Lining up for the Rolex Trophy One Design Series
Farr 40 world champion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis from Sydney, is the headline act of the Rolex Trophy’s One Design Series which starts off Sydney Heads tomorrow, alongside the Sydney 38 One Design series, which incorporates the class’ NSW Championship.
Although the entry in the Farr 40s amounts to just four, the quality is of the superior kind, so Belgiorno-Nettis and his Transfusion crew, led by Olympian Bobby Wilmot, will by no means think they have it in the bag.
Estate Master (Martin and Lisa Hill), Kokomo (Lang Walker) and Easy Tiger (Chris Way) are no pushovers.
Estate Master limbered up nicely in Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s Sydney Short Offshore Racing Championship just two weeks ago, cleanly winning the Seven Islands Race before backing up with a Division 2 offshore windward/leeward race win the next day.
Along with Transfusion and Kokomo, the Estate Master crew sees the Rolex Trophy as vital practice for the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds they will contest in Chicago next year. Although they will compete against each other in the US, the three also have ambitions to perform well as a nation.
Given the trouncing Nerone from Italy gave the fleet in the 2010 Rolex Trophy just prior to the Worlds (also sailed off Sydney Heads), and Estate Master’s costly tactics on the final day which not only lost her second overall, but ended with Transfusion picking her off for third, the all-Australian cast will be on red alert this year.
Not all teams will be loaded up with their usual and significant talent tomorrow, because some, like Nathan Outteridge, Malcolm Page and Tom Slingsby, are in Perth competing at the ISAF Sailing World Championships, so crews will have to work even harder.
The Sydney 38s will also be racing to win the NSW Championship. Defendants, Alan and Tom Quick (Outlaw) will not be on the start line, paving the way for all-comers, and there is no dead certainty among the combatants.
Calibre (Geoff Bonus and Richard Williams), Eye Candy (Gavin Ward), Old School (Mark Griffith), Risk (Martin Cross), The Bolter (Warwick Welch), The Goat, Thirlmere, Whisper (James Corrie) and Zen (Gordon Ketelbey) will have the equal opportunity to take the title.
The two which look best on paper are The Goat, skippered by Bruce Foye in the CYCA corner, and the Sally Warneford-helmed Thirlmere from Middle Harbour in the other.
Arguably the most successful, Foye and Lance Peckman, who have sailed and won together for years, took out the One Design division of the 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart, finished second in 2008 and third in 2009. The big ace is the Sydney 38 National title they won earlier this year with The Goat.
Warneford and Thirlmere will have the benefit of Laser Masters champion Vanessa Dudley and Olympic sailor Nicky Bethwaite in pivotal roles in the afterguard. The two exceptional all-round sailors will be joined by Larry Jamieson, whose 24 Hobart races, including a few wins, spells a recipe for success.
Equally, Gavin Ward’s Eye Candy has scored most of her top places in ocean races, so should be at home on the offshore windward/leeward courses offered for the next three days. And Gordon Ketelbey (Zen) has shown good results, such as third overall in the Sydney 38 division of the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Formerly known as the British Trophy, named for the historic trophy donated by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, to the host club, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the Series was introduced by the CYCA in 1996 at the request of yacht owners.
The One-Design Series, which entails three days of windward/leeward racing, from Friday through til Sunday, will be sailed off Sydney Heads in the vicinity of North Head and the Manly Circle.