URM Group wins Bird Island Race, Andoo Comanche dominates again and Philosopher takes Two-Handed honours

In Saturday’s 83 nautical mile 2023 Bird Island Race, the fourth of six races which comprise the 2023/24 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore, competitors relished favourable sailing conditions and a beautiful spring day for the sprint to the Central Coast and back.

After a clean start off Point Piper at 1000hrs, 33 boats raced out Sydney Harbour to face a building NE for the upwind leg of the race to Bird Island, 3nm NE of Norah Head. The trip back home in 15-20kts with stronger gusts was a quick one for the front runners.

Anthony Johnston’s Reichel Pugh Maxi 72 URM Group backed up her recent impressive form by taking Overall victory – following wins in the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Race and Flinders Islet Race.

She was second across the line in Watsons Bay after Andoo Comanche, ahead of David Gotze’s Reichel Pugh 63 No Limit, Sebastian Bohm’s TP52 Smuggler, and Peter Wrigley and Andrew Kearnan’s TP52 Koa.

Smuggler was 2nd IRC Overall with No Limit placing 3rd.

John ‘Herman’ Winning Jr and the crew of Andoo Comanche once again took Line Honours in a time of 6 hours, 15 minutes, 51 seconds – almost an hour outside the blistering record set by URM Group back in 2021.

The 100-foot VPLP/Verdier 100 maxi averaged 13.4 kts over the journey, finishing just after 1615hrs later that afternoon. She was 53 minutes ahead of URM Group.

John ‘Herman’ Winning Jr said afterwards: “The conditions were terrific and it was a very enjoyable sail. Everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at us mechanically with gremlins in our hydro and electronic systems. We lost about 30 minutes on the work up to Bird Island but the team did a fantastic job to get us going again and able to finish the race. Bring on Cabbage Tree.”

David Henry, winner of the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Two-Handed division back in August showed that the Sydney 36 Philosopher that he races with Stephen Prince is a boat to be reckoned with in all conditions. The pair were 21st across the line and took out both the Two-Handed IRC and PHS divisions, finishing in a time of 14 hours 26 minutes, 23 seconds.


IRC Overall
1st – URM Group
2nd – Smuggler
3rd – No Limit

IRC Division 1
1st – URM Group
2nd – Smuggler
3rd – No Limit

IRC Division 2
1st – Supernova
2nd – Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth
3rd – Mondo

IRC Corinthian
1st – Koa
2nd – Pretty Woman
3rd – Supernova

Wild Rose IRC
1st – Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth
2nd – Mondo
3rd – Wild Oats

1st – Sticky
2nd – Smuggler
3rd – URM Group

1st – Philosopher
2nd – Rum Rebellion
3rd – Blue Planet

1st – Philosopher
2nd – Rum Chaser
3rd – Rum Rebellion

The next & penultimate race in the 2023/24 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore will be the Cabbage Tree Island Race which will get underway at 1900hrs on Friday 1 December. This race also doubles as the first race in the 2023 Raymarine Australian Maxi Championship for eligible race boats over 60-feet in length.

The final race in the Pointscore is the 78th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which will start on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day, Tuesday 26 December.

Photos: CYCA Media

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