In the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Port Hacking Race Midnight Rambler, the Ker 40, owned by Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik, claimed the overall win today, edging out defending series title holder Julian Farren-Price and his Cookson 12 About Time and Occasional Coarse Language Too, Warwick Sherman’s GTS Ker 43.
Darryl Hodgkinson’s Cookson 50 Victoire, the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race overall winner and one of the largest boats in today’s race, was the first boat home, crossing the finish line at 15:08:34. Sean Kirkjian, Hodgkinson’s right hand man, was at the helm today in the absence of the Sydney plastic surgeon.
'It was a good day. We opted to go out to sea to see if we could find more breeze, but it didn’t quite work out for us,' Kirkjian said. 'Coming home, as the breeze swung around to the south-east, we got caught out and others were able to sail inside of us and we had to gybe back into Bondi to avoid losing too much time and ground.'
Victoire finished 18 minutes ahead of David Forbes’ Kaiko 52 Merlin with Midnight Rambler three minutes behind.
For the Midnight Rambler team, the win was another step in their preparations towards the upcoming Gosford Lord Howe Island and Auckland Noumea races. 'It’s a great result,' said co-owner Michael Bencsik. 'We were able to keep Julian (Farren-Price) honest – he’s the perfect gentleman.'
'We had a nice light spinnaker run down the Harbour and were in the lead pack out of the Heads. We held a direct line along the coast to Botany Bay in company with Merlin. Victoire opted to go offshore as the breeze went further east.
'We played the shifts well and were able to manage the current in Botany Bay (which was a southerly flow of up to 2 knots). It was a shy kite run all the way back to Sydney – we just kept chugging away. It was an easy race and everyone’s enjoying the OPS post Hobart,' Bencsik added.
Midnight Rambler also finished on top in the ORCi Division ahead of Kerisma, Grant Dawson and Brett Lawson’s Ker 11.3, and About Time.
After recovering from a shocking start and finishing second to Midnight Rambler, Julian Farren-Price holds onto an eight point lead in the overall series pointscore from Merlin and Occasional Coarse Language Too.
'We started very badly – the only boat to be called OCS and we were under spinnaker when we heard the call and had to drop it and re-start which cost us time. It was a very difficult way to make sure we had clear air,' Farren-Price said ruefully this afternoon.
'The conditions held true to our modelling – a southerly breeze which shifted around to the east as the afternoon wore on. We recovered from the bad start and managed to pick off a few boats on the way down to Port Hacking.
'There was a strong southerly current which we felt most at the turning mark but other than that is was pretty straight forward racing. We were close to Kerisma at Port Hacking but after rounding the mark, they put up their asymmetrical kite and just took off. Occasional Coarse Language Too had a good leg back from Port Hacking but we managed to hold then out on corrected time,' About Time’s skipper noted.
'Congratulations to the Midnight Rambler team - they sailed a great race and I compliment them on a wonderful day at sea,' Farren-Price added.
The race started off Point Piper at 10.00am this morning with Robyn Morton, the CYCA’s principal race officer, getting the fleet of 19 underway in 10-12 knots of southerly breeze. 'Most popped kites as they made their way up the Harbour – all got out fairly smartly with the exception of About Time who was OCS and took some time to return to re-start.'
PHS honours went to Walter Carpenter and his Murray 50 Samarkand from Occasional Coarse Language Too and Kerisma. 'I’m very happy with the result in conditions that would not normally suit us. We sailed a fairly conservative race and stayed on the rhumbline,' Carpenter said.
Warwick Sherman was pleased with his second place in PHS 'as it indicates we are sailing the boat as well as we can… given that we didn’t have our full racing crew onboard.'
'It felt like an awful long way down to Port Hacking today. It was demanding and you had to stay on your game,' Sherman laughed. 'We had a great kite run all the way home and a good tussle with St Jude – they just kept pushing us up until they managed to pass us.'
'There was only a minute separating us and About Time on corrected time. Kudos to Ed and his team – they were a bit quicker than us and were able to accelerate more when it mattered, Sherman added.
The Port Hacking Race was the seventh race in the OPS series which finishes on 15 March with the Lion Island Race. The next event in the series is the Sydney Newcastle race to be held on 15 February.
About Time also leads the Autumn Ocean Pointscore from Midnight Rambler and Merlin. The Autumn Ocean Pointscore includes all the OPS races from 26 January through until 15 March.
For full race results and provisional Ocean Pointscore Series standings click here.
About Time still holds onto the lead in the Ocean Pointscore Series - Port Hacking Race 2014 - Brett Hemmings-Sailpix
by Jennifer Crooks
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1:21 PM Sat 1 Feb 2014GMT
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