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18 December 2002, 09:58 am
Alfa Romeo continues to dominate rivals
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Rolex Sydney Hobart Race

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race line honours favourite Alfa Romeo maintained her edge over British maxi Canon, winning both of the first two races of the British trophy Series off Sydney Heads today.

The series is the major lead up to the Hobart race, and a critical opportunity for crews to hone their teamwork and to establish a psychological edge over the competition.

In race 1, in disappointingly light conditions off the Heads, Alfa Romeo lead the fleet around the first mark, finishing almost 7 minutes in front of Canon and 11 minutes ahead of Sydney maxi Brindabella. Once again Alfa was able to do the double, winning the IRC on handicap as well as being first across the line.

With slightly more wind in race 2 it was much the same story again, with Alfa leading the fleet around the course to again cross the line far enough ahead to win both line honours and the IRC Division, with Canon trailing her over the line, though this time by less than 4 minutes.

Neville Crichton, owner/skipper of Alfa Romeo was delighted with the days work. "It's the first time we've had the whole crew that we are taking down to Hobart together so we're very happy," he said back at the dock.

Crichton continues to be wary of Canon though. He said that he was surprised at the bigger boat's speed in light winds. "Canon is very competitive in light airs," he said. "We got the jump on them in both starts, otherwise the races might have been quite different."

Mike Slade, Canon's owner/skipper was also very pleased with this first day out. This, too, was the first time Canon's Hobart crew has sailed together on the boat and Slade expects the teamwork to steadily improve as the series progresses.

"We were surprised ourselves when we first got Canon at how fast she is downwind in light winds," he said when told of Crichton's comments. "But the boat is set up for stronger winds. If this Hobart is sailed in light winds then Alfa Romeo is already home but if can get some stronger weather and we can crack off the sails a bit it will be different."

In the IMS division, the class from which the outright winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart will emerge three yachts performed exceptionally well on this first day of the British Trophy. Sting and Nips N Tux, each with a 1st and 3rd, while Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin placed 2nd in both races, making them early boats to watch come Boxing Day.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Media/ISAF Secretariat
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