Saturday’s Ensign Race, the second event of the four-race Valmadre Cup series, was always going to be tricky. With the weather models indicating a light easterly slowly rotating south and fading, big sails and soft rigs were the order of the day.
Racing got away in 4-6 knots, with Apprentice RO Little David White setting the Day Buoy at 060 and 0.6nm. At least the water was flat – well, until the Rottnest Freeway arced up on a crisp and sunny Saturday morning. A one knot north-flowing tidal current added to the challenge.
The Double-Handers, joined this week by the FSC First 45 Baci, rounded the Day Buoy without any problems and Arlene Race winner Low Flying Duck hoisted the big blue S2, poled back and pointed straight at the Windmills. Their arch-rivals The X Factor, however, executed a gybe-set and went hard left …
The Division Two start was typically competitive and crowded, with Wyuna getting pushed over and needing to return. Crews battled to keep their boats moving in the fading breeze, and Mulberry, Naughty Black Shorts & Dynamic arrived at the Day Buoy together, with Mind’s Eye close behind. This quartet engaged in a bit of low-speed luffing as the rest of the fleet rounded and followed them north. Wyuna, well back and with nothing to lose, gybe-set and went left …
In comparison, the Division One start was a timid affair, with ARO White calling “all clear … by a very comfortable margin”. Cougar, Joss, The Cro Connection, Finistere, Fourth Dimension, Aquila and The Longboat drifted their way to the Day Buoy, where they performed bear-away sets and went right – all except Joss, which gybed away from the pack and went left …
The fans were then turned off completely and two hours of drifting began. The Far Right looked glamorous as they stitched together the zephyrs coming off the beach. The Centrists had nothing in particular and everyone was laughing at the three extremists bobbing around on the Far Left, over by the docks. That is, until a large dark area appeared to the south of the harbour entrance and a white spinnaker with a big red “X” steamed off towards the Windmills, all alone.
No problems, we said. It’s a sea breeze and will fill across the course and we’ll all get going. Not so. It was a finger of south-easterly with a very defined edge, that like a marginal seat, was hard to get into and harder to stay in. The Leftist troika, eventually joined by some members of the Centre Left, won their constituencies by large margins.
In Double-Handed, The X Factor trio of Chewy, Dean and Mr Wendell (a dog) humbled the very disappointed lads on Low Flying Duck crew to take the triple and shoot back into Valmadre series contention. Selkie and Baci must have had hair and nails appointments and pulled out. Wyuna also achieved the triple in Division 2, but by a lesser margin, from the Centre Left’s Dynamic and the well-rated Huckleberry. In Division 1, Joss also took the triple, comfortably displacing Cougar from the IRC top spot for the first time in two winter seasons. The Cro Connection recorded third on IRC and second on YAH, with Fourth Dimension grabbing the YAH third. Wyuna had the best IRC & YAH corrected times of the day.
All in all, it was a great day for the series, with the Arlene Race leaders generally having poor results and the progress scores now very close. In Division 1 IRC, Joss & Cougar are locked together on three points, with The Cro Connection third on six. The Cro Connection leads narrowly on YAH from Joss & Cougar.
Division 2 IRC is delicately poised, with Wyuna & Dynamic on six points and Terra & Mind’s Eye on seven. Under YAH, Dynamic on six points leads from Raya & MX on seven.
In Double-Handed IRC, Low Flying Duck on three points leads from The X Factor on four, with Selkie on six. Under YAH, The X Factor and Low Flying Duck are both on four points, with Selkie on six.
Full Ensign Race results can be viewed here
and the Progress Scores here
Crews are looking forward to the third Valmadre Cup event, the Mayflower Race, on Saturday 22nd July. The final event, the Voladora Race, is two weeks later, with the series presentation to follow the day’s racing.
Photos courtesy Rick Steuart (on-water) and Connor Moran (club-house).