During today's Rolex Trophy Rating Series race two Farr 47 Ausmaid suffered MOB 15/12/06

Crews hoping to use the Rolex Trophy Rating Series as a shakedown for the Rolex Sydney Hobart were today buffeted by atrocious conditions off Sydney Heads with one competing boat called on to test their Man Overboard recovery skills.

Trevor Taylor’s Western Australian Farr 47 Ausmaid, the most travelled interstate boat contesting the regatta and the Rolex Sydney Hobart, today lost a crewman over the side near the finish of race one.

While bowman Aaron Linham, 39, was fixing a broken topping lift on the spinnaker pole, a rope wrapped around his ankle and when the spinnaker filled, Linham was dragged into the water.

While not in immediate danger, Linham had to tread water for a few minutes in lumpy seas while the crew on Ausmaid dropped the spinnaker and doubled back to pick him up, four crewmembers hauling the lucky but soggy sailor back on deck.

“The crew executed a very good recovery,” said Linham, who spent the trip back to the CYCA marina with his ankle iced.

As the incident happened just 300 metres from the finish, amazingly Ausmaid sailed through the finish line to record a result however, they withdrew from race two not because of the MOB but due to a rope wrapped around their propeller.

“Aaron seemed to think that we should finish the race,” said a relieved skipper Trevor Taylor. While obviously not a planned manoeuvre, Taylor and his crew appreciated the opportunity to practice a Man Overboard recovery while under spinnaker. We hadn’t practiced a MOB with the kite up. Now all the boys know how to do it,” said Taylor.

Ausmaid will be back in the starting line up tomorrow. “I’m going to hang on this time,” said Linham.

In a good test for the 628 nautical mile starting on 26 December, the fleet racing offshore in the four day lead up regatta faced heavy rain, fresh southerlies of 25 knots plus and up to 2.5 metre swells off Sydney Heads.

Despite blowing their heavy weather kite on the first downwind run, Ray Roberts’ Quantum Racing still managed to out class its canting keel counterparts Wild Joe and Wild Oats XI to record a third consecutive handicap win. With only lighter air spinnakers left in the sail wardrobe, Roberts and his crew decided to call it a day after the first race.

Geoff Ross’ Yendys continued its unbroken string of wins with another top result in IRC Division 1, relegating Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki to second and Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll to third.

In IRC Division 2 Chris Dare’s Flirt also continued its winning form in race one today finishing first ahead of Stephen EIlis’ Splash Gordon and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin.

Ausmaid wasn’t the only Western Australian boat to struggle in today’s wild conditions. Philip Child’s Knee Deep Wines was knee deep in it when they Chinese gybed on the first downhill run in race one. Immediately after this incident the crew on Knee Deep Wines packed up the boat and headed back to the marina.