Loki on a roll

Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship gets underway

Saturday November 28th 2009, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: United Kingdom
The 32nd Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship got underway off Manly Beach this morning under a blanket of a sea fog that rolled in and shrouded the Sydney coastline before slowly burning off to produce a stunning spring day.

In chilly conditions due to the temperature inversion, the IRC division 1 grand prix fleet lined up for the regatta opener in a respectable 12-14 knot sea breeze. Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel Pugh 63 Loki let its waterline length and top notch crew work do the talking as they put plenty in the bank for the first two nautical mile windward beat - and never looked back.

After three firsts over the line Loki is leading Geoff Ross’s RP55 Yendys and Bob Steel’s Farr TP52 Quest on the progressive handicap pointscore with three races left to complete what is the first of two major Rolex Sydney Hobart lead up regattas.
"Conditions definitely suited us," said Loki’s helmsman Gordon Maguire. "With the changeable breeze it was an entertaining day....there was a lot of double guessing on board.

"Everyone’s pretty pumped up with the results. While it’s a small division, we are racing against two of the best IRC boats in the country, and we are exactly where we want to be.”

Yendys finished the day second and Quest placed third on handicap.

In race three the committee scrambled to alter the course at the bottom mark as the breeze flicked suddenly from 025 to 360 degrees, the westerly fighting the nor’easter and ultimately winning with the race committee deciding to call it a day when the breeze dropped out to six knots.

In IRC division 2, Nicholas Bartels’ Sydney 46 Terra Firma outclassed the fleet to beat Guy Stening’s Farr 30 Optimum and Peter Horn’s King 40 Canute.

"Today was pretty straightforward racing apart from the start of race three when the westerly trapped the division one boats below the line a minute from the start gun," said race officer Denis Thompson this afternoon.

North of Shark Island in Sydney Harbour a fleet of 45 set sail at midday in a 10-12 knot nor’easter for their 18 nautical mile passage race to Long Reef and back to the finish line in Watsons Bay.

In the best breeze of the day, a choppy 20 knots where the wind was funnelling in through the Heads, Leslie Green’s Swan 60 Ginger helmed by North Sails’ Michael Coxon, followed race leader Vanguard to open water.

Passing them in the opposite direction was Brook Lenfest’s American 100 footer Rapture, which arrived into Sydney today from New Zealand to prepare for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Coxon will be amongst the afterguard aboard Neville Crichton’s RP 100 Alfa Romeo when it goes head to head with Rapture and three other maximum-sized 100 footers in exactly four weeks time for the Boxing Day start of the race to Hobart.

Dick Cawse’s Lyons Cawse 60 Vanguard, with veteran offshore yachtsman John Messenger at the wheel, took line honours in the Ocean Passage Race in a time of two hours 20 minutes, beating Ginger and Geoff Lavis’s downwind flyer UBS Wild Thing home in style.

Handicap results for the Ocean Passage Race are still being finalised however the mid to smaller boats weren’t expected to fare so well on corrected time given this afternoon’s “soggy” conditions said Principal Race Officer John Hurley.

Windward/leeward racing will recommence offshore at 1055hrs tomorrow, Sunday 29 November, for the IRC fleet and in the harbour at 1155hrs for the Ocean Passage Race for the IRC and PHS Racer/Cruiser classes.

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