Two races remain to complete the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s prestigious Blue Water Pointscore Series (BWPS) – the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – and this weekend’s 85 nautical mile Bird Island Race – a last chance to put in some decent ocean miles and suss out the competition ahead of the 628 nautical mile race starting on Boxing Day.
Australian Sailing president, Matt Allen, currently leads the BWPS with his TP52, Ichi Ban. There is little in it though, with Rupert Henry’s JV62 Chinese Whisper the major threat, three points adrift. A trio of TP52’s is close by. Koa (Andy Kearnan/Peter Wrigley), RKO (Aaron Rowe) and M3 (Peter Hickson), a further two and three points off the lead respectively.
Only RKO, owned by Aaron Rowe, will not feature in the final standings. Rowe, who recently joined the sport, will not race RKO to Hobart; instead he will co-skipper Karl Kwok’s Botin 80, Beau Geste.
Rowe is on a steep learning curve, but has taken to the sport like a duck to water and the Bird Island Race is all part of the master plan to win ‘The Hobart’, his first. The Sydney businessman is receiving tutelage from some of the world’s finest, including Beau Geste’s Gavin Brady, a past Olympian, America’s Cup sailor and pro-match racer from New Zealand.
“Gavin has helped me enormously and it’s been a steep learning curve,” Rowe said. “I don’t want to be a passenger; I want to immerse myself in the sport.”
So far, all his offshore experiences have been hard bashes to windward. “It’d be nice change to experience some downwind racing,” he wryly commented.
And Rowe just may get his wish. The Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast shows a 15-25 knot southerly for the morning start, perfect for surfing north. During the day though, winds are expected to ease to 10 knots and less when it move around to the south-east, so competitors will have to take as much advantage as they can early on.
There are seven TP52’s headed to Bird Island (a small nature reserve close to Budgewoi on the Central Coast), including Rolex Sydney Hobart reigning champion, Balance (Paul Clitheroe), Sam Haynes’ Celestial and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin, with grandson Brenton at the wheel.
Interstate entries include M3 (WA), the Brian McMaster skippered Victoire (WA), Rob Fisher/Paul Mara’s Helsal 3 (Tas) and Robbo Robertson’s Bravo (Qld), winner of last month’s Cabbage Tree Island Race. Giacomo, Jim Delegat’s V70 from New Zealand is also a starter.
Ervin Vidor has entered Charlotte, his luxurious CNB 76, the envy of many a yachtie. Vidor, the co-founder of the Toga Group, is amongst the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race entries, but will do the race in some comfort and style.
Line honours contenders are Giacomo, Jim Cooney’s V70 Maserati and Chinese Whisper, which won line, overall and ORCi honours in the race last year.
The Bird Island Race starts on Saturday at 10am on Sydney Harbour. Entrants will be racing for the 60th Janzoon Trophy, while those contesting PHS glory will race for the 41st George Barton trophy.
For full race results and provisional Blue Water Point Score standings click here.
by Di Pearson