SPORT - Scarlet Runner moves into the lead

SPORT - Scarlet Runner leads 2009 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week IRC grand prix

Results for yesterday’s opening race for the 2009 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week IRC grand prix division 1 boats shuffled overnight following arbitration between Wild Joe and Wot Now, and the discovery of a rating office error that has affected Wild Oats X’s handicap placings.

Using the correct handicap rating, Wild Oats X’s first in yesterday’s opening windward/leeward race didn’t stick, Bob Oatley’s RP66, skippered by Mark Richards and flying the Hamilton Island Yacht Club burgee, moved to third on the ladder then back up to second after Graeme Wood’s JV 52 Wot Now was penalised for a port/starboard with Steven David’s Reichel Pugh 60 Wild Joe.

This shuffle gave Robert Date’s new Victorian Reichel Pugh 52 Scarlet Runner, with Graeme Taylor helming and famed Australian navigator Will Oxley aboard, the win on corrected time by the slimmest of margins — just three seconds separating Scarlet Runner from Wild Oats.

On the division 1 progressive series scoresheet after three races Scarlet Runner leads Alan Brierty’s RP63 Limit and Ray Roberts’ Cookson 50 Evolution Racing, both sailing for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

Date has stepped up from Sydney 38 one design racing to join the strong fleet of 50-footers racing out of Melbourne.

“The 50 somethings in Melbourne are a good group... Living Doll, Cougar, Shogun. That’s the main reason we have stepped up to a bigger and faster boat,” said Date, who will share the driving with Taylor later in the week when the trade winds revisit the area.

“In the light stuff, we have got to hit the groove straight out of the blocks. I’ve made the decision to pull back for now. The last couple of days have been challenging for everyone, it’s hard having to put crew off. We are sailing with 12 in the light stuff, but when the breeze picks up we’ll go to 16,” Date added.

On his end-of-year plans, Date says he’s considering signing up for the big one, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, but first needs to fill a couple of key crew spots.

Wot Now took a heavy penalty for its port/starboard with Wild Joe, sliding backwards from the top of the IRC pile in yesterday’s first windward/leeward race to seventh, a result that could figure at the end of the week when the Audi IRC Australian Championship is decided.

Today’s forecast is for 0 to 10kts with the chance of a glass-out this morning and 2 to 10kts this afternoon out of the south east.