Friday, 4 February 2011

Fleet to have a crack at Loki in Flinders Islet Race

Ragamuffin presently secondly overall in IRC and leading ORCi Pointscore. Image copyright ROLEX/Daniel Forster.

by Di Pearson

Stephen Ainsworth and his Loki crew from Sydney will be looking to keep their excellent record going when they contest this evening’s 92 nautical mile Flinders Islet Race starting off Point Piper at 8.00pm.

Loki, a RP63, has an overwhelming 14 point lead over Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin in this penultimate race of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) Blue Water Point Score (BWPS), counting four wins from the five races held so far, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which counts as Loki’s worst result so far – a fifth place.

With a drop still to come in the series (the Rolex Sydney Hobart result is non-discardable), which finishes with the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race starting at midday on April 8, Loki, representing the CYCA is close to unbeatable on paper.

The fight is well and truly on for second and third, with Ragamuffin (RSYS), Darryl Hodgkinson’s Beneteau First 45 Victoire and Pretty Fly III, the Cookson 50 owned by Colin Woods, all in the mix. Ragamuffin has a seven point lead over Victoire (CYCA), which in turn is eight points ahead of Pretty Fly III (CYCA) going into tonight’s race.

According to the forecast, the 14 yachts entered will get away in north easterly winds of 15-20 knots on an incoming tide.

Throughout the night and early Saturday morning, 15-21 knot winds varying between north and north-east, will swing north-nor-west at around 6.30am on Saturday morning for a short time, which will keep tacticians busy.

Pretty Fly III chasing Ragamuffin for the Cape Byron Pointscore win. Image copyright Andrea Francolini.

If the overwhelming series leader, Stephen Ainsworth (Loki) was looking to add another record to his growing collection, there will be opportunities on the way home to the Rushcutters Bay finish line, but heading to the Islet will be a windward slog with the additional battle of an incoming tide that turns at 10.27pm this evening.

Immediate past CYCA Commodore Matt Allen holds the race record of 8 hours 30 minutes 29 seconds, set in 2006 with his Jones 70, Ichi Ban.

Loki and her crew have proved the ones to beat in the last 18 months. Apart from race records, including the 2009 Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race, which still stands, Ainsworth won the 2010 Audi IRC Australian Championship, taking home a new A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic valued at over $90,000.
Thrilled with his win, Ainsworth backed up at the shortened Audi Docklands Invitational series in late January to win the use of a new Audi A4 Avant for 12 months. Afterwards, the well-regarded yachtsman said: “We’ve had a great year, but we’re well-prepared always. We’re looking forward to finishing off the Blue Water Pointscore on a high note. It’s been a long time in the making!”

Separate to the BWPS are the Tasman (PHS) and Cape Byron (ORCi) Pointscore series’. Greg Zyner’s Radford 12, Copernicus, leads the Tasman Pointscore from Loki by nine points with Victoire a further six points adrift. Ragamuffin is the leader for the Cape Byron Pointscore over Pretty Fly III by six points, with Copernicus third, a further nine points down the table.

Syd Fischer has the most number of BWPS wins, with nine trophies in his cabinet. The ever-competitive 83 year-old finished a close second to Mr Beaks Ribs (David Beak) in the 2008/2009 edition and third on countback for 2009/2010. He looks likely to end his IRC campaign the same way this season, but would be pleased to win the ORCi trophy, having campaigned heavily for the ORCi rule for some time.
Results will be updated as yachts finish. Finish times will be displayed under the Progressive Results tab at the BWPS link on the CYCA website