Early lead for Midnight Rambler and Brannew
All eyes may have been on the Mark Richards’ skippered Wild Oats XI and Jim Delegat’s Giacomo from New Zealand at the start of the CYCA Trophy Series today, but it was Midnight Rambler (Ed Psaltis/Bob Thomas/Michael Bencsik) and Chris Bran’s Brannew that came out on top at the end of the first day.
In a downwind start in 18-20 knots on the Harbour, Wild Oats XI and the VO70 Giacomo shot out of the Shark Island start gate midline, set spinnakers and were gone from the Harbour in minutes – Giacomo in the lead. However, once the boats got outside and turned right, facing winds that ventured either side of south, Wild Oats XI resumed her usual position at the front of the fleet and stayed there for the remainder of the race.
Meanwhile it was on for the smaller boats in the fleet, as each tried to gain small advantages against each other as the 25 nautical mile race progressed in beautiful sailing winds of 14-20 knots.
In the end, Division 1 went to the Ker 40 Midnight Rambler from Tony Kirby’s new Ker 46 Patrice, which has proved itself once again, and Giacomo, whose deck was laden with some of the biggest Kiwi names in sailing, including Chris Dickson, Steve Cotton and Rodney Keenan.
On Midnight Rambler, her owners have been concerned with their recent results, but not today, as co-owner Michael ‘Mix’ Bencsik explained: “We’ve seen a big lift in our performance since adding the new sail wardrobe from Quantum. The boat’s pointing better and we’ve got better boat speed. Our new main has proved very good downwind too,” he said.
“We were able to streak away from Chutzpah, who we always have a friendly rivalry with,” continued Bencsik, whose boat beat Patrice (which comes from the same designer as Midnight Rambler) by two and a half minutes on corrected time. Giacomo, which won the last Volvo Ocean Race as Groupama 4, was just over a minute behind Patrice.
“We wanted to win but you can’t knock second,” Patrice’s owner, Tony Kirby said.
New Zealand winery owner, Jim Delegat, arrived back at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia with a wide grin on his face. “We’ve had a great day on the water. The boat (Giacomo) performed and crew excellent. We hit 20 knots consistently coming home. We enjoyed ourselves; you have to do that,” he said laughing after finishing second on line and third overall.
Back on Midnight Rambler, Bencsik said they had a great pin end start, set a large heavy weather kite and No1 headsail and got clean air until the Heads. “We took the inshore route and stuck close to the coast. We got a good lift off Bondi as the wind went southeast.
“Then we had a nice reach into Botany Bay and got around in one tack. The was lots of current coming out of Botany Bay, but the boat came into its own and we were the first 40 footer around the Botany Bay mark,” he said.
Chris Bran proved he and his Beneteau First 40 CR Brannew are no one hit wonders. Since winning the Sydney Gold Coast Race in July, they have won the Botany Bay Race in October and scored IRC victory in the Gascoigne Cup (the winner is decided in PHS).
Bran won Division 2 of the CYCA Trophy Series today by over three minutes from Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose and Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45 Balance another three minutes behind.
“Wild Rose was hot on our tail for a while,” Bran said. “But we stayed close to shore at Botany Bay and out of tide and that gave us a jump on him.”
Bran, from Sydney, said the smaller boats benefitted from a late increase in breeze this afternoon. “Fortunately for the smaller boats at back of fleet, including us, the breeze filled in. We were pretty evenly matched with Wild Rose going to windward, but once we went round the mark and were sailing downwind, we took off and reached 16 knots surfing down waves,” he said, acknowledging his boat and crew went extremely well today.
“We’re reasonably competitive against the rest of the fleet and have the boat going really well. Perfect breeze for Beneteau 40s today - 14 knots and above downwind. It got up to 25 knots in the Harbour – what a way to finish,” he said.
The CYCA Trophy is also Race 2 of the reignited Southern Cross Cup. The CYCA White team of Wild Rose, Victoire and Patrice has taken the lead from Team Australia, consisting of Audi Sunshine Coast, Wild Oats XI and Ichi Ban by 20 points. CYCA Gold; Celestial, Midnight Rambler and Balance are third on 44 points, while CYCA Blue; Black Sheep, Southern Excellence II and Brannew are fourth on 52 points.
Racing finishes tomorrow with a course to be decided on the day.