Forty eight hours into the 2015 Fremantle to Bali Race and Rally and already the lead boats Walk on the Wild Side and Indian are well up the Western Australian coast making very quick passage with both marginally ahead of the 48 hour position of the 2013 line honours winner and record holder Super Sled.
The favourable E/SE breezes enjoyed by all the fleet in the 48 hours of the race now has the bulk of the fleet closing quickly on Steep Point and Dirk Hartog Isalnd with near ideal sailing conditions.
Walk on the Wild Side, sailing a more inshore course, is holding a slender lead over Indian who soon after the start took a long and determined course well to the west. Both boats are now midway between Shark Bay and Exmouth with approximately 930nm to the finish.
Endorfin one of the pre-race favourites advised its retirement from the race and is in Geraldton where damage to her rudder bearings is being assessed before a decision is made whether to continue on in the Rally section of the event. Skipper Mike Giles reported that Endorfin was enjoying 12-14 knot boat speeds on the first night with a large spinnaker up when a lobster pot entangled their rudder bringing the boat to a sudden stop and causing the spinnaker to blow out. Disentangling from the pot lines took some time before he was able to assess damage before taking the yacht to Geraldton for further assessment.
Don Brooker skipper of Dorade has also advised retirement from the rally due to extensive boom damage experienced during the first night’s sailing. She is now departing Jurien Bay to return to Fremantle.
Walk on the Wild Side, the fleet leader by a slender margin, is taking a slightly more westerly course from her previous rhumb line heading as skipper Garth Curran can no doubt see, as can all the yachts, the lighter winds predicted for a large area to the north north east of North West Cape. Her new course is a slightly converging course with Indian and while they are still 80nm apart the distance should narrow considerably over the next 24 hours.
Should they continue their relative courses they will be within sight of each other in the next 8-10 hours giving skippers and crews of both boats the sort of added incentive and adrenalin rush that comes with close racing in open ocean events in fast boats.
In a recent radio sched Walk on the Wildside Garth Curran noted that while they were in the lead and ahead of Indian they expected to see a party of cowboys and Indians on their trail sometime later today.
The handicap leader this morning for YAH and IRC is Walk on the Wild Side with Indian holding second place in both categories. Lisa Chamberlain has her yacht Audeamus well positioned in third place followed by Teelia Bell, Sue Sea and Wasabi.
Current wind forecasts indicate the breeze is expected to remain in the SE before tending East and lightening as the boats approach Bali, although with stronger winds predicted to the west of the rhumb line course many yachts may be tempted to take the slightly longer route by sailing around the lighter wind area.
Playground in the rally fleet is still well in front on distance sailed with all the rally fleet making quick time up the coast and enjoying what must be great sailing conditions with the wind abaft of abeam and lots of sunshine. Follow the race on the Yellow Brick Tracker on event website www.fremantlebali.com.au (ENDS)
– Les Valmadre