Bird Island Yacht Race, hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, is being held during the fifth and October 6th. Current Blue Water Pointscore Series leader (BWPS), Loki, smashed Brindabella’s 15 year-old race record and took the trifecta in last year’s Bird Island Race and owner Stephen Ainsworth is hoping for enough breeze to at least get close to that time.
Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin will be out to upset Loki - Bird Island Yacht Race 2012
Loki, a Reichel/Pugh 63, finished in the time of 6 hours 38 minutes and 56 seconds last September, wiping 1 hour 3 min 4 sec off Brindabella’s record.
'I don’t think we’ll have as much breeze as the guys got last year,' admitted Ainsworth, who was away at the time and left the boat in the hands of his capable sailing master, Gordon Maguire. 'We should have a fast run to the Island at least. It’ll help us go faster if we can sail home sprung sheets rather than beat into it.
'It looks like the sou-easter will hang in all night – it’s a pretty good forecast – it’ll make for nice sailing,' he said of the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) prediction of 10-15 knot south-easterly winds.
For those boats still on the course the following morning, the news is all good. The BOM says to expect variable 10 knot winds in the morning, shifting north-easterly at 15-20 by afternoon, guaranteeing a quick spinnaker ride home to the finish in Rushcutters Bay.
First, though, the 24 contenders will have to exit Sydney Harbour on an incoming tide. 'I don’t mind that - I just hope the breeze stays consistent – and I think it will,' prophesized Ainsworth, who has already won the first two races of the BWPS, and makes no bones about gunning for a third win.
However, Syd Fischer and his TP52 Ragamuffin will be keeping Loki honest, having finished second in both BWPS races, to be only two points behind Loki, with Sam Haynes’ Celestial, a Rogers 46 with attitude, a further three points in arrears. The top three also lead the PHS pointscore – and by the same points margin, so there is a lot at stake.
A further point behind Celestial in IRC, is the Ed Psaltis, Michael Bencsik, Bob Thomas owned AFR Midnight Rambler. The Ker 40 is warming to its theme. Her owners are still fine tuning the yacht they had specifically designed for ocean racing and delivered to them late last August.
Due to start at 6.55pm on Sydney Harbour, the IRC fleet will be racing for the 56th Janzoon Trophy, while the name of the PHS category winner will be engraved on the 37th George Barton trophy.
A short race by Rolex Sydney Hobart standards, the Bird Island Race is nevertheless a good test for the famous 628 nautical mile race.
Some of those in the Bird Island Race and also signed up for the Hobart include last year’s overall winner, Loki, Ragamuffin, Celestial, Jonathan Stone/Mat Vadas’ Breakthrough, 1988 Hobart winner, Illusion (Kim Jaggar), Andrew Wenham’s Southern Excellence, and 30 Hobarts race veteran Bruce Taylor’s Chutzpah (Vic).
Bird Island is approximately 1.4 kilometres off the NSW Central Coast, near Budgewoi. It can be seen from the Norah Head lighthouse, the latter telling competitors they are near the small Island that was once part of the Australian mainland, but was separated thousands of years ago by rising sea levels.