The last of the big races for this season and at the top end of the Siska series points there was everything at to race for with only 1 point separating Dirty Deeds and GiddyUp, both vying for that top spot after a long and somewhat hard season.
The smaller than expected fleet started with some notable omissions from late withdrawals and with others opting to focus on preparations for the next season, but there were a couple of fresh and new faces with Toarao IV coming out to play and a welcome sight to see Endorfin back in the water after a long rebuild and back on the start line for the evening bash south. Both yachts looking to shake out some cobwebs and qualify for the looming Bali Race in early May. The race started with a 15-18knt southerly and with relatively little incident. At challenger GiddyUp and Twitch initially manoeuvring SE but then all too soon regrouping with the fleet and the somewhat tight pack headed for naturalist a long beat south. The expected easterly influence never quite made its impact but all in all, the run to Bunkers didn’t have too many manoeuvres to challenge the tacticians. Oh, except for Toroa IV, who decided a wider trip out to sea was the order catch some breeze, the mention of Madagascar was made a few times.
That choice however may have paid off for them as the bulk of the fleet encountering an easing breeze were slowing considerably as they converged on bunkers. Toarora IV’s wide angle did give them much practice in extra miles but also they held a steady breeze for longer, however there was no escaping the doldrums at bunkers as they ventured deeper into the bay and or attempted to get to the turning buoy. Fourth Dimension suffering the worst of the breeze and getting caught up in the doldrums well into the Saturday evening, unfortunately for them lagging well behind.
Earlier that morning, Dirty Deeds’s main Siska rival GiddyUp was also struggling in getting to the turning mark, team Deeds were possibly thinking they may be ok. Whilst trying to keep one hand on the trophy, hoisting a man up the mast to look for anything that resembled a ripple, they could eventually do nothing but watch the sights of growing spinnakers that were gain ground on them.
Endorfin on their first major outing for some time and possible taking an easy on the run south, made significant grounds around the bay and relishing the lighter air then pressed on and kept ahead of the main pack as the northern run built momentum.
Obsession, Sue Sea, Argo, Endorfin and GiddyUp all gaining on that grey boat ahead (Deeds), with Kraken and Joss not far behind. Circa breaking the light breezes shackles also keeping touch with the pack. Once around the Bunbury turning mark, the breeze stiffening and to the relief of everyone, even Fourth Dimension who finally rounded bunkers mark early evening found some breeze and pace. Northbound and turning to for home on the rum line teams were resigned to the reality that another evening on the rails was set to play out and thoughts of provisioning were more than likely being discussed, some were good, others didn’t plan on two evenings but had enough in stow to keep the hunger mutineers at bay.
The approach to Rottnest in gusting 20knts had the teams working their boats and crew hard to make up for the day lost in the southern bay. Deeds, finishing at around 2am, did they do enough was the question? Argo and Endorfin only 2 hours behind and crossing the finish almost side by side, then the efforts of GiddyUp only minutes behind them and looking like they may have done enough. All the mathematicians working on their sums, it was that close, or was it?
It was a busy period on the finish after 4am with Obsession and Sue Sea also not far behind and that relentless double handed team on Kraken again outperforming many and their efforts rewarded with the overall first in this race in Siska points. A fantastic effort by Todd and Dubbo.
Joss came in next as the morning breeze stayed shifty but lightening off, then followed by Twitch and Circa, not long after 7am the breeze dropping again, Toarora IV was in the sound then retiring as they achieving their goal in qualifying both boat and team for the Bali race. Fourth Dimension persisted and finished early afternoon to make the Bali lunch presentation being held that afternoon,
It could be argued this was a fitting finish to the Sika series with the challenges of long distance races having varied conditions, testing boats and crew through trying conditions, testing patience and skill. A wonderful achievement for all to finish and then to enjoy the usual stories and bragging’s at the bar.
Dirty Deeds had one hand on the trophy for most of the season and was always aware of that trotting horse GiddyUp who was continually pressing and showing great performances for a Fat 40. It’s a credit to both teams for their constant efforts and for keeping the series alive until this last race. Mostly huge congratulations to Rob and James Halvorsen for their wonderful season where they campaigned their boat GiddyUp and proved that you don’t need to be a flying sports boat to perform and win. Well done and deserved winners of the Siska Trophy for 2017.
Lastly but not least again the continued efforts of the Race Committees, and especially the race control who always keep a watchful eye (or ear) on us so we can enjoy our sailing. It would happen without them. Thank you to all involved.