Forecasting done! Boat prep done! Provisioning done! Crews sorted done! TB Trackers on! All that was left was for the 20 yachts competing in this year’s West Coaster held by FSC was to get to the start line and pit whits against tactics and lack of sleep for the next 140Nm to Lancelin and return and what I would refer to as a short – long race.
A gusty morning easterly saw the fleet head out to Cape Vlamingh bathed in sunshine and smiles all round. Anthony Kirk on Enterprise was clearly the surprise starter on the line as only just installing a borrowed mast two days earlier; you’ve got to admire that commitment. Well done Enterprise.
A clear start was called and then alas… the start crew were still on station for a late crossing by Prime Factor, the start pin could finally be lifted.
This being the second last of the Rottnest Express Blue Water Series and several yachts vying for positions, the challenges was ever more pronounced with only one Siska point separating GiddyUp and Dirty Deeds and Indian, Enterprise and Argo vying for the minor placings, no wonder Anthony was so keen to borrow a mast for this race.
Around Vlamingh, the rum line looked the goods and the drag race to Lancelin was on. Unfortunately the first race retirement was Selkie with engine issues were forced to head back to Fremantle early. Building breeze and swell kept everyone on their toes and by late afternoon the 27-30ktnsand following swell began take its toll and also challenging boat PB’s with some great numbers as wind and waves had the yachts surfing down the face, yes even the fat boats had their good times on the waves…
By late afternoon, the swell worked the helmsman’s skill and at times the swell winning that tug of war with kites blowing out, wrapping, spinnaker poles flying off, it was a scene across the fleet where Jib and main was decide as a preferred sail plan for many for the last few hours into Lancelin. Then the sad new that another mast wast gone, Weapon of Choice dis-masted at the Lancelin rounding. We all wish mark the best in getting the boat back safely and with the repairs.
Heading south the fleet spread wide in search of the best breeze and sea-state but rum line again was the eventual choice as the breeze eased through the evening and morning.
Some standouts for the race, Aquila coming out for the overnighter set down their own challenges and picked up results in IRC and YAH. Dart Vader managing the conditions on the way up kept Kraken at bay and only the sloppy swell heading south slowed them down a little. Dirty Deeds and GiddyUp winning their respective IRC divisions are still pacing each other for those overall Bluewater points.
In the wrap-up, the issue with a drifting Lancelin rounding buoy may effect some placing subject to a redress hearing but in all a wonderful event that was enjoyed by most and congratulations to FSC.
A special thanks to all the radio crew for their tireless effort in the radio room, along the course and at Lancelin, without you guys this event will be extremely difficult to run. Also to the start and finishing volunteers and I need to mention the efforts of FSC Sailing Office and in particular the work of Scott Olsen. Cheers for all your work.
ALL PHOTOS BY BERNIE KAAKS