Fresh sea breezes made the 59th Cockburn Sound Regatta a joy for most competitors, despite losing the first day because the winds were gusting well over 30 knots.
Garth Curran’s Walk on the Wild Side dominated her division with wins in each of the first three races and even a seventh in the final race left her well on top, to also win the overall regatta trophy under a complex formula which weights the winners of each division dependent on the number of competitors in the fleet and the number of races completed.
In keeping with its motto of “Serious sailors having serious fun”, the race committee at Rockingham’s Cruising Yacht Club shut down the normally prestigious Division 1 grand prix fleet as a result of the low number of entries, and with the owners’ approval created an additional “no spinnaker” fleet. Although it was unusual to see some of the State’s hottest offshore yachts sailing downwind with poled out headsails in lieu of spinnakers, it was an enjoyable change.
The headline Division 0 fleet included a mix of racing and cruising yachts. Alan Stein’s GP42 Dirty Deeds, sporting a Sydney 38 mainsail, Trevor Taylor’s well-travelled Marten 49 Optimus Prime and her sister Sue Sea, were joined by the comfortable cruising yachts, Don Brooker’s Sense50 Dorade and Ilija Gnjec’s Jeanneau51 Jazzia.
Two further jib and main fleets catered for smaller boats and sensible handicapping made race results remarkably close. By grouping yachts of similar performance in each fleet, competition on the water was close.
Divisions two and three catered for racing yachts with spinnakers, sailing a mix of windward and return races plus some short passage events. A small multihull division sailed with keelboats but were given their own results.
Individual battles characterised most fleets. Max Palleschi’s Farr40, Laurie Flynne’s Beneteau 34.7 Dynamic and Michael Sproxton’s Elan350 Fat Wallet Lost were never far apart, with the latter winning the division points score on the final day.
In division three Bruce Uren’s Spacesailer 22 Wildfire was well sailed all week, and even John Percy’s Noelex25 Bonanza had his work cut out to stay in front. The heavily modified Swarbrick20 daysailer Lady Irene (complete with trapeze), was also near the front of the fleet, well handled by Sam Threlfall. Barry Dimond’s Spacesailer27 Trailblazer finished on top of the leader board with a very consistent series.
Paralympian Graeme Martin’s Sand Crabs Disco and Jane Laws’ Ambience seemed determined to stay close to each other. Although quite different, the two yachts were remarkably well matched as evidenced by a very close encounter on the final turning mark in one race, where they were separated by just a few centimetres. In the end, Phil Somerville’s S&S34 Huckleberry top scored in JaM division 1, with Ambience second.
Akiko and Conrad Todd’s Etchells Sunshine led the JaM 2 fleet in most races but missed out on a podium finish after missing the last day, leaving the very consistent Van der Stadt34 Panache to lead the fleet home. The final points score saw Craig Knell’s Emeraude first, with Anita Wyntje’s UFO34 Flying Sorceress a close second.
The Cockburn Sound regatta, now in its 59th year, still sets the benchmark for keeping its competitors happy. A north facing bay ensures that even in strong winds, the water remains relatively flat. There is no marina in Rockingham (red tape has bogged down a current proposal) but a fleet of inflatables manned by volunteers ferry crews back and forth to their moored boats from breakfast until the bar closes in the evening. Fun giveaways and raffles are highlights, made possible by generous support of sailmakers, chandlers and local businesses. Food was wholesome and well priced. It is therefore no surprise that owners have this event on the top of their “must do” list and keep coming back year after year. The Club’s target for 2017 is to attract 60 keelboats to the 60th anniversary.
by Bernie Kaaks