by Offshore WA
Wild conditions in the aftermath of a major storm greeted the thirty-two hardy competitors in Fremantle Sailing Club’s George Law Foundation ocean race on Saturday. The race is the opening race of the 2012/13 offshore season, and the first heat of the Beneteau Offshore Series and FSC’s Success Cup. It commemorates the life of Fremantle yachtsman George Law.
Tough Babe – Race Sponsor Isabel Aujoulet-Law sailing Babystar was unperturbed by the wild conditions.
With the cold south-westerly breeze gusting to twenty five knots and producing a two metre wind wave on a five to seven metre swell, the race committee opted for the inshore 'heavy weather' course, rather than sending the fleet on the usual 42-miler around Rottnest Island then home through Challenger Passage.
'In those conditions, there is a fair probability of large breaking waves on Five Fathom Bank and in Challenger Passage, both of which are unavoidable on the normal course,' explained Race Officer Trevor Milton. 'The semi-protected course down Cockburn Sound made much more sense.'
Heavy Weather – The fleet runs down Cockburn Sound.
The fleets got away on time, with most yachts opting for a reefed mainsail and crews fully-kitted with PFDs and tethers. A wet upwind leg through the shipping channel mellowed into a tight reach across Cockburn Sound to Kwinana, with the forecast rain squalls holding off and sunshine prevailing. A square run up the Henderson shoreline held no perils, and by the time the yachts dropped their spinnakers at the Jervoise Bay mark, the breeze had moderated and most had shaken out their reefs.
After a gusty fetch across to the north end of Garden Island to check out the breakers, the yachts enjoyed a run and reach back to the finish line at South Mole. First to finish was Phil Childs’ Hillarys-based Farr 49 Knee Deep in just over three hours, but Tony Mitchell’s Farr 47 Sled (RFBYC) relegated Knee Deep to second place in Offshore Division One on IRC handicap. Rob Halvorsen’s Farr 395 Giddy Up (FSC) was third. However, Knee Deep prevailed on YAH handicap, from the Marten 49 Sue Sea (Brian Todd, FSC) and Sled.
In Offshore Division Two, the Sydney 36 This Way Up (Bryan Thurston and Hamish Maddern, RFBYC) looked the winner all day, revelling in the bumpy conditions to record the line honours/IRC double. This Way Up even had time to perform an impromptu wind check and pirouette just before crossing the finish. The TWU crew has been working hard to prepare for this year’s Sydney-Hobart Race, and will be satisfied with their last hit-out in WA before the boat goes on the truck for Sydney next week
Minor placings under IRC went to Bill Henson’s well-sailed C&C 115 Circa (FSC), from the consistent Blondie, Simon Torvaldsen’s S&S34 from RPYC. Under YAH handicap, it was Circa from This Way Up, with Brian Baillie’s Titan 36 Adrenalin Rush (FSC) third.
Organisers were pleased to see the Offshore Series debuts of Graeme Cole’s Cole 32 Double Vision (EFYC) and Paul Arns’ Hanse 40 No Rehearsal (FSC), both of which competed in the Premier Cruising division last year, as well as newcomer Not Negotiable, John Rayner’s UFO 34 from Claremont Yacht Club.
In the thrill-seeking Offshore Double-Handed division, five pairs braved the conditions, with regular Kraken, Todd Giraudo’s Jeanneau Sunfast 3200, electing to stay home at Hillarys rather than endure the long upwind delivery. Graeme Monkhouse’s J/122 Lithium (FSC) overcame spinnaker furler problems to take the line honours/IRC double, from the Beneteau First 30 Lamotrek (Adrian & Sally Wilson, FSC) and the new Sunfast 3200 Cutty Wren (Peter Henley, FSC). On YAH, it was Cutty Wren, from Lamotrek, Lithium, Leonie (Mirko Moeller, FSC) and Leisl (Chris Hogan, RPYC).
Although conditions were not conducive to the Premier Cruising fraternity, two yachts greeted the starter, with Mark Trupp’s Chiara (FSC) retiring early. Race sponsor Isabel Aujoulet-Law and her crew on the Spirit 28 Babystar proved yet again that are made of stern stuff, completing the course successfully to once again have their name engraved on the George Law perpetual trophy bell, the last bell cast by Law Foundries.
The offshore fleet now takes a five-week break for club opening days, returning with Royal Perth’s choice of the demanding 235 nautical mile 51st Cape Naturaliste & Return Race on Friday 26th October or the Rockingham and Return Race on the following day.
Big Day Out – Circa showed great form in the breezy conditions to record first on YAH and second on IRC in Offshore Division Two.
Red Rocket – Giddy Up steams into the finish to score the IRC third place in Offshore Division One.
Which Way? – This Way Up finally found the right way to win Offshore Division Two.
White Water – The fleet sails west from Jervoise Bay towards a wall of breakers in Challenger Passage.