by Bernie Kaaks
In the Redink Homes Geographe Bay Race Week, as yachts made their way to the course this morning, they faced a warm north easterly, unusual for this time of year, with threatening skies, punctuated with flashes of lightning over Cape Naturaliste. What followed was flat calm conditions, gusts of more than 20 knots, heavy rain and stifling heat and humidity. And of course, wind shifts of ninety degrees or more at times.
Black Betty smokin' on the first downwind leg of the night race
The cruising fleets were sailing a short passage race terminating at the Geographe Bay Yacht Club, while both IRC fleets sailed a duet of windward and return courses on the eastern course area.
Rain started falling just before start time and the breeze slowly shut down. Cruising yachts made their way to the windward buoy without drama, but stalled soon afterwards as the rain tumbled over them.
IRC Division 1 started in good breeze, but while division 2 were lining up for their start, it fell away to the point that the entire fleet sat becalmed, including the one yacht that had actually made it to the top mark. Race officer Robin Olsen wisely called a halt to proceedings and brought everyone back for another attempt when the breeze returned, and eventually managed to complete both scheduled races.
Series leaders Black Betty (Division 1) and Mulberry (Division 2) both had an ordinary start to proceedings (Mulberry had to return after a premature start), but finished the day in style. Second placed General Lee was forced to miss the second race in order to seek medical attention for their bowman, who was injured in the first race. Peter Milner’s Melges 32 Well Primed had some spectacular downwind runs, one of which ended in a wild broach, but could not repeat yesterday’s success and finished with a pair of fourth placings.
Mulberry forcing the pace ashe closes on the finish line in today's windward and return.
In yesterday’s Premier Cruising fleet race, Lithium was protested for failing to sail the course, but following a review of the facts and extensive telephone discussions with Perth based rules gurus, it was decreed that Lithium had complied with the course instructions and the protest was dismissed, a decision which did not please some of the skippers who incorrectly interpreted the sheet as it was written, and sailed a considerable extra distance in doing so.
Fastest time in the division today went to David Clifton’s Eftel, but the handicap win went to the Beneteau 30 Lamotrek, sailed by Adrian Wilson. Gordon Dunbar shored up his position in Division 7 with another win ahead of Rick Blair’s Libertus.
With just one race remaining to complete the program, the points table looks like this:
Division 1 IRC Red (Nine races with two drops):
1. Black Betty (Gary McNally): 7
2. General Lee (Paul Eldrid and Scott Disley): 17
Division 2 IRC White (Nine races with two drops):
1. Mulberry (Peter Hickson): 9
2. Minds Eye (Brad Skeggs): 15
Division 5, Under 10 metres (Seven races with one drop)
1. The Fox (Alan Thomas): 22
2. D’Vine (Mike Davies): 22
Division 6, Premier Cruising Blue (Five races with no drops)
1. Eftel (David Clifton): 18.5
2. Lithium (Graeme Monkhouse): 21
Division 7, Premier Cruising Green (Five races with no drops)
1. Spritzig 2 (Gordon Dunbar): 12
2. Ocean Cowboy (Fred Talbot): 16
Division 8, Jib and Main (Five races with no drops)
1. Carouselambra (Martin Smith) 11
2. Banyandah IV (Rob Brown) 13
Peter Milner's Melges 32 Well Primed after a gybe. They were flattened a few minutes later.
Mulberry heads the X Factor in a classic cross on the first leg of Monday's night race.