Vincenzo Onorato and his Italian crew on Mascalzone Latino won the opening two heats of the Farr 40 division in the Rolex Trophy Series

Two clear leaders emerged from the Farr 40 and Sydney 38 fleets on day one of the Rolex Trophy – One Design Series, a key lead-up event to the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2005.

Vincenzo Onorato and his Italian crew on Mascalzone Latino (which translates as Italian Rascal) won the opening two heats of the Farr 40 division by a 30-second margin, while Lisa and Martin Hill brought Sydney 38 Estate Master home first by almost a minute in the first heat and by 27 seconds in the second heat.

Back in March for the Rolex Farr 40 World Championships, Onorato had struggled in the lumpy seas outside Sydney Heads and could only manage fifth in that hotly-contested regatta. The Aussie crews excelled in the big, rolling waves with Richard Perini and the crew of Evolution becoming the first Australians to win the world title. But today’s races were held on uncharacteristically flat water, with 17-knot westerly breezes blowing off Bondi Beach under a clear blue sky, and this seemed to suit the Italians who played the Mediterranean conditions to perfection.

Onorato led comfortably around the first mark, although a lap later Evolution had closed the gap to just 10 seconds. Perhaps the world champion could overhaul the Italian visitors? But it wasn’t to be, as Onorato slapped a firm cover on Perini up the final beat. Onorato took the winner’s gun by 36 seconds from Perini, with Don Telford’s Rushcutter over a minute behind in third place.

The Sydney 38 division started a lap later than the Farr 40s, resulting in both fleets rounding the windward mark simultaneously. It was a very congested and difficult mark rounding, particularly for those Sydney 38s that failed to get round the spacer mark cleanly. Amid all the chaos, however, Estate Master sailed off to a majestic lead, winning by almost a minute from Tony Walls’ Acuity, with Alan and Tom Quick’s Outlaw in third.

The wind had been shifting gradually around to the south throughout the first race, and was dying as it did so. The race committee postponed the start until the wind settled in an easterly onshore direction. The breeze also rapidly picked up from 10 knots and at one point gusted up to 30 knots. This did little to throw Mascalzone off her stride, however, as the Italians smoked to another comfortable victory – this time over Leon Christianakis’s Cydon, with Perini coming in third.

Matt Allen and tactician Roger Hickman were having a bad day aboard Ichi Ban, with an 8th and 11th place hardly representative of their abilities, this being a team that finished 7th at the Worlds earlier in the year.

In the Sydney 38s, Estate Master posted another masterful victory on the scoreboard, with Lisa and Martin Hill’s series lead enhanced by the inconsistency of her rivals. Last-place finisher in heat one, Transfusion helmed by 470 World Champion Nathan Wilmot, became runner-up in heat two, followed by Geoff Bonus’s Calibre in third.

A third race was being contested at the time of publication, and there are two further days of racing on Sunday and Monday.