Aussie O'Pen Bics take over Freshie!

The Easter weekend saw the Australian O’Pen Bic Cup held at Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. The event started on Friday morning with an invitation race that provided sailors with an opportunity to assess where they stood in the fleet to decide whether to sail the main event in either the Gold or Silver fleet. Competitive racing began in the afternoon with three races sailed in a stiffening sea breeze. For many of the Eastern States sailors this was their first experience of the famous ‘Fremantle Doctor’. Due to decreasing wind, Saturday morning’s racing was postponed until the afternoon when the ‘Doctor’ arrived on time allowing for another three competitive races on a slalom course. No protests are allowed in the O’Pen Bic Championships. Instead, on water judging keeps the sailing fair. 

Moderate winds on Sunday morning provided the opportunity for the sailors to complete two Adventure fun races. These races have separate prizes and don’t contribute to the scorning for the Championship. The first race was one up and began with a handicapped ‘Le Mans’ start off the beach in front of the Club. The boats raced out of the moorings and off to the ‘Island of Doom’ where sailors collected an Easter egg before heading back to the Club and finish line. This was followed by the ‘two up’ Adventure race following the same course: experienced sailors were paired with less experienced sailors. Pumping, rocking and paddling were all deemed fair in this event. 
The ‘Freestyle’ events followed with heats of three boats and teams of two sailors trying to each impress the judges with an anything goes approach to finding the most interesting and unusual things to do with a Bic. This includes fancy dress combined with mast climbing, dancing, synchronized diving and capsizes from attempts to hold either the nose or, if you are really clever, the stern of the boat vertically in the air for as long as possible. The Freestyle event was won with impressive style displayed by the Wadley sisters from Tinaroo, Queensland. O’Pen Bic events include adventure races and freestyle events to create a sense of fun and diminish tension often associated with competitive racing. 
On Sunday afternoon the ‘Doctor’ paid a visit for the three races held on a trapezoid course. Sunday night festivities followed with the inaugural National O’Pen Bic Disco in Roland Smith Ballroom. Much fun was had as a dance off between sailors and some evidently old fashioned parents ensued. 
The event finished on Monday with two light wind races held in the morning before the land breezed faded. 
Overall First Place in the Gold fleet went to Sean Herbert of Manly Sailing Club, New Zealand, who also won the Under 13 Division. Second place went to Chris Gallen of Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, who won the Under 16 division. Third place went to Oliver Medd of Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club with Kristen Wadley of Tinaroo Sailing Club, Queensland, taking forth place and Zac Littlewood of South of Perth Yacht Club, taking fifth place respectively. 
The Silver Fleet was won by Tabitha Woo, of East Fremantle Yacht Club with Talia Bulstrode of Tinaroo Sailing Club in second place and Govinda Loney of East Fremantle Yacht in third place. Additional results can be found at the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club website. 
Thanks go to the parents of sailors from all states that helped both on and off the water. However, it was the support of some key volunteers, with no family members sailing, that made this event such a success. In particular Event Manager Debbie Blaauw, Principal Race Officer John Taylor and his team of mark layers including Russell Wellington, David Riddle and John Brodziak. International juror Gary Dean lead an on water jury boat team which comprised, Geoff Wilson, Jen Suffield, Ollie Riorden and Andrew Ring. 
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