This weekend’s Rolex Trophy Rating Series in Sydney finished off four days of top-shelf racing between some of the hottest boats on the planet. The most exciting racing in the fleets seems to be the ultra-powerful mini-maxis and maxis of IRC-1, and with current models showing a strong Southerly for the start of the Hobart against the existing strong South-running current, it could be very painful for some of them. Here’s a report from Evolution Sails’ Paul Eldrid from aboard the Perth-based winning boat (and our favorite for handicap win in Hobart), Limit. Photo from aboard Loyal (ex-Maximus) from Christophe Launay/sealaunay.com with photos of limit courtesy of Dallas Kilponen/Fairfax Media. Results are here.
Day One (Windward Leewards)
Racing was tight! On Limit we had pace on Loki and sailed to a win in race 1. Race 2 was was again tight, and after cutting an A4 chute loose we burnt a lead away and rounded for lap 2 behind Loki by a length. Great speed and a left shift saw us make massive gains and took time from Blackjack and Loki locked away. Loki later broke, and the Doll wrapped a chute with both retiring race 2. On the last run, we blew up the A2 with 600 metres to go to the finish – a casualty of having the only sail left after cutting the A4 away previously. This hurt us and we ended up second on corrected. Tough day in the office – but the Western Australia boat that everyone seems to talk down is in the lead and without any major failures is ready to take on tomorrow.
Day Two (Windward Leewards)
Last night we sat on Alan’s balcony for a crew BBQ overlooking the CYC as the Northeasterly kept thumping. Then suddenly it it stopped, clouds approached from the South and the lightning show started. The call was for a Southerly change today….it seemed to be heading that way last night. This morning we were greeted by a light Southerly and pissing rain. Out on the race course it was a seriously [email protected]#$d up seaway, with very little wind. So we stood by, getting tossed around and rained on until it hit. And it did. We started in 25 – 28 with a main and C4. Start wasn’t so flash for us and we ended up playing catch ups all race, where we had plenty of opportunity but just couldn’t execute, with some simple unforced error stuff costing dearly. Loki sailed a great race and their crew work was on the money – and they sailed to a well deserved win. RAN came out and did the start and 1st beat but bailed out at the windward mark. That is a seriously impressive boat with some really good blokes on the program, and a seemingly unlimited budget and will be the boat to beat I believe.
Second race the breeze backed off a little and saw us back on the C3+. Again a tough duel with Loki until a nice right shift on the second work saw us get the jump. We had time on everyone at the mark but a massive twist in the spinnaker on a hatch hoist saw things again go bad for us. A4 down, A2 up and we were again side by side with Loki grinding and pumping down every wave. The A2 proved to be a saviour from the A4 clusterf&*k and we managed to pop on a few more waves and clear a gybe through to the finish, sneaking into third by only a few lengths and seconds on IRC.
Again a tough (and wet) day with lots of boat jobs to do…but with Hobart looming the boat and team are shaping up well. There are teams that are struggling with the pounding just off Sydney Harbour heads so if it’s a nasty Hobart it will be interesting to see where the cards fall.
Tomorrow we anticipate a dramatic pressure decrease for the first of the two passage races which will end the series. With a two point buffer we have an edge and a 3rd as a discard is also handy – but as we have seen anything can happen and probably will!
Day Three (Passage Race)
Passage race today with glorious Sydney conditions. We started off Shark Island and blasted towards the heads ready for a right turn and 11 miles to an offshore mark. Alfa smoked off the line under main and jib as did Ran. Ourselves with a Code Zero and Loki with (I assume an A4) were close behind. With the angles tight the Code 0 payed and we hooked into Alfa’s wake and sat in the high teens and rolled over Ran and worked out under Loki. Loki did a great job holding their soft sail and were able to run deeper rounding the heads. A further course offshore saw them hold pressure and they stepped out from us. At this point Alfa was gone and with some sloppy crew work we struggled and although picked up a tow behind Ran as she went by the race was slipping away from us. With the C0 chicken winged up in the bilge we were unable to re-hoist when needed and from here our day was over. A two sail reach back to the heads and then filling breeze behind the fleet ended up on spinnakers and the passing lanes were all over as we sailed back towards the harbour entrance. Beautiful day sailing – not so flash for us as with the 4th becoming our discard. A win for Loki evens the pointscore and it all rides on tomorrow!
Day Four (Passage Race)
Final race today = boat call 7am for early training and multiple CZ hoist/deploy/retrieve drills. Got some systems worked out and ironed the bugs out for 3 hours before race start. Some good pre start work on laylines and angles paid dividends as we smoked off the start in hot pursuit of Loyal (aka Maximus) and RAN. A realy tricky upwind beat to the 8 mile offshore mark saw alot of snakes and ladders as the pressure went through in waves. Loki was quick initially with the better choice of a C1 jib, as we had opted for the C2. As the beat progressed we were able to stretch a little on Loki with a 5 minute buffer, enough at the time on IRC. The downwind run back to the heads was really tough – pressure filling from behind saw all boats including the 50’s compress, as did Loki on us, and as did we on RAN and Blackjack. We managed approaching the heads to get some angles and a bit of new air to hold on Loki and gybe infront of RAN, holding to the finish with enough time to beat Loki and Shogun on IRC, giving us the series win by a point. Day didn’t end early, we bricked up the inshore main, returned to dock, battened up and plugged in the offshore main (not a small exercise on a 63 foooter) and went back out with 50% of team to check halyard and reefing locks for all 3 reefs and also tune the rig for offshore mainsail. The other part of the team went off to remeasure sails for IRC. Great result, Alan is stoked, flying back 6am and eagerly awaiting for the Hobart forecast to improve while back in sunny Perth!