by Bernie Kaaks
With her owner at home recovering from a chemotherapy session, crewman Ryan Binedell took the helm of the Bull 9000 Wild Bull in the 2014 Club Marine Fremantle Harbour Classic.
Wild Bull on her way to the eastern mark for the final time
The pursuit race saw 30 yachts ranging from Ross Swanson’s 62 footer Syrenka down to a little Thompson 7 sportsboat sailed by Mandurah yachtsman Greg Reynolds doing battle within the confines of Fremantle Harbour.
In normal circumstances, the 30 minute start sequence would allow for four short laps of the harbour and a race time of 1 ½ to two hours, but the Fremantle Doctor refused to cooperate this year and instead of a fresh sea breeze, yachts had to contend with a breeze that barely rose above five knots and varied between north easterly and north westerly. Race Officer Trevor Milton had no hesitation in shortening the course to two laps.
Well executed gybes in the light air resulted in big gains for some. 2014 Club Marine Fremantle Harbour Classic
Crowded mark roundings within the confines of the harbour were interesting, resulting in big gains for the skippers who thought out their tactics. Emerging from the traffic jam at the eastern end of the course for the final time were three yachts, Wild Bull, Panthera and Problem Child, enjoying a break from the rest of the field as they slugged it out over the long leg to a mark near the harbour entrance.
Binedell kept his cool in the agonisingly fluky airs, keeping Wild Bull between the wind and the two yachts chasing him, to round the top mark for the final time, hoist a spinnaker for the 500 metre dash for the finish line in front of the Maritime Museum, and win the race by a margin of more than a minute.