Southern Cross Cup: CYCA Trophy - Passage Series preview

Wild Oats XI will race on the weekend before having her mast removed. - CYCA Trophy - Passage Series 2013
Andrea Francolini
CYCA Trophy - Passage Series starts on Saturday 14th December 2013 at 11.00am. Rolex Sydney Hobart and Southern Cross Cup (SCC) hopefuls including Wild Oats XI, Wild Thing and Wild Rose will line up this weekend.

Mark Richards and his Wild Oats XI crew will be out to repeat their SOLAS Big Boat Challenge and Port Hacking Bird Island line honours victories of the last two weeks, while Grant Wharington will be hoping to stick close with his Wild Thing (Qld) and at the same time replicate his overall win of the Port Hacking Bird Island Race.

Ichi Ban and Wild Thing competing in the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Tuesday - CYCA Trophy - Passage Series 2013
Andrea Francolini

Those vying for the SCC title include the brand new boats Ichi Ban (Matt Allen) and Patrice (Tony Kirby) which is looking very hot since its November launch – the Ker 46 already winning the SSORC. Meanwhile Allen pushed his new pocket maxi hard in the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Tuesday and finished second overall.

Also in the fray is Rod Jones’ Audi Sunshine Coast all the way from Queensland. He is no newcomer to the winners circle, having twice won the Audi IRC Championship with previous yachts and sharpens his skills in the SB3 class where he has made the podium a few times.

Roger Hickman is eyeing more than one prize - CYCA Trophy - Passage Series 2013

Roger Hickman is on a mission with his ‘old girl’ Wild Rose. Seemingly unstoppable leader of the current Blue Water Pointscore Series, Hickman is in the CYCA’s Southern Cross Cup White Team with Patrice and Darryl Hodgkinson’s Victoire and they are currently second placed in the SCC, one point behind the Australian Team comprising Ichi Ban, Wild Oats XI and Audi Sunshine Coast, with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to decide the winner.

The CYCA Gold team of Balance (Paul Clitheroe), Celestial (Sam Haynes) and Midnight Rambler (Ed Psaltis/Bob Thomas/Michael Bencsik) is also entered. All three boats are equal to the job this weekend, but have some catching up to do, as does the CYCA Blue team of Black Sheep (Derek and Martin Sheppard), Brannew (Chris Bran) and Southern Excellence II (Andrew Wenham).

New Zealand winery owner, Jim Delegat, will have his VOR 70 Giacomo on the start line. All are eagerly anticipating the offshore performance of the former Groupama 4 (winner of the 2011-2012 VOR) which has been turbo charged for its first Hobart.

The Kiwi yacht and its star-studded crew, including Rodney Keenan and Chris Dickson, sailed the yacht across the Tasman to Sydney to get ship-shape. However, Sydneysiders took in their first view of the yacht in full flight during the Big Boat Challenge in which it finished behind Peter Harburg’s Black Jack (ex Telefonica and winner of the first three legs of the VOR) – but that was held in the Harbour.

Others entered include the Mitchell Miller skippered Canute, a Hobart novice which has not been seen at a major event since impressing at the 2010 Audi Victoria Week; and Bruce Taylor has brought Chutzpah from Victoria ahead of his 33rd attempt to win the Hobart.

The race course will be determined on the day, depending on breeze direction and conditions, but all possible courses start near Shark Island and finish at Watsons Bay, and vary between 17 and 27 nautical miles.

The early forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology for Saturday is for east to nor-easterly winds of 10 knots, tending southerly at 15-20 knots on Sydney Harbour. While offshore, the compass will swing to all points and peak at around 25 knots.

The CYCA Trophy – Passage Series is the second event of the Southern Cross Cup. For a list of entrants click here.
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