The 80 mile race to start the Rottnest Express Blue Water Series Championship and the first of the Siska Trophy races started with a forecast that we would see the race record intact for this year. The forecast of light breeze held together better than expected for the most part and for some it was disaster. The rains were true to forecast.
Yellow Brick Trackers were used and kept spectators, family and friends up to date with the race.
A combined fleet start, the race set off on a cool morning with navigators gathering as much information they could for the later part of the day when breeze was expected to change. For the mid to tail-enders the predicted forecast of NE swinging to NW breeze didn’t seem to develop. For the front runners, even though they were getting shifting breezes they managed to stay dry and in what appeared to be constant pleasure.
The run south had the fleet somewhat spread out but generally on a steady track and with the faster yachts well on the way back from turning mark in Mandurah the approaching smaller yachts were already being effected by dying pressure.
At Mandurah, Indian was expectedly ahead and in hot pursuit was Deeds, Wildside and Alfresco, then Enterprise, Obsession and Weapon of choice. Giddy Up continuing to show great form, not far behind the Div 1 front runners.
The double handers and mid to tail-enders working hard to stay in touch but by the time Cutty Wren rounded Mandurah buoy, Indian already had Rottnest well in their sights.
Breeze shifting north and the larger and faster yachts having a relatively respectable but still tricky run to Cape Vlamingh, the rest of the fleet continued working hard to stay up on the rum line and slowly losing ground as darkness was setting in. This also brought greater wind shifts and the inevitable rain was showing signs of developing. Touch N Go the first casualty had retired to Mandurah realizing early the pain that was due to be endured by the back of the fleet.
With Indian finishing in 10.5 hours taking out 1st in Div1 and IRC overall, Wildside had the finish in sight, Deeds, Alfresco, Obsession, Enterprise and The Weapon all making their way down the north end of Rotto, the rest of the fleet still working up to Vlamingh and being well lead by Giddy Up and Argo. Fluky shifting winds behind Garden Island saw many a 360 on the water.
Giddy Up, Argo, Twitch and the Doctor managed to get through the circle work and left the rest behind as they rounded Vlamingh. Slowly but surely the rains crept up on the fleet from the rear and wet weather gear was well and truly being put to use.
A spectacle to behold, from yours truly, was the multiple breaching Whales less than 50m from the yacht as Prime Factor rounded Vlamingh, close enough we said but alas that was the highlight of the race for us. One by one the fleet finishing at Fremantle the rains, violently shifting, soft breezes got the better of Huckleberry, Phantom and eventually Prime factor who all retired wet and miserable.
A wonderful effort to Fifty Four and Dart Vader for persisting and completing the race.
A testing race for all but congratulations to the winners, the committees and volunteers, especially to race control who that stayed up throughout the evening and the early morning to look after us all.
Race results can be viewed here: http://www.sportspage.com.au/