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8 December 2001, 03:53 pm
Double To Ragamuffin In Southern Cross Lead Up Race
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Sydney Hobart

The youngest sailor ever to skipper a yacht in the Sydney Hobart Race, Sean Kirkjian, continues to show his outstanding skills as a helmsman.

Today he steered Ragamuffin to a double victory in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's invitation race for this week's Southern Cross Cup/British Trophy series.

Ragamuffin, veteran yachtsman Syd Fischer's Farr 50, took both the IMS and IRC divisions on corrected time, outsailing a strong fleet of contenders for the Southern Cross Cup/British Trophy Series in a moderate to fresh south-easterly breeze and lumpy sea in a short ocean race off Sydney Heads.

In the IMS Division, Ragamuffin won from Ninety Seven (Graham Gibson), SAP Ausmaid (Roger Hickman), Nips N Tux (Howard de Torres) and Brindabella (George Snow).

In the IRC division, Ragamuffin won from Nips N Tux, About Time (Julian Farren-Price) and SAP Ausmaid.

Kirkjian skippered his parents' yacht Lady Ann, a Cole 38, in the 1986 Sydney Hobart Race when he was only 17 years old. His mother, Ann, navigated the yacht on the 630 nautical mile south.

Since then the young Sydney sailor has developed his skills in many different types of sailing boats, from Lasers through to ocean racers and his ability on the helm of Ragamuffin has played a significant part in the 50-footer's strong performances this season.

Ragamuffin will represent New South Wales in the Southern Cross Cup, a seven race teams series of short ocean races from next Wednesday through to next Sunday with the final race being the Sydney Hobart starting Boxing Day, December 26.

Joining Ragamuffin in the NSW team will be Terry Mullens' Farr 49, Sting, and Stephen Ainsworth's Loki, neither of which raced today.

The Southern Cross Cup has failed to attract an international team this year; instead it will be a "state of origin" clash between New South Wales and Victorian yachts and their crews.

Representing Victoria will be Cadibarra, a new 42-footer designed by her innovative owner, Don Jones, Chutzpah, Bruce Taylor's MBD 35, and veteran Lou Abrahams' Sydney 38, Another Challenge.

However, the British Trophy (previously the Telstra Cup) has attracted a strong fleet of individual entries with the Mumm 30 Australian Championships and a Farr 40 One Design being sailed in conjunction off the Heads.

The lengthened Brindabella, recently extended to a Jutson 80 with a new keel, again demonstrated that the changes have made her a significantly faster boat off the wind, comfortably outpacing the fleet to take line honours but also notching up a creditable fifth in the IMS division and place second to SAP Ausmaid in the PHS Division on corrected.

Her peformance was undoubtedly a tonic for owner George Snow, back on board today, but still sporting a walking stick ashore in the wake of his accident two weeks ago when he crushed between Brindabella and a moored ferry.

"I'm delighted with the changes we had made," Snow said at the CYCA after his first race aboard since Brindabella went back in the water two weeks ago. "As an 80-footer she is really going well; we had a great day out there,".

Navigator Lindsay May said Brindabella had logged just under 20 knots as she surfed downwind in the 16 knot sou'easter. "She is really flying downwind and her new keel has improved her windward performance," he said.
Peter Campbell/News Editor
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