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 (CYCA) and near-sistership Loki (CYCA) put on a show in today’s two races, match racing around the course.
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 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.
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.