Ragamuffin unstoppable

20 knots for day two of the Rolex Trophy series in Sydney

Friday December 19th 2008, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: United Kingdom
The southeast breeze built to a brisk 20 knots offshore for today’s second race of the Rolex Trophy, which was described as “a sailor’s dream”.

There was plenty of spray off the bow as boats hurtled down waves on the downwind legs sent the photographers into a frenzy as the two divisions racing on the Macquarie Circle made the most of the fresh conditions.

Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin, with Matt Hayes on the helm and New Zealand Youth Match Racing whiz Adam Minoprio calling tactics on board the TP52, has held onto its lead in the progressive pointscore with a two point gap back to Geoff Ross’s Farr 55 Yendys, which picked up its first win of the eight race series in the second race of the day.

Graeme Wood’s Wot Now hasn’t yet worked out how to peg back rival Ragamuffin, a like boat, in the short course races and has settled into third at the half way point of the four day series. Jumping the start of race one today didn’t help their chances of knocking the seasoned Syd Fischer, contesting his 46th season at 81, off his perch.

“It was great boat on boat racing for the TP52s,” said Principal Race Office Denis Thompson. “ Black Jack stretched away in the breeze, absolutely streaked away.”

Mainsheet trimmer on Ragamuffin, Sean Kirkjian, described the conditions as tricky. “It wasn’t standard weather for this time of year. We had some great rides downwind and plenty of bashing upwind - it was good practice for the Rolex Sydney Hobart.”

There were a few issues amongst the Division 2 boats, including spinnaker dramas onboard John Paterson’s Rush, a Rolex Sydney Hobart entry, which went ‘trawling’ - sailing lingo for the unplanned drop of the spinnaker into the tide and it filling with water, making it very difficult to recover.

Trevor Taylor’s Optimus Prime wasn’t able to start race two after tearing sails in race one while Sam Newton’s Kirribilli withdrew midway through the second race of the day after losing a crewman overboard during a gybe. 23 year old Brandon Dick lost his footing and slipped under the rail of the ILC40 during the approach to the bottom first mark rounding. He was only in the water for around 30 seconds before a camera boat picked him up and returned him to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

“I’m not sure whether his pride was dented but certainly our regatta points were,” said Newton.

Nicholas Bartel’s Victorian Sydney 47 Terra Firma followed up yesterday’s double win with a third and a second to hang on to top placing on the Division 2 progressive points score.

“It was good close racing although the conditions were very testing and difficult to sail in. Then again calm winds don’t produce good sailors,” said Bartels dockside this afternoon. “It’s good to be tested in these conditions before the Rolex Sydney Hobart.”

Today’s Division 2 wins went to Ruthmagic (Peter and Ruth Hill) and Guy Stening’s Optimum.

14 yachts will contest the first of the Rolex Trophy Passage Races due to start in Sydney Harbour at 10am tomorrow, Saturday 20 December, while the offshore short course series continues with races five and six.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for south sou’east winds easing to 15-20 knots in the
morning and 10-15 knots later in the day.

The sea breeze is forecast to return on Sunday at 10-20 knots.

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