The 50th Geraldton Ocean Classic lived up to its reputation as a tough race
with a strong nor-westerly breeze greeting the starters off the north mole at Fremantle instead of the traditional sea breeze. If that wasn’t enough, the return journey was against an even stronger southerly creating steep, choppy seas that hammered the yachts tacking back to Fremantle.
A fleet of ten racing yachts included Kraken, Lithium, Mulberry and Perle (all division two) from Hillarys Yacht Club and four rally (cruising) yachts took on the challenge of this iconic race.
Michael Giles in Endorphin arrived in Geraldton after 26hrs 49min for fastest time in division one and in division two Wayne Pitcher on Lithium was ahead of Kraken by 5 mins in 28hrs 59 min. On corrected time for YAH Shiraz 111 (Edrick Delfos) from Geraldton was first, Perle second followed by Lithium, Mulberry and Kraken. On IRC the result was pretty much reversed with Todd Giraudo on Kraken first, then Lithium, Mulberry and Perle.
The traditional welcome and hospitality of the Geraldton Yacht Club was outstanding and after a recovery day it was time for the Lobster Pot Series of five races spread over three days. A win for Mulberry and two for Perle rewarded Mark Pitt’s consistency on Mulberry with third place on IRC in the Lobster Pot Series.
The 50th Anniversary Dinner featured past and present sailors including Kim Swarbrick who sailed in the first and the 50th Geraldton races and Chris Kelly who also sailed in the first Geraldton race (and 30 more). Chris recounted the tale of advising Rolly Tasker on Siska to take down the spinnaker as they neared the finish line knowing how the water shallows quickly only to be re-buffed by Rolly. According to the legendary tale, the bow crossed the finish line-but not the stern!
With a forecast of strong southerlies for the next few days not all yachts headed to the start-line for the return race to Fremantle. The first night was the worst as yachts tacked back and forth making their way slowly down the coast. It was up each wave and a bone-jarring slam down the other side. The faster racing machines made excellent progress with Argo setting fastest time of 41hrs 23mins to be first on YAH and IRC in division one. In division two Kraken was first and fastest on IRC and YAH in 45hrs 46mins followed by Lithium, Mulberry and Perle was last of the seven yachts to make the return journey finishing some eleven hours behind Kraken!
At the Presentation Night Dinner that followed at SoPYC Perle was rewarded with the Cook’s prize for last boat home, the Navigator’s prize for best estimated time of arrival in Fremantle and third prize in the Batavia Coast Series (up, Lobster Pot and return) YAH. Accolades to Kraken who was second to Argo on IRC in the Batavia Coast Series and first overall for the Combined Geraldton and Return races in division two, followed by Lithium, Mulberry and Perle. David (Dubbo) White on Kraken was awarded the “Hoss” Trophy for his unique and positive contribution to the Geraldton Race fraternity during the week-long celebrations.
The 50th Anniversary Geraldton and Return Race with the week of celebrations was a great success for all the organisers, sponsors and competitors and is highly recommended to all who have a capable boat and a crew who can withstand a little discomfort.