Stephen Ainsworth and his Loki crew smashed the Cabbage Tree Island Race record today, finishing the 180 nautical mile race at 12 :32 :47pm, slicing more than one hour off the time set by Bob Oatley's super maxi Wild Oats XI in the race last year.
It was a tidy day's work for Loki; a Reichel/Pugh 63 from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the organisers of the race, setting a new time of 16 hours 32min 47sec to best the 30 metre Reichel/Pugh designed Wild Oats XI, by one hour 26min 1sec in ideal conditions.
What most people don't realise is that Ainsworth was aboard Wild Oats XI when she broke the record last year. “I know that record well – I went along for the ride, so that's two in a row for me on two separate boats. That's a bit different, isn't it!”
According to Loki's owner/skipper, the start of the race did not bode well for record-breaking conditions: “The breeze was all over the place for the first few hours; we hardly moved. It was rainy and thundering. Quest and Yendys were right on our tail,” he said.
Although the Bureau of Meteorology predicted easterly winds of 10-20 knots, Ainsworth told a different story. “We eventually got a gradient breeze – a solid nor-wester of 15-16 knots so we reached for most of the race and got good pressure all the way home. We were able to take miles out of other yachts once we got around the Island.”
Now Loki's crew are sitting out at the CYCA to see if they can win a second trifecta. In March, Loki won her first trifecta in the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race, with a line honours victory in record time ( 15hrs 57min 53sec) and the overall win.
Launched last December, Loki has proved to be a most successful yacht, with Ainsworth putting together a string of top three places in the last 10 months.
Her performance today puts Loki's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race rivals on notice to beware the 63 footer in the 628 nautical mile race that starts on Boxing Day. “We're in really good shape for Hobart; the boat and the crew,” Ainsworth enthused this afternoon.
The Cabbage Tree Island Race started on Sydney Harbour at 8.00pm last evening. An updated report will be sent out once the 32-boat fleet has finished the race and overall positions are known.