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30 November 2003, 04:18 pm
Loki Cruises In Comfort To JPMorgan Win
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JP Morgan Regatta
Middle Harbour, Sydney

Arguably the best known production luxury cruising yachts in the world, the Swan Nautor yachts from Finland, are also excellent ocean racers, particularly fast to windward in a good breeze.
Loki, Stephen AINSWORTH'S Swan 47, this weekend has again shown she is more than a luxury cruising boat by outsailing a grand prix fleet in the IRC division of the JPMorgan Regatta off Sydney.

In fact, she did it with aplomb, winning three out of four races for what is Middle Harbour Yacht Club's 20th annual short ocean racing championship, with the likes of Grundig, Brindabella, Ragamuffin, Nips N Tux and Austmark unable to upset her grip on corrected time handicap honours.

Skandia, Grant WHARINGTON'S awesome new 98-footer from Melbourne, was the only boat to beat Loki on corrected time, winning the final race - by a margin of just two seconds.

Ainsworth, a Sydney businessman with a range of investments in the leisure industry, including Black Wolf camping and hiking gear and the large Sydney Harbour charter boat Whitehaven, emphasised that Loki is essentially a cruiser/racing.

"After Hamilton Island Race Week, I took the family cruising in the Whitsundays, and this was her first racing since then," he said today.

"The good windward beats over the short courses suited Loki, although we would have liked more wind," added Ainsworth who has again entered the 2002 Australian IRC champion yacht for this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Loki, with Tony KIRBY on the helm, won the IRC division with a 5 points score, comfortably ahead of Skandia on 10 points, third place going to the Swan 45, Joe, steered by Chris Links for owner John David, with 14 points, Syd Fischer's Farr 50, Ragamuffin, placing fourth with 16 points.

Skandia swept away from the IMS and IRC fleet to take line honours in all four races and achieved an impressive corrected time scoreboard of 5,2,2, 1, obviously improving with every race, notably in crew work.

"We had a fantastic day, we were more settled and the crew work was much better…we had no spinnaker moments today," owner/skipper Wharington said after the racing in a 12-15 knot noréaster and lumpy seas offshore.

"We are also underpowered downwind as we were using old spinnakers…our new ones for the Canon Big Boat Challenge and the Rolex Trophy Series will be 100 square metres bigger," he added.

While Ragamuffin's IRC results disappointed, the Farr 50 made amends by dominating the smaller IMS division, winning all four races on corrected time, from the Lyons 47, Austmark (Gunther SCHMIDT-LINDER) and Nips N Tux (Howard de Torres).

To win IMS, as the premier rating category for this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, is Ragamuffin's main objective and she has turned in her best performance since being optimised last month with a new sweptback spreader rig.

With the combination of young Michael DUNSTAN on the helm and the highly experienced Michael GREEN calling tactics and highly efficient sail handling by the crew.

Dunstan steered Ragamuffin in place of regular driver Sean Kirkjian who this weekend is contesting the J24 State championship while Green was wearing his Doyle-Fraser Sailmakers cap as well as giving his input with experience of the similar sweptback spreader rig on Quest, which did not racing this weekend.

Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Peter Campbell
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