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Big Breeze Tests Land Rover Winter Series Fleet - Black Sheep's win was a long time coming
It was a testing but rewarding day for the 97 competitors in Race 6 of the Land Rover Winter Series with a strong south westerly breeze putting crews and boats through the ringer in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia organised race.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Derek Sheppard, owner of Black Sheep, said of his win in Division A2.

“The conditions really suited the boat – we sailed cleanly and it was really enjoyable. Our good luck charm was Jenifer Wells from Wild Rose - she fitted right in with the rest of the crew.

“We had a good battle with Wax Lyrical – it was close for a while. They would get in front of us and then we would overtake them – we did that a couple of times before we were able to finally get on top,” Sheppard added.

“We had a couple of gear breakages but nothing too major. It’s good that they broke now rather than in the upcoming Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race.”

Wax Lyrical (Les Goodridge’s X-50) finished second to Black Sheep with Last Tango (Phillip King’s Salona 44 third. The former two will line up for the upcoming Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race that starts on Saturday 26th July.

Today’s second place sees Wax Lyrical holding onto third position in the overall series pointscore behind Kirribilli (Adrian Abbott’s Ilc Farr 40) and St Hillier’s Quest (Tim Casey’s Nelson Marek 46).

Race Officer Darryl McManus got the fleet away on time, on their respective course A, in an 18 knot south westerly breeze with clouds dotting the skyline but no rain. “The seas are choppy and it’s quite gusty,” McManus said.

The top wind speed the start boat reported was 24 knots with pressure up and down throughout the afternoon making for a relatively quick race. Eight yachts retired with gear breakages being cited by some as the reason.

“It was a fabulous day – conditions suited us down to the T. We couldn’t have done better if we tried,” said Andrew Wenham, owner of the Volvo 70 Southern Excellence II that won Division A1.

“We had a top boat speed of 19.7 knots at the first mark, in 22 knots of breeze – incredible! Duende and Swish did a good job to hold us off. We managed to get over the top of Duende and Swish finished second by 17 seconds (on corrected time) – an awesome effort.”

Duende (Damian Parkes’ Judel Vrolijk 52) placed third behind Southern Excellence II and Swish. Wenham was also the lucky recipient of the Noakes Group Lift & Stand package.

Quest (Bob Steel’s TP52) holds the overall series lead from Swish (Steven Proud’s Kernan 44) with Vamp (David Fuller’s Corby 49) third.

In Division B, Ron Forster’s Beneteau First 40 Ariel notched up her second consecutive win from Nocturne (Gerard Kesby’s Murray 48) and Rum Jungle (Scott Russell’s Swarbrick 40).

“A thoroughly enjoyable race – the conditions were absolutely perfect for us,” Forster said. “We need more that 10 knots for the boat to perform well and we saw 28 knots!”

“We had a great tussle with Rum Jungle. We had our Number 4 sail up when the breeze eased a little and we changed it to the Number 2. This helped us overtake Rum Jungle in the last leg up to the finish line. It was quite close racing.

“We had some of Ian Short’s crew onboard today and they worked in well with my regular crew – no mistakes,” Forster added.

Ariel holds onto second place in the overall series pointscore from Next (Richard Holstein’s Sydney 38) with Outlaw (Alan and Tom Quick’s Beneteau First 40) third.

In Division C, Pacific Sailing School’s Salona 45 Zora with Ian Mason at the helm, scored their first win from Scarlett O’Hara (Robert Skol’s 30 Square Metre) and Akela (Alan Mather’s Jutson 40).

“A fantastic result,” Terry Wise, principal of Pacific Sailing School said. “Last week, the crew made every mistake possible and I said at the team debriefing that we’d probably win next week… and we did.”

“Every three weeks we rotate crew positions and as this was the third week of their second rotation each crew member knew what they were doing. There were no mistakes this week!

“We played it conservatively today – putting the spinnaker up on the downwind runs and were careful with our gybes. We had a good race with Scarlett O’Hara - they beat us across the line by just over a minute,” Wise added.

Despite retiring from the race today Arch Rival (Steve Connors’ Jones 40) holds a three point lead over Scarlett O’Hara with Akela just one point behind in the series pointscore.

John Clinton’s smile was well deserved this afternoon – he won Division J1 with his Beneteau Oceanis 50 Holy Cow! for the second consecutive week and walked away with the keys to the Range Rover Evoque for a week.

Other divisional winners today were: Division D – Sweet Chariot (Ralph and Jen Pickering); Division E – Bandit (Warwick Rooklyn); Division F – Syonara (Greg Maughan); Division G – Hoana (Martin Vanderwal); Division J2 – Viva (Ken Hudson) and Division K – Applejack (Derek McDonnell).

With six of the ten race-series having been completed and one drop being applied, overall series divisional pointscore leaders are: Division A1 – Quest (Bob Steel); Division A2 – Kirribilli (Adrian Abbott); Division B – Next (Richard Holstein); Division C – Arch Rival (Steve Connors); Division D – Soundtrack (John Amos); Division E – Orbit (Matthew Brown); Division F – L’Eau Co. (Grant Pollock); Division G – Itchy (Will Northam and Jamie Watson); Division J1 – L’Attitude (Robert Hunt, Jon Short and Miles Bastick); Division J2 – Inkonkoni (Arthur Lane) and Division K – Stormy Petrel (Kevin O’Shea)

The Land Rover Winter Series pointscore continues next Sunday, 15 June.

Go to http://www.cyca.com.au/sysfile/downloads/2014_winter/index.htm for full results

By Jennifer Crooks, CYCA Media

Photo : David Brogan, www.sailpix.com.au
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