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Check out the photos of the Wonderful Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Race and Rally send off on Saturday 4 May 2013
11 May 2013
COMFORTABLY NUMB REJOINS THE RALLY
One of six yachts to seek shelter from the recent heavy weather in the mid west port of Geraldton, Comfortably Numb was forced to return when her traveller broke after only 45 nautical miles. Although the strong winds had eased, there was a heavy swell running so the crew decided it best to return to Geraldton for repairs. Their journey back, in confused seas, a big swell and moderate headwinds, was quite a challenge but she arrived safely.
Having completed repair work, the yacht left port this morning and is now confident of a smooth passage to Bali. “We have repaired the traveller,” said radio operator Terry Mather this morning. “It isn’t the same as it originally was but the repair is strong and we know it will do the job.”
Ahead of her, and making straight for Carnarvon, is Andrew Dawson’s Knot Dreaming, another of the yachts to have sheltered in Geraldton. The boat experienced electrical problems before arriving in Geraldton, and though repairs were made, one might speculate that a recurrence of the problem is responsible for the Carnarvon stopover.
Well out to sea from Dorre Island is Jim Macbeth’s classic Herreschoff Tiga, with just under 1000 nautical miles to go, with Terry Chapman’s Mooney some 6 miles ahead. Both are making steady progress in fresh south easterly winds.
Odyssey of Fremantle and Heritage are currently abeam of Lake McLeod and these yachts are the only ones still south of North West Cape. Cat O’Mine has stopped at Exmouth.
The remainder of the rally fleet is passing west of Barrow Island making 6 to 8 knots in a fresh south easterly air stream.
There was jubilation on board Super Sled yesterday, when she crossed the finish line at 11:30am to shave nearly 6 hours off the record set by Alan Brierty’s Limit in 2011. The
result puts into context just how good Rolly Tasker’s performance was in the inaugural 1981 race. The record set then stood for 30 years, and it took a state-of-the-art carbon fibre yacht with a hardened race crew to whittle 6 hours off the time set by Siska IV with its conventional hull construction and Dacron sails. Even the mighty Super Sled, 90 feet long, carbon fibre, canting keel and a 43 metre mast, only bettered Siska’s original record by some 12 hours!
The Handicap leader is still General Lee, heading north at around 8 knots in a breeze which is starting to soften a little. At 11:00am today the yacht had 120 miles to go, which suggests a finish in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Steel de Breeze is in an interesting position. When both her steering cables broke, the yacht reverted to autopilot and advised race control that she had retired. There has since been some conjecture that under the IRC rule at least, the use of auto pilot is permitted. As a result, the yacht’s status is under review by the race committee.
Bill Henson’s Circa, 257 nautical miles behind General Lee, lies third on both handicap systems, while at the back of the racing fleet, Jon Sanders has finally broken away from the little UFO34 Not Negotiable and holds down 4th place with Not Negotiable 5th. Rolly Tasker Perie Banou is still 531 nautical miles from the finish and is now 8 miles ahead of Not Negotiable.
Light east to south east winds are expected to continue in the final 250 miles of the journey, becoming lighter on the final approach to the island.
10 May 2013
STEEL STUMBLES WHILE SUPER SLED THRIVES OVERNIGHT
Just when the armchair admirals had written off any chance Super Sled had of breaking the record for the Wonderful Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Race & Rally, she enjoyed perfect conditions overnight and at 6am today made her mandatory call to Bali Race Control to advise that she expected to reach the finish line in 6 hours. If she makes that, she will shave more than five hours off the record set by Alan Brierty’s Limit in 2011.
With just 34 nautical miles to go at 8:30am it almost seems like a foregone conclusion, but – and it is a big but – the advice from Bali Race Control is that there is almost no wind at the island and rain is bucketing down. It will be the first time that Super Sled’s deck has been wet since leaving Fremantle. She was so far ahead of the fleet when the storm front came through on Tuesday and Wednesday that she did not experience any strong winds. So the super maxi withthe canting keel still has to negotiate the infamous tidal currents of the Lombok Strait and the possibility of super light conditions near the island. The combination has broken many sailors’ hearts in past races!
