Saturday, 19 December 2009

Limit Match Races Loki for Rolex Trophy Rating Series Lead

Limit (CYCA) and near-sistership Loki (CYCA) put on a show in Friday’s two races, match racing around the course. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

by Di Pearson

After heavy rain that left a millpond, delaying racing by nearly two hours today, the two Divisions contesting Day 2 of the Rolex Trophy Series finally started with breeze just before 1.00pm on the Macquarie Circle off Sydney Heads.

Denis Thompson, the Principal Race Officer for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia series, sent the fleet off on a two-lap windward/leeward course in both Races 3 and 4.

Following a general recall, the earlier race was sailed in a heavy 20-25 southerly wind on lumpy and confused seas, the wind monotonously increasing and decreasing in pressure, making it hard for everyone to judge.

By Race 4, the wind had swung further to the right into more of a south-easterly. “By the end of the race, winds had dropped to around 14 knots,” Denis Thompson said.

The wet day did not dampen the spirits of Limit’s owner, Alan Brierty, who was wearing a Colgate smile back at the CYCA after racing. “I’ll let the boys tell you about our day,” said the West Australian who knew he and the crew had consolidated on yesterday’s lead, even though they did not win a race today, instead scoring second and third places.

With a race drop now in place, Brierty’s RP 62 leads Rob Hanna’s newly purchased JV 52 Shogun and Stephen Ainsworth’s RP 63 Loki by two points each, the Victorian owned Shogun second on a countback.

Limit’s helmsman, Ian ‘Barney’ Walker said: “due to the crappy helmsman, we had a bad start in the earlier race – I stalled the boat! We had a great race with Loki in Race 4 – we passed each other all throughout the race.”

Walker conceded: “It was a tough day - hard to steer the boat – the waves were more predictable yesterday, which made it easier, even though the seas were worse yesterday. We’re looking forward to the passage race tomorrow and the lighter predicted conditions. It will be good to test the boat. If we have a good race, I think we’ll be impossible to beat for the Rolex Trophy,” he said

LIMIT, leading Division 0 / 1 after race 4. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Loki’s sailing master, Gordon Maguire commenting “They only beat us across the line by 14 seconds in the last race, it was exciting, only a bowsprit in it at times.”

Maguire and the crew know they were lucky to be racing at all, after their shaft drive dropped in the yacht yesterday, the reason still unknown. “We’ve done a temporary repair, but the boat will have to go back to McConaghy’s for a major repair when the series is over. Fortunately, just the shaft drive was damaged, though it is fairly major in itself,” added Maguire.

McConaghy’s, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, will also come to the rescue of Melbourne entry Living Doll, a Farr 55 owned by Michael Hiatt. “We had to pull out of Race 4, we had a problem with a rudder bearing which McConaghy’s will fix for us tonight,” Hiatt said.

Back aboard Loki, Maguire, an international yachtsman of repute, told: “We’re learning heaps, so it’s important for us to finish the series. We don’t often get to race against our near sistership (Limit) and this is important.”

The Irishman went on to say: “We were looking forward to racing against RÁN today. They’re the overseas challenger and we wanted to see how good they are. Hopefully they’ll be racing tomorrow. They started today, but peeled off at the end of the first leg of the first race.”

RÁN’s crew elected not to finish the race, instead preferring to attend to the long work list on the agenda to be race-ready for the Rolex Sydney Hobart start on December 26.

Second placed Rob Hanna is pleased with the newly purchased Shogun’s performance and that of his crew, who had not sailed as a team before yesterday.

A win in Race 4 gave Hanna confidence in his new boat. “Yesterday was our first race on the boat and this is our first time together as a crew. I have a few of my regulars and I’ve topped up with others like Steve McConaghy (calling tactics) and Sean Kirkjian. Racing has been fabulous,” the Victorian owner said.

“The boat went really well yesterday and today. Looking back, I’m glad we had these tough two days, because they put us under the pump and I feel more confident in the boat now,” said Hanna who was disappointed they had blown up a No. 4 headsail in Race 3, which he says, “cost us a win.” Instead, they finished sixth.

“The boat’s fantastic and this has been a great learning curve so far,” Hanna enthused.

BLACK JACK - Peter Harburg. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki got a ‘quick fix’ overnight and was back on the race course today in fine form, turning the tables on yesterday’s Race 1 winner, Limit, Alan Brierty’s RP 62, to take out Race 3, Limit this time taking second place. Since their inception, the two CYCA entries have been closely matched at the Australian regattas they have contested.

In other news, Geoff Ross retired Yendys (CYCA) from yesterday’s two races, as apparently his new mainsail had not been officially measured. The RP 55 was back on the water today, scoring fourth and second places.

There is a new leader in Division 2 this afternoon after Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau First 45 Balance scored a second place and a win in the two windward/leeward races sailed, knocking yesterday’s leader, Peter Sorensen’s Sydney 36 The Philosopher’s Club, down into third place, while Guy Stening’s Farr 30, Optimum has taken up second place overall .

Clitheroe said a torn clew on Balance yesterday had cost them dearly, but he is back where he and the crew want to be – on top in this close series.

This afternoon, ‘Money Man’ Clitheroe said: “The ocean state was foul – half the crew fed their breakfast to the dolphins!

“When the 30 knot southerly hit, combined with the northerly swell, it was shambolic but somehow comfortable. It’s the hardest racing I’ve had in a long time.

“There’s a number of high-calibre boats here competing and in the dangerous conditions all skippers showed good sportsmanship.”

Clitheroe also commented: “Denis Thompson set the perfect course with a genuine work up to the first mark, but once we rounded the top mark, it was more about survival than sailing. At one stage we were going so fast, I could have water skied behind the boat!

“It’s been great to have two days of heavy sailing for crew training prior to the race to Hobart. Now we’re ready for Bass Strait,” he said.

Rolex Trophy Rating Series

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