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16 December 2006, 07:02 am
The Empire Strikes Back
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Rolex Trophy Rating Series 2006
Sydney, Australia

Following two wins today on day three of the series, Stephen AINSWORTH's <I>Loki</I> has applied serious pressure to the surprise package <i>Yendys</I> making its debut in the Rolex Trophy Rating Series.
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At the end of race six of the series just 0.2 of a point separates the two Reichel/Pugh designs with Loki now leading the pointscore. Last night the Jury dismissed a protest lodged by Loki when a mark of the course drifted and awarded average points in redress giving Loki a tally of 7.8 points this afternoon with Yendys on 8 points following two third placings today.

After witnessing Yendys' impressive performance in yesterday's heavy air, Ainsworth is delighted his boat appears to have the advantage in the 12-15 knot wind range.

'It's a big powerful boat which happens to love the lighter air,' said AINSWORTH of his 18 metre boat. Their 12 month head start on the brand new Yendys is also coming into play says Ainsworth.

'We have been sailing the boat for a year and we know how to change gears.

'We are playing for it tomorrow. The Empire strikes back,' laughed AINSWORTH.

Following yesterday's solid southerly blow which saw Wild Oats XI top 34 knots of boat speed and resulted in plenty of on water drama with a crewman dragged over the side of Ausmaid, today's conditions were moderate but still uncomfortable for the 21 crews racing off South Head.

Racing began in a 12-14 knot sou'easter and a stomach-churning swell but, by the end of the first race, the breeze had lightened to around 8-10 knots.

In Division 0 only two boats are now competing following the decision of the crew of Wild Oats XI to sideline themselves for the final two days of the four day regatta.

'We gave the boat a good workout yesterday and now it's more important that we get ready for the Rolex Sydney Hobart,' said skipper Mark RICHARDS today. The entire Wild Oats XI crew will spend the weekend working through a job list to prepare for the main event.

With Wild Oats XI out of the picture, Steven DAVID's Wild Joe and Ray ROBERTS' Quantum Racing will fight out the remainder of the series with Quantum Racing currently leading the Division 0 pointscore by just one point after a first and a second today.

ROBERTS is aiming to cap off a remarkable 18 month campaign with the Cookson 50 Quantum Racing he has chartered for this race and the next twelve months. Roberts has scored multiple wins both in Australia and Asia with his previous boat, a DK46, and has his eye on the most elusive prize of all, the Tattersalls cup for the Overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Chris DARE's remarkable series continued today with another win and a third, making it four wins from six starts in Division 2 with his Victorian Corby 49 Flirt. The on board experience of local Sydney sailor Roger HICKMAN combined with DARE's talented crew is elevating this boat's status as another serious handicap contender for the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

'We've had no issues and nothing has broken, which shows the preparation we have put in,' said Dare this afternoon.

DARE and his mixed crew of Tasmanian, Victorian and New South Wales based crew have been keeping an eye on their upwind speeds against the Division 1 boats and they are happy with the outcome.

'There are a lot of boats with a chance at the Overall win but we think we are in with the group that is likely to have a better chance,' said DARE.

Second on the Division 2 pointscore after races five and six is Stephen ELLIS' Splash Gordon and third is Syd FISCHER's Farr 50 Ragamuffin, another Rolex Sydney Hobart contender.

The final two races of the Rolex Trophy Rating Series will be sailed tomorrow, Sunday 17 December.

Lisa Ratcliff (As Amended By ISAF). Image,<i>Wild Joe</I> on day three © ROLEX/Carlo BORLENGHI
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