Busselton’s normally peaceful surrounds were shattered early on the first day of the Geographe Bay Regatta – by the helicopter covering the town’s annual Jetty Swim. A warm day greeted sailors for the first day, with light and very shifty wind conditions.
Division 1 and 2 fleets headed for the windward and return course to complete three fascinating races. Although the entry list was disappointing, two pairs of yachts in the big boat fleet were so well matched that all of them had a turn at the lead. Black Betty and sister Dirty Deeds, both GP 42’s, lined up against the Farr 40’s Enterprise and The Next Factor. Race two indicated just how tricky the conditions were when Enterprise started beautifully to lead at the top mark for the first time, only to be caught on the wrong side of the course and slip back to fourth later in the race. After their three races, IRC results have the Next Factor, with Peter Ahern on helming duties and Skip Lissiman in the crew, leading with two wins and a second, followed by Gary McNally’s Black Betty.
Two identical Beneteau 34.7’s Mind’s Eye and Dynamic were well matched. Mind’s Eye was recently purchased by Flying 15 sailor Peter Burtenshaw and is competing in her first regatta with her new owner. Wal Jorgensen’s Naughty Black Shorts, sailed by his daughter April, was also competitive in her first visit to Busselton. After three races, Mind’s Eye leads narrowly from Dynamic with Naughty Black Shorts third. Both divisions are sailing passage races on Day 2.
Division 3, formerly known as Premier Cruising, saw the local Dehler34 Twist and Shout, sailed by Doug Lawler, read the conditions perfectly to cross the line seven minutes ahead of Tony Carter’s First40, Just Cruising. It was a different story on handicap. Jaye Martin and John Palmer’s Steinman30 Nuzulu placed first with local yachts Ayers Rocket second and Electric Tram third. Just 10 seconds separated the corrected times of these two.
The Cruising Division, with a fleet of 20 starters, is the strongest of this year’s line-up. It contains yachts ranging from trailer sailers to Craig Hansen’s magnificent Buizen48 Napea. There were plenty of dead spots as the breeze transitioned from the south east to a more southerly direction, evidenced by the tales of woe from some skippers as they returned to the marina. Local knowledge seems to have helped, with the first two places going to local yachts, Doug Kelly’s Catfish and Omega, a Cole32 sailed by Jim Merton, first and second, while Ron Meyers sailed the S97 Hornet’s Nest into third place.
Jib and Main yachts were led home by Gary Griffiths’ Heaven Can Wait, which finished third on handicap behind Ken Walker’s Leonie and Jean-Philippe Hanriot’s little French Kiss. Leonie is another well credentialed yacht sailing in its first regatta under new owners.
Day 2’s program has the Division 3 fleet sailing triangular courses while all others sail passage races.
– Bernie Kaaks