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26 March 2007, 10:03 am
Ichi Ban Takes Line Honours
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Audi Sydney Southport Yacht Race 2007
Sydney, Australia

Matt ALLEN's (AUS) Jones 70 Ichi Ban has taken line honours in the Audi Sydney Southport Yacht Race, finishing under spinnaker at 17:13 Sunday afternoon in a 15-17 knot south southeaster off Main Beach on the Queensland Gold Coast.
After Skandia closed the gap to less than half a mile this afternoon, Sydney boat Ichi Ban pulled away to claim line honours unchallenged in her debut Audi Sydney Southport Yacht Race.

'We were racing Skandia the whole way, until this afternoon we could see them for most of the race…it was a really exciting boat on boat race,' said a delighted skipper ALLEN last night at Southport Yacht Club.

'It was a lot of fun but the conditions were pretty punishing on the boats,' he added.

While not unscathed, Ichi Ban suffered less misfortune than the larger Skandia, another Jones design, which crossed at 17:53 last night.

Yesterday Skandia sustained a second large tear to its mainsail, which is now a write off according to the skipper, and had to be nursed to the finish line.

'We haven't had a spinnaker up since we blew out the laminate chute, which unfortunately was tailor made for these conditions, at around 4am this morning,' said skipper Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) last night.

'We actually passed Ichi Ban twice today, I think due to the fact were trying to stay out of the current and were sailing deep while they were sailing hot angles which maybe didn't work as well for them,' said WHARINGTON.

Perfect Volvo 70 Conditions

'In the end, the conditions were perfect for a Volvo 70,' he added.

Ray ROBERTS' (AUS) Quantum Racing was the third boat to finish, at 18:50.

In a the gruelling 384 nautical mile race which started on Saturday afternoon from Sydney Harbour, there have been a number of casualties, a result of the strong southerly front which hit the fleet last night and has continued to impact on the fleet today.

On Sunday afternoon Lake Macquarie boat High Anxiety had a man overboard which was quickly resolved however the crew decided to withdraw from the race and head to Coffs Harbour. The Goat, a Sydney 38 in its debut ocean racer under new owners, also retired with minor damage and John CAMERON's (AUS) Fincorp More Witchcraft decided after losing too much time attending to repairs they would not continue on.

Division Winners

Results for half of the six handicap divisions have now been confirmed with Quantum Racing claiming first place in IRC Division 0 ahead of Ichi Ban and Skandia.

Karl KWOK's (HKG) Beau Geste is the confirmed winner of IRC Division 1, an impressive result for the brand new Reichel/Pugh 45 sailing in its second race after being launched in New Zealand in January. IRC Division 2 top honours have gone to Queensland boat Wedgetail owned by Bill WILD (AUS). On Saturday night the crew were holding onto the handicap lead in very heavy conditions and praying winds would not abate. Their prayers were answered with consistent strong breeze all night.

Fairy Tale Finish For Newly Crowned Blue Water Champions

After 18 years of trying to win the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's prestigious Blue Water Pointscore Series, it has been a 'fairy tale ending' for co-skippers Ed PSALTIS and Bob THOMAS (AUS) who achieved worldwide notoriety when they won the storm battered 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on overall handicap in their tiny Hick 35.

The Audi Sydney Southport 2007 was the final race of the seven race series, which began in July last year. AFR Midnight Rambler's divisional win, confirmed this afternoon, cemented their deserved and long awaited Blue Water Pointscore win.

'Going into this final race we weren't looking good after a poor result in the Rolex Sydney Hobart so under those circumstances it's a particularly good feeling,' admitted PSALTIS this afternoon.

'The crew is regular, five of us sailed together on the Hick 35 in the 1998 Sydney Hobart. When you have good crew, in the conditions we experienced in that Hobart and in this race, they really come to the fore,' said THOMAS this afternoon.

Navigational Skills Crucial

The crew acknowledged today that THOMAS's navigational skills were instrumental in their success in the Audi Sydney Southport race, which is now in its final stages. THOMAS kept them out of the current and put them right in close to shore at the four hot points - Seal Rocks, Crowdy Head, Smokey Cape and Cape Byron.

'The sea was horrible, it was a bloody hard race,' admitted PSALTIS, who has seen the worst the wind and waves can churn up.

'Running downwind in this boat is hard work, we get tossed around a lot because we are relatively light.' Their list of repairs for the boat includes two spinnakers and a torn main which 'just hung in there' for the finish said PSALTIS.

Late this morning the crew of the modified Farr 40 were still 'debriefing' following their 02:35 finish and they joked that rather than celebrating in the traditional style this afternoon, they thought a trip to church to 'thank the Lord' might be in order.

The boat's name is taken from an old Rolling Stones blues song title Midnight Rambler which was written in the late 1960s. It's relevance to the crew of this boat is due to the fact they believe they push harder at night when others back off.

Final Standings

AFR Midnight Rambler finished with 14 points, two ahead of Chris BULL's (GBR) Jazz. Third place went to Howard DE TORRES's (AUS) Nips n Tux on 20 points.

BULL was gracious in defeat today. 'Ed is a committed competitor and a great sailor and they gave us a very enjoyable battle. He is a very deserving winner'.

In the Tasman Performance Series (PHS), Rob REYNOLDS' (AUS) Pla Loma IV amazingly finished on equal points, 23, with both the second placed boat, Nips 'n Tux, and the third placed Horwath BRI. Pla Loma IV has been declared the winner on a countback.

In the Audi Sydney Southport 2007, five boats are still yet to finish.

Lisa Ratcliff (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Ichi Ban takes the gun:© Lisa Ratcliff
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