SOLAS Big Boat Challenge
The blustery breezes of the past few days have given way to perfect summer Sydney conditions with tomorrow’s forecast for north west winds to 10 knots, tending N/NE 10/15 in the afternoon.
This is good news for those fresh out of their packaging, including Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel/Pugh Loki. The crew is still learning the ropes on the 63-footer and is pleased with tomorrow’s forecast.
“I’m happy with the forecast,” said Ainsworth today once back from sail testing. “The SOLAS Big Boat is a fun day for us. I’ll have quite a few friends out so we’ll be fast upwind when they are stacked on the rail and a bit slower downwind”.
The new Limit, sistership to Loki, is also preparing for its first hit out after arriving from Melbourne, where it was built, last Friday. Tomorrow’s 14 mile course should be a walk in the park for West Australian owner Alan Brierty and his crew after encountering strong winds and a nasty sea state from Point Perpendicular to Sydney. “It was as bad as it gets,” said sailing master Roger Hickman upon arrival in Sydney.
Speaking about tomorrow’s Harbour race, Hickman went on to say “The team are very excited about tomorrow, it will be Limit’s maiden race. If the Rolex Sydney Hobart started tomorrow, then that would be great, but this is the next best thing. The crew are looking forward to racing and stretching Limit’s legs.
“We are not racing for a win, rather we are racing to enjoy the new boat and see what she is capable of,” added Hickman.
Eleven of tomorrow’s 17 starters are also on the Rolex Sydney Hobart starter’s list of 104 for Boxing Day.
The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge provides a rare opportunity for Australia’s largest ocean racing yachts to flex their muscles around one of the world’s most iconic waterways without the limitations of having to manoeuvre around a large fleet that usually includes much smaller and slower boats.
The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, one of Sydney’s most spectacular sporting and harbour events, will start off Steele Point, Vaucluse, at 12.30pm on Tuesday 16 December and will take the fleet twice around Sydney Harbour, passing many of Sydney’s famous landmarks including Fort Denison, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Sydney Opera House, which backdrops the finish line.
Many more Christophe Launay photos of Loki on the following pages...