The Sydney yacht Loki today won the 2002 Australian IRC Championship after her nearest opponents, Eun-Na-Mara and Ticket of Leave, lost their steering in a day of strong wind sailing on the Gulf St Vincent off Adelaide.
Loki, a Swan 48 owned by Stephen Ainsworth from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and steered mainly by Tony Kirby, won the final two races today to give her a resounding score of 15-1-1-1-7-1-1, for a net 12 points.
Second place overall went to the Melbourne yacht Ticket of Leave, a Beneteau 40.7 skippered by Kevin Wood, Commodore of Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne, with placings of 2-2-3-2-5-2-DNF (did not finish) for 16 points.
Third place overall went to the little 30-footer, Toecutter, skippered by her designer and builder Robert Hick. She finished with a net 22 points from placings of 5-5-4-5-2-4-2.
Loki's overall victory was made easier when two boats high on the pointscore, War Games and On the Edge, were among eight yachts "black flagged" after two general recalls in race six.
The imported Swan 48 revelled in the southerly breeze which freshened through the day from 12 knots to 25 knots, gusting to 30 knots at the end of race seven.
Going into the final day with two short windward/leeward races to sail, Loki held a one point lead from the 95-year-old "antique" yacht, Eun-Na-Mara, Nick Chapman's Fife-designed classic metre-boat from Melbourne's Royal Brighton Yacht Club, and Ticket of Leave, the Beneteau 40.7 skippered by Kevin Wood, Commodore of Sandringham Yacht Club, also in Melbourne.
Eun-Na-Mara slipped out of calculations when she broke her rudder on the second spinnaker run of race six, giving the classic 50-footer no chance of retaining the IRC championship she won in a major upset at Hamilton Island last year.
Ticket of Leave lost her steering when a Kevlar strap broke seconds after finishing race six, with the yacht doing a spectacular "chinese gybe" before the crew had time to drop the spinnaker.
She started in race seven with a temporary strap, but retired almost immediately because of the steering problem. A replacement strap is being flown from Melbourne overnight to enable Ticket of Leave to start in tomorrow's 155 nautical mile race from Adelaide to Port Lincoln and to compete in Lincoln Week.
Race officials of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron and the Cruising Yacht Club South Australia, who jointly conducted these successful Australian Keelboat Championships on behalf of the Australian Yachting Federation, were forced into four starting attempts for race six with too many yachts to identify breaking the start.
After two general recalls, they hoisted the blag flag, which meant that any yacht over the line in the third starting attempt was disqualified from the race - and eight boats were called.
Finally, the fleet got away on the fourth attempt with G-Wizz (Greg Patton) leading the fleet around the six nautical mile windward/leeward course, Loki crossing second and sufficiently ahead to take first place on corrected time by just 29 seconds from Ticket of Leave, with the well known Adelaide yacht, Secret Mens Business (Geoff Boettcher) in third place.
The little Melbourne boat Toecutter, skippered by designer Robert Hick, placed fourth to remain in contention for a top overall placing.
Conditions in the final race, 20-25 knots, gusting to 30 knots, with a short steep sea, were made to order for the powerful Loki, which quickly took the lead to not only get the gun but also win on corrected time. Second place went to Toecutter and third to War Games.
In the PHS division, Monkey Puzzle (Peter Young) from Victoria's Port Fairy Yacht Club, continued her consistent sailing to win both races today to take the series by a clear margin of 10 points from Horizon Sprint (Frank Hammond) from Melbourne, on 16 points, third going to the J24 from Adelaide, Sledgehammer (Alyn Stephenson).
IRC Australian Championship:
1. ILoki, Swan 48 (Stephen Ainsworth, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, NSW) 15-1-1-1-7-1-1, 12 pts.
2. Ticket of Leave, Beneteau 40.7 (Kevin Wood, Sandringham Yacht Club, Victoria) 2-2-3-2-5-2-DNF, 16 pts.
3. Toecutter, Hick 31 (Robert Hick, Royal Yacht Club of Victoria) 5-5-4-5-2-4-2, 22 pts.
4. Into the Mystic, Sydney 38 (Brett Young, Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia) 6-6-9-7-10-BFD-4, 42 pts.
5. War Games, Farr 40 One Design (David Urry, Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia) 3-3-5-3-3-BFD-dsq, 43 pts.
6. Eun-Na-Mara, Fife 50 (Nick Chapman, Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Victoria) 4-4-2-4-1-DNF-DNC, 49 pts.
PHS Australian Championship:
1. Monkey Puzzle, Young 39 (Peter Young, Port Fairy Yacht Club, Victoria) 9-2-2-1-3-1-1, 10 pts.
2. Horizon Sprint, Radford 35 (Frank Hammond, Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, Victoria) 6-4-1-2-4-3-2, 16 pts.
3. Sledgehammer, J24 (Alyn Stevenson, CYCSA) 2-1-3-4-6-5-3, 19 pts.
4. Here and Now, Whiting 11 (Neil Dell, ) 4-8-6-7-2-8-5, 32 pts.
5. Rager, Elliott 56 (Gary Shanks, CYCSA) 10-6-5-5-9-2-DNS, 37 pts.
WamBam, Lyons 38 (Neil Dalrymple, CYCSA) 7-9-10-3-7-7-4, 37 pts.