George Law Foundation Ocean Race - Blondie defies the Law

Back to the future – New generation S&S34 “Blondie” blitzes the fleet under her new code zero foresail.
Bernie Kaaks
George Law Foundation Ocean Race - You wouldn’t back an S&S34 in a light weather reaching race, right? Wrong! Mild-mannered GP Simon Torvaldsen produced the perfect remedy in Saturday’s race, piloting a code zero-powered Blondie, his new-generation version of the solo-circumnavigator’s weapon of choice, to a commanding IRC victory over a star-studded fleet.

The 42 nautical mile race, conducted by Fremantle Sailing Club to commemorate the life of ocean racing stalwart George Law, took competitors around Rottnest Island then south to Challenger Passage in glorious spring conditions. The race is the first event of the offshore season and forms part of the Archambault Offshore Series, the Sailing Products Australia Coastal Cup, the Double-Handed Championship and the Success Cup.

Following in the substantial though somewhat archaic footsteps of British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, who won the 1969 Sydney to Hobart race in his S&S34 Morning Cloud, Torvaldsen commissioned the building of Blondie a couple of years ago. Contrary to local scuttlebutt, the yacht is not constructed of exotic materials (though she does have carbon spinnaker poles) and weighs slightly more than the many Olin Stephens classics that have been built over the past forty years.

'The boat went quite well today', commented a quietly excited Torvaldsen, and in an ominous warning to competitors, let slip that he and class legend Mike Finn, the yacht builder and owner of sistership Constellation, were investigating the fitting of bulb keels to their vessels to improve performance.

Nine minutes behind Blondie on IRC was Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley’s full-carbon Bakewell-White 37 General Lee, with the defending Archambault Trophy holder Ian Holder’s Whiting 32 Bad Habits only 31 seconds further back in third place. General Lee’s near-sistership Al Fresco (Frank Saraceni) was fourth, both yachts getting plenty of benefit from their code zeroes. Trevor Taylor’s champion Marten 49 Optimus Prime was fifth, and recorded the fastest time of 6 hours 2 minutes and 42 seconds.

Under the performance based YAH handicapping system, Rod Mulcahy’s Beneteau First 44.7 Slipstream, rejuvenated perhaps, by the Bali Race, won by more than thirteen minutes from a closely-bunched pack led by Simon Prosser’s Sante and Blondie.

The fleet welcomed offshore newcomers Lamotrek, Adrian Wilson’s new Beneteau First 30 and Black Betty, Gary McNally’s IRC’d GP42. Chris Hind’s well-credentialed IOR Farr 40 Sagacious IV made a welcome return to offshore racing, along with the Archambault 40RC HooDoo Man, the former Aardvark, now under the ownership of Craig Carter.

Sail on – George Law Foundation race sponsor Isabel Law sailed a great race on Babystar.
Bernie Kaaks

The YAH-only Coastal Cup fleet celebrated spectacular growth, with eight yachts greeting the starter. Ole and Annie Otness’ Adams 13 The Longboat sailed well to take first and fastest, by the narrow margin of only 51 seconds from the Spirit 28 Babystar, skippered by the popular Isabel Law, after whose late husband George the race is named. Graeme Cole’s Cole 32 Double Vision took third place.

The Coastal Cup fleet welcomed Peter Williams Pipedream III and Vince Bradley’s Anki II, both of which will be more competitive when their YAH handicaps find their proper level.

The extreme sailors in the Double-Handed fleet welcomed debutantes Graham Monkhouse’s J/122 Lithium and Phil Crighton’s Dufour 40 Gofour. Monkhouse went within a tantalising 56 seconds of snatching the IRC win from the dominant John Holder, sailing his Farr 11.6 Plus 16. Under YAH Scott & Julie Olsen sailed their Jomac MG30 Max to first and fastest, from Plus 16 and Lithium, with Gofour doing just that.

Offshore sailing now takes a three week break to accommodate the club opening days, with the next race being South of Perth Yacht Club’s demanding Redink Homes 43rd Geraldton Ocean Classic on Friday 21st October. The Geraldton race is the first heat of the Evolution Sails Blue Water Series. On the following day, the Archambault Offshore fleet will compete in East Fremantle Yacht Club’s Cape Vlamingh race, the second heat of that series.

Bam-a-lam – Black Betty looked good in her offshore debut but failed to put scoreboard pressure on the established crews.
Bernie Kaaks