Pigeon, Boat Cross Tacks Nearly 500 Miles Off Oz

Two long-distance races intersected when a racing pigeon blown off course in its race from Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia, to Coffs Harbour landed exhausted on the deck of a yacht racing from Sydney to Lord Howe Island in early October. Strong northerly winds reaching 45 knots)had battered the Sydney to Lord Howe fleet overnight and had obviously blown the pigeon from his track.

Skipper Mike Thurston from the 50-foot Drina, in the doublehanded race, reported that the racing pigeon was sheltered under the wind dodger for some hours before accepting Weetabix and water. Reporting by satellite phone, Thurston explained, ’We have strict racing rules, that don’t allow us outside assistance and we thought that a homing pigeon might be ruled as providing navigational assistance. However, our race committee has advised that as it’s a doublehanded race, and the pigeon has no hands, there will be no penalty.

"The wind was still blowing hard about 60 miles south of Lord Howe Island, and the pigeon rested comfortably belowdeck. He has his own berth. We won’t be stopping at Lord Howe but sailing straight back to the mainland. We will release him somewhere around Port Stephens on the way back.

The Coffs Harbour racing-pigeon owner advised that his bird would fly straight back to Coffs Harbour from there. For more news on the Short Handed Sailing Association www.ssaa.com.au