The 2016 Rockingham Race Weekend included a Youth Cup Series to promote keelboat offshore racing to young sailors. Now in its second year, the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club initiative attracted 26 young sailors aged 25 and under, an excellent response for offshore racing in Western Australia.
It was great to see a few of Perth’s finest race yachts come out to play including Dave Walling’s Farr 40, The Next Factor and Gary McNally’s GP 42 Black Betty. The pair joined Division One offshore regulars Indian, the Carkeek 47 owned by Craig Carter and relatively new on the scene Mark Nagle’s FB 35 Weapon of Choice.
Race one was a passage race which started off Port Beach in Fremantle and took the fleet south to Rockingham. Double Handers and Division Three were off first with no issues on the start line. Then came Division One and Two, it was hectic for the 20 boats battling for position. The boat end of the line saw some close manoeuvres by Joss, The Next Factor, Obsession and Black Betty but they managed to get away for a clear start. They sailed in a light north westerly wind. Indian just managed to catch up to Bruce Beattie’s Double Handed Lizard to round first at the day buoy. The wind soon swung to the south but it would be a slow race to Rockingham. Perth baked in 37 on Saturday and out on the water was the best place to be. Spectators and friends could enjoy following the fleet from the cool comfort of their lounge rooms with most yachts participating in race tracking using raceQs.
On arrival to moorings in Mangles Bay the yachts were greeted by volunteers from event partner The Cruising Yacht Club who provided welcome refreshments and ferry rides to shore. From the clubhouse, the yachts looked majestic crossing the finishing line with a fleet of kite boarders racing in the background competing in the Hydrofoil Pro Tour.
Across the line, Indian was closely followed by Black Betty. On IRC overall The Next Factor was first, Obsession (Paul and Ceris Arns) was second and Black Betty was third. In Division two across the line and on IRC overall was Robert Halvorsen’s Giddy Up, Chris Higham’s Argo then Ian Clyne’s Joss. Laurie Flynne’s Dynamic was first over the line in Division three while Phil Somerville-Ryan’s Huckleberry placed first on IRC and Dennis Vincent’s Wyuna won the Double Handed class.
The sailors woke to a glorious Sunday morning and enjoyed a windward-leeward race in Mangles Bay. The increasing 10 knot southerly wind was a great warm up for the run home.
The twenty mile run back to Fremantle began in 15 knots of wind which held steady for the afternoon. Another busy start for the Division One and Two fleet with This Way Up getting a little cheeky on the line. Bryan Thurstan and team were recalled after going a boat length too soon. After a short lap in front of The Cruising Yacht Club it was spinnakers up for the downwind blast. The fleet looked spectacular leaving the bay.
Again it was Indian who took line honours but she placed second overall to Black Betty who crossed the Fremantle finish line only three minutes behind the Carkeek 47. In Division Two there was some friendly rivalry between RFBYC teams on Joss and Santè. Ian Clyne’s J122 Joss is a regular participant offshore and it was fabulous to see Simon Prosser’s Adams 10.6 join them outside. Santè sailed well to place second over the line, only three minutes behind Chris Higham’s Archaumbault Argo giving Simon’s team the overall win on IRC. Argo was second and Joss third.
Young sailors enjoyed the experience in this light offshore event. Sailing on Indian, the smiles could not be wiped off the faces of 18 year old Liam Seagreen and 19 year old Lachy Gilmour. Lachy even managed to take the wheel for part of the journey.
Included in the Rockingham Race Weekend for the second year, the Youth Cup Series was won by Gary McNally’s Black Betty. Endorsed by RORC Rating office, the youth event included a bonus handicapping system for including young sailors in the crew. A great initiative by Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club to support young sailors in getting experience offshore on keelboats.
Gary McNally’s Black Betty is known for supporting the young crews on to keelboats and she carried four 25 and under sailors for the regatta. The GP 42 is now going down the path of optimising her to the new Fast 40 class. The refit includes a longer bow sprit, larger spinnakers and square top mainsail. The team hopes to get back to the east coast in 2018 to race other similar boats in regatta style events such as the Festival of Sails Geelong which she won in 2014.
RFBYC were pleased to again have the support of Gill Australia as the major sponsor for the Youth Cup Series. They gave a full set of Gill OS2 Offshore wet weather year which was won by a 22 year old man who was part of the Joss crew. Paul Schulz from Gill Australia commented “We are very proud to be supporters of youth sailing around the country. A lot of our youth sailing partnerships are with dinghy sailors and we saw this as a great way to support the step across to keelboat racing. Offshore racing is exciting and a great way to provide further opportunities for young adults in the sport.”
Overall winner of the Rockingham Race Weekend in the Double Handed class was Wyuna, sailed by Dennis Vincent and Hilary Arthure. Division Three was won by Phil Somerville-Ryan’s Huckleberry. The S&S 34 crew included three young girls and it was great to see them enjoying the racing offshore. In Division Two, Simon Prosser’s Adams 10.6 Santè was pleased to take the win. The overall winner of the Rockingham Race Weekend was Division One yacht, Dave Walling’s Farr 40 The Next Factor.
The next event on the RFBYC Offshore Racing calendar is the 170 nautical mile 69th Bunbury and Return Ocean Race. The blue water race will start at 6:30pm on Friday 20 January 2017.