Monday, 19 May 2014

Plans Afoot After Syd Fischer's Line Honours and Record Victories

Ragamuffin 90 crosses the finishing line in the South China Sea. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

by Di Pearson

Syd Fischer has made some ambitious plans after sailing Ragamuffin 90 to successive line honours victories in the Rolex South China Sea Race in April and the Okinawa Tokai Race in May, in which he also broke the race record.

Apart from campaigning for a third line honours conquest in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart, Fischer has longer-term goals. In 2015, he proposes to take his 100ft super maxi to some major Rolex events: the Fastnet Race (which he won in 1971); the Maxi Yacht Cup and the Middle Sea Race. He also has other plans in the pipeline which he will divulge at a later date.

“I’m looking forward to taking on some new challenges,” Fischer said this morning. It’s good to keep setting goals for yourself and the crew – keeps you on your toes,” he added.

The years have not slowed the 87 year-old down, in fact just the opposite is true. In the 27th South China Sea race, aboard the same yacht that won him line honours and the race record in the 2013 Rolex Hong Kong Vietnam Race, Fischer defeated a high-calibre international fleet of 33, the highest number of entries since the 20th century.

Of the 565 nautical mile line honours win in the time of 57 hours and 31 minutes, Fischer recounted: “Our boat speed was well above the wind speed and that’s good. The boat’s living up to expectation since we modified it.”

According to Fischer’s boat captain, David Witt, “Tactically it wasn’t a difficult race, but it got a little bit frustrating, especially at the end. It was very light; we only saw 18 knots in the last two hours on the approach to the harbour. Until then, we never saw breeze over 10 knots.”

Witt also paid tribute to Fischer: “He’s amazing isn’t he? Eighty seven years old and he sat on the rail all day; there are 22 year olds who could get a bit of inspiration from him.”

Ragamuffin 90 after the Okinawa-Tokai race. Image copyright Ragamuffin

Despite the 720 nautical mile Okinawa Tokai Race being another light weather and tactically demanding affair, Team Ragamuffin led from start to end and came up with enough to break the record established by Bengal 7, which finished second on line to Ragamuffin 90 this year. Fischer also claimed second overall in IRC after finishing the race in 62 hours 30 minutes.

The last 24 hours were the most excruciating after countless tacks up the Japanese coastline in soft breezes and a strong current, not to mention trying to negotiate the large amount of traffic in the area. The race tested even the seasoned pros and Ragamuffin 90’s crew could not have been happier as the crossed the finish line at Gamagori, Aichi.   

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