standard Patrice unlucky on final day at Geelong

Just days ago West Australian boat Black Betty was largely unknown outside her home state. Today the 42-footer is deemed a major player on the grand prix circuit after the crew from across the country took out the elite racing series at the Festival of Sails.

Black Betty clinched the Optimum Time Racing Series Division 1 IRC win and Victorian IRC Championship in her maiden racing appearance outside of home waters.

Adding to the glory for owners Gary McNally and Brian McMasters is their defeat of two of Australia’s newest yachts competing in debut regattas under the helm of two of the best skippers on the east coast; Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 Patrice and Matt Allen’s Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban.

Black Betty finished top of the table with 16.5 points, followed by Patrice on 19 points and Ichi Ban with 20 points.

Just half a point separated Black Betty and Patrice heading in to the final romp of the eight-race series.

The pressure on the skippers and their crews heated up literally as they were forced to wait an hour and a half between today’s two races in scorching heat when the race officials hoisted the postponement flag while the predominately northerly breeze flicked a crazy 180 degrees.

Racing finally got underway at about one o’clock, sneaking in just before the cut-off time came into play.

But those shifty winds would still cause havoc. “You were really at the mercy of the gods,” Kirby lamented.

McNally and McMasters’ crew held firm to finish third in that final race, three vital points ahead of Kirby.

It’s a major shot across the bow to the country’s IRC competitors and one heck of a way to announce the black-hulled GP42’s arrival on the national scene.

The team is planning to carry on their success at events including the Audi IRC Australian Championship in April and Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August.

“I guess we wouldn’t have travelled thousands of miles to compete if we weren’t confident,” McNally said, as the team trucked the yacht 3,500 kilometres across the Nullarbor Plain from Perth to Geelong for the Festival of Sails.

“We worked hard to optimise her for the racing here and it paid off. We built larger sails and tweaked her for windward leeward racing. That meant we got rid of our code zero for the rating, which hurt us in the passage race, but it paid dividends in the long run.

“We’re usually at the pointy end of the fleet at home and now this is proof that we can race and win against the best anywhere.”

Kirby and Allen remained upbeat despite not claiming a win.

“I’m confident I’ve got a winning racer here,” Kirby said.

Allen has long upheld the belief that it takes months, if not a year to get the best out of a new boat.

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