The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s one-hundred and eighty mile Cabbage Tree Island Race will get underway tomorrow night at 7:00pm with a thirty-two strong fleet. The race is a qualifier for the CYCA’s six-hundred and twenty eight mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which is set to get underway on Boxing Day.
In fact, the yachts will get a good pre-Hobart workout over the next three weekends, with Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship held in conjunction with the CYCA’s Ocean Pointscore Series, being conducted on 26-27 November, followed by the Lion Island Botany Bay Race on December 3, the new inclusion to the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore Series (BWPS).
Rolex Sydney Hobart contender, Chris Bull’s canting keel Cookson 50 Jazz, won the Cabbage Tree Island Race overall last year, but will not be on the start line on Friday evening; nor will record holder, Bob Oatley’s super maxi Wild Oats XI, which took Loki’s 2009 record last year, finishing in 14 hours 13min 35 sec.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the yachts will set off in an east to north-easterly of 10-15 knots. Once they turn the corner at North Head, it should be a traditional north-easterly 10-15 knot sea breeze that should continue throughout Saturday, until evening when winds are predicted to increase to 20-25 knots.
It may be a bumpy ride on the way up to Cabbage Tree Island, but it should be a nice quick downhill slide home and could favour the smaller boats for overall honours if the breeze kicks in as predicted.
Record beating will be touch and go – but if it were to happen – Loki would be the most likely candidate. She would need to be at the Rushcutters Bay finish line before 10.13.35am on Saturday morning. It’s a big ask.
Darryl Hodgkinson heads the charge for the BWPS title, with his Beneteau 45, Victoire. After victory in October’s Flinders Islet Race, ‘Dr Darryl’ holds an eight point advantage over reigning BWPS champion, Loki, the Reichel/Pugh 63 owned by Stephen Ainsworth.
A further point back in third place is the man who has won a record nine BWPS’s, Syd Fischer, with his TP52 Ragamuffin. A few others are chomping at the top three’s heels, so nothing is set in concrete leading into Cabbage Tree Island Race.
Hodgkinson, who has lifted the game a notch by scoring some impressive wins this season, is shaping up to be a major contender for the BWPS title and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Tattersall’s Cup, awarded to the overall winner in IRC. Victoire is certainly challenging Loki’s two-year stranglehold on ocean racing in Australia.
Others taking part in the race to the rocky outcrop just north of Port Stephens are the much touted new Ker 40 AFR Midnight Rambler owned by Ed Psaltis, Bob Thomas and Michael Bencsik, Rob Reynolds DK46 Exile, Geoff Hill and his TP52 Strewth, which is showing marked improvement in each outing since arriving from Hong Kong and Paul Clitheroe’s Beneteau 45, Balance
The BWPS was revamped this season. The Lion Island Botany Bay Race, scheduled for December 3, has replaced the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht Race. The series will now conclude with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, bringing it to a major climax when the winner is announced at the official prize giving in Hobart.
For full race results and provisional Blue Water Pointscore Series standings, click here