New Zealand super-maxi Konica Minolta sailed into the history books today with a rare line and handicap double in the Rolex Trophy, at the same time notching up her third win in this series against Australian arch-rival Skandia.
Apart from their individual rivalry, the two super-maxis are in teams contesting the Rolex Challenge National and State teams competition with the New Zealand team of Konica Minolta and Yendys heading the leader-board ahead of the Victorian state team of Skandia and Philip COOMBS DK46, Dekadence.
Owner/skipper Stewart THWAITES has pulled out all stops to avenge his 14 minutes line honours loss to Skandia in last year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with designer Brett BAKEWELL-WHITE optimizing the 98-footer with a bowsprit and efficient water ballast. To this he has added America's Cup sailor Gavin BRADY and a host of other internationals to handle the boat with great efficiency over the short, windward/leeward courses of the Rolex Trophy rating series.
Over the past two days of racing, the New Zealanders have had better starts, their sail handling has generally be good (except for one glitch that cost them the lead in race two on day one) and their tactics excellent in wind conditions that have ranged from light to moderate.
In this morning's race three of the series, sailed in only 5-6 knots of south-easterly breeze, Konica Minolta got the gun narrowly from Skandia but on corrected time the two 98-footers were placed 16 and 17 respectively.
First place went to Steven DAVID's Reichel/Pugh 60, Targé, which as Wild Oats was the champion boat at the 2003 Admiral's Cup in England, with Bob OATLEY's new Wild Oats, a Reichel/Pugh 66 second.
It was different story in race four in the afternoon. With the wind freshening and the two super maxis, along with Wild Oats pulling away from the fleet to sail to their ratings. Konica Minolta placed first to achieve a rare line/handicap double, with Wild Oats second and Skandia third. Targé placed fourth with the British yacht Aera, skippered by Jez FANSTONE, placing fifth.
After winning both races on day one on corrected time, Wild Oats racked up two second placings today, extending its overall points lead over second placed Targé (Steven DAVID) - his former Wild Oats.
This is Wild Oats' first regatta in Australia after an outstanding campaign in Europe where she finished second overall in the Maxi World Rolex Cup, and the sleek silver grey boat looks exceptionally fast. Her next event will be the Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race in early January.
In the Rolex Challenge, the New Zealand team of Konica Minolta and Yendys, Geoff ROSS' Judel/Vrolijk 52, leads with 402 points from the Victorian State team of Skandia and Dekadence on 376 points, and the Australian team of Ragamuffin, Syd FISCHER's Farr 50 and Ichi Ban, Matt ALLEN's Farr 52 on 366 points.
The New South Wales team of Targé and Brindabella, George SNOW's veteran 80-footer, has 358 points while the European team of Aera and Felix SCHEDER-BIESCHIN's new Martens 49, Vineta, is on 271 points after Vineta missed the first two races because of a forestay problem.
The top placings for Day 2 of the Rolex Trophy Rating Series were:
Race 3, IRC Division:
1. Targé, Reichel/Pugh 60 (Steven DAVID, NSW)
2. Wild Oats, Reichel/Pugh 66 (Robert OATLEY, NSW)
3. Ginger, Swan 45 (Leslie GREEN, NSW)
4. Yendys, Judel/Vrolijk 52 (Geoff ROSS, NSW)
5. Another Challenge, Sydney 38 (Chris LEWIN, VIC)
Race 4, IRC Division:
1. Konica Minolta, Brett BAKEWELL-WHITE 98 (Stewart THWAITES, NZL)
2. Wild Oats
3. Skandia, Don JONES 98 (Grant WHARINGTON, VIC)
5. Aera, Ker 55 (Nick LYKIARDOPULO, GBR)
Overall points, IRC division:
Wild Oats 220
Konica Minolta 203