Loki tightens her grip
Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel Pugh 63 Loki has strengthened its grip on the IRC Grand Prix division with a handicap win and a third in today’s two windward/leeward races on the eastern course area on the penultimate day of racing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
The Sydney boat has hit its strides this year, winning the Audi Middle Harbour Regatta and Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, and is now in pole position for tomorrow’s Lindeman Island which is due to start from the eastern starting line with the cruising fleets first away from 9am.
Ainsworth has finished bridesmaid at Race Week with his previous Loki, the 60 footer which broke its keel and was abandoned during the 2007 Rolex Middle Sea Race, and is now poised to take out the Grand Prix series, currently on 11 points with Michael Hiatt’s Victorian Farr 55 Living Doll trailing a distant 12 points behind.
Jim Farmer’s modified New Zealand TP52 Georgia, helmed by Farmer and Chris Meads with Chris Dickson calling tactics, has been steadily moving up the results sheet and today collected first place in race 8, beating Peter Harburg’s RP66 Black Jack on handicap with Loki third.
Farmer, who competes all over the world, believes Race Week in its entirety – including the race management, organisation, the social program and the opportunity to race around the Whitsunday Island - is the best regatta on the circuit. Once Race Week is done and dusted Farmer plans to leave the NZ IRC Champion in Australia for the next 12 months with the Rolex Trophy and Audi Victoria Week already pencilled on the calendar.
Line honours in today’s two windward/leeward races went to Lahana and Peter Harburg’s Black Jack.
There was less spray over the decks in the lighter conditions, which averaged 12 knots out of the south east, but crews still donned wet weather gear to ward against the cooler temperatures.
The Passage Division 2 overall win is at Ray Roberts’ fingertips, the seasoned yachtsman’s three wins, two seconds and a third putting the chartered Farr 42 Evolution Racing in pole position going into tomorrow.
On the eve of the closing race, the New Zealand South Pacific Cup team of Georgia and Wired hold a two point advantage over the Australian team of Shogun and Nikon Spirit of the Maid.
The four-part Audi IRC Australian Championship, which began with Audi Victoria Week back in January, will be decided and the 2010 IRC champion announced once the results of tomorrow’s final race are determined and the pointscore tallied.
Including today’s race, Harvey Milne’s Archambault 31 Aroona has extended its lead over Loki, currently leading with 9.57 points against Loki’s 13.38 points.
Results in tomorrow’s 23 nautical mile Lindeman Island race will be crucial for the divisions where the leading contenders are separated by the smallest of margins.
Full results here