By Peter Campbell
Winter in the Whitsundays has proven highly successful for RSYS member Philip Grove and the crew of his Sydney 39Cr Huntress, winning their divisions at the Airlie Beach Race Week and the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
Huntressdominated the Performance Racing Division at Airlie Beach, winning two of the seven races and never placing worse than fifth.
Heading across to Hamilton Island, Grove and his crew continued their form against a tougher fleet, winning the first race of the the strongly contested Performance Racing Division 1 at Race Week.
Huntresswent on to sail consistently well holding out a challenge from Matt Allen Farr 400 Ichi Ban to take the seven race series by one point.
There was more to come: One of Grove’s crew capitalised on the on-the-water performance with some fast driving to see Huntress win Audi’s $117,900 A6 allroad quattro vehicle on loan for one year.
The yacht’s winning result was combined with the layday Audi Final Drive Challenge at Hamilton Island airport when more than 100 yachties were pitted against the clock by Audi’s Chief Instructor and Australian Top Gear presenter, Steve Pizatti.
All yachts were invited to send a crew member to get behind the wheel of the Audi R8 V10 plus model, the fastest car produced by the luxury carmaker, Mastman, Marco Bergamuncha, a motor mechanic, represented Huntress on the road track. After his two timed laps around the track, Bergamuncha, had secretly recorded the most consistent times.
When coupled with Huntress’ final score at the end of their seven-race series, a one point divisional win over Matt Allen’s defending Farr 400 Ichi Ban, Philip Grove was declared the winner of the major prize from Race Week‘s principal sponsor, Audi.
Grove has offered his crewman the option to take the Audi loan car for a year. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s his,” said Grove this week.
“Marco has been sailing with me for four years so he’s one of my regulars. He does mast and bow and he’s always helping to fix things on the boat, he’s a very willing person,” added Grove.
The 30th edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, held from 18 - 24 August, was open to a wide spectrum of sailboats – from sport boats to cruising yachts, cruiser-racers and grand prix level keelboats, plus a new multihull and MC38 division and the creation of First Fleet division for the four originals from the 1984 starter’s list. The Squadron was well represented in many divisions with member Marcus Blackmore winning the prestigious IRC Racing class with his TP52 Hooligan, although racing under his RPAYC burgee.
Paul Clitheroe finished second overall in the IRC Passage division 1 with Balance while in the Cruising Division 1 Stephen Everett sailed Salacia into third place overall.
James Murchison’s Abracadabra won the final race in Cruising Division 2 but inconsistent results earlier in the regatta ended with her placed 11th overall.