Risen From The Ashes
Risen From The Ashes
"My first thought was, well, that was an interesting experience, but it's not going to stop me from going sailing," he says. "I was having too much fun. So I thought, the best thing to do when you fall off a horse is to get straight back on. So that's what I did."
"The next day," says Miles, "Stephen and I were having a few drinks and walking around town, and he said, 'You know what, I'm not going to let that get me down. I'm just going to get a new boat. And this time it'll be a no-compromise boat: No cruising orientation, just a good, fun boat to go racing in.'
"There was no waiting for the insurance or anything. He called Jim (Pugh of Reichel/Pugh) and said, 'I want you to design a new boat. We'll be ready to push the buttons in a couple of weeks.' By November  we had the first drafts of the design."
From the outset, the plan was to have the boat ready for the 2008 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, which started the day after Christmas. Ainsworth had been happy with the job Azzura had done with the previous Loki, and approached them first regarding the new one. When they didn't have an open build slot, he turned to McConaghy Boats, just north of Sydney.
"When they started doing the plug there were three R/P boats in the yard at the same time: Loki; Moneypenny, which was just being finished off; and Neville Crichton's 69-foot Alfa Romeo," said Ainsworth. "They just rolled right into mine without having to reinvent the wheel with regard to the latest things R/P had been putting into their boats."
The Loki brain trust decided on a fixed-keel underbody after briefly considering a canting-keel configuration, a notion that was discarded due to concerns about maintenance.
"As far as the hull form, it's a similar concept to Bella Mente, Alfa Romeo, and Moneypenny," says Miles. "You could say those current R/P designs have had mixed results. So we made a lot of modifications to the hull to try and improve things a little bit."
Indeed, the original lines for the 63-footer incorporated a hard chine in the hull, a feature that was reconsidered and ultimately abandoned well after the build was underway. "There was a little bit of a design issue because the chines they put on (some of their other recent designs) weren't working terribly well for the boats upwind," said Ainsworth. "It was a late change to get rid of it and it took a fair bit of extra time."
Pugh noted it wasn't the only change made to the boat as the design process evolved. "We basically wanted to reduce the volume in the back of the boat, the amount of displacement and wetted surface, so we made some modifications," he says, adding that the rudder was also modified and the rig slid aft from its original placement.
Loki was launched in Sydney Dec. 10, just over two weeks before the annual dash to Hobart, and was sailing a day later. In the Hobart Race, the boat's first ocean race, Loki scored a seventh in the 15-boat IRC-1 division (one place behind another new R/P design, the 62-foot Limit) and eighth overall in the 75-boat IRC group.
"We had a really good start in the Hobart race," said Miles. "We had a good first night running in 25 to 30 knots of wind, sort of averaging 22 knots, up to 28 for four or five hours. The race went a little funky for us in the middle but then we got some more heavy running the next evening, into the next morning, and we sort of caught back up again. But the boat's awesome, really good."
A month later it scored its first win at the Skandia Docklands Invitational off Melbourne, besting a fleet of 17 IRC entrants. In 2009, the boat will sail local events in Sydney, Hamilton Island Race Week, and the next edition of Sydney-Hobart.
And further down the line?
"Maybe in 2010, we'll head back over to Sicily and the Mediterranean," says Ainsworth, "and complete some unfinished business."