Thursday, 23 September 2010

CYCA Summer Offshore Season Opens with the Bird Island Yacht Race

Stephen Ainsworth's RP63 Loki, one of the front runners for line honours glory in the CYCA's Bird Island Race. Image copyright Andrea Francolini.

by Di Pearson

Some of the best known grand prix racers in the country will be out to settle old scores when the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s eighty-five nautical mile Bird Island Race starts off Point Piper on Sydney Harbour at 7.00pm on Friday 24 September.

Loki, the recently crowned Audi IRC Australian champion and holder of the Cabbage Tree Island and Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race records, will be the targeted yacht when 28 yachts set off in the race. Stephen Ainsworth knows his Reichel/Pugh 63 and its crew will have to have all the right pegs in all the right holes, to win following their second overall last year.

The 2009 Bird Island overall winner, Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin, will also be on the start line. The TP52 and its veteran Sydney owner remain highly competitive and will keep the bigger Loki honest.

Add to the mix up-and-coming Beneteau 45, Victoire (Darryl Hodgkinson), which has been showing star quality since her arrival on the scene and proven performer AFR Midnight Rambler, Ed Psaltis’ modified Farr 40.

Lahana, the 30 metre yacht of Peter Millard and John Honan, will not be around to defend her line honours title, so it is expected boats such as Loki, Ragamuffin and Andrew Wenham’s Southern Excellence, a Volvo 60, will be the frontrunners.

The 14 year-old race record stands at 7 hours, 42mins, 15secs and was set by the 24 metre maxi Brindabella (under original owner George Snow) in 1996.

To beat Brindabella’s record, the line honours winner would need to finish by 02:42:14 on Saturday 25 September.

According to the latest weather report, the fleet can expect about 10 knots west to north-westerly breeze at the start. By Friday evening, forecasters predict north to north-westerly winds of 10 to 20 knots, which should follow through until Saturday morning. The breeze is then predicated to tend north-east to south-easterly up to 15 knots during the afternoon on Saturday.

Eighty five miles is a relatively short distance, but it gives most of the fleet the opportunity to get rid of the rust and dust off the boat covers in one of the first of the CYCA’s summer races. It is also an early opportunity to put in some practice for the Club’s upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day in December.

The Bird Island Race is the second of the Blue Water Pointscore (BWPS), a seven-race series that commenced with the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race in July and finishes with the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race in April next year.

Entrants in the Bird Island Race are competing for two of the CYCA’s most prestigious trophies, the 54th Janzoon Trophy (IRC) and the 35th George Barton Trophy (PHS).

For full race results and provisional Blue Water Pointscore Series standings log on to: