Two bullets for Hooligan
Marcus Blackmore and his newly purchased TP52 Hooligan has come out all guns blazing on day one of the Rolex Trophy Series sailed off Sydney Heads today, winning both offshore races after only having two hours sailing time on their new steed.
Blackmore, whose name is synonymous with yachting, only three months ago took delivery of the former well-credentialed Emirates Team New Zealand winner of the 2009 and 2010 Audi MedCup circuits.
The Pittwater yachtsman’s wins are all the more amazing, because the boat only arrived in Australia three weeks ago, where Blackmore converted it for IRC racing. Her modifications included a new rig, bowsprit, keel and bulb.
“We ordered the keel and bulb from New Zealand, but only the bulb was delivered. We finally got the keel two nights ago. It was an outstanding effort by Tim Wiseman (the crew member who looks after the boat) and the crew to get the boat prepared,” Blackmore said. “We only put the rig in the boat yesterday and got around two hours to practice before today’s races, so I’m a little surprised we won both. In all fairness, a lot of others had problems today, a few went prawning (spinnakers dragging in the water). We sailed fairly conservatively which helped us.”
Blackmore, who has venerated Kiwi Stu Bannatyne calling tactics, among other big names like Tom Addis, Tony Rae and Paul ‘Flipper’ Westlake, said today’s results “were beyond our expectations. Obviously we’re happy with our performance; but we’ve got an issue with our rating certificate and think we can improve it. Obviously there’s room for improvement elsewhere too, as we’ve had little time sailing the boat.”
Queenslander Bill Wild did a good job with his new purchase Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail (the former Yendys) ending the day in second place overall after scoring fifth and second placings. While Wild was not enthused with their fifth place in race one, he was happy with their second place in Race 2.
“I’m very happy with the boat (a Reichel/Pugh 55), but we’re a bit rusty. I haven’t had the boat long and we’re still melding some New Zealand sailors with some of Yendys crew and some of my Queensland sailors, but it’s getting there,” Wild said.
Wild admitted to trading up on his previous 40 footer Wedgetail, “Because I’m too old to sail smaller boats to Hobart, it’s too damn hard!” He described race two as “very shifty: “You needed to pick it right at that was difficult.”
However Will Oxley, his navigator, told how “we saw the storm coming just before race two and made the decision to go right; it was the right call.”
Like most, Stephen Ainsworth’s much touted Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki had mixed day, replicating Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail’s results in the reverse order. Ainsworth said this afternoon that while they were not out to match race the Reichel/Pugh 62 Limit (Alan Brierty), but it was hard to avoid, considering the two’s likeness.
“It’s inevitable, but we don’t set out to match race, we’ve got a whole fleet to contend with.” He described the day as “a difficult one, especially with the 40 degree shifts in race two.”
The Sydney skipper was philosophical about Hooligan’s two wins: “Hooligan sailed fantastically; you can only congratulate Marcus, especially considering the boat’s just gone back in the water. They had a day when everything went right for them, so I hope it’s our turn tomorrow! There’s still plenty of sailing left.”
Rated as one of the favourites after coming up with some noteworthy performances over the past year, Terra Firma (Vic) was gone early in the first race when the crew lost control of the spinnaker on the first downwind run. An ugly spinnaker wrap resulted in the kite being trapped beneath the Cookson 50, leaving Nicholas Bartels and his crew helpless as they watched the kite shred into pieces, the halyard, sheet and brace flailing around in a gusty 20 knots of breeze.
The Victorian yacht was rendered outside assistance and so retired from the race and did not recover sufficiently to start race two. The Melbourne fleet was not so lucky today. Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll did not survive to make much of race two after his electronics blew up rendering his wind instruments and more useless.
The day started well enough, the fleet sailing south of South Head to start their series, in 18-22 knots of shifty winds from 180 degrees at the start and 160 degrees and 12 knots at the finish.
Race 2 started at 140 degrees in fluctuating 12 knots winds that were all over the place. By the time the last boats were finishing, the wind was at 170 degrees, a race in which Limit beat Loki home by four seconds and one place.
Racing continues tomorrow with a further two windward/leeward races, ahead of Saturday and Sunday’s offshore passage racing.
|2||RODD&GUNN WEDGETAIL||Bill Wild||4||2||6|
|4||GEORGIA||Farmer & Meads||3||6||9|
|7||LIVING DOLL||Michael Hiatt||6||10.0F||16|
|9||TERRA FIRMA||Nicholas Bartels||10.0F||10.0S||20|