Sydney Open Day One

Farr 40 Sydney Open: Tricky Day One

11 February 2016

The Farr 40 Sydney Open regatta, a warm-up for the world championship next week, opened in a light and shifty breeze on Sydney Harbour today with different winners in three short-course races and boats at the front of the 12-boat fleet taking their turn at the back.

First-race winner Estate Master, skippered by Sydney fleet stalwart Martin Hill, was ninth in the second race and fifth in the third.

Second-race winner Zen (Gordon Ketelbey), also from the Sydney fleet, was 12th in the first race and seventh in the third.

Third race winner, Australian champion Transfusion (Guido Belgiorno-Nettis) was tenth in the first race and eighth in the second.

Leading the nine-race, three races a day series conducted by Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, is Plenty (Alex Roepers, USA), with 2-3-3 placings for 8 points followed by another steady performer Flash Gordon 6 (Helmut and Evan Jahn, USA), 4-5-4, 13.

Although the south-easterly breeze remained light and shifty, around 10 knots and under, for the first two races and freshened to 12 for the third, the racing was always close. "That's Farr 40 racing these days," commented International Farr 40 international class manager Geoff Stagg, "The boats are extremely evenly matched."

His tactician, Terry Hutchinson, said: "It was a tricky sailing day. It's the first time I have ever raced in Sydney Harbour so it was challenging to say the least. Alex arrived this morning by plane so it was our first day sailing and because he hasn't been here training the randomness and shiftiness might have been good for us. It was hard but it was fun. Although we ended up on top it didn't feel like that type of day. In race one, we got to the top mark about ninth; in race two about eighth and turned them into a 2-3. And in the last race we led at the top mark, got swallowed up and managed to get a three out of that so I am pretty happy."

Martin Hill of Estate Master: "It was nice to get a comfortable win in the first race but it just shows you how tricky the harbour is. Next race we found ourselves at the back of the fleet and had to work our way back through. But we finished the day in third place on points and we are happy with that."

Guido Belgiorno-Nettis explained Transfusion's tenth in the first race:
"We had a bad start, it was very soft, we went the wrong way and when you're in such fickle breeze at the back of the fleet there's not much chance of getting back into it."

He agreed that the fleet was very close in speed and added: "I think we've got a weakness in speed in low pressure so we've got to keep working on that."

Boat and crew were really switched on for the last race of the day? "Yeah we were but that's what happens in this game, the rich get richer and we were able to consolidate on our narrow lead when on the last run were able to go straight down the middle when there was a whole bunch behind us was fighting each other."

"It was very close racing and there will be more of it."