Aera, owned London-based yachtsman Nick LYKIARDOPOLOU, had its first sail on Sydney Harbour today, following the arrival of British international skipper Jez FANSTONE and the crew of the Ker 55 which had earlier been shipped from the USA.
Vineta, owned by wellknown German yachtsman Felix SCHEDER-BIESCHIN, arrived at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia only yesterday after being sailed by the owner and his crew across the Tasman Sea from Auckland. Vineta is a Marten 49, designed by US naval architects Reichel/Pugh.
They are among a fleet of 25 grand prix ocean racers contesting the four-day Rolex Trophy, starting tomorrow, 16 December and continuing through to Sunday, 19 December.
Most of them, including Aera and Vineta are entrants in the 60th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starting on 26 December.
Speaking at the CYCA this morning, Felix Scheder-Bieschin and Jaz Franstone, agreed that the Rolex Trophy, as well as being an important regatta in its own right, would give them an excellent opportunity to make final sailing preparations for the rugged Rolex Sydney Hobart.
'It is better that we find any problems over the next few days than 400 miles down the track (in the Rolex Sydney Hobart),' Fanstone said.
Scheder-Bieschin said he was very happy with his new boat but the Rolex Trophy would be the first racing event for Vineta. 'We still have a lot of work to do,' he added.
Aera and Vineta are expected to be strong contenders for the Rolex Trophy rating series in which they will come up against many of their major rivals for Overall handicap honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
These include Matt Allen's Farr 52, Ichi Ban, the current Australian IRC Champion which is currently leading the prestigious CYCA Blue Water Championship of long ocean races, Syd Fischer's Farr 50, Ragamuffin, and the two Reichel/Pugh designed, canting keel boats, Targe (Stephen David) and Wild Oats (Bob Oatley).
Targe, then called Wild Oats, was the champion boat at last year's Admiral's Cup, leading the Australian team to victory whilst Aera was the runner-up, sailing for the Spanish team.
The new Wild Oats, a 60-footer, finished second in the recent Maxi World Rolex Cup in Sardinia, but is not contesting the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
As part of the Rolex Trophy rating series and the Rolex Sydney Hobart, six two-boat teams are also contesting the inaugural Rolex Challenge teams events.