Bird Island Race final rendezvous ahead of Rolex Sydney Hobart

The upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has spawned a glut of entries for the Bird Island Race, among them Anthony Bell’s 100ft Perpetual Loyal, which along with the remaining 37 entries, will take advantage of a last opportunity to ease into some ocean miles and prepare crew in advance of the 628 nautical mile race south.

In the penultimate race of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Blue Water Point Score (BWPS), a fascinating scenario will be played out when the 85 nautical mile Bird Island Race starts Saturday at 10.00am off Point Piper on Sydney Harbour. On a tight scoreboard, it is likely the non-droppable Hobart race will decide the outcome, unless major shifts occur this weekend. 

Still anyone’s to win or lose, Sam Haynes’ ADA Celestial leads the charge at the top of the BWPS leaderboard, but right on the Rogers 46’s transom, a point away, is Paul Clitheroe’s TP52 Balance. Reigning Rolex Sydney Hobart champion, Victoire, is a further four points in arrears.

Victoire finished second in Division 1 of the Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship (SSORC) last weekend, and with Patrice (Tony Kirby), Ichi Ban (Matt Allen) and St George Midnight Rambler (Ed Psaltis/Bob Thomas/Michael Bencsik) waiting in the wings, yacht owners and their crews will have to lay it all on the table.  All are Hobart bound and field experienced crews.

Khaleesi, Andrew and Pauline Dally’s DK46, third placed to Victoire in the SSORC, Robin and Annette Hawthorn’s Beneteau 47.7 Imagination and West Australians Todd Giraudo with his new Jeanneau Sunfast 3600, Kraken, and Craig Carter’s Carkeek 47, Indian are among others in Hobart practice mode. Ray Roberts’ OneSails Racing (ex Living Doll), in her second outing, is worth watching too.   

Imagination’s crew is using the Bird Island Race to break in a new Code Zero and a shorter bowsprit. “We tried them out in the Grant Thornton Ocean Point Score two weekends ago and finished second, which we were happy with,” Robin Hawthorn said today. “We’re also getting a hounds kite and a new No. 5, just in case,” he added. 

“We’ve also got a couple of new crew, so we’re trying to put it all together, but we’ll be ready. We did the Hobart in 2009 and finished ninth overall. We’re hoping we can at least do that well again, but a lot depends on the weather – Imagination needs wind on the nose.”

Bird Island is off the NSW Central Coast near Lake Munmorah and Budgewoi. The record for the race is 6hrs 38mins and 56secs, set by the RP63, Loki (Stephen Ainsworth), in 2011. The current weather forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology lends itself to a possible new record, with north to north-westerly 15-20 knot winds tending south-east to south-westerly at 10-15 knots during the day, then north-east to south-easterly at 15 to 20 knots during the afternoon.

Should Perpetual Loyal be the one in the box seat, Bell would be delivering a nice gift to his first-time celebrity crew, including boxer Danny Green, surfer Sally Fitzgibbons and Chef, Guillaume Brahimi. In 2011, Bell made the dreams of his crew come true when he out-sailed Wild Oats XI in a thriller for Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours with his former super maxi Investec Loyal.

This weekend, competitors will be racing for the 58th Janzoon Trophy, while the name of the PHS category winner will be engraved on the 39th George Barton trophy.

For full race results and provisional Blue Water Point Score standings log on to:

By Di Pearson, CYCA Media

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