Nerone Invincible in Rolex Trophy Series

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    Spinnaker take down on Nerone in the Rolex Trophy One Design Series  | Andrea Francolini

    Spinnaker take down on Nerone in the Rolex Trophy One Design Series | Andrea Francolini

    Reeling off four wins from four races, Nerone from Italy has proved herself a class above the rest in the Rolex Trophy One-Design Series being sailed in Sydney today; Massimo Mezzaroma’s world champion taking a commanding 18 point lead after scoring a second place and a win yesterday.

    Having won five of the six races sailed so far, the Italian boat is whipping the other 10 entries, leaving crews to lick their wounds, fight over the crumbs and wonder what it is they can do to combat the onslaught. It is a wake-up call looking forward to the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds to be held on the same waters in February.

    By definition, Nerone is an opera in four acts, composed in Italian, by an Italian. The Rolex Trophy is in its second day – or its second act – and is being controlled by the Italian boat of that name with an Italian crew.

    To score so many wins in a hot one-design class is mind boggling, and Nerone’s tactician, Vasco Vascotto’s words tumbled out of his mouth, such was his obvious shock of their huge lead.

    “It’s almost unbelievable – it just doesn’t happen in Farr 40s – it’s almost confusing, it’s amazing,” the exuberant tactician said.

    “Yesterday I said we were a bit lucky, today I say our driver (Antonio Sodo Migliori) drove fantastic. I told him to go for a pin start in two races; he did, and we won. In the other two, I told him to go to the boat end and to leave some space. He did exactly that. He made my job very easy.”

    Questioned on why they were a cut above the rest, Vascotto responded: “We are very fast. We knew that when we won the World’s, but we also take care of all the little details properly.”

    On feeling secure in their position with the World’s coming up, Vascotto said, “I am really worried. It’s strange to win like this, but I feel proud to be a tactician alongside people like Tom Slingsby (three time Laser world champion and Etchells world champion aboard Estate Master) and Adrian Stead (a British sailor aboard Kokomo whose resume spans Olympic Games , America’s Cups and ocean racing).

    “Those guys must be upset for sure and will have a lot thinking to do between now and the Worlds.”

    Afraid he’d upset with his comment about the Aussies, Vascotto threw a little bone. “You know Antonio (co-owner of Nerone) is part Australian – he spends a lot of time here – it can be said there is Australian influence on our boat!”

    Organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, PRO Denis Thompson took advantage of 7-12 knot shifty north-easterlies to fire off four races in succession on the Macquarie Circle to catch up the race schedule, after delaying racing until 11.30am when the breeze had time to settle in.

    Thompson, who described the wind as “wobbly”, said: “There were shifts all day and it shifted in each start of the four races.”

    From his prospective on the start boat, Thompson commented on the racing, and in particular, Nerone’s efforts: “Nerone didn’t lead every race all the way. It’s not as simple as it looks on the results, but they are very good at starting, picking where they want to go and sailing in clear air.

    “The racing is actually quite close, it’s just that Nerone is doing all the right things all of the time. The Kiwis (Brett Neill’s White Cloud) and Voodoo Chile have improved markedly, but everyone except Nerone is having their ups and downs.”

    Not even defending champions Martin and Lisa Hill with their boatload of world champion Olympians have been able to overcome the Italian machine, but a pair of second places today has kept them in second place overall, in what is a close series behind Nerone.

    “They are just a cut above the rest; they’re fast, getting great starts and are smooth on all corners;” Malcolm Page from Estate Master said tonight.

    On what they need to do get up to scratch, Page, the Beijing 470 gold medallist and reigning world champion replied: “We have to do a little bit of a lot of things – polish things like trimming and crew work – just keep chipping away at it. We have to stay focussed and pull it all together.”

    Page conceded that beating Nerone this weekend was not on anyone’s cards. “They’re just too good; I can’t see any of the teams beating them this week.”

    Only eight points separates second to sixth places, with White Cloud in third place overall, with Lang Walker’s Kokomo and Andrew Hunn’s Voodoo Chile right behind them.

    In racing of this calibre there were always going to be protests and at the time of writing there were three; Twin Edake, Transfusion and Easy Tiger. It was not known who the protests were against or the incidents that provoked them, but while others will be relaxing back at the CYCA, the ‘night sailors’ will be sitting it out in a protest room.

    Only one day and three races remain in the Rolex Trophy One-Design Series and according to the forecast, the fleet of 11 can expect more of today’s conditions.