A Sydney thunderstorm drenches crews on the opening day of the Rolex Trophy

A classic Sydney thunderstorm soaked crews on the opening day of the Rolex Trophy sailed off Sydney Heads. Marcus Blackmore and his newly purchased TP52 Hooligan came out all guns blazing, winning both offshore races after only having two hours sailing time on their new steed.

The boat only arrived in Australia three weeks ago, where Blackmore converted it for IRC racing. Her modifications included a new rig, bowsprit, keel and bulb.

“We ordered the keel and bulb from New Zealand, but only the bulb was delivered. We finally got the keel two nights ago. It was an outstanding effort by Tim Wiseman and the crew to get the boat prepared,” Blackmore said.

“We only put the rig in the boat yesterday and got around two hours to practice before today’s races, so I’m a little surprised we won both. In all fairness, a lot of others had problems today, a few went prawning. We sailed fairly conservatively which helped us.”

The Rolex Trophy is a Rolex Sydney Hobart precursor and gives a good indication of contenders for the main silverware, the Tattersall’s Cup for the overall winner of the great race that will start from Sydney Harbour Sunday week. Two races were completed, Hooligan finishing with the perfect score of two wins from two races.

The first Rolex Sydney Hobart boat on the pointscore after day one is Bill Wild’s custom RP55 Rodd & Gunn Wedgetail (the former Yendys) currently second with race results of second and fifth today. Rodd and Gunn Wedgetail has plenty of highly experienced sailors on the boat, including David Blanchfield, Will Oxley and NZ America’s Cup and round the world sailor Rob Salthouse, and is emerging as a Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner candidate.

Sitting in third place after two races is Stephen Ainsworth’s fancied RP63 Loki.

Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson reported breeze of 20 knots out of the south at the start of the first race, which eased to 12 knots by the finish of the second. The thunderstorm in race two pulled the breeze right around, from SE to ENE.

Day two of the four-day Rolex Trophy will see the boats race on a course off Sydney Heads again tomorrow, Friday 17 December. A total of four races are required to make up the short course series, while Saturday and Sunday will take the boats on offshore passage courses.

Click here for all results.

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