A year ago Rupert Henry’s Chinese Whisper and Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban finished top two respectively in the 85 nautical mile Bird Island Race – and the two have mirrored that result this weekend, cementing their places among favourites for the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The two finished slightly faster than last year, but it was a slow race nonetheless, in which Jim Delegat’s V70, Giacomo from New Zealand, took line honours from Jim Cooney’s V70 Maserati to finish third overall. A trio of TP52’s followed – Aaron Rowe’s RKO, Andy Kearnan/Peter Wrigley’s Koa and Peter Hickson’s M3, all of which have been performing impressively this season.
Henry’s JV62 and Allen’s TP52, at the top of their game all season, also took out the top two spots under ORCi, with RKO, which only joined the ranks this year, taking third place. Giacomo, RKO and Ichi Ban were the top three under PHS.
This latest result has Chinese Whisper and Ichi Ban dominating the Blue Water Pointscore leaderboard, just three points between them, with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to decide the outcome. Behind them are Koa, RKO (which is not racing to Hobart) and M3, a further seven and eight points behind. Anything could happen.
“It was a pretty simple race. We reached to the Island, tacked and eased the jib for the trip home,” Henry said this morning, describing the 9-12 knot south-easterly that oscillated further east during the course of the race.
The Sydney yachtsman said Chinese Whisper’s start was paramount to their win.
“We flew off the start - tried to come out punching - and that gave us a bit of the gap on the TP52’s, which I knew we’d need. At once stage I thought Giacomo would win the race. Starting in daylight meant we could see the Volvos and TP’s, so we could gauge our performance,” Henry said.
He was amazed that Chinese Whisper and Ichi Ban finished so closely overall. “There was only a minute between us – that’s the closest finish I think we’ve had,” the yachtsman said.
“I have to say a big thanks to my crew who worked hard and did everything to keep the boat sailing,” Henry commented.
Chinese Whisper finished off a great race by cracking a Code Zero on approach to the Heads.
“It was quite patchy, but we had a good run to the finish line.”
And how does he feel ahead of the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart?
“We’re ready to go – we’re fully prepared and looking forward to it,” ended Henry, who is next looking forward to the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Tuesday 13 December.
The 33-boat fleet, mostly Rolex Sydney Hobart contenders, got away in an 8-9 knot south-easterly, according to Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson, aboard the start boat off Point Piper on Saturday morning.
“Triton (Michael Cranitch/David Gotze) was OCS’d, forcing her to return and restart. Otherwise it was a clear start,” Thompson said, adding “Looked like Maserati was out the Heads first.”
Jim Cooney’s V70 Maserati finished second over the line to Giacomo, a little over five minutes splitting the two at the finish. Shane Kearns’ S&S34, Komatsu Azzurro, was last yacht to finish, crossing the line at 07:48:01 this morning.
For full race results and provisional Blue Water Point Score standings log on to: http://www.cyca.com.au/sysfile/downloads/2017_Summer/BWPS_2017/series.htm
By Di Pearson, CYCA Media