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Western Australian Offshore Race Officer requests faster RIB

by Laurie Flynne on 22 Sep 2010
The hot new Bakewell-White 37 "General Lee" blasts out to Rottnest Island. - George Law Foundation Ocean Race Bernie Kaaks - copyright

The spectacular WA Offshore debut of Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley's hot new Bakewell-White 37 'General Lee' in Saturday's season opener, the 42nm George Law Foundation Race, led Race Officer Trevor Milton to request a faster RIB for future offshore races.


'We just couldn't keep up when The General cracked their kite', lamented Trevor after the race. 'That yacht had a top speed of more than 32 knots in the Auckland to Fiji race- we need a much faster RIB.'

An impressive total of forty-six yachts entered the event, which was conducted in an ideal 15-20 knot easterly which flicked south-east at about midday.

In Offshore Division One, the big-boat battle between the three Marten 49s 'Optimus Prime', 'Charlotte' and 'Sue Sea', the Farr 49 'Knee Deep' and the Farr 47 'Sled' was over-shadowed by the exciting off-wind display from the smaller and lighter RFBYC trio of 'General Lee', 'The Next Factor' and 'Al Fresco'. The threesome hung in for the upwind legs to take the IRC places in that order, with line honours winner 'Optimus Prime' and 'Sled' recording a rare IRC dead-heat for fourth.

'General Lee' scored the double, taking first under the performance-based YAH handicap system, with 'Al Fresco' and 'Sled' taking the minor placings. 'General Lee' owners Eldrid and Disley were over the moon with their yacht's debut, especially after the massive effort of building the yacht in Auckland, racing her to Fiji and then bringing her to Perth by ship. 'Sled' skipper Tony Mitchell also had a big grin after his modified all-carbon racer showed big up-wind performance gains from her new keel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2CccHMHYmM&feature=player_embedded#!Click_here to see the video of General Lee at pace

Offshore Division Two featured an epic six-and-a-half hour battle for line honours between former dual Siska Trophy winner Luke Rees sailing 'Stormrider' and Greg Reynolds Mandurah-based flyer 'Without Fear'. Despite blowing out his biggest spinnaker, Reynolds grabbed the honours by a mere 23 seconds, but it was Kevin Brownie's competitive 'Total Recall' (S97), finishing only four minutes behind the lead pair, that earned a large and well-deserved victory under IRC. Simon Torvldson's 'Blondie', an S&S34 constructed of carbon fibre but qualifying for a 1950's design age allowance, again proved difficult to beat under IRC, taking second place, by 1 ½ minutes from 'Without Fear'. Under YAH, it was 'Total Recall' first, 'Without Fear' second and 'Stormrider' and 'Intension' equal third, making it a good day for WA designed and built Swarbrick yachts.

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The newly-created Coastal Cup, for non-IRC yachts meeting safety category 4, attracted five entries, including 'Baby Star', a Spirit 28 sailed by George Law's widow, Isabel Aujoulet-Law. Dominic Papaluca's 'Kiwi Express' (Whiting 32) took first place, Paul Arns' new yacht 'No Rehearsal' second and 'Baby Star' a popular third. Rounding out the fleet were 'Anastasia' (Beneteau Oceanis 33) and 'Double Vision' (Cole 32). Organisers are expecting growth in this tier of offshore racing, which suits cruiser-racer style yachts of all sizes and is akin to the 'cruising' divisions at major regattas.

The three entries in the Double-Handed division, competing for the Perie Banou Trophy, were WA sailing legend John Holder, sailing 'Plus 16' (Farr 38), Stephen Keay's Busselton yacht 'Mean Feat' and Les Middleditch's Beneteau 36.7 'Raya'. The wily Holder took the honours from Middleditch under IRC, but the order was reversed under YAH, with 'Mean Feat' third. Although the starting numbers for this fleet are modest, overseas evidence suggests that double-handed sailing will be a strong growth area for ocean and coastal racing, as confirmed by FSC's well-supported Terry Fisher Series.

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WA Offshore Racing now takes a short recess to allow sailors to participate in their (and other) club's opening day festivities during October. This courtesy has been honoured by many clubs programming their fixtures to allow members to compete in both meaningful offshore and club seasons. The next races on the calendar are the 42nd Geraldton Classic for the Blue Water Fleet on Friday 22nd October, and the Cape Vlamingh Race for the Offshore, Coastal and Double-Handed Fleets on Saturday 23rd October.

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