Brian de Vries’ gallant charge came to an end early last night when a steering cable broke. The crew proceeded by steering with the other wheel, until two hours later, that too, gave way. In sloppy seas and in the dark, repair was not an option so the yacht retired from the race and is continuing northwards using her autopilot. The broken cables will be repaired in daylight this morning. The yacht was running second on both handicap systems at the time of her retirement.
Comfortably Numb has turned around and appears to be heading back to Geraldton for unspecified reasons. The crew might be uncomfortably numb when they reach shore, as they bash southward into headwinds through the big swell left over from the recent storm.
The other rally yachts that took shelter in Geraldton during the heavy weather, as expected, are having a great run up the coast and with Odyssey of Fremantle leading the way, should be passing Steep Point today.
Osborne Star, which joined the rally from Dampier, is now the leading rally yacht, but behind her all the yachts that took shelter in Shark Bay are travelling close together and will head into open ocean today.
9 May 2013
LET’S GO SAILING AGAIN!
With the exception of the dismasted Walk on the Wild Side, all yachts are now back at sea in the Wonderful Indonesia Fremantle Bali Race & Rally.
All six yachts that were anchored in the Batavia Coast Marina in Geraldton have now left. The fact that they appear to have chosen to leave via the deepwater shipping channel rather than the shorter North West Passage is a pretty fair indication that there is a huge residual swell as a result of the recent heavy weather. On the positive side, the breeze is perfect in both strength and direction, so they should make a quick passage as they pass the mainland.
Beyond North West Cape however, winds are starting to soften at the moment. Racing yachts at present in that area are still achieving good speed, but Super Sled,
now only 240 nautical miles from Bali, is making hard work of it and spent most of the afternoon lazing along at 5 knots or less. She needs to average almost exactly 10 knots
to equal Limit’s record, an assignment looking increasing difficult in the conditions.
Handicap positions in the racing fleet have made no significant changes, with General Lee continuing to lead from Steel de Breeze. Both are bowling along happily at 8 knots or so. Circa continues to improve her position and is now lying third on both handicap systems.
Line honours leader Super Sled is 4thon corrected time, ahead of the smallest boat in the fleet, Not Negotiable. Not Negotiable, a Holman and Pye 34, is performing remarkably well and leads Jon Sanders’ 39 footer Rolly Tasker Perie Banou by some five nautical miles.
Carnarvon locals have been quick to offer assistance to the unfortunate crew from Walk on the Wild Side. The big yacht is safely secured at the port, and one of the crew has continued his voyage on board Ole Otness’ yacht The Longboat, a change made possible by some great assistance from Customs officials. The remainder have called it quits and most have cancelled their holiday plans. It is a double blow for the crew, which was also scheduled to compete in the Darwin to Ambon Race again, a race in which she has established an enviable reputation.
Steve Parkinson’s little Catalina, Irene,has repaired the boom damage suffered in yesterday’s heavy weather. “It was like a washing machine out there,” said navigator John Parkinson today. “We broke the gooseneck and the vang system while we were being thrown around.” They have replaced the spring loaded vang with a rope system to continue
their voyage. The yacht was leaving Carnarvon Harbour before darkness fell.
9 May 2013
CIRCA’S TIME TO SHINE
The glamour super maxi Super Sled may be getting most of the attention in the Wonderful Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Race & Rally, but the real battle is going on between the mid sized yachts a few hundred miles behind.
While these yachts were slogging through horrendous seas and gale force winds, Super Sled was so far ahead of the weather system that it is doubtful that she even got her decks wet.
Bill Henson’s Fremantle based C & C 115 is one of WA’s busiest offshore racers. The yacht rarely misses an event and is regularly placed in the top half of the field. She battled her way through Tuesday and Wednesday’s appalling conditions and this morning is bowling northwards happily at 7 – 8 knots with about 750 nautical miles to go, having clawed her way up to 3rd place on both IRC and PHS handicaps.
