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Cockburn Sound Regatta 2012 - Ends with a splash

by Bernie Kaaks on 31 Dec 2012
Whip It, a Firefly 850 cat, competed in Division 2 and won, wowing spectators with a spectacular nosedive on the finish line on the last day. Bernie Kaaks
Cockburn Sound Regatta 2012 came to a pulsating finish as Greg Hill’s Firely 850 Whip overcame shifty wind patterns to take the final race and Division 2 title on a spectacular fashion, capping a successful four-day sailing event in Rockingham.

Peter Hickson’s Beneteau First 35 Mulberry captured Division 1 IRC crown with a perfect score while Graeme Monkhouse' J122 Lithium placed second with 10 points. On the other hand, Graeme Martin’s Gibsea 42 Sand Crabs Disco took the Jib and Main fleet division while Anita Wyntje’s UFO 34 Flying Sorceress rounded out the top-2 finishers.


With the Cruising Yacht Club’s balcony loaded with sponsors and VIP’s and an unseasonal, gusty 18 to 20 knot north easterly breeze creating a downwind finish, Greg Hill’s Firefly 850 Whip It made the final dash to the line with a devastating burst, then dug the bows in, discharged a crew member over the stern and for several agonizing seconds, sat with her hull perpendicular to the water. Just as it appeared that it would fully turn turtle, the bows popped back up and the little yacht took off again with the spinnaker flogging wildly, until finally, with a rescue boat standing by, it was brought under control.



It was a spectacular finale to a glorious four day regatta, for many of the monohulls also had trouble on the tight reach to the finish line, bringing many a gasp from the spectators.

In the final analysis, most of the favourites finished the regatta off well. The 83-year-old International 9 metre Acrospire, sailed by Gary Martin, took out the trophy for the newly formed Classic Division, from Jay Lawry’s Herreschoff 28 Karoleeya.

The stand-out yacht though, and overall regatta champion, was Peter Hickson’s Beneteau First 35 Mulberry, which cleaned up some well credentialed IRC colleagues to win with a perfect score, dropping her second place from yesterday’s penultimate race. Graeme Monkhouse sailed a very consistent regatta in his J122 Lithium, to take out second place with 10 points.



Although there was an acknowledged problem in accommodating a multihull in a monohull fleet, there was no doubt at all that Greg Hill sailed an excellent regatta, and as his wipeout on the finish line today confirmed, they sailed their little boat very, very hard throughout. That is not to take anything away from the second placegetter, the little Sonar yacht (which is designed for sailors with disabilities and carries no spinnaker) skippered by Paralympic bronze medallist Colin Harrison. Harrison’s control of the boat after finishing, requiring a downwind approach to a steel mooring pontoon (which they needed for wheelchair access) was breathtaking.

Division 3 was always a close affair and with just two points separating first and third places, the last race determined the outcome. Steve Morris took the honours in Freedom, followed by Ally Mounsey’s Austral 24 Lokman, with a further point back to Colin Jones’ little MB21 Anelaua.



The largest division in this year’s regatta was the Jib and Main fleet, with 19 entries. The popular winner, by half a point, was Graeme Martin’s Gibsea 42 Sand Crabs Disco. The fast finishing UFO 34 Flying Sorceress, sailed by Anita Wyntje, with wins in both the final two races, took out second place.

Sports boats sailed under a performance handicapping system, won by Bob von Felton’s Caffe Macchiato ahead of Mark Robins and Natalie Jackson’s Shaw 650 Shaw Thing. Shaw Thing was so dominant during the week that she finished with a higher TCF than the winner.



In the end, everyone was a winner. Even the Catalina distributor, Vicsail’s Tony Bewsher, saw the funny side of his product being misrepresented during one of the acknowledgements. The wholesome support of the entire Rockingham community, led by the City of Rockingham and the Kwinana Industries Council, is one of the factors responsible for the rejuvenation of this regatta. It began in the 1950’s, flourished through the 1970’s and almost died until members Alan Campbell and Roger Smailes made a commitment to put it back on track just three years ago.

Their formula has been simple. Strong support from the local community enabled the club to make the event accessible, affordable and fun. Little give-aways, novelty prizes, and low cost meals were great, but the spirit of enthusiasm that these two have been able to generate from their own membership has created an atmosphere where every visitor to the club is made to feel welcome.



On-water management was provided in the main by the WA Offshore race team, led by race officer Trevor Milton, who did a fine job in ensuring that the full program was delivered despite some difficult conditions early in the week.

It would be a safe bet that numbers will increase for the fourth consecutive year in 2013 as the word spreads about just how good this little regatta has become.

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