Please select your home edition
SW newsletters (top)

2019 Bird Island Race lives up to its reputation

by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia 1 Dec 2019 11:25 PST 1 December 2019
Craig Neil and Bob Steel's Quest pushing their Rolex Sydney Hobart winning yacht and showing the newer entrants that they are still one to watch. © CYCA / Hamish Hardy

The Bird Island Race, shortest in the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore (Audi Centre Sydney BWPS) at 85 nautical miles has concluded with most of the race living up to its reputation as the drag race in the series.

Strong and gusty southerly conditions propelled entrants out of Sydney Harbour and throughout the majority of the race before winds subsided to a mere whisper as crews closed in on the finish.

The standout of the weekend was two-time Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race winner Quest, taking out first in both IRC and ORCi Division 1. Owned by Bob Steel and Craig Neil they were excited to show the newer of the TP52s that they are still as competitive as ever.

"It has been good to string one together, we have had a few rough races leading into this with a few things not going our way with wind and weather conditions. We were lucky today in that respect, the teamwork was great, everyone is getting used to their roles and their positions with it all coming together," Said Neil.

"It was a good run out the heads and then offshore was really exciting, it was awesome. Really exciting ride, boat went well and good to come out with no damage or breakages."

With this being the final offshore race in the series before the Rolex Sydney Hobart in its 75th running, the team are feeling good with the preparations and excited for the upcoming milestone race starting on boxing day.

"We are definitely going to Hobart, that is the grand final for us this year so it's great to have some shake down races leading into it. They have been hard, there has been some hard downwind sections and tough upwind beats so it has been good all round testing conditions," said Neil.

Division 2 IRC and PHS saw the return of Western Australian Anthony Kirke and his crew on the Farr40 Enterprise. Kirke is no stranger to the east coast offshore racing scene with Enterprise competing in the 2018 Audi Centre Sydney BWPS and winning Ocean Rookie of the Year at the CYCA Ocean Racer of the Year Awards in that season. Once again Kirke and the Enterprise have made the long trip from Western Australia to Sydney to prepare for the this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart with the yacht only splashing back in the water the week prior to the Bird Island Race.

St Jude skippered by CYCA Vice Commodore Noel Cornish AM put on a strong performance sitting atop Division 2 across many of the Handicap ratings for a large period of the race. However, with the fading wind in the later stages of the race the conditions did not favour his yacht which thrives in the heavier upwind conditions. The team unfortunately slipped to second in IRC and PHS but were able to hold off Enterprise in ORCi to claim the top position in Division 2.

The 50-foot fleet were strong across PHS Division 1 with Julian Farren-Price's Cookson 50 About Time just holding off the charge of two TP52s, Quest and Stay Calm Hungary. About Time had to retire from the previous race of the series but were able to display their fine form in this race and relishing in the conditions.

Click here for full list of results.

The next race in the Audi Centre Sydney BWPS will be the sixth and final race, the iconic 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race taking place 26th December. It can be followed through the official Rolex Sydney Hobart website.

More information at

Related Articles

Virtual Rolex Sydney Hobart victors
166,000 competitors register and take part in the 628-nautical-mile race The 2020 online Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race conducted by Virtual Regatta was one for the record book. Posted on 4 Jan
Boxing Kangaroos win the Virtual Sydney Hobart
International team of virtual racers beat 549 teams In a tightly fought race The Boxing Kangaroos, an international team of virtual yacht racers, beat 549 teams in the Virtual Rolex Sydney Hobart late Monday night claiming first place in the Team standings. Posted on 29 Dec 2020
Rolex Sydney Hobart Flashback Montage
17 years of the Bow Caddy Team's coverage In the context of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race's unbroken record of 75 consecutive races, the 17 years of the Bow Caddy Team's coverage of the event makes us relative rookies on scene still! Posted on 27 Dec 2020
Adventures Weekly: Rolex Sydney Hobart Tribute
And what might have been at 1pm AEST "Downunder" Merry Christmas adventurers! For Adventures Weekly on 26 December 2020 we were LIVE and paying tribute to the Great Race, the Rolex Sydney Hobart, and what might have been at 1pm AEST "Downunder". Posted on 26 Dec 2020
2020 RSHYR continues in Virtual Regatta
Sailors can still take part in the great race online Whilst the 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has unfortunately been cancelled, sailors and fans alike can still take part in the Great Race through Virtual Regatta. Posted on 23 Dec 2020
Gweilo crowned champion
In the 2020 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore Matt Donald and Chris Townsend's TP52 Gweilo has certainly made the most of a tough year, the team on the grand prix racer giving stand-out performances to secure overall victory in the 2020 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore. Posted on 22 Dec 2020
Australian Sailing RSHYR cancellation statement
Sharing the sadness of the sailing community Australian Sailing shares the sadness of the sailing community at the announcement of the cancellation of the 76th Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Posted on 20 Dec 2020
Sydney Hobart: Rupert Henry on 2-handed sailing
Prior to the race's cancellation due to Covid-19, this video gives a detailed look into this class Filmed before the event's cancellation, Rupert Henry, an experienced two-handed sailor gives some insights into what it takes to campaign a short handed off-shore race, in preparing the for the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Posted on 20 Dec 2020
2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race cancelled
Amid COVID-19 concerns arising from the Northern Beaches area It is with great regret that the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia announces that the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will not be proceeding in 2020. Posted on 19 Dec 2020
Stacey Jackson's grand vision for Women in RSHYR
Stacey Jackson has a grand vision for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Stacey Jackson has a grand vision for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - that being, the day when there is parity in numbers between male and female sailors entered. Posted on 17 Dec 2020
MBW newsletters (top)