Ahead of Circa, the Eldrid/Disley campaign to win this event on handicap is going according to plan, and while they are still travelling well and holding down first place on IRC and second place on PHS, they are only marginally ahead of Brian de Vries’ Steel de Breeze on IRC, which is leading on PHS handicap.
All three of these yachts are well found and well sailed and their battle over the next 700 miles or so will probably determine the event winner.
A quiet spell appeared to put Super Sled out of record contention early last night, but after midnight she has regained her former speed and is still tantalisingly close to record speed.
Odyssey of Fremantle left Geraldton this morning and some of the other four yachts sheltered there are expected to follow her today.
Farther north, Boomerang is now at Denham, all yachts have left Dirk Hartog Island and only one remains at Bernier Island, so most of the rally fleet is back on the ocean. The Longboat has just left Carnarvon, the first of that group to do so, while Dubonnet is about to enter Carnarvon, presumably to collect more supplies.
8 May 2013
OSBORNE STAR JOINS THE RALLY
Moderating weather conditions encouraged Paul and Sue Burlinson to leave the security of Dampier’s Hampton Harbour this afternoon and at this evening’s position report Osborne Star was making solid progress, heading northwards at a steady 6 to 7 knots.
Weather conditions have already played a major role in this year’s Wonderful Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Race & Rally, but forecasts are starting to suggest that there is more in store, and at both ends of the course.
At the Geraldton end, where five yachts are waiting for conditions to soften before venturing out to sea again, fresh breezes up to 25 knots are forecast, which should give the group good sailing conditions and the opportunity to make up some of the distance between them and the rest of the fleet. At the Bali end of the course, the breeze appears to be dropping off rapidly.
All eyes are on Super Sled’s progress. At 5:00pm today, Tony Mitchell’s big yacht was 476 nautical miles from the Benoa Harbour finish line in Bali, with 48 hours to go in order to equal Limit’s record, set by Alan Brierty in 2011. This means that they now have to achieve an average speed of 9.9 knots, which is well within the yacht’s capability – if they have breeze. The crew will be anxiously scanning all the weather data at their disposal to plot their course to the finish. If they can maintain their present speed of 11.2 knots, they will have some latitude. If however the breeze drops away, the yacht will slow and the record will remain with Limit – at least until next time.
Second on the course is Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley’s General Lee, still travelling at 12 to 15 knots and opening up their lead over Steel de Breeze. Steel de Breeze, which enjoys a lower handicap, is now first on both handicap systems, ahead of General Lee, though the difference between their corrected times is rapidly closing.
Sue Sea, Steel de Breeze and General Lee have all completed their mandatory declaration and are leaving the WA mainland into open ocean waters en route to Bali.
The first of the rally fleet have stirred from their resting places, and are starting to resume their voyage north as the weather improves while others remain firmly anchored and are expected to continue tomorrow.
8 May 2013
IRENE’S GOOD NIGHT
The game decision by Steve Parkinson to stay at sea rather than seek shelter came unstuck today when the plucky little Catalina, which to that point had been handling the conditions very well, broke her boom. She is now just a few hours out off Carnarvon and the crew will enjoy their first comfortable night since leaving Fremantle last Saturday. They intend to re-join the rally after the boom is repaired in Carnarvon, no doubt enjoying some camaraderie with fellow entrants from Walk on the Wild Side and The Longboat, which are already lying at anchor in Carnarvon.
Meanwhile further information has emerged regarding Walk on the Wild Side’s dismasting. Contrary to early advice, the breakage occurred before the arrival of the front. The big yacht was travelling well in about 25 knots, second only to Super Sled. In anticipation of the stronger weather coming, the crew had shortened the main to a double reef, and were down to a number 4 headsail, a sail combination which will cope with much higher wind speeds than they were sailing in at the time. Unfortunately, the mast breakage can probably be traced to the failure of one of the fittings.
