Bird Island Race victory for Celestial

Celestial gets some pace on under spinnaker.
In the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 85 nautical mile Bird Island Race, Sam Haynes has sailed his Rogers 46, Celestial, to victory - putting to an end the winning streak of Stephen Ainsworth and his Reichel/Pugh 63, Loki.

Race record holder, Loki, took line honours at 03.22.04 hours this morning, in the time of 8hrs 22min 4sec, close to two hours outside the record she set last year. However, Celestial, which has been improving each and every race, stole a march on her rival overall by the smallest of margins – just 34 seconds.

AFR Midnight Rambler, Ed Psaltis/Michael Bencsik/Ed Thomas’ Ker 40 was third, followed by Ragamuffin, Syd Fischer’s TP52. These are the four that have been dominating the Blue Water Pointscore Series so far, with three races put to bed. All are contenders for the Rolex Sydney Hobart, which is likely to decide the outcome should this close tussle continue between the top four.

SAILING - Audi Sydney to Gold Coast 2012 - start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini MIDNIGHT RAMBLER

Haynes was over the moon to be the one to break the Loki draught that has continued for the past two seasons, with Ainsworth, the 2010 BWPS victor, winning the opening two races of the 2012 series. 'Stephen actually said to me last night before the race, ‘Don’t go too fast now’ – and I had a feeling it could be our race,' he said.

'It was fantastic to be the one to beat Loki – but it was so, so close. We’ve been sailing a little better each race over the last year and we do a lot of sailing – all of the CYCA events, including the twilights. I’ve had the same crew for a while now and it’s all coming together well.'

Haynes described the race as, 'pretty straightforward – a spinnaker ride all the way to Bird Island,' after Principal Race Officer, Denis Thompson sent the fleet on its way at 7.00pm last night in a 10 knot south-easterly, which peaked at around 15 knots.

'We nailed the start and Southern Excellence (Andrew Wenham’s Volvo 60) just beat us out the Heads,' Haynes, who finished the race second overall last year said. 'Coming home the wind dropped out near Long Reef to 5-8 knots, but kicked back in as we came into the Harbour. We were able to set spinnaker for the finish.

'Celestial flies downwind, and she’s pretty good upwind too. I’m hoping to keep the same 12 crew for the series to keep up the momentum for Hobart,' said the CYCA skipper whose aim is to not just to top-place in the Hobart race, but to actually finish it.

'We broke down in the last two Hobarts,' he said of their broken gooseneck last year and sail damage the year before ended his chances. 'We’ll prepare as well as we can now. I’ve worked hard to get the boat right; faired the hull and repainted it and put new sails on the boat.'

Ironically, Celestial, AFR Midnight Rambler and Ragamuffin cleaned up in ORCi, while Warwick Sherman’s new Ker Gts43, Occasional Coarse Language 2, got between Celestial and AFR Midnight Rambler in the PHS category. The lone interstate entry, Bruce Taylor’s Chutzpah, finished fourth in PHS and sixth in IRC.

SAILING - Audi Sydney to Gold Coast 2012 - start in Sydney ph. Andrea Francolini CHTUZPAH

Taylor had decided to put in extra work towards winning the Rolex Sydney Hobart which has so far eluded him for 31 years. The likeable quietly spoken dentist from Victoria will again have his son Andrew aboard, who is coming up for 20 races south.

The Bird Island race started on Sydney Harbour at 7.00pm last evening and finished at Rushcutters Bay today.

The next race in the Blue Water Pointscore Series is the Cabbage Tree Island Race on November 16, starting at 7.00pm.

For full race results and provisional Blue Water Point Score standings, click here.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia website