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West Coaster Ocean Race at Freemantle Sailing Club

by J-boats 8 Dec 08:21 PST
Joss and Weapon of Choice - 2018 Rockingham Race Regatta © RFBYC

More "Thunder from Down Under!" Ian Clyne's JOSS recently won the 140.0nm 2018 West Coaster Ocean Race off Perth, Western Australia. Here is the report from Tony Bewsher, crewing aboard the J/122.

"A very competitive fleet took part in the West Coaster 140nm overnight race on the weekend of the 24/25 November. The course was westerly from Fremantle, around Cape Vlamingh (the western end of Rottnest Island), then a 65.0nm northwards leg to a virtual mark set just of the historic coastal fishing town of Lancelin, and finally back south to the finish in Fremantle.

The race started in 8-10 knots SSW winds with the fleet jostling for position on the 1.0nm upwind beat to the first mark. JOSS rounded in 3rd position behind "Dirty Deeds" & "Weapon of Choice", then the fleet sailed off on a broad reach out to the Western Windmills Fairway mark off the SE corner of Rottnest Island followed by an upwind beat in a dropping breeze along the south side of the island to Cape Vlamingh (the most westerly tip of the island and extremely exposed to the full forces of the Indian Ocean).

As the fleet approached Cape Vlamingh, the winds almost dropped out completely, making the rounding a slow frustrating affair. With an ever-growing cloud line slowly building on the horizon, the fleet edged westwards in our search for stronger more consistent breeze.

Big Sails help win big races, and as the clouds built overhead, the wind grew sufficiently for everyone to hoist their biggest spinnakers.

JOSS hoisted our big "Bright Green" A1.5 Spinnaker for this 65.0nm downwind run. The wind built steadily throughout the afternoon to 15-18 knots. We found ourselves duelling all the way to the Lancelin mark with "Obsession" (Mat1180) and "Weapon of Choice" (FB35). We even managed to pass these higher IRC rated boats midway along the track, only to have them battle back to lead us by a few hundred metres around the virtual top mark off Lancelin at approx. 2100 hrs Saturday night.

With a stunning full moon lighting up the ocean, we sailed for Fremantle in a more moderate breeze, maintaining contact with the 4 faster & lighter Div 1 yachts ahead of us. At sunrise we witnessed a beautiful Western Australian dawn with JOSS leading the fleet in both IRC & YAH, and eventually crossing the finish line at Fremantle at 0700 hrs Sunday morning in a time of 21:35:37.

Our winning margin on IRC was an impressive 27 minutes to the second placed boat "Obsession", and 45 minutes to the 3rd placed boat "Alfresco".

It was 22 hours of perfect sailing conditions for JOSS with fluctuating winds between 8-18 knots and moving from an early light southerly on Saturday morning, swinging west and building until sunset throughout Saturday, then moderating over night to finish in an easterly land breeze.

The 140nm "WestCoaster" was a much more enjoyable sail compared to the recent similar distance overnight race, the "3 Ports Race" being knocked down 3 times during the night by 60-70 knot winds!!!

In sailing, winning is often a combination of great sailing by the boat & crew, and an equal measure of the "sea gods smiling on you". There were many smiles over this weekend.

"Joss" has started the 2018/19 ORWA Offshore Season in strong form with two wins in Div 1 IRC, a second, & a fifth, and three wins in Div 1 YAH & a fifth place, against a very competitive fleet of top teams here in the West."

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