The race fleet may not be enjoying the current weather challenge, but never the less are making excellent progress. The mid-sized yachts Circa, Steel de Breeze, Surfer Rosa, Teelia Bell and Wasabi are all sailing at 7 to 8 knots and holding a course direct to Bali, indicating that the wind direction has swung from the northwest to westerly.
Ahead of them, General Lee continues to exceed 10 knots to be second on the course, and second on both handicap systems. Handicap leader, with just over 800 miles to go, is Steel de Breeze.
8 May 2013
WILD WEATHER SIDELINES WILD SIDE
The shock dismasting of Walk on the Wild Side soon after the frontal system hit the fleet has dampened the spirits of race organizers. The big yacht is now safely at anchor in Carnarvon, with no injury to any of its crew, but shattered that their campaign through the tropics has been cut short.
For fleet leader Super Sled, the equation is simple. At 9 o’clock this morning, she was 563 nautical miles away from the finish line outside Benoa Harbour. To equal Limit’s record, the super maxi needs to reach the finish by 5:19pm on Friday, an average speed of 10.05 knots. She is presently moving at 11.3 knots and is capable of speeds far above that – if there is sufficient wind, and therein lies her problem.
As Super Sled moves north, not only are winds becoming lighter, but she will start to encounter the infamous ocean currents and tides in the area, which have thwarted many campaigns in the past. The crew have chosen to sail well east of the rhumb line, hoping that the westerly current flow will assist in her final approach to the finish, but her tilt at the race record is very finely balanced at this point.
General Lee’s tactics of going well west appeared to be doubtful yesterday, when the boat stalled in the calm conditions while those who stayed inshore made big gains, but this morning it will be all smiles and hard work on board as the little giant killer is flying northwards at more than 15 knots, has just 848 miles left to go, and is holding down 3rd place on IRC and second place on PHS handicaps.
Behind that, Brian de Vries is continuing a strong run in Steel de Breeze. With 864 miles to go, the boat holds first place on both handicap systems at present and is enjoying speeds of 8 to 9 knots.
Some inkling of the conditions faced by the yachts can be gained from the barge captain on Atwood Oceanics Eagle, who messaged last night: “Blowing a hooley here, winds to 30+ and seastate rising.”
The one remaining rally yacht still at sea has finally decided to join the rest of the rally fleet and has turned eastwards for shelter. She has passed the northern tip of Dirk Hartog Island and appears to be headed for Carnarvon.
Although the weather may ease a little in the next day or two, more strong winds are forecast after that in the area off North West Cape, so we may well see rally yachts making their way north in short hops between anchorages as they see the opportunity to do so.
7 May 2013
STOP PRESS - WALK ON THE WILD SIDE DISMASTED
The Inglis 58 Walk on the Wild Side has retired from the Wonderful Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Race with a broken mast.
Skipper Garth Curran reported the retirement to race control at about 7pm and confirmed immediately that there was no injury to any crew and that the yacht itself is undamaged, approximately 40 nautical miles north of Carnarvon. It will make its way to Carnarvon under motor and is expected to arrive in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The breakage occurred soon after the fleet was hit by a severe frontal system.
7 May 2013
HERE COMES DA RAIN!
It was at the end of the 5:30pm position report this afternoon that the first call came through. Yachts have been instructed to report when winds exceed 25 knots. The most westerly yacht in the fleet was General Lee, which reported seeing winds of 25 knots and more during their report. Moments later, Wasabi called in to report winds of 25 to 28 knots, 45 nautical miles farther south.
The arrival of the front heralds the end of a difficult day’s sailing for all crews with light winds and sloppy seas slowing their progress north.
At the head of the fleet, Super Sled, which has yet to get the benefit of the stronger winds, is now back up to nearly 10 knots and can be expected to speed up considerably within a few hours.
