The Ocean Classic Race held once every 400 years. Three yachts from Hillarys Yacht Club were amongst 23 that set sail from Fremantle on Sunday 16th October...
...in a two-leg race to Geraldton and then to Denham as part of the celebrations for the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dirk Hartog on the island that now bears his name.
The race start had been postponed by 24 hours due to the forecast of dangerous wind and swell conditions off Cape Vlamingh, so with colourful spinnakers flying the yachts were pushed along by the strong southerlies to set fast times for the leg to Geraldton. Kraken sailed by Todd Giraudo was the most successful Hillarys yacht winning the double-handed IRC division whilst Mulberry (Mark Pitt) was 6th in division two and Perle (John Bird) was 11th. Mulberry was a front-runner until the topping lift broke and the spinnaker wrapped around the forestay and Perle lost the use of both spinnakers with parting halyards and fittings over the two days. Perle enjoyed the lay-days however, winning the Lobster Pot series in Geraldton.
With the strong southerly winds building, some anticipated a delay to the start for the Denham leg however this was not to be and several yachts withdrew before the start. During the day the wind strengthened to 25 knots and then to over 30 knots gusting to 40 knots after midnight. Kraken was one of two yachts to be dis-masted and a third yacht lost steerage. Surfing downwind at 14 knots, Perle gybed and the force broke the gooseneck and so the mainsail and boom was brought down and lashed to the deck. Eleven yachts finished the race and five retired, including Perle and Kraken. Mulberry despite breaking a spinnaker pole went on to finish a very creditable second in IRC and YAH division two, only 8 minutes off first after racing for 32 hours 47 minutes. Mark Pitt said “I haven’t done anything as exciting as these two races since I was a kid. Luckily we had a great team on board”. Kraken motored back to Geraldton whilst Perle remained in Denham for repairs before sailing on to Carnarvon to await a better weather window to head south.
Jon Sanders, using the races to commence his 10th circumnavigation of the globe in Perie Banou 11, sailed conservatively in the strong winds and after finishing, rested for two days before sailing on to Carnarvon, his official exit point from Australia.
We wish Jon fair winds and calmer seas than were experienced in the Dirk Hartog Classic Ocean Race as he sails around the globe. As Alan Stein, who collected most of the trophies on offer in Dirty Deeds, said at the presentations “thankfully the race is only held once every four hundred years”.