by Offshore WA
Hot and sunny conditions with light and fluky winds favoured the fast yachts in the offshore fleet’s annual Mandurah Weekend. Forty of the state’s leading ocean racers were challenged by the conditions, but delighted by local hospitality, confirming the weekend’s status as the most popular event on the offshore racing calendar.
Southern comfort – the General Lee crew enjoyed their trip south to Mandurah.
Competitors enjoyed a spectacular fireworks display, courtesy of the city’s Crab Fest, as they relaxed with crew and rivals at Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club on a balmy evening.
In Saturday’s Halls Head Ocean Race from Fremantle to Mandurah, the leading boats streaked south, leaving the smaller yachts wallowing near Coventry Reef as the easterly breeze fought the weak sou’wester. The high tech lightweight flyers fought out the handicap honours, with Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley’s colourful General Lee eventually triumphing over Royal Freshwater Bay club-mate Gary McNally’s Black Betty.
McNally and his crack crew had revenge in Sunday’s Point Robert Return Race, with Black Betty pipping General Lee by a mere twenty five seconds on corrected time in the five hour race.
In the race to Mandurah, the leading yachts in Division Two worked their way through the tricky wind transitions to finish almost two hours behind the Division One leaders. Peter Hickson’s Mulberry, also from Royal Freshwater Bay, celebrated a well-earned first and fastest, closely pursued by Anthony Kirke’s Archimedes of Fremantle Sailing Club and former Mandurah champion This Way Up, now sailed from Royal Freshwater Bay by Bryan Thurston and Hamish Maddern.
The return race to Fremantle saw Mulberry relegated to third, with the hard-to-beat Bad Habits, sailed by Ian Holder of Hillarys, and Blondie, skippered by Simon Torvaldsen of Royal Perth, enjoying the freshening seabreeze to scorch home to grab first and second respectively.
Northern exposure – Black Betty triumphed in the race back to Fremantle.
The growing double-handed fleet boasted an impressive eight entries, with the multi-skilled Graeme Monkhouse guiding his beautiful J/122 Lithium to line and handicap honours in both directions. Wyuna, sailed by Dennis Vincent and Hilary Arthure, and Highlander, sailed by Jono Zahra, filled the minor places on the journey down. Adrian and Sally Wilson’s Beneteau First 30 Lamotrek displaced Wyuna on the return trip.
The FSC v MOFSC Teams Shield was won by the MOFSC trio of Scavenger (Blay Family), Nyari (Lance Rock) and Dynamic (Laurie and Maddie Flynne), who defeated the FSC team of Finistere (Rob Thomas), Fourth Dimension (Lyn Powell and Ian Whitehead) and Anastasia (Clodagh Irwin). The smaller club will relish bragging rights for the next twelve months.
The offshore fleet was pleased to welcome the debut of Leonie, Mirko Moeller’s new Catalina 35. A number of regular Coastal Cup competitors also enjoyed the challenge contesting the longer form of ocean racing, including Paul and Ceris Arns’ No Rehearsal. The race also marked the return of former offshore stalwarts, Luke Rees’ Stormrider and Bruce Beattie’s Lizard.
The attention of the offshore fleet now turns to The Big One – the 50th Cape Naturaliste & Return race, which starts on Friday 30th March. Royal Perth Yacht Club has already received twenty five entries for the demanding 235 nautical mile blue water event.