Loki, outright winner of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.Finally a Hobart for the Loki crew

Stephen Ainsworth the Gentleman sailor of Australian ocean yacht racing finally realised his career ambition when his American designed and Australian built sloop Loki was named as the outright winner of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race ahead of Living Doll and Ragamuffin.
The victory was a personal reward for the 2010 Audi Australian championship winning crew following dramatic sail damage when they reluctantly handed over their Australian crown to the Marcus Blackmore skippered Hooligan during the windy Hamilton Island series in August.
His Hobart race win finally filled a vacant space in his personal trophy cabinet after 13 previous attempts.
As expected the modest owner-skipper acknowledged the support he had from the crew.
“They are a group of great sailors and personal friends and the win is very much a team effort,” Ainsworth said.

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Lunchtime Legend’s Hobart

Sunshine Coast ocean racing veteran Bob Robertson weathered another physically tormenting Rolex Sydney Hobart race finishing 12th overall and third in IRC Division 4 with his relatively new sloop Lunchtime Legend.
As the experienced skipper again found out, there is no written tactical strategy on how to best apply the ocean racing experience from 12 previous Hobarts to master what nature provided with the wind velocity that blew over the deck.
Lunchtime Legend, launched for her maiden regatta at the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in late August and an impressive class winner of the short course series in Sydney, had a crew of experienced long-race specialists and the form to be linked with the pre-race favourites.
But as the crew have learnt to understand, every nautical mile of this 628nm classic has a history of testing the draw from the deck of the get-lucky cards.
Their position was well in the mix with the provisional leaders, before the fleet was forced to ‘batten down the hatches’ and prepare for a test of their fresh wind sailing skill and character.
The Southerly Buster, spiced with 40 knot gusts and a hull slamming confused seaway, tested their fresh weather ocean racing integrity, but left a number of windless voids in Bass Strait and along the normally windy Tasmanian coast to ultimately set up an interesting race for both the line honours and overall handicap.
Both the associated glass-out calms and low velocity wind had the best Hobart Race tacticians literally ‘scratching their heads’ on a plan to improve their boat speed, and the crew of Lunchtime Legend were not alone as their target time to finish stretched into the fourth day.
Every nautical mile presented a new challenge as the race for handicap swung in favour of the bigger boats, including the Stephen Ainsworth owned 2010 Audi Australian Ocean Racing champion Loki the equally impressive Victorian sloop Living Doll and Syd Fischer’s ever consistent Ragamuffin.
Meanwhile the stories surrounding the battle to protect reputations and minor handicap places became a feature of the post race celebrations.
Roger Hickman a veteran of 34 Hobart races expressed the value of his experience when he skippered the 28-year-old Farr 43 Wild Rose to a comfortable win in Division 4 from Whistler and Lunchtime Legend, which completed the tactically demanding blue water classic to win third place under the count-back rule over the 2009 champion Two True.
Bob Robertson realised the value of where the important seconds count after spending the testing time of 4days 1hour 36minutes 51seconds to record another Hobart Race result in his logbook.

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One for Joe

Big Joe Akacich who is normally dressed in work clothes and fixing boats at the Gold Coast City Marina had a good excuse to be away from work one Wednesday last month.
There was no mistake that Joe enjoyed the atmosphere of a different kind when he achieved his career best yacht racing experience at Hobart’s historical Constitution Dock after the Sydney super maxi Investec Loyal scored a narrow 3 minute 8 second line honours victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart race.
Joe AkacichJoe Akacich known around the Australian waterfront as a passionate ocean racing yachtsman has suffered the personal torment from the fury of the Tasman Sea during nine races to Hobart.
However, he is a staunch supporter and a proud to be a member of Anthony Bell’s Investec Loyal ocean racing team who have raised over two million dollars for the Loyal Foundation.
Last August Joe hinted that the Investec Loyal program was on target for the Hobart Race after they finished second to the Bob Oatley owned and Mark Richards skippered Wild Oats XI in the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week series  
At the time he said “It’s a work in progress” and the ‘pay day’ for the Investec Loyal crew became a reality when they were officially presented with the line honours trophy.

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New Challenge for the Jones Boy

Wet and very windy weather prevailed when the launching celebrations for the re-vamped Audi Centre Sunshine Coast sponsored Alegria V were held at the Lawrie’s Marina on the Mooloolah River in early December.
Owner skipper Rod Jones has gambled on a tried and tested former International champion 50 class ocean racer Heaven Can Wait for a personal challenge on Australia’s major blue water classics including the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the Brisbane Gladstone Race.
Under her original owner, the popular Middle Harbour Yacht Club skipper Warren Johns, the sloop showed her class winning major class regattas in Europe and taking line honours with former World Contender champion Peter Hollis at the helm in the 2006 Brisbane Gladstone Race.
All of the well-proven speed potential has taken on a totally new prospective with Rod Jones, winner of two AUDI Australian offshore championships with smaller yachts, expected to inject a competitive challenge when the re-vamped Alegria V competes in the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club’s Surf to City race in mid-January.
Meanwhile his core crew of champion sailors, including World Etchells champion Bucky Smith, talented navigator James Walker, Beijing Australian Olympic team coach Adrian Finglas, and the highly skilled Gregor McAllansmith and Sean O’Rourke, have the proven combined skills to honour the expense of injecting a modern rig into the older generation ocean racer.
This decision has become the result of intensive consultation with designer Hugh Welbourne, riggers and sailmakers, and has promoted some interesting conversations around the Australian ocean racing scene particularly in her former home port of Sydney.
As expected Rod Jones and the high performance OceanBuro sailing squad, who have the distinction of already displaying two AUDI Australian Ocean Racing championship trophies and a fourth place at the 2011 SB3 World championship in the trophy locker, have created a lot of interest with this latest project.
But while the entire computer-based predictions suggest the speed sailing modifications to Heaven Can Wait have theoretically introduced a promising new career, it will be up to the crew to place the results on the board.
There is no doubt that both skipper Rod Jones and his experienced crew are looking forward to test the ‘sail-fast’ modifications in the maiden race in mid-January.
“All of the work in the boatshed is complete and following the launching it will be down to the business of crew training,” Rod Jones said.
Transforming the yesteryear champion to race competitively against the more modern designs will continue to create a lot of interest, considering the results already achieved by the Sunshine Coast crew who are now respected among Australia’s best blue water sailing combinations.
They were relatively unknown before winning their first regatta during the 2007 Geelong Race Week on Victoria’s Corio Bay in late January, but their image progressively changed when skipper Rod Jones and crew were presented with first of two prestigious Australian Championship trophies at Hamilton Island Race Week in August that year.
I guess it is a case of watching this space.