Walk on the Wild Side is sailing close to shore and will be forced to tack across the course when the north westerly wind arrives, as will a number of smaller boats behind. Wasabi is already tracking to the west to move away from the land, while General Lee, which went a long way west early today and suffered in extremely light breezes, may now reap the rewards of that decision. The boat is heading northwards at around 8 knots, and if the wind clocks west as forecast, will not have to tack again to maintain a rhumb line course.
Rolly Tasker Perie Banou and Not Negotiable are well out to sea, west of Steep Point, and making solid progress.
Of the rally fleet, only Steve Parkinson’s little Catalina 10.52 Irene has chosen to stay at sea. The remainder of the rally fleet is scattered at anchorages between Geraldton and Bernier Island. This is the very essence of rally sailing, with little groups of yachts at anchor, sharing their experiences so far while enjoying their meals together.
Ralph Newton’s Seawind 1160 catamaran Yandanooka-T has taken on the responsibility of acting as the fleet radio relay vessel. Her superb long range radio and experienced operators have made the job of keeping tabs on the fleet very much easier. The entire fleet is also tracked by satellite, which can be publicly viewed by visiting the event website on www.fremantlebali.com and following the tracker link.
7 May 2013
CAN SUPER SLED BREAK RACE RECORD?
At noon today, Super Sled was wallowing in very little breeze, struggling to maintain 4 knots, and heading towards Barrow Island, having 740 miles to go to reach Benoa Harbour in Bali. She is well behind the position that Limit reached at the same point in the race, but has reached the halfway point at just under overall race record pace.
Whether or not she can threaten Limit’s record now depends entirely on what the weather has in store.
General Lee continues to struggle in the light conditions and has now been passed by Steele de Breeze. Both Steele de Breeze and Walk on the Wild Side have declined the opportunity to head out to sea and are making good progress in light conditions. Steele de Breeze is leading on PHS handicap and is now second on IRC behind Super Sled.
Comfortably Numb has joined the yachts sheltering in Geraldton, while farther north Dubonnet, Gofour, Cat O’Mine, Capers and Boomerang are all anchored behind the south eastern tip of Dirk Hartog Island. At Quoion Bluff some distance north, Equinox, Sand Crab’s Disco, Tinga Tinga and Pamplemousse are also riding at anchor, while The Longboat appears to be heading directly for Carnarvon.
Yandanooka-T is sailing along the eastern shore of Dorre Island and looks ready to join Froia II which is anchored behind Bernier Island a little farther north.
The racing fleet is crawling northward in very light breezes, most favouring a westerly bias to their course in anticipation of north westerly conditions later this evening.
For further information contact Bernie Kaaks
6 May 2013
GENERAL LEE THRIVES WHILE TAILENDERS SEEK REFUGE IN GERALDTON
In the face of an approaching frontal system and heavy weather, five of the yachts competing in the Rally Division of the Wonderful Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Race & Rally have opted to seek shelter in Geraldton until it blows over.
Veteran yachtsman Andrew Dawson experienced electrical problems that affected his yacht’s navigation lights during the first night of the event, and decided to head for Geraldton to have the issue rectified professionally. The delay would place his yacht Knot Dreaming in the path of the heavy weather, so the skipper decided to wait it out before returning to sea.
Barry O’Toole’s Heritage and Terry Chapman’s Mooney are also moored at the Batavia Coast Marina and are having electrical faults rectified. Dawson expected that they, too, will now wait out the approaching weather system.
Odyssey of Fremantle and Tiga have just arrived at the mid-west town and it is anticipated that they, will join the other three before continuing in the event.
While Super Sled slowed to a crawl in the doldrums, the chasing pack is consolidating their position. General Lee has slipped by Walk on the Wild Side near Steep Point to regain her lead in the IRC division, while Brian de Vries’ Steel de Breeze continues to improve and now leads the PHS handicap division.
All these yachts expect to be north of the worst of the weather system when the front passes through on Tuesday.
