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Ocean racing season opens in WA with a thrilling day on the water

by ORWA/Suzzi Ghent 22 Sep 23:26 PDT

The season opener for Ocean Racing WA was a challenging day at sea for the twenty two teams. Hosted by five Organising Authority Clubs, Fremantle Sailing Club kick started the offshore racing series for 2020-2021 with the Foundation Race, George Law Memorial. There were two course options for the Cat 3 event but with strong winds forecast Race Officer Trevor Milton made a good call to race the coastal course, inside the islands and not send the yachts around the West End of Rottnest.

President of Ocean Racing WA, Anthony Kirke commented "Great to see FSC get the summer season under way with the George Law Memorial Race on Saturday. With plenty of breeze forecast, the RO made a sensible decision with the Course 2 option. Most yachts elected to take on the conditions with many keen to shake out the cobwebs of extended lay overs during the winter."

The fleet includes quite a mix of boats and crew experience, all racing together across two divisions. From the older designs such as Michael Thorpe's Soon, an S&S 34 and the Farr 1104 Cannonball, to the racier boats including Hugh Warner's Ocean Ranger (Infiniti 36), Simon Torvaldsen's Atomic Blonde (JPK 10.80) and Weapon of Choice, Mark Nagle's Fred Barrett 35.

Sailors from WA often travel to broaden their experience and take on new challenges. Many individuals and whole teams have contested the Sydney to Hobart. More recently, the teams from Cannonball on a chartered yacht, Indian who makes the journey across as a full team and Anthony Kirke's Enterprise. This season Anthony's team have chartered a Farr MRX locally for the WA season. They are racing under the name Enterprise SP after having a tremendous year on the east coast in 2019-2020 on their Farr 40 Enterprise including a Division 4 win in the race to Hobart and some excellent results in the Australian Yachting Championships.

These teams bring back this experience to the local fleet in WA but are always faced with some very close racing from the seasoned locals.

A close race is always on in the Division Two fleet. David Davenport's team on the Sunfast 3600 Crush reporting that it was game on again to start the new season alongside Atomic Blonde. Simon's team took this win with less than a minute between them both on IRC corrected time. Not far behind was the double handed team Kraken, also a Jeanneau Sunfast 3600, launched last year with Todd Giraudo and Dubbo White on board. In the PHS results Kraken won with Baci in second followed by Crush.

Also in Division Two, Wyuna (a 10m Beneteau) helmed by Hilary Arthure for the race, reported that they managed over 9 knots of speed with 2 reefs in the main and a #4 headsail. They experienced 39 knots of wind at times and she commented that their never give up attitude got them through the wet and cold times with moments of hail too.

In Division One the experienced team on Obsession, (MAT 1245, Paul and Ceris Arns) had foil damage early on and retired while the Carkeek 47 Indian owned by Craig Carter and helmed by sail maker Paul Eldrid from One Sails were absolutely charging. They excelled in the heavy wind and mostly reaching course but a couple of mishaps meant they placed fastest without a win on corrected time. They did have an exhilarating blast reach down to Rockingham in the south of the

race course in 22 to 27 knots of wind achieving a steady 15 knots of boat speed with a full mainsail, J4 and Jib Staysail set, nice video on the team's social media page.

Across the line only six minutes behind was John Rayner's Al Fresco (BW 36) placing 3rd overall on IRC corrected time, followed by Weapon of Choice and then CheckMate (Geoff Bishop's Summit King 40) who placed 2nd overall on IRC. Al Fresco took the win on PHS with Chris Higham's Argo, an Archaumbault, in 2nd.

Division One IRC was won by the 2019-2020 season champion Joss, Ian Clyne's J122. Ian commented on a fun day at sea, "we safely safely won the race in seriously challenging conditions".

A great day on the water hosted by FSC, thank you to Race Officer Trevor Milton and Cameron Berg supported by Kerry Coleman, Cherry Callcott and their team of volunteers. Anthony Kirke concluded his comments for the day by saying "A big crowd for presentations at days end capped off a successful start to the season."

Next up on the Ocean Racing WA calendar is South of Perth Yacht Club's ToD Race, an interesting time on distance challenge. Teams have a couple of weeks to prepare their chosen course for the set time race.

More information about the WA season on the new website www.oceanracingwa.com.au.

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