Ocean racing reputations will be made and lost this Saturday in Fremantle Sailing Club’s 75 nautical mile Westender Ocean Race, the final race on the offshore program.
Dubbed the 'race to nowhere', the course takes the fleet over the horizon west of Rottnest Island, around a couple of hard-to-locate buoys (the 'FADs' – fish-attracting devices), then back to the finish line at Fremantle. Traditionally an overnight race, the event has been given a daylight format this year, though all but the fastest yachts in the fleet are expected to finish after dark.
In the prestigious Evolution Sails Blue Water Series for the Siska Trophy, Tony Mitchell’s Farr 47 Sled holds a slim lead from Trevor Taylor’s Marten 49 Optimus Prime, with Phil Childs’ and Frank van Ruth’s Farr 49 Knee Deep and Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley’s Bakewell-White 37 General Lee locked together in third place, and probably too far back to challenge. But in a fleet of seventeen yachts, between two and thirty-four points could be lost, so a big swing and a surprise result are possible.
In the second-tier Archambault Offshore Series, Ian Holder’s legendary Whiting 32 Bad Habits has already wrapped up the overall trophy, but the competition for honours within the Division One and Two fleets remains intense. In Division One, Frank Saraceni’s BW36 Al Fresco, with 65 points lost, holds a narrow lead from Jon Hanson’s Elan 410 Wasabi (67 points) and Scott Glaskin’s Foundation 36 The X Factor (69 points). John Moore’s Marten 49 Charlotte is only one point behind, and ready to pounce if the leaders put a foot wrong, with General Lee (76 points) an outside chance if results fall her way.
Division Two sees the bolter Bad Habits (36 points) in an unassailable position and Simon Torvaldsen’s S&S34 Blondie (47 points) looking comfortable in second place. The battle for third remains lively, with Bill Burbidge’s Farr 36 Le Truck (65 points) fighting it out with Ian Brownie’s S97 Total Recall (66 points).
Smooth Unit – John Moore’s Charlotte can challenge for Offshore Division One victory. - Bernie Kaaks - copyright