Black Jack clean sweep

Black Jack won both line and overall honours in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 2022 Bird Island Race.

Photography by CYCA

14 November 2022


Peter Harburg’s Reichel/Pugh 100 Black Jack has won both line and overall honours in the 2022 Bird Island Race.

The 83nm race around Bird Island – approximately 3nm north east of Norah Head – was the fourth race in the 2022/23 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore.

A fleet of 55 boats started the race at 1000hrs on Saturday, with a light 6-8 knot nor’easter making it a rather slow procession out of Sydney Harbour.

Black Jack, which won Line Honours in the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, was first out of the Heads, closely followed by URM Group, Moneypenny, Andoo Comanche and Whisper.

Andoo Comanche (skippered by John Winning Sr) was forced to retire shortly after the start, citing a hydraulics issue, as Black Jack picked up speed offshore and broke away from the mini-maxis.


With an average speed of 8.7kts, Black Jack returned to Sydney Harbour in 9 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds to secure Line Honours.

The lighter conditions endured by the rest of the fleet on Saturday afternoon and evening ensured the maxi also claimed the overall win (IRC), as well as victory on ORCi and PHS handicaps.

“Once we could get outside and stretch our legs a bit, our boat is just totally moded for those conditions,” Bradford said. “If we don’t win those races, we won’t win any.

“The strength we’ve got is that we didn’t stop throughout the whole COVID period. When you’re running a sporting team, it takes so long to get it finely tuned, and not stopping like everyone else meant we’ve been taking small steps for years and we’re in a good spot.

“This was probably the best we’ve sailed in the whole time we’ve been together (since 2008), so hopefully we’re not peaking too early!”

Bradford had highly anticipated the battle with Andoo Comanche as the build-up to the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart ramps up.

“It is disappointing, because there is so much hype around that boat and it was a real opportunity to show we have a competitive boat, good crew and all the pieces are in place on our project,” he said.

“I understand though. The boat is very complicated and it’s pretty easy to have a gear failure on one of these boats.”

Sean Langman’s Reichel/Pugh 69 Moneypenny was second overall to continue an outstanding Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore campaign.

Moneypenny won the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race, was second in the Flinders Islet Race and third in the Tollgate Islands Race.

URM Group, Anthony Johnston’s Reichel/Pugh 72, skippered by Marcus Ashley-Jones, was third overall for a third consecutive podium finish, having won the Flinders Islet Race and finished second in the Tollgate Islands Race.

The two-handed J/99 Rum Rebellion, co-skippered by owner Shane Connelly and Tony Sutton, won IRC Division 2, ahead of another two-hander, Transcendence Crento (Martin Cross and John Cross), and Carl Crafoord’s Cookson 12 Sail Exchange.

Rum Rebellion also won the Two-Handed Division (IRC), while Crux won Two-Handed ORCi.

Currawong, Kathy Veel’s Currawong 30 co-skippered by Bridget Canham, was the final boat across the line at 6.36pm on Sunday.

The pair had an impressive first outing in the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore, winning PHS Division 2 and Two-Handed PHS.

Currawong, which will race in the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart, was also 20th overall and fifth on IRC in the Two-Handed Division.

There were 15 retirements from the Bird Island Race, mostly due to time constraints.

The penultimate race in the 2022/23 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore is the 172nm Cabbage Tree Island Race, which begins at 1900hrs on Friday 2 December.

The series finale is the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart, with 119 boats currently entered for the 77th edition of the iconic race.

View the full results on the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore website.

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