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Mandurah Weekend Best Ever

by YWA Offshore on 23 Mar 2011
Slippery Sled - Tony Mitchell's newly IRC-optimised Farr 47 "Sled" is having an outstanding offshore season. Bernie Kaaks - copyright
The Mandurah Weekend, organised by Fremantle Sailing Club and hosted by Mandurah Offshore Fishing & Sailing Club, is traditionally a light weather event, but this year’s consistent southerlies offered competing yachts exciting sailing and fast passages.

Perfect weather, warm hospitality and excellent race management led competitors and organizers alike to declare last weekend’s ocean races to and from Mandurah the best ever.

The weekend kicked off 9.30 on Saturday morning with the Halls Head Ocean Race, over a 34 nautical mile course from Fremantle to Mandurah via the seaward side of Garden Island and Coventry Reef. The modern 49-footers Charlotte, Optimus Prime, Sue Sea and Knee Deep looked to be favoured by the upwind course, but it was Garth Curran’s veteran Inglis 57 Walk on the Wildside that surprised many to finish at 2.04pm and take line honours. TCYC Rockingham Commodore Trevor Taylor’s Optimus Prime was seven minutes astern, with Marten 49 sistership Charlotte, skippered by Mandurah construction mogul John Moore, four minutes further back.

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The race marked the offshore reappearance of the Inglis 47 Scavenger, recently acquired from Geraldton by prominent Mandurah sailors, the Blay family. The big yacht finished eleventh over the line in the 18-yacht Division One fleet, but was not favoured by the upwind course.

Handicap results under the prestigious international IRC rating system saw first place in Division One go to Tony Mitchell’s newly-optimized Farr 47 Sled, by 4 minutes from Optimus Prime, with delighted Mandurah residents Laurie & Maddie Flynne’s new Archambault A40RC Aardvark, representing Fremantle Sailing Club, taking third.

Under the performance-based YAH handicapping system, Walk on the Wildside was a popular Division One winner, from Fremantle Rear Commodore Ole Otness (and wife Annie’s) Adams 13 The Longboat. Sled added a third place, only 19 seconds behind The Longboat.

In the competitive ten-yacht Division Two fleet, Ian Jamieson’s lightweight flyer Intension finished at 3.45pm to take line honours from fierce rival and Fremantle clubmate, Jonno Zahra’s Highlander. The offshore heavyweights on Ian Holder’s Bad Habits, of Hillarys Yacht Club, were third across the line.

Under IRC handicaps, Bad Habits wrestled the win by a comfortable eight minutes from Simon Torvaldsen’s beautiful new Royal Perth-based S&S34 Blondie. Bad Habits’ Whiting 32 near-sistership Traffic Jam, skippered by East Fremantle Commodore (and Mandurah Past Commodore) Peter Kennington, was third. The YAH results saw Intension add a first to her fastest time, with Traffic Jam second and Highlander third.


In the heroic Double-Handed Division, Dennis Vincent and Hilary Arthure’s latest Wyuna, a Beneteau First 34.7, took the triple, winning line honours, IRC and YAH. It was a remarkable result for the mature-aged Vincent and diminutive, but supremely fit, Arthure, as the slippery Beneteaus are regarded as being lively in a breeze, even fully-crewed. John Holder’s Plus 16 took second place under YAH from Dave McReady’s Tom Cat, with the minor placings reversed on IRC.

After a night of dining and story-telling at Mandurah Offshore Fishing & Sailing Club, the well-rested yachtsmen and women rose early on Sunday morning to contest the Point Robert Return Ocean Race, which follows the reverse route back to Fremantle.

Division Two and the Double-Handed fleet get twenty and fifteen minute head starts in the Point Robert race, and took off for the northerly horizon while the Division One glamour yachts milled around in the 10 knot south-easterly, waiting for their start. Experienced Mandurah and Fremantle Race Officer Robin Olsen set a windward day buoy just off the marina breakwater and the fleet got away cleanly despite the popularity of the boat end of the start line.

After the short leg to the day buoy and a hair-raising but incident-free rounding, the fleet of seventeen big boats hoisted spinnakers and made a colourful sight as they scooted away from Mandurah. With the fickle south-easterly breeze forecast to swing south and freshen, a split in the fleet soon developed as a small group of yachts, led by Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley’s General Lee and John Moore’s Charlotte, elected to go wide out west to meet the new breeze.

The bulk of the fleet, however, stuck to the northerly rhumbline and slid up the outside of the Murray Reefs towards Garden Island. The breeze built to 20 knots from the south, the majority ruled, and the westerly group of General Lee, Charlotte, Aardvark, Al Fresco and Finistere found themselves well behind their benchmarks as they entered Challenger Passage at the northern end of Garden Island.

The smaller yachts that had taken the direct route were looking famous as the fleet hammered down the Cockburn shipping channel with more than 25 knots at 150 degrees true wind angle. Some interesting spinnaker work was observed, including Jon Hanson’s Elan 410 Wasabi destroying her new green kite in an impromptu prawning expedition. It was suggested that Jon, who owns a sushi business, was looking to stock up for the week ahead.

Double-Handed entry Wyuna also had a taste of short-handed drama, with a little Beneteau dance causing crew Hilary Arthure to take a refreshing swim. With half the crew in the water and the full-sized purple spinnaker cleated off and filling, the cool-headed Dennis Vincent did well to retrieve Hilary, re-balance the yacht and continue the race, whilst the passing crew of Aardvark kept a close eye on their good friends’ welfare.

After a brisk and exciting race, it was Walk on the Wildside that crossed the Fremantle finish line first in a time of only three hours 34 minutes. Yet again, Optimus Prime and Knee Deep crossed the line locked together, fighting out second place, but this time it was Optimus Prime that got the nod- by a mere two seconds, eight minutes behind Wildside.

The IRC results confirmed a small-boat race, with an excited Jon Hanson taking the Division One win in Wasabi, despite the prawning run. Hanson acknowledged the role of Perth-based French sailing legend Philippe Peche in the victory, particularly in keeping the crew focused and the boat moving fast, whilst being pleasant company at the same time. Second place went to skiff aficionado Scott Glaskin, sailing his champion Bakewell-White 36 The X Factor, with Roger Passmore’s sporty Northshore 369 Aquila a close third.

Under YAH, Aquila took the win, from Lyn Powell and Ian Whitehead’s Dufour 40 Fourth Dimension second and Wasabi third.

In Division Two, Highlander exacted revenge by taking line honours in 4 hours 18 minutes, from Intension and Bad Habits. The IRC result mirrored the previous day, with the dominant Bad Habits winning from Blondie and Traffic Jam. Under YAH, it was Highlander’s double, from Traffic Jam and offshore guru Bill Burbidge’s Le Truck.

The successful weekend should be enough for Bad Habits to secure the overall win in the Archambault Offshore Series, the middle-tier competition in the WA Offshore Program. With two of the eleven races still to be sailed, it does not appear that any Division One or Two yachts can catch the tough little boat.

In Double-Handed IRC, it was Plus 16 first, from Scott Olsen’s Max and Wyuna, whilst YAH saw Max win from Plus 16 and Wyuna.

The attention of offshore sailors now turns to Royal Perth’s busy Naturaliste Weekend on first and 2nd April, which sees the Blue Water Fleet head south in the 235 nautical mile 48th Cape Naturaliste and Return Race, the Offshore Fleet doing the 48nm Coventry and Return Race and the Coastal and Double-Handed fleets contesting the 30nm Rockingham & Return Race.


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