Saturday, 9 October 2010

Loki adds Flinders Islet to her record collection

Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki, takes the trifecta of race record, line honours and overall win in the Flinders Islet race and leads the Blue Water Pointscore series. Image copyright Andrea Francolini.

by Di Pearson

Stephen Ainsworth and his yacht Loki have added to their growing record collection, breaking the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 92 nautical mile Flinders Islet Race record after taking line honours in the early hours of this morning at 03.48.44am, completing the race in the time of 7 hours 48mins 44secs to also win the race overall – making it his second race trifecta in 19 months.

The Reichel/Pugh 63, representing the CYCA, shaved 41mins 45secs from the record set by Matt Allen’s Jones 70 Ichi Ban, of 8 hours 30mins 29secs, in 2006 and today’s overall win was by nearly one hour over Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin and a further 20 plus minutes to third placed Victoire, a Beneteau First 45 owned by Darryl Hodgkinson and skippered by Travis Tubman.

Remarkably, Ainsworth, who wins the 50th running of the Ron Robertson Memorial Trophy for his overall win, now hold records for three of the BWPS’ seven races with his current Loki. He adds the Flinders Islet record to the 2009 Cabbage Tree Island and Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht race records, claiming the treble in the latter race.

Having missed out on winning the BWPS last season by four points, after finishing fourth in arguably the closest finish in the history of the event, Ainsworth made it clear he would be back to complete unfinished business.

Loki has proved to be the best gift Ainsworth has ever given himself. Apart from his race records, the Sydney businessman has scored numerous line and overall wins, including winning the opening two races of the current BWPS. Loki is also the 2010 Audi IRC Australian Championship winner, scoring victories in each of the four events attached to the series which finished in late August.

This morning, Ainsworth told of a beautiful night’s nearly all-reaching race: “One of the crew said it would be a two-tack and one-gybe sail, and he was right. We reached nearly all the way there and back in a consistent breeze, although it was a bit soft going around the island.

We were fairly sure we had won the race when we came around the island and saw where everyone else was. We broke the record – it doesn’t get any better than that,” stated Ainsworth, who was sleeping off the after effects as the rest of the fleet trickled home.

“We shot off like the Bondi Tram early on and spotted a whale playing off Bondi – it was only 30-50 metres from us and you could see it clearly – that was special,” said Ainsworth.

“It was mostly an east-sou-easterly 8-12 knot breeze that peaked at about 16 knots in the gusts. It was champagne sailing. The wind moved around a bit; we got some big (20 degree) shifts as the breeze went more east then back again,” said Ainsworth, who admitted it was all about having the right conditions.

Next to finish was Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin (at 05.26.11) followed shortly after by Colin Woods’ Cookson 50 Pretty Fly III and Graeme Wood’s TP52 Wot Yot, entered under the name of Karen Hawkett and raced for the first time by David Pescud’s Sailors With Disabilities crew.

“I expect the last of the fleet in by around 11.30am – it’s been an uneventful and quick race so far,” the CYCA’s principal race officer Denis Thompson said early this morning. He was right on the mark, with Jonathan Stone’s Illusion finishing just after 11.30pm.

Before the 29-boat fleet set out in a 10-12 east-sou-easterly breeze at 8.00pm last evening on Sydney Harbour, Andrew Short and Sally Gordon were remembered when Denis Thompson announced a moment of reflection, marking the first anniversary of the pair’s tragic loss in this race last year.

With three wins from three races, Ainsworth has a convincing lead in the Blue Water Pointscore, which has four races remaining, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart, which cannot be used as the series discard. Ragamuffin is second on 13 points and Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose is third on 20 points following a fifth place in today’s race.

Loki also has a sizeable lead in the Tasman Pointscore (PHS category) from Wild Rose and Greg Zyner’s Copernicus, while Ragamuffin leads Colin and Gladys Woods’ Pretty Fly III and Wild Rose in the Cape Byron Pointscore (ORCi category).