Strong performances by the team of Ragamuffin, Sting and Loki in today’s racing for the Southern Cross Cup ocean racing teams series has placed New South Wales in a strong position midway through the eight race competition.
However, the prospect of a close "state of origin" contest has faded with the Victorian team turning in another disappointing team result to be last of the four teams, the other two being NSW club teams representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
In today's racing for the IMS and IRC handicap divisions, on Sydney Harbour in a fresh 20-22 knot north-easterly seabreeze, Ragamuffin, skippered by her veteran owner Syd Fischer, had a second and a fourth, Sting (Terry Mullens) an eighth and a second, and Loki (Stephen Ainsworth) two successive wins on corrected time.
After four races for the Southern Cross Cup teams series, which includes the 630 nautical mile Sydney Hobart Race starting on Boxing Day, NSW has 483 points, the CYCA 455, the RPAYC 447 and Victoria 425 points.
The most disappointing result for the Victorians has been that of Cadibarra, the 42-footer designed by owner Don Jones, today placing last (15th) and 14th on corrected time in the two IMS races.
In the British Trophy Series, a stand-alone contest for individual yachts, the overall leader after four races in the IMS division is Nips N Tux, Howard de Torres' imported IMX-40 which won this event last year when it was called the Telstra Cup.
De Torres, who will be sailing the boat to Hobart for the first time this month, notched up a first and a second today to lead the IMS scorecard with 163 points, with John Kahlbetzer's MBD 62, Bumblebee 5, and Syd Fischer's Farr 50, Ragamuffin, equal on 162 points.
Last year's Sydney Hobart Race Overall Winner, SAP Ausmaid, skippered by Roger Hickman, is fourth on 157 points followed by Ninety Seven (Graham Gibson) on 154 points.
In the IRC Division, Stephen Ainsworth's Swan 48, Loki, revelled in the fresh conditions to score her second and third wins out of four races and leads with 168 points, two in front of Warren Johns' Heaven Can Wait on 166 points.
Then comes a string of Sydney 38 One Design yachts, Another Challenge (Lou Abrahams, Vic) on 160, Rush (Cameron Miles/S.Robson) on 159 and Ticket of Leave (Kevin Wood, Vic) on 156 points.
While Loki scored comfortably on corrected time in both races today, racing was exceptionally close between the Sydney 38s, less than a minute and a half separating Another Challenge and the ninth placed London Tavern in race three.
Tomorrow is a lay day for most yachts in the Southern Cross Cup and British Trophy with the Canon Big Boat Challenge being sailed on Sydney Harbour, but two more races are scheduled for offshore on Saturday and one on Sunday.