Loki in the driving seat
Loki’s winning fortunes are unchanged at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week with a perfect series scorecard of three IRC wins from three starts after day two of racing.
Named after the Norse god of mischief, the Stephen Ainsworth-owned and Gordon Maguire-helmed RP63 has hit its stride this year, winning its division of the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta back in March and following that up with a win overall in the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race earlier this month.
Loki is top dog on the Race Week IRC Grand Prix series pointscore and after today’s two wins is just 0.32 of a point away from taking the yellow leader’s jersey for the Audi IRC Australian Championship off Harvey Milne’s Aroona, which has led the championship from the outset. Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is the decider in the four part series.
If any in their division are wondering how to stop the Loki lightning bolt, there’s no trickery as the boat’s moniker suggests. The winning formula according to navigator Michael Bellingham is “the great mood on the boat, plus we have a great sail selection and we are quick to recover from any errors”.
With Loki rounding the top can of today’s first windward/leeward race in the company of the RP66 Wild Oats X and ahead of Black Jack, those two sisterships, which are heavily stacked with sailing royalty must be scratching their heads as to how they can reel the very polished Loki in over the coming five days of competition.
For Peter Harburg, owner of the Queensland-based Black Jack, it’s all about the line honours and they have only one boat on their radar, Wild Oats X, which is being helmed by Iain Murray or ‘the Kindergarten Cop’ as he’s been nicknamed.
Murray, an Olympic and America’s Cup sailor and Commodore of Hamilton Island Yacht Club, is in charge of the ‘kid’s boat’ and with the average age of the Wild Oats X crew just 20-something, he’s also responsible for “dragging the average age up slightly”. They certainly aren’t kids in terms of experience though, with the decorated match racer Stacey Jackson and 18 foot skiff champion Seve Jarvin joining North Sails’ Julian Plante and two-time round the world sailor Scott Beavis on the slick red-shirted crew.
Today the IRC Grand Prix division raced two windward/leewards races on the eastern start area to the south of the Fitzalan Passage in a 10-12 knot sou’east breeze and on a lumpy seaway.
It was a big boat day in terms of the IRC handicap stakes with Loki leading Wild Oats X then Black Jack in the first and second race respectively. The best performing 50 footer among the strong pack was Geoff Boettcher’s South Australian RP51 Secret Mens Business 3.5, which picked up a podium place in the first race of the day.
In the series pointscore Michael Hiatt’s Victorian Farr 55 Living Doll is trailing Loki and Wild Oats X.
Near the course area today was a mother and calf humpback whale, both breaching playfully as the superyacht Kokomo slid silently by.
It will be early to bed for most tonight given tomorrow’s 61 nautical mile Club Marine Classic Long Race for the IRC Grand Prix, IRC division 1 and Superyacht divisions. First off the blocks will be the Grand Prix division starting at 8.40am in Dent Passage followed by the remaining divisions which are sailing a combination of the St Helen Rock Race and an around the islands race.