SPORT — Lahana takes line honours in Bird Island Race


Peter Millard and John Honan’s 98ft maxi Lahana

has won line honours in the 85nm Bird Island race early on Saturday morning in a race time of 9 hours, 38 mins and 37 secs, outside of race record time.

Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin took first place in the IRC Division, winning the Janzoon Trophy, closely followed by Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki with Bob Steel’s TP52 Quest in third.

The fleet of 25 yachts started racing at 1900hrs in 20 to 25kts of north-northwest breeze and once offshore, experienced strong northeast winds heading to Bird Island.

After a terrible start, Stephen Ainsworth’s RP63 Loki recovered to make it out of the heads first. Peter Millard and John Honan’s 98ft maxi Lahana had a conservative start, but made up ground throughout the race to eventually take the line honours win. 

It was a great night out for those onboard Lahana reported owner Peter Millard. “It was tremendous to enjoy our first bit of downwind pressure on the way home since we’ve had the boat. She performed brilliantly in the conditions and it was nice to get home before the sand storm hit.”

Ainsworth was pleased with his results. “We had a dreadful start and were down to one knot of boat speed but seemed to pull it all together to make it out of the heads first. There was less breeze than we had anticipated and it stayed in the northeast, which meant that the race record was safe for another year.

“It was on the nose all the way up to Bird Island, rather than making one good tack and sailing away. We lost the lead to Lahana and spent most of the race trying to run her down.

“Once we rounded the island, it was a fast ride home with the boat never under 20kts. It was a great way to finish a race,” Ainsworth said. 

Loki finished second across the line, just 10 minutes behind Lahana in a race time of 9hrs, 48 mins and 50 seconds.

Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll was forced to retire from the race on Saturday morning after the boat sustained rudder damage just four nautical miles off Sydney Heads.

“There was a large bang and we realised that one of the rudders had broken. We must have hit something, but I’m not sure what it was. We were sailing home with the boat doing over 23kts when we had to stop her quickly by going straight head to wind

“I’m glad this happened now and not on the way to Hobart. We’ll ship the rudder to New Zealand to have it repaired and we’ll be back for the Flinders Island Race.

“Up until we sustained the damage, I was happy with the boat’s performance and was achieving my goal of trying to get the most out of the boat and its handling ability offshore,” Hiatt said.
John Cameron’s Dibley 46 More Witchcraft retired prior to the start of the race due to engine problems and Andrew Wenham’s Peterson 44 SES Inch by Winch was forced to retire from the race with a broken shroud.

Roger Hickman’s Farr 43 Wild Rose took first place in the PHS Division winning the George Barton Trophy. David Beak’s Beneteau First 44.7 Mr Beaks Ribs finished second with Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas’ modified Farr 40 AFR Midnight Rambler third.

AFR Midnight Rambler still leads the Blue Water Pointscore despite another tough race that brought back memories of the Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race in July. The gamble to stay inshore or go offshore to pick up additional breeze was a tough decision, with AFR Midnight Rambler taking the offshore option but not going out too far.

“It was not one of our best races, but we aim to be consistent throughout the entire Blue Water Pointscore Series,” said Psaltis.

“We kept tacking in to try to pick up any additional land breeze but to no avail. When we reached Nora Head, we had true northeast breeze and once we rounded Bird Island, we picked up the northwest breeze. This gave us a good run for 25 miles with our masthead kite full.

“We got hit by the dust storm east of Cape Three Point and the breeze shifted to west-southwest as we approached Barranjoey. This meant that for the last 14 miles of the race, the breeze was on the nose again,” Psaltis said.

Photos: Peter Millard and John Honan’s 98ft maxi Lahana line honours winner of the Bird Island Race; Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin, winner IRC Division and the 53rd Janzoon Trophy. (Photos by Andrea Francolini).