The best of the west


The sixth The Canals Geographe Bay Race Week 2008 is set to kick-off again, reports Brad Skeggs.

Geographe Bay Race Week, starting February 22, 2008, is undeniably the premier regatta in Western Australian with all racing and festivities located in and around Busselton (107nm south of Perth or a comfortable three-hour drive). Competitors often comment that racing on Geographe Bay is ideal, with a combination of the seasonal offshore breezes and the regatta venue being far enough away to rule out a trip to the office on the lay day, but not too far away to get there comfortably.

Getting there

The race week organisers and the WA Offshore racing committee have combined this year to program a series of races on the weekend prior to race week, allowing Perth- based yachts to race to Busselton, be ushered to their designated pens in the marina then bussed back to Perth for a week's work.

The lead-in races commence with the Bunbury City Classic which starts from off Cottesloe Beach, Perth, in the evening of Friday February 15 with competitors contesting the 84nm race largely in the dark and arriving Saturday morning in Bunbury. After a rest on Saturday, the ?Silos to Jetty? race (Bunbury to Busselton) is a 27nm beach sprint on the Sunday. The lead-in festivities conclude with a barbeque at Tides Tavern before competitors are loaded on to buses for a sleepy ride back to their Perth sailing clubs.


It will surprise no one that with Busselton being positioned on the northern tip of the Margaret River wine region, the social aspect of race week is pretty special. As race week covers six full days of racing plus a lay day, there is plenty of scope for official and unofficial social functions. Organised functions are spread across venues including Port Geographe, the Busselton township and the Geographe Bay Yacht Club (GBYC). Transport is never a problem as, with a little planning, you can leave the car keys in the chart table for the full week and jump on the buses provided by the GBYC to ensure you are always where the action is.

Getting home

The weekend after race week is a long weekend in WA and competitors have the choice of retracing the trip down with a cruise back over the three days or simply jumping on the 20 knot southerly sea breeze on Saturday after the presentation night and blowing out the cob webs with a 100 mile kite run back to Perth.


Geographe Bay Yacht Club
PO Box 1240
Busselton, WA 6280
Ph: 0412 840 512 Fax: 08 9752 4679
On Water Director – Ron Jenson –
Event Director – Barry Brown –

The racing

Race Week has, unashamedly, a large amount of sailing during the week. The north-facing aspect of Geographe Bay, combined with the predominant summer wind patterns of morning easterlies and afternoon southerly sea breezes, mean the racing is generally conducted in offshore wind conditions with flat water and tricky wind shifts emanating from the land?s influence.

Last year saw 107 competitors competing in seven divisions, including IRC Racing, PHS Racing, Under 10 metre performance, Under 10 metre displacement, Cruising with Spinnakers, Jib and Main (JAM) and Multi hulls. Provided sufficient entries are received it is anticipated that in 2008 there will also be a sports boat division racing under the newly established measurement system of the Australian Sports Boat Association.

Another new initiative by the WA Offshore Racing Committee will see the results of race week forming a part of the WA IRC championship for the 2007/8 season.

The racing program is designed to meet the desires and requirements of the sailors in their respective divisions. The IRC and PHS racing divisions are contested over a nine-race series comprising three passage races and six windward/leeward races. The cruising divisions are contested over six passage races ensuring a good, close-up view is obtained of all the bays and beaches that comprise the tourist region.

While WA does not possess the maxis that reside on the east coast, there is intense competition in the IRC division?s 30- 45ft range with Beneteau, C&C, Sydney Yachts, Bulls and a series of Brett Bakewell White designs well-represented.

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