9:14 AM Sat 2 Feb 2013 GMT
Race 7 of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Ocean Pointscore Race (OPS) - Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik's well-tuned Ker 40 AFR Midnight Rambler has scored the trifecta.
It was the trio's second IRC and ORCi division win in as many weeks but this was a little sweeter when adding line honours. 'To claim the trifecta is pretty rare for us,' said Bencsik this afternoon. 'We're very pleased with the result and it continues on from our good results last week (in the Australia Day Regatta).'
Race 7 of the Ocean Pointscore series was scheduled to have been raced to Port Hacking today but given the forecast (25-35 knot southerly) and predicted swells (easterly of 2-4 metres) offshore, the Race Committee elected to sail the alternate Harbour course.
This decision rested well with the 14 competitors and had them undertake three laps up the Harbour to Manly and back to round Shark, then Clarke Island before finishing in Rushcutters Bay.
'Given the mix of the fleet (those that competed in the Rolex Sydney Hobart and those that didn't) it was a wise decision,' Bencsik added. 'We wouldn't have minded going to Port Hacking but it was a bit of fun on the Harbour.
'It was a relatively flat Harbour but the wind kept oscillating all day - mostly out of the south west and 15-25 knots. Starting early, we had the Harbour all to ourselves for the first two legs.
'We had a great tussle with Merlin. We kept ahead of them all day and held them to the finish - despite their late charge - to cross the finish line 40 seconds ahead. It's always nice to beat a bigger boat,' Bencsik continued.
'With our big spinnaker up, our boat speed was between 15-18 knots and well in control. The crew work was good and we didn't break much. However, we did have one round-up near Manly going across the Heads on the first lap - there was a confused sea state.
'Ed and I are happy with how the boat is going in the OPS - we're aiming to continue the run in this Series. It's always good to do the OPS as its gets rid of the post-Hobart cobwebs,' Bencsik concluded.
AFR Midnight Rambler leads in both the IRC and ORCi divisions of the Ocean Autumn Pointscore from About Time and Balance. The Ocean Autumn Pointscore includes the Australia Day Regatta, today's race and the remaining two races of the series.
AFR Midnight Rambler crossed the finish line at 13:07:46 claiming line honours with an elapsed time of 03:07:46, followed by Merlin (David Forbes) just 38 seconds later. Julian Farren-Price's ever consistent About Time finished third on line some 13 minutes later.
This was enough to propel Farren-Price into second place in both IRC and ORCi divisions and still maintain the series lead overall.
'I was in two minds about the decision to keep racing inside the Harbour, but in retrospect we had one of the best races of the season. The crew really enjoyed the ducking, weaving, gybing and tactics; and were faultless,' Farren-Price said.
'We got a nice start and the conditions suited our symmetrical spinnaker - nothing went wrong. The breeze ranged from 15 to 30 knots albeit for a very brief time. It was tricky around Middle Head on the third leg back as the sea state was lumpy and confused with the swell.
'We had a great close race with St Jude (Noel Cornish). It was a really enjoyable competition with just seconds between us at the finish.' There was only 19 seconds in it.
'Congratulations to Ed Psaltis and his team. He had that boat humming today and they covered a lot of distance with their gybe angles. We've enjoyed crossing swords with Ed and his AFR's over the seasons,' Farren-Price added.
Julian Farren-Price is conservative when talking about a third OPS win. Credit
Never one to count his chickens before they hatch, Farren-Price was conservative when asked about his potential third successive Ocean Pointscore Series win - despite leading the series overall by eight points . 'If we can hold on to it - we have two races left and we have to sail cleanly in all of them to get our third title.'
David Forbes' Kaiko 52 Merlin is currently second overall in the OPS with Paul Clitheroe's Beneteau 45 Balance just 0.3 points behind. About Time also has the overall lead in ORCi division from Balance, with Kerisma (Grant Dawson and Brett Lawson's Ker 11.3) third.
Tim Cox's DK43 Minerva maintains the series lead in PHS and had a great day out today. 'It wasn't a bad race - enjoyable even! We saw gusts of 28 and 32 knots. Since putting some extra weight in the keel, the boat's more manageable in conditions like these - it was a good day to test it.'
There is just 0.3 points between Minerva and St Jude with Merlin just 2.7 point further adrift and with just two races left, it's anyone's game.
Race Officer Robyn Morton described the morning's conditions as 'more like a Winter's Day on Sydney Harbour, rather than a February Summer's day'. Racing got underway at 1000hrs in a 12-14 knot south-west breeze.
Race 8 of the Ocean Pointscore Series - the Sydney Newcastle race - will be held on February 16 with the Lion Island Race on March 16 bringing the nine race OPS to its conclusion.
by Jennifer Crooks