by Di Pearson
The Victorian TP52 Calm owned by Jason Van Der Slot and John Williams, has come out and won the first day of the two-day Passage Series in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Trophy this afternoon.
The fleet about to exit Sydney Harbour. - Rolex Trophy – Passage Series
Sailing alongside the yachts in the four-day Rolex Trophy Rating Series, 21 yachts graced the start line off Shark Island for the 11.am start, Sydney Harbour today. Peter Millard and John Honan’s super maxi Lahana led the fleet out of the Harbour and crossed the finish line in Watsons Bay first to take line honours.
However, all eyes were on the main overall contenders as pundits look amongst them for those in Rolex Sydney Hobart winning form.
Calm’s performance was outstanding, Van Der Slot going on to win the race overall under IRC from Leslie Green’s Swan 601 Ginger and Vamp, the Corby 49 owned by CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre and Past Commodore David Fuller.
The Victorians also won under ORCi from hot Rolex Sydney Hobart rivals, Ragamuffin, Syd Fischer’s TP52 and Victoire, the Beneteau 45 owned by Darryl Hodgkinson.
What made Calm’s win all the more impressive is that she was sailing in full Hobart mode; in other words, carrying all the sails and safety equipment necessary for the 628 nautical mile race, weighing down the boat and slowing it down, theoretically.
Well known yachtsman Barney Walker steered the yacht today. Co-owner Van Der Slot commented: 'We want to win the Hobart for Barney’s 25th race south. We’re an amateur crew, but having Barney and Grimesy (Richard Grimes) aboard is lifting the crew up to another level. They’re both fantastic sailors.'
Walker said the crew had spent the last nine months preparing the boat for the Rolex Sydney Hobart. 'Our whole program is based on winning it,' Walker said. 'We’ve got the whole Hobart crew here, a brand new sail wardrobe, with a new square-top main and new carbon rigging.'
According to Van Der Slot, Walker and others, the day was not an easy one. 'It was hard work steering,' Walker admitted.
'It was hard on the trimmers too. We had a little hiccup as we left the Heads, but everyone settled in after that and stayed focussed,' he said of the light and flukey south-easterly breezes averaging seven knots the fleet was faced with.
'The boat is doing well on all points of sail,' added Van Der Slot whose yacht is the reigning IRC Victorian champion which recently won the Stanley Race in Victoria.
Lahana took line honours in the Passage Race. - Rolex Trophy – Passage Series
Other Rolex Sydney Hobart yachts in the fleet included Wild Rose (Roger Hickman) Patrice Six (Tony Kirby) Accenture Yeah Baby (Marc and Louis Ryckmans), Pretty Fly III (Colin Woods), Chutzpah (Bruce Taylor), Last Tango (Phillip King) and Chancellor (Ted Tooher).
The CYCA’s Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, sent the fleet on a 24 nautical mile race from Shark Island, to a sea mark, then to Coogee, back to a mark off North Head, back to the sea mark and to the finish at Watsons Bay.
Racing ends on Sunday with a passage race of between 17 and 27 nautical miles starting off Shark Island at 11.00am. The race will finish off Watsons Bay, just inside Sydney Harbour.
Rolex Trophy Rating Series