Marcus Blackmore has successfully defended his 2010 Rolex Trophy – Rating Series title.
By winning the final passage race up to Long Reef this afternoon Blackmore broke the tie between his TP52 Hooligan, and the same-design Shogun V.
Blackmore, from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on Pittwater, won three of the six race series, while Rob Hanna, from Royal Geelong Yacht Club in Victoria, tried valiantly to beat what is regarded as Australia’s top TP52, but came away with just one win.
'It was very close racing throughout,' Blackmore said. 'We got a good start this morning, and once we were outside the Heads, stayed close to the coast – and that was the place to be. We kept an eye on Shogun V, and no doubt we are faster upwind and they are a bit quicker downhill,' he said.
'We sailed better in the second half of the series and I owe a lot of the credit to Ado (renowned British tactician Adrian Stead) - he made me concentrate. I wasn’t allowed to look over my shoulder; I had to just sail the boat,' added Blackmore, who originally learnt to sail with the late Peter Green, the first man to achieve 35 races to Hobart.
Shogun V’s owner, Hanna only recently took delivery of the near-new former Audi Azzurra from Europe, and immediately added sailmaker and sailor Paul Westlake to his crew. Prominent tactician Grant Simmer also joined the boat for the four day series, which included two days of windward/leeward racing and two days of passage races.
Hanna, from Geelong, will now revert to his 2007 model TP52, Shogun, for the Rolex Sydney Hobart. It will be a little like going from a new racing car to the older slightly slower tried and tested model. Hanna’s crew have been sailing together for a while, so will adapt easily.
Loki finished today’s race in second place for third overall in the series, and her newly crowned Ocean Racing Navigator of the Year, Michael Bellingham, told how Loki shot quickly to the front of the fleet, keeping pace with the super maxi Lahana (Peter Millard/John Honan) which was sailing the same course as part of the weekend’s Passage Series.
Agreeing with Marcus Blackmore’s synopsis of the race, Bellingham said: 'We went inside left with Hooligan and Living Doll, and it paid big time in the 7-8 knot breeze. Our mission was to beat Living Doll overall and we did that – by 10 whole seconds!
'We did a gybe set at Long Reef, with the breeze steadying at 12 knots - and stayed close to the coast coming home – it paid off.'
Robbo Robertson from Mooloolaba in Queensland won Division 2 with his new Beneteau 40, Lunchtime Legend. Andrew Parkes skippered X-41 Matrix (NSW) to second overall, with Whistler (David Rees), all the way from Tasmania, in third.
Robertson said the series was invaluable to his crew’s Rolex Sydney Hobart training. 'The whole crew got their sea legs working over the past four days and we’re ready for Hobart,' he said. 'I’m praying for 15 knots upwind and a nice run towards the finish,' he said of the 628 nautical mile race which starts on Boxing Day.
Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson sent the fleet on Course 5, a 19 nautical mile race from Shark Island on Sydney Harbour north to Long Reef and return, with the finish line in Watsons Bay.
The race started at 11.00am and the fleet got away cleanly, splitting tacks off the start, some favouring the eastern side of the Harbour, while others, such as Blackmore, opted for, and committed to, the western side, sailing upwind in a light 8 knot north/north easterly breeze.
On the same course and starting at the same time as the Rolex Trophy – Rating Series fleet, were the 21 yachts competing in the Rolex Trophy Passage Series. Andy Kearnan’s Summit 35, L’Altra Donna was the victor overall after winning Race 2 today.
Rolex Sydney Hobart entry, Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau 45, Victoire was second and yesterday’s leader, Calm, the TP52 owned by Jason Van Der Slot and John Williams from Victoria, finished third.
'We weren’t too good yesterday (he finished ninth), because we went out partying on Friday night; today was far better. We thought the left hand side (of the course) was favoured and it paid off going there,' Kearnan, from the CYCA, said.
'We only had half our regular crew aboard and everyone worked together really well. We enjoyed coming home in the 13 knots towards the end of the race; that helped us,' said Kearnan. who added: 'Thanks to the race committee for setting such challenging courses and to Rolex for putting on such a great series.'
The event was hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Rolex Trophy Rating Series full results here