|SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA-(18-12-2005) Sparkling blue waters, a moderate swell and gusty south westerly winds around 20 knots made for a magic day’s racing on the final day of the Rolex Trophy - Rating Series off Sydney today.
With Wild Oats XI out of the water for modifications, in the first race of the day Alfa Romeo chose to sail well within herself. Beginning the race with a heavily reefed mainsail, skipper Neville Crichton was content to stay out of trouble and let Konica Minolta win the start.
With her smaller main Alfa Romeo appeared underpowered on the first beat to windward, rounding the first mark just 44 seconds ahead of Konica Minolta. She increased her lead by a minute on the short downwind leg and shook out the reef early on the second beat. Powered up again, Alfa Romeo took off, looking as she has looked all series - the boat the others will have to beat in the contest for line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart and a very serious chance for the double: line honours and over handicap winner.
It is six months since Alfa Romeo was launched and her crew give every indication they have worked out how to sail this most complex of racing yachts. Unbeatable on points in the upper division for the series, Alfa Romeo sat out the final race.
Wild Oats XI has been in the water just two weeks and her foreshortened Rolex Trophy – Rating Series campaign revealed that her crew still has a lot to learn about sailing the boat.
Almost identical to Alfa Romeo, Wild Oats XI has been slower and has appeared to point a few degrees lower then her rival when going to windward. These are things time on the water can fix, but with Boxing Day just a week away time on the water will be limited.
The more conventional, fixed keel 30 metre maxi Konica Minolta will be well satisfied with her four days of racing. True, the races have shown just how much faster the canting keel maxis are, but Konica Minolta’s skipper Stewart Thwaites knew that anyway. What he has seen this Rolex Trophy – Rating Series is how well the crew he has assembled for the Rolex Sydney Hobart has come together. Compared to the two push-button, canting keel maxis Konica Minolta has to be wrestled around a tight regatta course and her crew has looked very sharp. Thwaites will settle for a waiting game in the long marathon to Hobart.
Of the smaller boats that will race to Hobart with a handicap win on their minds, Ray Robinson’s Quantum Racing has been outstandingly consistent. Yacht races are won by crews that sail consistently fast day after day, relentlessly applying pressure on their opponents. With 6 wins and 2 second places in 8 races Quantum Racing barely allowed her competition a sniff, dominating her division
In the same division as Qantum Racing, Queenslander Bill Wild on Wedgetail will also be very happy. He and his crew have had very few chances to race their new boat, and it was clear on day one that they had a lot of work to do finetuning their rig. With each day they have improved noticeably, and in the final two races they looked very sharp, finishing 2nd to Quantum Racing in race eight and 3rd overall in the division. By the end of the Rolex Trophy – Rating Series Wedgetail is looking in very good shape for the big race.
Among the Hobart bound 50 and 60 footers Geoff Ross’ Yendys has been very impressive, finishing the series just one point behind the bigger Konica Minolta and Vanguard in her division. Yendys again showed great consistency, finishing on top of Ragamuffin, Flirt and Goldfinger in every race, a trio that she will have to beat again if she is to win the Rolex Sydney Hobart.