Rottnest Festival of Sail aboard Hoodoo Man

Rottnest Festival of Sail aboard Hoodoo Man

The crew of Hoodoo Man enjoyed a fanastic weekend at the Rottnest Foundation Festival of Sail over the weekend of 13 &14 April 2013, writes Craig Carter.

Building on the previous two years, it once again lived up to its reputation as one of the most enjoyable events on the sailing calendar with most participants recognising 2013 as the best festival yet.

The weather was fine and warm with light winds which made for great conditions for fellowship on shore, with the racing and race management a challenge.

With 46 entries from 5 clubs, the number of starters demonstrated the strong support from sailors for this Festival . The racing started at a very leisurely 10.25am in about 9 knots of wind and for most of the race stayed in the 7kt to 10kt range. The odd shipping movement added to the tricky conditions. 

Hoodoo Man started well and managed to squeeze out a couple of boats on the line, forcing them off to the unfavoured right hand side, and sailing in clear air to be first around the day buoy with a handy lead.

With the S2 lightly set, we worked our way out to Yellow No.4 in a dying breeze. With world champion Grant Alderson aboard as tactician, we chose to stay with the breeze and sail to windward of a moored ship, getting the mighty Hoodoo far enough ahead to be back on the breeze and on the way to Hall Bank. This fortunately was well clear of a steaming ship that forced half of the trailing fleet off to the right yet again. Then it was a bear-away set with the A1.5 to the windmills before peeling to the S2 to get some depth back towards the island.

A couple of gybes just short of Philip Rock saw us overtaking the back markers from Div 3 and taking the gun with 12 minutes back to the fast finishing Brian de Vries on Steel de Breeze, and another two minutes back to the consistent Peter Hickson on Mulberry.

In Div 1 racing was very close with only four minutes separating the first three boats across the line. Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley guiding General Lee to a 35 second victory ahead of a well-credentialed Alfresco with Rodney Keenan aboard.  Yo!2 was another four minutes astern, but the insuppressible Peter Ahern still grabbing the IRC honours. Unfortunately for the even better credentialed Black Betty, they got lost.

In Div 3, the rivalry (and dominance) continued between Mind’s Eye and Dynamic with a one – two across the line, ahead of RFBYC’s Simon Plunkett on Terra. Rob Mennie on Time Bandit sneaking into 3rd spot on IRC.

The Saturday afternoon Optimist challenge saw our representative Lucy Alderson compete with honour and dignity. Lucy rigged her boat, and sailed the correct course in each of the elimination races. Well done and congratulations Lucy, you serve as a good example for some of the older members of the sailing fraternity. 

On Sunday a shorter start line north of Phillip Rock made for a more congested and thrilling start as the fleets in similarly light conditions jostled for position. Given the condition of the skippers and crew on Saturday night it was fortunate that none of the fleet met the same fate as the 124 ton Transit in 1842, going down in nearby water, whose master had also been very careless. This was clearly not true for the crew on Hoodoo Man who once again had been exemplary in their behavior with natives while ashore.

Despite an early night and an outstanding reputation, Grant guided the Hoodoo to a disastrous start – well off the line with no boat speed. Luckily he had us recovering quickly, banging Philip Rock, and picking up a nice shift with increasing pressure to slingshot us out of the pack. After reaching over the top of X Factor & Minds Eye we went for the CZ which we held until we could bear away further and peel to the A1.5, all the while Evan Lutey, our trusty navigator, alert to the many submerged dangers.

Working away from the island we picked up a pressure line off Narrow Neck which we used to gybe and get us back to the island where we went all the way to the west end rocks and picked up a slight land breeze which kept us in touch with the quicker Div 1 boats. Working west on the way to Narrow Neck, a well sailed Minds Eye and Steele de Breeze stayed close and always looked threatening.

After getting around West End and passing through the gate we rotated between the Code Zero & J1 along the back of the Island and managed to work up on Alfresco and crossed the line overlapped and one second behind. Steel de Breeze was next to finish but almost 20 minutes astern, and then Paul Arns driving Wasabi. Unfortunately and heartbreaking for a few of the smaller boats, and those that chose to avoid the land at West End, winds died fast and time ran out with eight DNF’s recorded.

Thank you to Yachting Operations Manager, Paul Bayliss, for his diligent efforts over the entire weekend and to all the volunteers. Event logistics (including the ferry services to and from moorings) and Race management was to be congratulated, although my sympathy goes out to all the DNF’s in both races on Sunday.  

Thanks to event sponsors Anglo Pacific Ventures, Mulberry Estate, Rottnest Express, Zhik, Velocitek supplied by and Bailey’s Fuels – we appreciate and are grateful for their support, and of course our thanks to the Rottnest Foundation for making the whole event possible.

Craig Carter, Hoodoo Man

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