Kiwi yacht Georgia leads the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

New Zealand sailing yacht Georgia is currently leading against the ...

Kiwi yacht Georgia leads the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

August 24, 2010

Written by Eva Belanyiova

New Zealand sailing yacht Georgia is currently leading against the Trans-Tasman rival T52 yacht Shogun at the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2010 - Image credit to Andrea Francolini

The Trans-Tasman rivalry of the biennial South Pacific Cup is in full swing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week with New Zealand currently leading the defending Australian two-boat team by three points at the half way mark.The highly competitive Melbourne-based TP 52, Rob Hanna’s Shogun, racing this week with six-time Olympic sailor Colin Beashel calling tactics and North Sails’ Richie Allanson and Alby Pratt adding their weight, is up against New Zealand’s Georgia, skippered by ownerJim Farmer and Chris Meads.

Shogun recently won the NSW IRC Offshore championship while sailing yacht Georgia, a development of the Audi Med Cup winning TP52, Emirates Team New Zealand, is the current NZ IRC Champion.

A whale and her calf enjoyed the superyacht race at Audi Hamilton Island Race on Sunday 22 August 2010 - Photo Credit to Andrea Francolini

Australia’s second South Pacific Cup team yacht is Bruce Absolon’s Hamilton Island-based Nikon Spirit of the Maid yacht which is racing Kiwi Rob Bassett’s consistent 52-footer, Wired, in the Performance Racing class.

After a 10 year absence from Race Week, Auckland’s world class America’s Cup sailor Chris Dickson is calling tactics on Georgia. Returning to Hamilton Island this week, Dickson says he has noticed many changes both to the island resort and Australia’s premier keelboat regatta.

“It’s great to see how the island has matured and the regatta has come of age.”

“Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is now considered a very prestigious regatta by world standards; it all just seems to happen flawlessly.”

“When I was last here the regatta was trying to emulate and aspire to the major European regattas, now the tables have turned and I think the organisers of those regattas are looking at Hamilton Island.”

Image from the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Credit to Andrea Francolini

“There’s a very high level of racing and calibre of sailor here this week,” Dickson commented. Now retired from the long races, Dickson says his calendar is peppered with “good regattas sailing with good people”.

Built by Cookson Boats in Auckland, sailing yacht Georgia is the sixth in the family of Georgia Racing yachts owned by Auckland Barrister Jim Farmer and is modeled on the TP52 designed by Botin Carceek. Georgia was optimised for IRC racing and launched prior to last year’s HSBC Premier Coastal Classic which marked the beginning of a challenging race calendar for the new boat. At the time of the boat’s launch Farmer said he originally discussed purchasing the ETNZ boat after its first year’s racing, but instead decided to build a boat using the same hull mould but customising it for IRC racing and adding more interior space.

“Because Marcelino Botin had designed the Emirates boat and is a ETNZ’s America’s Cup designer and because of my own association with ETNZ, I was then able to put together this boat which achieved all the objectives of having a customised IRC boat but with the pedigree of a Transpac,” said Farmer.

Internal ballast was removed from the ETNZ design to accommodate a more comfortable interior, and a heavier bulb was applied. The deck and cabin top were re-designed to create more headroom below and the sail plan slightly larger for a slightly lower overall displacement.

“It’s all electric; in fact our one grinder is a woman,” added Dickson. “Jackie [Hendy] runs all the controls for the winches and the backstays. It’s a race hull with beautiful red leather upholstery and all the creature comforts below deck.” The New Zealand team of Georgia and Wired is currently sitting on nine points on the South Pacific Cup tally board and leading the Aussie team, which is on 12 points after four races with five remaining in the series. The Australian team won the South Pacific Cup against the Kiwis when it was first contested two years ago as part of the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s silver jubilee celebrations when the new trophy was commissioned.

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