Current Blue Water Pointscore Series leader (BWPS), Loki, smashed Brindabella’s 15 year-old race record and took the trifecta in last year’s Bird Island Race.
Current Blue Water Pointscore Series leader (BWPS), Loki,
smashed Brindabella's 15 year-old race record and took the trifecta
in last year's Bird Island Race, hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club
of Australia, and owner Stephen Ainsworth is hoping for enough
breeze to at least get close to that time.
Loki, a Reichel/Pugh 63, finished in the time of 6
hours 38 minutes and 56 seconds last September, wiping 1 hour 3 min
4 sec off Brindabella's record.
"I don't think we'll have as much breeze as the guys got last
year," admitted Ainsworth, who was away at the time and left the
boat in the hands of his capable sailing master, Gordon Maguire.
"We should have a fast run to the Island at least. It'll help us go
faster if we can sail home sprung sheets rather than beat into
"It looks like the sou-easter will hang in all night - it's a
pretty good forecast - it'll make for nice sailing," he said of the
Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) prediction of 10-15 knot
For those boats still on the course the following morning, the
news is all good. The BOM says to expect variable 10 knot winds in
the morning, shifting north-easterly at 15-20 by afternoon,
guaranteeing a quick spinnaker ride home to the finish in
First, though, the 24 contenders will have to exit Sydney
Harbour on an incoming tide. "I don't mind that - I just hope the
breeze stays consistent - and I think it will," prophesized
Ainsworth, who has already won the first two races of the BWPS, and
makes no bones about gunning for a third win.
However, Syd Fischer and his TP52 Ragamuffin will be
keeping Loki honest, having finished second in both BWPS races, to
be only two points behind Loki, with Sam Haynes' Celestial, a
Rogers 46 with attitude, a further three points in arrears. The top
three also lead the PHS pointscore - and by the same points margin,
so there is a lot at stake.
A further point behind Celestial in IRC, is the Ed
Psaltis, Michael Bencsik, Bob Thomas owned AFR Midnight
Rambler. The Ker 40 is warming to its theme. Her owners are
still fine tuning the yacht they had specifically designed for
ocean racing and delivered to them late last August.
Due to start at 7.00pm on Sydney Harbour, the IRC fleet will be
racing for the 56th Janzoon Trophy, while the name of
the PHS category winner will be engraved on the 37th
George Barton trophy.
A short race by Rolex Sydney Hobart standards, the Bird Island
Race is nevertheless a good test for the famous 628 nautical mile
Some of those in the Bird Island Race and also signed up for the
Hobart include last year's overall winner, Loki, Ragamuffin,
Celestial, Jonathan Stone/Mat Vadas' Breakthrough,
1988 Hobart winner, Illusion (Kim Jaggar), Andrew Wenham's
Southern Excellence, and 30 Hobarts race veteran Bruce
Taylor's Chutzpah (Vic).
Bird Island is approximately 1.4 kilometres off the NSW Central
Coast, near Budgewoi. It can be seen from the Norah Head
lighthouse, the latter telling competitors they are near the small
Island that was once part of the Australian mainland, but was
separated thousands of years ago by rising sea levels.
For full race results and list of entries log on to:
By Di Pearson, CYCA Media
Image: Andrea Francolini
Bruce Taylor (Chutzpah) is ramping up his program for Hobart
Image: Andre Francolini
Sam Haynes’ Celestial is becoming a real threat in the BWPS