Tasty menu for Western Australia's IRC Championships

No place for the faint-hearted - the WA Offshore Fleet gets down to business.
Bernie Kaaks - copyright
The WA IRC State Championship promises a complex and irresistible palate of possibilities as WA’s best racing yachts gather for this weekend’s showdown at Hillarys Yacht Club. Principal Race Officer & YWA Offshore Chairman Chris Kelly refused to name a favourite for the title.

'There are five races and they are very different. There are 21 yachts, and they are all different too. Throw in a weekend of unpredictable weather, and it’s a bookie’s nightmare', declared the PRO.

The series kicks off on Friday evening with Claremont Yacht Club’s 15 nautical mile Mariner’s Cup ocean race from Fremantle to Hillarys. The downwind deep-running conditions, in a fading sea breeze, will favour the faster mid-sized yachts, including offshore debutant Tony Carter’s Just Cruisin’, a Beneteau First 40 sister-ship of 2009 Sydney-Hobart winner Two True. In a battle of the French 40s, Laurie & Maddie Flynne’s Archambault 40RC Aardvark will be trying to assert early supremacy.

In Division Two, Greg Reynolds’ champion Swarbrick 10.2 Without Fear will relish the shoot-out with Simon Prosser’s Sante, an Adams 10.6 . The home club’s best hope, Ian Holder’s Bad Habits, may struggle in the fading breeze, but is always hard to beat in an IRC bout.

Saturday morning sees the main event, Hillarys Yacht Club’s Pot of Gold Race, with a purse of $8000. The IRC fleets sail a 46 nautical mile course around Rottnest Island, 15 miles offshore. Hard reaching conditions out and back will favour the waterline length of the larger yachts, with the 'Three Martenos', Trevor Taylors Optimus Prime, John Moore’s Charlotte and Brian Todd’s Sue Sea challenging Phil Childs’ Farr 49 Knee Deep and Tony Mitchell’s Farr 47 Sled. If the angles & pressure are right for planing, the lightweight Bakewell-White flyers Al Fresco (Frank Saraceni) and General Lee (Paul Eldrid/Scott Disley) might just sizzle home quick enough to catch their high IRC ratings.

Size will also be important in Division Two, with Kevin Brownie’s S97 Total Recall, a renowned off-wind specialist, hoping that Without Fear can’t deploy her big spinnakers and surf away.

Sunday morning dawns with a dose of sailing purity – a pair of windward-leeward races just off Sorrento Beach. In Division One, the nimble sub-40-footers will enjoy the light conditions and short courses. Bryan Bailie’s Titan 36 Adrenalin Rush will be competitive, as will Terry Posma’s Runnalls 39 Jaffa. Division Two will see the clash of the Whiting 32s Bad Habits and Claremont Commodore Dominic Papaluca’s Kiwi Express, with the consistent Without Fear keeping them honest. Spectators can watch the racing from Sorrento Beach, with the first start scheduled for 9.30am.

The fifth and final event of the series is Claremont Yacht Club’s historic Shepherdess Cup, which will commence from Sorrento after the conclusion of the two windward-leeward heats. The race takes competitors southwards to the finish line off Fremantle. Usually an upwind work into a building sea breeze, the Shepherdess allows the larger and heavier yachts to come to the fore. Watch out for the three Marten 49s, Knee Deep, Sled and Just Cruisin’ in Division One. In Division Two, offshore veteran Bill Burbidge and his trusty Farr 36 Le Truck will enjoy the beat, as will Les Middleditch’s Beneteau 36.7 Raya.

Series winners in each division will be crowned WA State IRC Champions for 2010/11 at a presentation ceremony at 6pm at Claremont Yacht Club on Monday 31st January 2011.