Upturned applecart

As Stephen Ainsworth's Loki comes to the fore in the Rolex Trophy Rating Series

Saturday December 19th 2009, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: United Kingdom
Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki has thrown a spanner in the works of near-sistership Limit, owned by Alan Brierty, today taking control of the Rolex Trophy Rating Series after winning the 27 nautical mile Passage Race which started on Sydney Harbour in a fickle west of sou-west breeze.

Limit, an RP 62 from the CYCA, has come up trumps over her adversary over the last two days on the windward/leeward courses; the two vigorously match racing much to the joy of onlookers. Loki, an RP 63, came unstuck on Day 1 when her shaft drive dropped; causing some damage and leaving the way clear for Limit, which led the Series going into racing today.

However, it was Loki’s turn in the Passage Race. “Conditions were changeable, but it was basically a reach in and a reach out for the first few boats," Stephen Ainsworth explained. "The breeze bent to the south as we were coming to the finish, so there was a little bit of downwind. It was quite fluky coming into the Harbour."

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson said: "We were expecting a southerly wind, so set up the course that way. Instead, the fleet started in a 10 knot breeze that was west of south-west and slowly bent round to the south."

Ainsworth continued: "I’m happy with our start and our performance. RÁN didn’t catch us until the sea mark. She literally caught us going around the mark; she must have had a bad start,” Ainsworth said, speaking about the JV 72 that everyone has their eyes on.

"We’ll have everything to race for tomorrow," Ainsworth added, referring to the constant pressure of Limit, which although now in second place, is on equal seven points with Loki after a disappointing fourth place today.

Loki also has Rob Hanna’s recently purchased JV 52 Shogun to deal with also. Although Hanna and his crew sailed the boat for the first time in this series two days ago, they are performing exceptionally well. A second place overall today puts them just two points behind the top two.

Audi Centre Melbourne, Chris Dare’s Corby 49 from Victoria, notched up her first win of the Series to lift her into fourth place in Division 2. Much preferring leg-stretching races, Dare said this afternoon: "Conditions were lovely, it was nice to stretch out a bit after the last couple of days. The start was definitely a rehearsal for the Rolex Sydney Hobart, same spot, a couple of 100 footers around, a gybe out! We got a good start and were eighth out the Heads - you can’t knock that."

Dare hit the nail on the head. Today’s start was a bit of a Rolex Sydney Hobart dress rehearsal.

Between the two fleets racing today were just about every boat being considered for line and handicap honours wins; Alfa Romeo (Neville Crichton) and Investec LOYAL (Sean Langman), at 100ft both are line honours favourites; RÁN, Loki, Limit, Ragamuffin, Yendys, Living Doll and Evolution Racing, all handicap odds-on favourites.

"For the Hobart, we’re hoping for reaching and running. We can hang on to the TP52s uphill but the windier it is the more they stretch out," Dare said.

Audi Centre Melbourne hit a stumbling block on the first day when crew member Andrew Plympton failed to call the layline correctly. According to crew member Stumpy Harris, he caused the boat quite a bit of time after they overlayed the mark.

Yesterday’s Division 2 Series leader, Balance, owned by Paul Clitheroe, continues to lead after the Beneteau First 45 (CYCA) sailed home fast to a third place. Guy Stening’s Farr 30, Optimum, remains second on the pointscore, after placing second in today’s race with Peter Sorensen’s Sydney 36 The Philosopher’s Club third.

Two separate fleets sailed the course today; the Rolex Trophy Rating Series Divisions 1 and 2 competitors who are on Day 3 of their series having already contested two days of windward/leeward racing. They were joined by a fleet of 21, including Alfa Romeo, contesting the Rolex Passage Series consisting of today’s race and a second Passage Race due to start at 10am tomorrow morning north of Shark Island.

Most of the fleet popped spinnakers after the 10am start signal was made, making their way out of the Harbour off the Shark Island start line in a 10 knot southwesterly and gybing out to a mark offshore. Black Jack, Peter Harburg’s RP 66 from Queensland, was the first to come unstuck with a spinnaker problem that took more than 10 minutes to sort out, costing them dearly.

Loki went wide of South Head, but others such as Limit and Black Jack went in under the rocky cliffs, slowing up in the lee until they found the breeze again.

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