Neville Crichton at the wheel of the big Alfa Romeo

Neville Crichton at the wheel of the big Alfa Romeo

Star-studded line up for Hobart Race

Peter Campbell looks at some of the names expected to take part in the Hobart build-up race, the Rolex Trophy Series

Saturday December 6th 2003, Author: Peter Campbell, Location: Australasia
The Rolex Trophy Series, the traditional lead-up regatta to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is already attracting a star-studded fleet, although not all are Hobart Race contenders.

Sydney-based New Zealander Neville Crichton will be returning to local racing after his extraordinary success in England and Europe with Alfa Romeo, but not with the super maxi that took line honours in the 2002 Rolex Sydney Yacht Race.

Instead, Crichton will be at the helm of his Farr 40 One Design class yacht, Team Shockwave, in a strong line-up that will include American Jim Richardson sailing Barking Mad and Australian Marcus Blackmore in Emotional Hooligan, current leader in the Australian Farr 40 circuit.

Crichton won the IRC division of this regatta last year with his 90-footer Alfa Romeo, going on to take line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and many international victories including the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Alfa Romeo is not returning for this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart, but her owner/skipper is out to do as well as last year in the Rolex Trophy Series by winning the Farr 40 division of this popular stand-alone regatta. "We haven't sailed the Farr 40 for 18 months, so we will be a bit rusty in the Rolex Trophy Series," he said.

Crichton added that he planned to race Alfa Romeo in the next Northern Hemisphere summer but "might bring the boat back for the 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the 60th."

The Rolex Trophy Series is an eight race event for IMS, IRC and PHS handicap rated boats and Farr 40 and Sydney 38 One Design classes, sailed over eight races on Sydney Harbour and offshore next weekend 13-15 December.

Many of the grand prix ocean racing yachts entered for the Rolex Sydney Hobart will be competing as their final preparation for the 627 nautical mile bluewater classic, including line honours favourite Skandia, Grant Wharington's 98-footer, and prominent IMS handicap contenders Ragamuffin, Syd Fischer's Farr 50 and Ichi Ban, Matt Allen's Farr 52.

The Rolex Trophy Series will also see the Australian racing debut of Geoff Ross' new Yendys, an IMS champion 52-footer he has imported from Europe, and Royal Ocean Racing Club Commodore Chris Little from Britain who has chartered the local Farr 49, Sting, and will race it as Bounder in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Bounder is the former Yendys which Geoff Ross sailed to an overall handicap win in the 1999 Sydney Hobart Race.

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