Photos Courtesy Anna Oldfield
6 May 2013
Super Maxi Starts to Assert her Authority
The Wonderful Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Race & Rally is dominated by the super maxi Super Sled which has already established a huge lead over the rest of the Bali bound yachting fleet and is now well past Carnarvon, sailing very wide angles in an effort to maintain boat speed in light winds and sloppy seas.
Behind her and approaching Steep Point, are Garth Curran’s Inglis 59 Walk on the Wild Side, just two miles ahead of Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley’s little 36 footer, General Lee. Eldrid reported yesterday “It has been hard work running in light air with a messy sea.” Their work paid off however, as they led both IRC and PHS handicap divisions yesterday. They still lead the PHS division, but the IRC lead has been taken over by Super Sled at this early stage.
The next two days may prove pivotal. Weather forecaster Bruce Buckley has alerted the fleet to an incoming tropical low from the north west, which is expected to combine with a cold front from the south west to produce strong winds and challenging seas for the smaller yachts.
Super Sled may already be to the north of where the systems will combine tomorrow, while Walk on the Wild Side and General Lee are trying desperately to keep their boats ahead of the weather system. Super Sled is entering the transitional weather patterns around the Tropic of Capricorn, slowing appreciably as winds drop. If the smaller boats in the chasing pack get through this area with the help of the front, they can make significant handicap gains on the big boat.
Next back in the racing fleet is the ever consistent Steel de Breeze, sailed by Brian de Vries. This 40 footer was a Siska Trophy winner in 2007/08 and although she is one of the many to anticipate some rough weather, she has shown in the past that she is more than capable.
The rally fleet, led by Equinox, the Seawind catamaran Yandanooka-T and the brand new Beneteau Sense 50, Dorade, are making smart use of their engines in their effort to be north of the anticipated rough weather when it arrives tomorrow.
Three yachts have made stops in Geraldton – Heritage, Knot Dreaming and Mooney. All are reported to have minor electrical problems and will be keen to continue their voyage with minimal delay. They will be joined later today by Odyssey of Fremantle and Tiga, whose intentions are not clear at the moment.
Follow the progress of the boats via the Yellow Brick Tracker on the event website www.fremantlebali.com.au and follow the links.
Photo Courtesy Bernie Kaaks
Sunday 5 May 2013
FREMANTLE TO BALI RACE & RALLY UNDERWAY
After a solid night’s sailing in relatively light east to south easterly breezes, the canting keel super maxi Super Sled is this morning bowling along the WA coast at an average of more than 13 knots. As the big yacht sailed past the holiday resort town of Kalbarri, her nearest rival Walk on the Wild Side was 70 nautical miles farther back, and the little upstart 36 footer General Lee, just 3 miles behind that.
General Lee stunned the race fleet with a perfect start and led around the first windward mark. The little yacht was still in second place behind the super maxi at the North Mole turn mark before they turned north, where the 58 foot Walk on the Wild Side began to assert her authority.
On present form then, General Lee would be poised to win both IRC and PHS handicap divisions, though with 1200 miles still to go, it is a little early for that sort of speculation.
The Welcome Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Race and Rally attracted a healthy fleet of 33 boats, many of them lured to participate by the promise of the “Beyond Bali” component of the rally.
Organisers at Fremantle Sailing Club were delighted by the spectator fleet which surrounded the start at noon yesterday. Hundreds of craft of all shapes and sizes turned out to watch the race and rally fleets get under way in perfect, sunny autumn weather and light winds.
Weather forecaster Bruce Buckley painted a brutal picture of what may lie ahead. A tropical low is expected to close on the coast from the north west late on Tuesday, and may combine with a cold front approaching from the south west. If the two systems mingle as expected, sailors may be in for a few days of testing conditions as the pass Steep Point.
Fremantle Sailing Club has put together a team of specialist emergency response personnel, and whilst everybody hopes that their services will not be required, they have prepared themselves well to deal with situations that might occur on the water.
Most of the rally fleet have opted to use their engine allowance early in a bid to get as far north as possible before the weather turns ugly, and most are now well north of the cray fishing town of Jurien Bay.