Replacement Loki launched

Stephen Ainsworth dips his new Reichel Pugh 63

Thursday December 11th 2008, Author: Jennifer Crooks, Location: United Kingdom
Today an excited and relieved Stephen Ainsworth joined with his wife Nannette as she poured champagne over the bow of their brand new Reichel/Pugh 63, Loki, to christen the boat in the traditional way just before it was launched at Woolwich Dock.

It’s been a mixed year for Ainsworth who was airlifted, along with his crew, from his previous Loki as it foundered dangerously close to the northern Sicilian coastline without a rudder during last year’s Rolex Middle Sea Race.

“It’s great to have it in the water, a year is a long time not to have a boat,” said Ainsworth today.

Within days of his misfortune in late October last year, Ainsworth had contacted US designers Reichel/Pugh and commissioned them to draw him a new boat. By March this year the building program had commenced, and he’s never looked back.

At today’s launch sentimentality was noticeably absent and, Ainsworth wasn’t pulling any punches as he proudly surveyed his latest toy and spoke about his chances in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart. “You don’t go in a race to come second,” he said with a laugh.

Loki is named after the Scandinavian god of mischief and trickery and adorning the boat’s bow and stern is the icon of the Norse god taken from a Viking stone carving found in a Danish museum.

The boat left McConaghy’s on Sydney’s northern beaches in the early hours of Wednesday morning and travelled to Woolwich Dock via Mona Vale Rd. Mona Vale Rd was the easy part, it then took the truck driver and the crew standing atop the deck an hour and a half to cover the final three kilometres as the truck wound slowly down to Woolwich Dock along darkened tree-lined suburban streets that proved a real challenge given the height of the load.

The news is better for Michael Hiatt, owner of the Farr 55 Living Doll that broke its mast on Port Phillip Bay last Saturday. So no time is wasted, the owner has ordered repairs based on what he and a team of experts presume went wrong.

“We are still waiting to hear what went wrong. We’ve gone ahead with work prematurely on the presumption we know what happened. Everyone’s been working long hours to get us to the Rolex Sydney Hobart start,” said Hiatt this afternoon.

With just 15 days to the start of Australia’s premier blue water classic Hiatt’s schedule is very tight, particularly as he has to factor in a three day delivery from Melbourne.

Hiatt is anticipating the repaired mast will be put back in the boat this Sunday and tuned Monday with a tentative departure date of Thursday 18 December.

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