Sunday, 20 December 2009

Rolex Trophy Rating Series: Limit wins the series – Living Doll the race

Prize Giving, from left: LIMIT Alan Brierty; OPTIMUM Guy Stening CYCA Commodore Matt Allen VELOCITY Brian Carrick RAGAMUFFIN John Bush YENDYS Geoff Ross Rolex Trophy Rating and Passage Series winners 2009. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

by Di Pearson

They judged the Shark Island start perfectly, were the third yacht heading out of Sydney Harbour and then Alan Brierty and his Limit crew mowed down the JV 72 RÁN, gybing inside her under spinnaker, with the finish line in sight, catching a nice puff to beat RÁN, and more importantly, Loki, their main adversary for the series.

Although Limit (CYCA) finished Race 6 second overall behind Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll, it was enough to give Brierty’s yacht the Series by one point from near-sistership and major rival, Loki, Stephen Ainsworth’s RP 63, which finished today’s 19 nautical mile Passage Race third overall after the two went into the decider on equal points.

Brierty was once again wearing the trademark grin, which was not in evidence yesterday after Limit’s fourth place finish which briefly cost them the lead of the four-day Rolex Trophy Rating Series.

LIMIT - Alan Brierty, winner of the Rolex Trophy Rating Series, Division 0 / 1. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Limit’s helmsman, Ian ‘Barney’ Walker, said a rope twisted on their furler while rolling up their Code Zero and cost them the race and the series lead yesterday. “Alan had a dummy spit and made us go out early this morning and do some training so there’d be no problems today,” said Walker with Brierty nodding his head in agreement.

Walker said today was a lot smoother: “We timed our start well; we were four lengths from the Committee Boat and got clear air and everything went well after that.

As confirmed by others in the fleet, Walker said: “We had to work hard in the shifty pressure and it was a difficult seaway.

“We opened up a good lead on Loki working the southern side of the course coming home, there was less current there. In the last 15 minutes of the race we took more out of Loki.”

It was a difficult day, with light 5-8 knot east-south-easterly breezes that were patchy at best. The race started at Shark Island and took the fleet to an offshore mark 9.5 nautical miles seaward from North Head and return under spinnaker to the finish in Watsons Bay.

Of the ongoing battle between Limit and Loki, Walker confirmed: “There’s little between us. While we’re both very competitive, we show each other respect. When two boats are so close it’s all good, it works to your advantage, as long as you respect each other.”

LIVING DOLL Michael Hiatt Rolex Trophy Passage Series 2009. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll has sailed a mixed series, a bout of minor hiccups causing a little frustration which was brushed aside today when they won the final race of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia organised series by just over three minutes.

“We had a good start,” Hiatt, from Melbourne said. “We went the right way after the start in what were tough conditions; it was pretty light with a lot of bump.

Asked about the issues he’s had with his Living Doll this week, Hiatt, who finished the Series fourth overall responded, “They were minor things and we are taking away a lot from these four days of sailing, the conditions were so different every day.

Both Barney Walker and Hiatt agreed that the yachts in the 50 to 60 feet range would be the most difficult to beat come the Rolex Sydney Hobart, citing Loki, Yendys (Geoff Ross’ RP 55), Quest and Ragamuffin among them.

Commenting on Rolex Fastnet Race overall winner, RÁN, Niklas Zennstrom’s JV 72, Walker said: “We know it’s fast in breeze, but it struggles in light air as we all saw today. It seemed faster upwind, but we were definitely faster downwind today.

“If Hobart is a completely upwind race in moderate conditions, I’ll put a wager on her, as it will make its time on the other yachts.”

A well-sailed Shogun finished the Series a good third overall. Victorian yachtsman Rob Hanna only purchased the former Wot Now, a JV 52, in November and adding a few new crew to his solid core of Melbourne sailors, sailed his first race series on the boat at the Rolex Trophy Rating Series. He says he and the crew are ready to tackle the Rolex Sydney Hobart which starts in six days time.

In the light airs of today’s race, former Farr 30 world champion Guy Stening and his Farr 30 Optimum revelled in the light breezes to steal the Division 2 win from Paul Clitheroe’s Balance, with Chris Dare’s Audi Centre Melbourne third. “A fantastic regatta, really well organised,” enthused Stening. “It’s terrific to come away with the win after a great tussle with Balance and The Philosopher’s Club.

“Friday really was the glamour day on the water, the boat relished in the conditions. The light conditions today also suited the boat, which showed in our performance. We had great teamwork aboard for all four days.

“I’m very happy to add another title to the ever-growing list (apart from his Worlds win, Stening also won the Farr 30 Nationals and finished second in the in the 2008 Rolex Trophy). “I was very happy to go one better this year,” Stening said.

“If I had to be beaten, I’m glad it was by a world champion; we’ll get him next time,” quipped Clitheroe, a fellow CYCA member.

“Dragging 12 tonnes of Beneteau (he owns a Beneteau First 45) through 6-8 knots of breeze, we struggled to get going today. Optimum is much lighter than us, so they were able to fly away in those conditions.

The “Money-Man” echoed the thoughts of other skippers in the Series this afternoon: “We were really happy with the change in format to the Rolex Trophy Rating Series,” he said, referring to the addition of two Passage Races.

“It was perfect training for the Hobart race and we had a great variety of conditions each day,” said Clitheroe as he and Stening congratulated each other.

In the two race Passage Series, Investec LOYAL, Sean Langman’s 100 footer took line honours in 3 hours 3min 45sec, but it was Geoff Ross’ RP 55 Yendys (CYCA) that scored the race win and took the series from RÁN and Syd Fischer’s TP 52 Ragamuffin, with Ray Roberts’ Evolution Racing fourth. All are Rolex Sydney Hobart overall honours contenders for the Tattersall’s Cup.

“I’m very happy,” said Geoff Ross on stepping ashore this afternoon. “I won the Hobart in 1999, so I think it’s about time for another win,” he said laughing.

“We had four days of completely different racing, a fantastic regatta and perfect preparation for the Rolex Sydney Hobart. We’re in good shape,” said Ross who had unofficially sailed the windward/leeward courses.

“We were shut out of the start today, but we worked our way back in pretty quickly. The Passage Race Series was a great innovation and addition to the Rolex Trophy.

Rolex Trophy Rating Series

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