It took Sydney-based Stephen Ainsworth 14 years to claim the elusive Tattersall’s Cup, and as he put it so succinctly, 'it was a big box to tick'.
Commodores Garry Linacre (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) and Graham Taplin (Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania) and Rolex Australia general manager Patrick Boutellier presented the stunning silver trophy and Yacht-Master timepiece to Ainsworth and his crew aboard Loki in front of an appreciative crowd at Kings Pier marina this morning.
The 18-strong crew boasts more than 100 Rolex Sydney Hobarts between them with 'not too many winners' among this pool of experience,' Ainsworth reflected dockside today.
One thousand and eight crew contested this year’s race and of those just 0.0178 have walked away winners. Ainsworth described the victory as 'pure joy'.
Loki’s overall win is the culmination of an intense two-year program spearheaded by Ainsworth and his sailing master, the Irish-born Australian-based Gordon Maguire.
'It's a fantastic feeling,' said Ainsworth. 'Having done 14 races I know how hard it is to win. So many things have to go right for you...the wind gods were with us this year!'
On their strategy Ainsworth said, 'The aim for the navigators was to avoid stopping and we successfully did that. We came close a couple of times, but never stopped.
'We were quietly confident that we would win because it was a fading breeze, not a building breeze, and that worked for us.'
Loki is the Norse God of mischief and trickery. There could have been mischief aboard, but Loki’s win certainly did not come from trickery. It was carefully planned and executed.
Long-term navigator Michael Bellingham, who was named Navigator of the Year just prior to the start of this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, has been a key ingredient in Loki’s winning recipe.
There was 'nothing accidental' about the win, Bellingham said today.
'We did a lot of weather strategy on the dock. I had an overall game plan and we stuck to it.
'We looked at that first frontal system and determined where we wanted to be positioned so that we had a runway into Montague Island and then out again to find the (East Australian) current.
'We found it, got into it and it was one of the best I have experienced. It gave us up to 3.5 knots and extended well into Bass Strait, maybe 40 miles into the strait. It made for a choppier sea but we were willing to wear that.'
At this stage, he said, Loki was 30 to 40 nautical miles east of the rhumbline.
'Our next strategy was to tackle the south-westerly from Gabo. We decided not to worry too much about height.
'We were able to monitor what Oats, Loyal and Lahana were doing and to work out that Oats had a problem with wind rather than anything having gone wrong on the boat. We could see Lahana in some light pressure off Wineglass Bay.'
'The difficult thing was always going to be getting around Tasman in that south-west pattern but we did it and had a good trip up to the river and the finish.
'Oh, and no sleep helped,' Bellingham said.
Loki’s elapsed time was 2 days 14 hours 20 minutes 38 seconds for the 628 nautical mile ocean classic.
From the fleet of 88 yachts, 54 yachts are still to finish, with 11 boats having retired from the race.
Tomorrow the public will have the opportunity to acknowledge the overall winner and some of the divisional winners on the presentation stage at Constitution Dock at 11 am.
The official trophy presentation will be held at the RYCT on 1 January.