Blue Water Race 5: Pressure mounts on Hobart countdown

  • Racing
  • NEWS
  • By Ross Macdonald
  • 01 Dec 2017 16:35:15
David Brogan -

Expect close quarters in the upcoming Bird Island Race


There’s much to lose but even more to gain as the CYCA’s Clue Water Pointscore heads into the penultimate round with Race 5 – the Bird Island Race, starting on Saturday morning at 1000hrs.

The 85nm challenge is the last in the series before the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and will see competitors sail from Sydney Harbour to Bird Islet (approx. 3nm north east of Norah Head), before returning to Sydney Harbour to finish. A moderate north-easterly looks to await the fleet for the majority of the race.

The race will be another outing for Peter Harburg’s Black Jack who have ramped up their training ahead of the main event on 26 December, the Rolex Sydney Hobart. While three TP52’s will battle it out with China’s DeRucci one of two international entries. They will be chasing their local counterparts KOA and Celestial who currently sit third and fourth in the overall Blue Water Series. It sets up an exciting battle between the pair with KOA joint-owner Peter Wrigley (shared with Andy Kearnan), looking forward to an exciting start.

“Nothing better than starting summer by sailing in what looks like a brilliant nor’ easter on Sydney Harbour.”

“We have a couple of different people on board for the Bird Island Race with a few of our normal crew away, but the majority of the crew will be on board with us for Hobart.”

“It will be a big race tomorrow with plenty in it. We’re sitting in fourth overall in the pointscore, so we’re looking forward to a great race, and then an even better Hobart to finish off the season.”

“There’s lots of breeze forecasted, so it will be a good test for the boat and the crew.”

“We’ve been tweaking the boat over the last six months, and putting lots of time into making it the best it can be.”

“We’ve been refining the instruments and navigation systems to get some good data out the boat. That’s been our main area of focus this year.”

“We’re excited to go racing, what better way to start summer.”

Back in for Race 5 of the Blue Water is the famous American classic wooden boat Dorade. With her deep keel, narrow beam and generous sail plan, the yawl took the yachting world by storm and made headlines around the world after scoring an upset victory in the 1931 Transatlantic Race from Newport, Rhode Island to Plymouth, competing against much larger boats. Dorade went on to score famous victories in some of the world's most famous races - now she takes on the Rolex Sydney Hobart with Adrienne Cahalan, the first woman to sail 25 Hobarts, navigating.

Kevin Miller, skipper in lieu of owners Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke-Levy, says the crew have been doing their homework on old stories to help get the most out of the 87-year-old boat.

“We learned a lot in the Bass Island race. While many of us have raced a lot down in Australia and the rougher conditions here, but we hadn’t sailed this boat here. So we’ll be looking to apply our learnings in this race which looks set to start a long beat down for 10-12 hours.”

“We’ve addressed a lot of little items and we’d be hopeful of seeing improvements in our performance based on them.”

“We always like to get on the podium but this is a stepping stone to the greater event which is Hobart for us.”

The current race record was set in 2011 by Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki in 6 hours, 38 minutes and 56 seconds. Competitors compete for the Janzoon Trophy (1st place IRC) and George Barton Trophy (1st place PHS).


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