WA Blue Water ocean racing - Offshore celebrations tinged with sadness

Kerry Tasker, widow of trophy donor Rolly Tasker who passed away nearly a year ago, presents the trophy.
Bernie Kaaks
The 2012/13 Siska Trophy for the Western Australian Blue Water ocean racing Champion was accepted by an emotional General Lee crew at the annual Offshore Presentation Dinner on Saturday night

Skipper and co-owner Paul Eldrid echoed the thoughts of the WA sailing fraternity when, choking back tears, he spoke of his shock and sadness at the sudden loss of Frank Saraceni. Eldrid’s close friend, club mate and owner of sister-ship Alfresco, passed away suddenly of a heart attack three weeks ago.

The General Lee crew with the magnificent Siska Trophy. From left, Rees Howell, John Suriano, Vern Williamson, Scott Disley, Paul Nevard and Paul Eldrid.
Bernie Kaaks

General Lee’s Siska Trophy capped a stellar season, in which the little orange Bakewell-White 37 also won the Fremantle to Bali Race by a huge margin. As the cream on the cake, core crewman Rees Howell won the Offshore Crewman of the Year Award – quite an achievement as the versatile young sailmaker was also runner-up in both the State and National Sportsboat Championships in his own Shaw 650 Octopussy.

Offshore Race Management Coordinator Cherry Calcott with Skipper of the Year and Blue Water Double-Handed Champion, Todd Giraudo.
Bernie Kaaks

In the Double-Handed Blue Water division, the tough ex-Esperance pairing of owner Todd Giraudo and David 'Dubbo' White sailing the Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 Kraken dominated the results, winning the series on both IRC & YAH handicapping systems. Giraudo and White are looking forward to next season, when the double-handed yachts will compete for overall race and series honours against the fully crewed boats.

'Short-handed boats cannot usually keep up with the fully crewed yachts, even though we are allowed to use our auto-pilots whilst racing', commented White. 'It is physically and mentally demanding, with conservative sail choices, but as competitive types, we like to measure ourselves against the whole fleet. It would be a very long shot for us to win the Siska Trophy, but we will be giving it a crack!'

Giraudo also won the Offshore Skipper of the Year Award.

The Knee Deep crew with the spoils of victory.
Bernie Kaaks

In the twelve race Beneteau Offshore Series, consisting of day races between 20 and 50 nautical miles, victory in Division One went to Phil Childs’ Farr 49 Knee Deep. Division Two was won by Peter Hickson’s well-performed Beneteau First 35 Mulberry. Hickson recently sold the yacht and is in the process of stepping up to a Ker 39, which promises a loud graphics job and the moniker 'ME 2'.

Division Three was dominated by Simon Torvaldsen’s new generation S&S 34 Blondie, which, equipped with such weapons as a Code Zero, was difficult to beat in all conditions. The Double-Handed division was again won by Graeme Monkhouse’s J/122 Lithium, which has proven to be a good choice as a short-handed or fully-crewed cruiser-racer. Monkhouse and wife Heather were unable to attend the dinner, as they are away enjoying the Beyond Bali cruise through the Indonesian archipelago on Steel de Breeze.

The biggest applause of the night went to the delightfully French-accented Isabel Aujoulet-Law, who won the Premier Cruising Series sailing her Spirit 28 Babystar. Unfortunately, the little yacht’s mast broke part way through the season, and a replacement mast or a kind sponsor is sought so that Isabel, the widow of offshore legend George Law, can resume racing. It is also planned to rejuvenate this YAH-only series, returning to its Coastal Cup title and coordinating events with Offshore Series races where possible.

Knee Deep in action in fresh conditions offshore.
Bernie Kaaks

The General in action – Coventry Reef Race, November 2012.
Bernie Kaaks

Full results of the 2012/13 Offshore Season are here:

Sailing Products Australia Premier Cruising Progress Results
Beneteau Offshore Series Div 1 Progress Scores
Beneteau Offshore Series Div 2 Progress Scores - Final
Beneteau Offshore Series Div 3 Progress Scores - Final
Beneteau Offshore Series Double Handed Progress Scores - Final
Evolution Sails Blue Water Series Double Handed - Progress Scores - Final
Evolution Sails Blue Water Series Fully Crewed IRC - Final
Evolution Sails Blue Water Series Fully Crewed YAH - Final
YAH Consistency Trophy - Double Handed - Final
YAH Consistency Trophy - Div 1 - Final
YAH Consistency Trophy - Div 2 - Final
YAH Consistency Trophy - Div 3 - Final