Port Hacking-Bird Island Race - Final test before Sydney to Hobart
by Jennifer Crooks on 5 Dec 2013
Port Hacking-Bird Island Race, the fifth race of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Blue Water Pointscore Series starts off Point Piper at 10.00am on Saturday 7th December 2013. Patrice, Ichi Ban, Black Jack and Spirit of Mateship are the new kids on the block that will line up this Saturday as they prepare for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Patrice is raring to go. Andrea Francolini
In only his second outing with the new Ker 46, Patrice, Kirby comes fresh from winning the Sydney Short Offshore Championship last weekend, and is raring to go again. 'We’re feeling confident but not cocky,' said Kirby, who confessed two of his key crew were not aboard for the SSORC. 'The boat is doing everything it promised and more – it’s going better in light air than I thought possible.'
Meanwhile, Allen will test his brand new Carkeek 60, Ichi Ban, under race conditions for the first time.
'This will be our first race since launching the new Ichi Ban on November 26,' Allen confirmed of the Port Hacking-Bird Island Race, which was added to the BWPS this year. 'We’ve only sailed it four times; it accelerates quickly, is smooth on the helm and all the systems are working well,' he said.
A past commodore of the CYCA and now president of Yachting Australia, Allen acknowledged that all the planning put into designing and building the yacht had been beneficial. 'It certainly paid off to do the homework, plan in advance and be hands on,' he said.
Last weekend Ichi Ban sailed for the first time with her full Hobart crew, including Loki imports Gordon Maguire and Darren Senogles, who are joined by world-class navigator Will Oxley and regulars Michael Spies and Robert Case, who have 64 Hobarts between them. However, it was a training session only – this weekend will be the baptism of fire, as boat and crew will sail against a hot fleet of 23 and all are Hobart entries.
With her full Rolex Sydney Hobart crew aboard, Peter Harburg’s Black Jack (the former Telefonica) left Queensland for Sydney at the end of November as part of their Hobart shakedown. It’s only major offshore race to-date has been the light weather Sydney Gold Coast Race in August, giving no real indication of its form for the upcoming Hobart.
Mark Bradford, the Volvo 70’s sailing master, confirmed, 'We have the full crew together and we’re in racing mode as we prepare for the Hobart.'
Spirit of Mateship will also be in race mode for the first time too when the Mates4Mates crew queues for the 10.00am start off Point Piper on Saturday. Crew member Craig McCarthy said he and the rest of the Volvo 60’s crew were looking forward to testing themselves for the first time against many of those they will face in the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
'We’re really looking forward to the Port Hacking-Bird Island; it’s our first race as a crew. It’s about finding our feet under race conditions, although we’ve been sail training together, but that’s quite different,' conceded McCarthy, an Australian Defence Force veteran from the Gold Coast.
McCarthy, who spent time on boats when he was younger, added: 'It’s a really good boat and a really new experience for the ADF guys on board.' His crew is strengthened by skipper Russell McCart, a Queensland yachtsman with eight Hobarts under the belt and navigator Peter Jones, a veteran of 18 Hobarts.
Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI with all its appendages and new, lighter mast, under Mark Richards’ charge, and Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing are two of the other attractions in the race, along with Roger Hickman and Wild Rose. The 28 year-old Farr 43, winner of the 1993 Hobart overall under IOR (there was also an IMS overall winner that year), leads the BWPS by 15 points and will be hard to overcome for the Series.
‘Hicko’, a four-time winner of the BWPS on his own and other people’s yachts, has his heart set on winning it again - and the Rolex Sydney Hobart – after coming so close last year, but finishing 13th overall when a second southerly front hit and then fizzled in the final stages. However, he won Division 4 and beat every Division 2 and 3 yacht overall.
Others to watch include Phil Molony’s Archambault 40 Papillon, Derek and Martin Sheppard’s Beneteau 45 Black Sheep, which is having a great first season, Sam Haynes’ Rogers 46, Celestial and Darryl Hodgkinson’s recently purchased Cookson 50, Victoire. Coming into Race 5, the four fill out second to fifth places in the BWPS and are all highly rated to win the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
A very light 5 knot variable breeze is expected for the race start, remaining light inshore during the afternoon, with more pressure predicted further off the coast and turning south, which is likely to influence tactical decisions.
Race 5 of the CYCA’s BWPS is the final test the fleet will undertake prior to competing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the BWPS decider.
For list of entrants and results of the Port Hacking Bird Island Race and provisional Blue Water Pointscore Series standings log on to the event website.