by Di Pearson
In the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 92 mile Flinders Islet Race, Stephen Ainsworth sailed Loki to an exceptional line and IRC overall double win. Loki broke the race record in 2010, a record which she still holds.
Despite a soft start the 23 yachts had inflicted on them, and some variable light and patchy breezes on the way back from the Islet, Loki, which for her efforts wins the 52nd Ron Robertson Memorial trophy, surprisingly took line honours at 19.25.54 in the time of nine hours 25min 54sec, not so far outside her record of seven hours 48min 44sec.
Ainsworth’s RP63, which won the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart, to cap off another successful season, beat home the two TP52’s; Ragamuffin (Syd Fischer) and Sailors With Disabilities (David Pescud), the Rogers 46 Celestial (Sam Haynes) and AFR Midnight Rambler, Ed Psaltis, Michael Bencsik and Bob Thomas’ Ker 40 over the line.
Overall, the finish order was almost the same; Loki, Ragamuffin, Celestial, Sailors With Disabilities and AFR Midnight Rambler. It has given Ainsworth a good lead in the Blue Water Pointscore Series after also winning the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race overall in August, and in doing so, claimed a new conventional yacht record.
Race 2 of the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore Series (BWPS), started in frustratingly near-to-nothing winds at 10.00am yesterday, prolonging the fleet’s departure from Sydney Heads. For most of the entrants, the trip home was exacerbated by one to 10 knot winds that swung to all points of the compass.
Loki was somewhat of an escape artist, as Stephen Ainsworth explains: 'It was funky start, but we wriggled our way out of the Harbour and got going. We were lucky to get back into the Harbour in a dying breeze. It was six knots, then five – we were lucky to ghost into the finish in three to four knots with some distance on the rest.
'We knew it was dying when we limped into the Harbour, but that’s yacht racing; sometimes it works for you and other times against you,' he said remembering the weather that cost him two races and the 2011 BWPS, even though he had won three of the six race series, including the Hobart.
Loki beat Ragamuffin in the Flinders Islet Race by close to two and a half hours on corrected time, with Ragamuffin winning under ORCi (Loki is not a competitor in this category), from Celestial and AFR Midnight Rambler.
'It was pretty much a straight line course - certainly on the way back – Code Zero reaching to the Harbour. I fully expected to be out there a long time, but we got a steady south-easter on the way back,' Ainsworth said.
Ainsworth also won under PHS, so Loki’s name will be engraved on the 64th Kings Birthday Cup trophy. Ragamuffin was second under PHS, with Celestial third, so the podium places were unusually contained between four boats across IRC, ORCi and PHS.
SAILING - Audi Sydney to Gold Coast 2012 - start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini LOKI
On hearing he had taken the double and PHS as well, Ainsworth responded: 'It’s always fantastic to win, no matter how many times you do it. This is a great start to our Blue Water (Pointscore) campaign – winning the Gold Coast and a record was great – now this.'
The race was a slow one for the bulk of the fleet, as expressed by Julie Hodder, navigator on Rob Reynolds DK46, Exile, who reported just after 6.00pm last night: 'Absolutely no wind now. We rounded Flinders about 4.30pm and have 4-5 boats in front of us, then the breeze went north-east - well if you can call it breeze - more like a whisper.
'The Harbour exit was a gale compared to this,' she said laughing. 'What’s more, I seem to have lost (or left behind) the olives and the pate!'
In the top five as they headed up to Flinders Islet, off Port Kembla on the NSW South Coast, Hodder said, 'The breeze going up was quite good - around 11 knots going south, and then south-east - very pleasant.'
Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race 2012
On their way home off Belambi Reef at 6.10pm, Hodder reported 'A whisper of a north to north-westerly is coming in,' but a few minutes later said: 'We’ve got 35 miles to go and we are doing one knot.' Then at 6.55pm: 'Just got a little westerly of three knots.'
Exile went through the finish gate at 03.57.33 in 14th place overall. Their story was much the same throughout the fleet.
Principal Race Officer Robyn Morton had the same perspective, stationed on Sydney Harbour throughout the race, 'Ragamuffin was second boat to finish at 22.23.59 last night; it took her around two and a half hours to get from Hornby Light (South Head) to the Rushcutters Bay finish. The wind’s changed direction several times and been up and down all night,' she said.
'By comparison, when Celestial finished (fourth on line behind Sailors With Disabilities) at 00.29.18 this morning, it took her one and a half hours from Hornby to the finish,' Morton said.
Sam Haynes has sailed Celestial into second place in the Blue Water Pointscore Series. Credit ROLEX-Kurt Arrigo
Shortly after 6.00am, Morton said half a dozen yachts had finished the drawn out race between 5.00am and 6.00am this morning leaving the Davidson 34, Illusion (Kim Jaggar) and the Northshore 370, Mortgage Choice Rumba (Robert Carr) on the race track.
'They’ve both been in the Harbour a long, long time,' she said, adding: 'They’re struggling in a four knot west-nor’ westerly.'
Illusion beat Mortgage Choice Rumba to the punch when she finished at 07.47.01, while the latter brought the race to a close at 08.10.01.
Following Race 2 of the BWPS, Loki leads Ragamuffin and Celestial, with AFR Midnight Rambler dropping a place to fourth. The next race of the series is the Bird Island Race on October 5.