Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

Loki shows the way

Stephen Ainsworth and crew take the lead in the Rolex Trophy Rating Series

Thursday December 15th 2011, Author: Di Pearson, Location: Australia

Stephen Ainsworth, the newly crowned Ocean Racer of the Year, kick-started his Rolex Trophy – Rating Series campaign in fine style today, opening with a win in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia hosted annual event being sailed off Sydney Heads.

Ainsworth's Loki was designed for ocean racing, not short windward/style races, but the Reichel-Pugh 63 nevertheless showed the required goods in the light and flukey south-easterly winds the fleet was dished up throughout the day’s two races.

Ainsworth and his sailing master, Gordon Maguire, were chuffed with Loki’s performance against the two TP52s, Hooligan (Marcus Blackmore) and the new Shogun V, owned by Rob Hanna, which they are on equal points with to lead the series.

Maguire commented ashore this afternoon: “Conditions were quite trying with a very light south-easterly and a bumpy sea. It got shiftier and shiftier."

Loki dropped to fourth place in Race 2, Maguire explaining: “We were the lucky ones in the first race - we got the pressure the others didn’t see on the downwind, but it was just the opposite in the second race - they saw the pressure on the downwind leg, and we missed it. But we’re chuffed we’re even on points with the regatta boats.”

The regatta boats he refers to are Hooligan and Shogun V, the latter boat making her Australian debut in the Rolex Trophy. Owner, Rob Hanna, purchased the near-new former Audi Azzurra from Europe and brought her to Australia.

Apart from a quick run on Tuesday, Shogun V, with Grant Simmer and Paul Westlake sailing in the afterguard, showed excellent form in her first outing, finishing third and second in the two races.

Hanna gave defending Rolex Trophy champion, Hooligan, a run for her money, defeating the highly-regarded Pittwater boat by 22 seconds in Race 1, and finishing second overall, just 28 second behind her in Race 2.

Hanna, from Geelong in Victoria, said back at the CYCA today, “We’ve only had the boat in the water for a week. We gave her a brief run on Tuesday, so we’re happy with how our day went. "The boat's not at its best in light airs, so it’s great to be in competition with Hooligan today.

“I’m enjoying sailing the boat – it’s a shame I got it too late to get it in shape for Hobart. The rig’s a bit soft and we have other adjustments to make, because the boat’s been sailing in Europe where the conditions are quite different."

In the small entry Division 2, Queenslander Robbo Robertson came away the top scorer with his brand new Beneteau 40 Lunchtime Legend, after storing a victory and a second place in the bank going into tomorrow’s two windward-leeward races.

The Bureau of Meteorology did not have good news for the fleet, with tomorrow’s conditions expected to be almost a carbon copy of today’s. Racing is expected to start from 11.00am.

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