New Zealand skipper Stewart THWAITES and his Konica Minolta crew finally kicked a goal in the aquatic version of the Bledisloe Cup when they won an important race in the 2004 Hahn Premium Race Week off Hamilton Island this afternoon.
Stewart THWAITES and his crew have struggled to sail on equal terms with their rival Australian maxi Skandia since December last year when Grant WHARINGTON steered his impressive big boat to win line honours in the Sydney Hobart Race.
The Skandia crew previously unbeaten in 27 races over a varied range of courses found little answer to the speed, crew work and tactics expressed by the Konica Minolta crew when they sailed with a clever race strategy in the perfect 8-10 knot variable breeze.
Konica Minolta was well overdue for a win and the tactical team on the New Zealand maxi bounced out of the start in clear wind to engage their rival in an Americas Cup style match race up the first windward beat.
Skipper Thwaites had the edge on his rival Grant WHARINGTON but they were collectively outpaced by the smaller Admirals Cup champion the Bob OATLEY skippered Wild Oats which rounded the windward mark in the wind shadow of their huge spread of sails.
The sail power and speed created by selecting the faster sailing angles allowed the Konica/ Minolta crew to hold the controlling position against Skandia.
This duel continued over the final windward and return leg with Stewart THWAITES and his crew showing that they were equal to the task applying the perfect defensive cover to score a popular win from Skandia and Wild Oats.
Sydney One Design racing skipper Leon CHRISTIANAKIS has emerged as a giant killer steering his Sydney 38 class ocean racer Cydon to a commanding lead in her Hahn Premium Race Week championship off Hamilton Island today.
Christianakis relatively new to this demanding class of tactical racing has shown a cool composure when sailing under pressure to pilot his sloop to a prefect 1-1-1-1 score after four races.
He and his talented crew have ground out the important hard yards to hold the important edge with a slightly superior speed over all angles of sailing.
These skills were again expressed in the testing variable 8-10 knot breeze which prevailed to present the evenly match yachts with a prefect fleet racing conditions.
Skipper Cristianakis capitalising on good crew work and the tactical strategy provided by tactician Jamie WILMOT steered Cydon for speed to hold the upper hand over the determined challenges offered by the equally well sailed Another Challenge (Lou ABRAHAMS) and the Hamilton Island Yacht Club Commodore Wayne KIRKPATRICK steering Asylum.
All three crews held a winning chance at various stages of the races but it was the Cydon crew who made the least mistakes to eventually gain control to record their important race wins for a comfortable lead in the important championship series.
They scored a 52 second win over the dual Sydney Hobart race winning skipper Lou ABRAHAMS in the morning race and followed this up with an equally impressive victory this afternoon leaving Another Challenge and Asylum to enter into a tactical struggle for the minor places overall.