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Billy Sykes from North Sails reports on Loki's Sydney Gold Coast race

by Billy Sykes - North Sails Australia on 13 Aug 2012
Loki 2012 Sydney Southport Yacht Race photo: Andrea Francolini - Southport Race 2012 Dave O'Connor
Billy Sykes from North Sails Australia reports on Loki's Sydney Gold Coast race.

Boat call was 11am off the dock at 11:30am.


With a great forecast for the race and the routing software having stronger breeze off shore but more adverse current the decision on which route Loki would take and when to gybe onto port to head North was the talk in our briefing that morning.

Our decision was to head on the more inshore route with the looks of the pressure holding in all the way up to the Gold Coast. This would help us to stay out of the adverse current and also be less of a risky route then heading well offshore to sail around the outside of this southerly running current.

Our pre start strategy was to start with the A2 then change to a jib to get through the heads as the breeze usually accelerates a few knots through the gap and also heads you a bit which it did. Our next sail as we headed off shore on starboard gybe was the Cuben A4 which Loki loves and is my favorite sail in the inventory. Later that night sticking to our inshore strategy we gybed onto port at around 6pm.

8pm was around the time the South West Front hit us. From then the call was to bear head change to the A5 when we saw 28 then 30 knots over the deck. Our next plan was to put a reef in our 3Di main. Loki loves sailing in this configuration. We tried to put on a Genoa Staysail but when Silas and Craig went forward to plug it in, a big wave washed Craig back to Gordon who was driving at the time so we held on that idea.

We ran with the front with winds between 25 – 35 knots for around five to six hours with this rig on and hit a max speed of 33 knots. At the time Stephen who was doing the mainsheet could only see the top instrument dial with so much water going over the bow!

While we were making good progress north we were being pushed further offshore into more southerly flowing current so the sea state was getting even more heinous. With this in mind and going back to our strategy of staying closer to the rhumb line we went to a Heavy jib and Genoa Staysail.

Later that night around 2am we ended back onto the A4 as the breeze started to lift us a bit and shift more into the south so we were VMG running with the wind lightening off. From there we peeled to the A2 and quickly to the code zero as the wind went further into the east momentarily.

Just off Byron later Sunday morning with the A2 back on we had Black Jack still in our sights. Gordon and Youngster were doing a very nice job of getting deeper into the shift and being more inshore of her with the breeze heading more into the south east and generally more pressure inshore which helped us take more time out of Black Jack and we ended finishing with our 3DL code zero on.

Stephen commented after the race. 'It was a very satisfying win. The conditions were harsh and we drove the boat hard and didn’t back off. The boat and crew handled the race very well,' said Ainsworth who was not sure if they had won right up until Sunday night.

Next stop for Loki is Hamilton Island Race Week.

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