The Roland Smith Ocean Race opened the Quantum Sails Blue Water Series for the Siska Trophy on Saturday 10 October. Conducted by Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, the 80 nautical mile race begun off Fremantle and took the yachts south to Comet Bay, returning to the Fremantle finish by leaving Rottnest Island to starboard.
18 of WA’s Blue Water yachts started the race across three divisions, Double Handed, Division Two then Division One. Flat water and an 8-10 knot southerly wind eased the fleet in to the race as they navigated across Gage Roads, through Challenger Passage then headed out to sea.
The Double handed class were all clear at the start, with Kraken getting a little jump on the fleet. In Division Two there was a tussle for position between Prime Factor and This Way Up, the recall signal was sounded and This Way Up returned to re-start after going ahead to early.
Division One put on a pre-start show for those watching. Peter Hickson’s TP52, M3 and Craig Carter’s Carkeek 47, Indian, circled each other as if the magnificent yachts were preparing to battle. Seeing this, Alan Stein’s Dirty Deeds and Kirke/Nuttman’s Enterprise joined in the show. It was M3 and Indian who got away first at the start, the rivalry between these two RFBYC friends will continue all the way across the country when they both compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race later this year
The wind slowly increased to around 18-21 knots and teams had to work their boats hard to make good headway on the upwind leg.
The few teams who chose to head out to sea early made gains as the wind rotated to the right, settling in to the afternoon south westerly direction. As yachts entered Comet Bay at James Service Reef South Cardinal Mark, they enjoyed two sail reaching across the bay to the Mandurah day buoy. In Division One, M3 was only 2 nautical miles ahead of Indian but the Carkeek 47 would need to work hard to keep up. After returning to exit the bay at the south end of the reef, the fleet set spinnakers and relished in the downwind run to Cape Vlamingh at the West End of Rottnest Island.
M3 increased her lead and was first to round the back of the Island. The TP52 crossed the finish line just after sunset, completing the 80nm race in 8hrs 32 minutes which secured a comfortable victory for the M3 team, winning overall on IRC, YAH and the new addition of ORCi.
In Division Two, Chris Higham’s Argo crossed first in 11 hours, 56 minutes but placed third overall on IRC. Chris commented on the enjoyable champagne style offshore racing as well as the hard fought battle between Wasabi, Argo and Joss, “the final 10 miles of an epic 100 mile race was conducted as a cat and mouse reaching battle between Joss and Argo”. While Argo took the fastest flag, Ian Clyne’s J122, Joss won overall on IRC corrected time. The team on Joss have started the season well after a successful winter series and Wasabi, Paul Arns and team were second. Deserving of a mention was Roger Raymond’s Le Jag who came in last across the line just after 1am, great to see the river based team out racing offshore.
After leading from the start in the Double Handed division, Kraken sailed by David White and Daniel Taylor lead across the line but it was Low Flying Duck who placed first overall. The Hillarys yacht was sailed by Ryan and Robert Binedell.
Offshore racing in WA has a long history and passing this on to the next generation is of importance. Clubs are working to connect young adults with this discipline of yachting. Recent new member of RFBYC, Tom Shillson raced on-board Circa in his first ever offshore race and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He commented after the race, “As my first experience sailing offshore it was a very different and much more exciting experience than your average day on the river, even in the light winds and small swell, I found myself floundering around on the foredeck. Thankfully Bill and the team where not only great company but showed plenty of patience. Overall it was a great day and an awesome opportunity, I came away really looking forward to the rest of the season and hopefully being able to get out on some more of the offshore and Bluewater events.”
Next on the calendar for RFBYC Offshore will be the Rockingham Race Weekend in November.