Yendys, Ichi Ban, Ragamuffin, Bounder, Chutzpah…these are the boats that stand out as the potential Overall winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart after three days of concentrated round-the-buoys racing in the Rolex Trophy Series off Sydney Heads.
Add to this list last year's winner, Quest, along with the US boat, Zaraffa, Another Challenge and the little Toecutter from Melbourne, which did not contest the Rolex Trophy Series.
The sum total is that the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has an outstanding line-up preparing to contest the grand prix IMS division of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
However, unlike the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race where there is just one Overall winner, there are two Overall winners of the handicap divisions of the Rolex Trophy Series, for the IMS (International Measurement System) and the IRC (International Rule Club) divisions.
All eligible boats entered both IMS and IRC handicap categories for the Rolex Trophy Series, as they may for the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
The super maxi Skandia was the exception because of her canting keel, but she placed well on corrected time in the IRC Division and must be considered a strong prospect not only for line honours but also IRC handicap honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
And then there was the Farr 40 One Design Division, starting their preparation for the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship to be hosted by the CYCA in March 2005.
The winners of all three divisions today received Rolex Trophies at a post-regatta presentation at the CYCA and will have their name engraved on the historic perpetual trophy as joint winners for 2003. And the winners were:
· Yendys, Geoff ROSS' former European champion 52-footer designed by Judel-Vrolijk, with a scorecard of 4-1-1-1-1-1-1-DNS in the IMS Division.
· Ichi Ban, Matt ALLEN'S Farr 52, winning the IRC Division with placings of 1-4-2-1-1-1--3-4.
· Team Shockwave, super maxi owner Neville CRICHTON'S 'other boat', winning the Farr 40 One Design Division with placings of 4-1-2-1-4-3-2-1.
Most of the boats in the IMS and IRC divisions will line up on Boxing Day, 26 December for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the 59 annual ocean classic conducted by the CYCA.
Sailed over 627 nautical miles in the often stormy Tasman Sea, it will be a far cry from the light winds and short courses of the Rolex Trophy Series, but this series has certainly given a good indication of the likely top contenders for IMS and IRC handicap honours and the line honours prospects of Skandia. However, the 98-footer has still to line up against her New Zealand rival Zana, a super maxi of the same size, which is currently sailing from Auckland to Sydney.
With six wins in seven races (Yendys did not sail the final race) Geoff ROSS is full of confidence just three weeks after taking delivery of his new boat.
"Yendys was clearly the best IMS boat in the European competition last year and we've taken this platform and optimised it for heavier conditions,"
Ross said at the CYCA today at conclusion of the Rolex Trophy Series.
"We sailed her very hard, too. Ocean racing is very different from around the buoys, but we're very pleased,"
Matt ALLAN is equally confident with Ichi Ban. "This has been a terrific series,"
he said. "Normally the form boats come out of this regatta and the IMS is open for sure. We think we can win both the IMS and the IRC divisions of the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
"It will depend on the conditions, but the Hobart is a reaching race. We are much faster on a reach than the traditional IMS boats. We'd like to get some hard reaching early on to get some time on the IMS boats and then it (the wind) can do what it likes,"
Allen was very impressed with Skandia's performance in the series, and sees her as a real challenge in the IRC division.
Grant WHARINGTON was a little disappointed by the light conditions that prevailed throughout the Rolex Trophy Series, but surprised by how well his maxi performed.
"We've optimised the boat for a 20 knot ocean race, and we thought she would be a lot stickier in these very light conditions,"
he said after the final race. "It's not easy getting 27 tonnes around the cans in 6 to 8 knots of breeze, so how we went was pretty impressive to us, too."
CYCA Commodore John MESSENGER and Richard de LEYSER, General Manager of Rolex Australia presented the Rolex Trophy Series perpetual trophy to the three winning skippers and Rolex trophies to the winners and placegetters in each division.
Rolex Trophy Series
1. Yendys, Judel Vrolijk (Geoff Ross, CYCA) 4-1-1-1-1-1-1-DNS, 388 points
2. Ragamuffin, Farr 50 (Syd Fischer, CYCA) 2-3-2-2-5-6-4-1, 374
3. Ichi Ban, Farr 52(Matt Allen, CYCA) 1-6-4-5-3-3-2-3, 372
4. Bounder, Farr 49 (Chris Little, RORC, UK) 3-5-5-3-6-5-3-2, 366
1. Ichi Ban (Matt Allen, CYCA) 1-4-2-1-1-1-1-3, 387 points
2. Joe, Swan 45 (Steven David, RSYS) 8-3-1-3-4-6-3-1, 373
3. Skandia, super maxi (Grant Wharington, Mornington YC, Vic) 3-1-5-6-6-2-2-2, 373
4. Ragamuffin (Syd Fischer, CYCA) 2-7-3-2-9-8-4-4, 362
Farr 40 One Design
1. Team Shockwave (Neville Crichton, CYCA) 4-1-2-1-4-3-2-1, 18 points
2. Rapscallion (Dick Voorderhake, CYCA) 5-2-3-2-5-1-1-2, 21
3. Barking Mad (Jim Richardson, USA) 6-5-4-3-1-24-3, 28
4. Weapon (Robert Skinner, CYCA) 2-4-1-6-7-5-6-6, 37