAYC member, Ross Hennessy (Ghost Rider), collected his first bullet of the series in Race 8 and exacted his revenge on Race 5 winner, Ginger, which pulled up second by 54 seconds. Vino was third.

Hennessy was equal second with Dark Star in Race 9, but failed to make an impact in the opening Race 7, finishing fifth. He explains: “I muffed it; I hit the top mark. You sure know about it - everyone’s yelling for you to take a penalty. We should have won Race 9 too, but I stuffed the finish.”

However, the semi-retired property developer is very happy to have finally gotten the boat going today. “We’ve put new sails on and we’ve just got the settings right and really got the headsail working properly; it’s all come together,” he said.

“Now we’ve got time to give the Sergio (Lazy Dog) and his crew a hand,” he said referring to Sergio Sagromoso and crew from Puerto Rico, the one international entry in the fleet.

The seven-boat fleet was once again at the mercy of soft and shifty 7-10 knot winds early on, requiring a lot of concentration and tippy-toeing around the boat. Later in the day, winds picked up to average 10-12 knots, but were still shifty.

In Race 6, Dark Star gained the upper hand to win from Ginger by just 29 seconds, while newcomer Marcus Blackmore scored third place for the second time in the series. Head of Blackmores, the leading health and vitamin products company in Australia, the northern beaches sailor recognises he still has work to do, after adding fifth and fourth places to his third.

“We’ve still got a lot to learn. We haven’t been able to hold our lanes. We’ve had a drone taking footage so we can have a look at what we’re doing,” Blackmore said.

“We’re really enjoying the boat – it’s more exciting than sailing the Farr 40. We had a couple of days training here in 20 plus knots and we were doing 18 knots boat speed; that’s pretty neat.

“It’s a beaut boat - it’s like a smaller version of the TP52 - it sails with a lot less crew too. I was looking for my tactician the other day and finally spotted him at the mast pulling a sail down,” a bemused Blackmore finished.

So far, four out of the seven MC38’s have scored wins. Only two days of racing remain. Tomorrow two windward/leeward races are planned, starting from 11.20am local time. The final race on Saturday is expected to be a short island race starting in Dent Passage at 10.25am.

Full results for the MC38 Australian Championship will be available at: www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au/

Photo : Andrea Francolini/AHIRW
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