Wild Rose wins heartbreaker Newcastle Bass Island Race

Wild Rose Newcastle Bass Island

Roger Hickman has sailed his Farr 43 Wild Rose to a convincing win in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Blue Water Pointscore Series (BWPS), this morning, being declared winner of the very difficult Newcastle Bass Island Yacht Race.

As has become a pattern with the 30 year-old Wild Rose, she held the leading contenders to ransom as they awaited her this morning. In the box seat was Paul Clitheroe’s Balance, but the gods smiled down on the smaller boats and pushed Balance down to fourth overall.

Wild Rose, the reigning Rolex Sydney Hobart champion, won from the Sydney 38 Calibre (Richard Williams) by over one hour, and by nearly one and a half hours from third placed Black Sheep (Derek and Martin Sheppard).

Wild Rose also won ORCi overall, from Rupert Henry’s JV62 Chinese Whisper and Balance. With three races completed, the three also rule the top of the BWPS leaderboard on an equal 14 points. Les Goodridge’s Wax Lyrical topped the PHS results for the second race in succession, with Calibre second and Wild Rose third.

In a final communication from Wild Rose at 4.39am this morning, navigator Jenifer Wells said they had rounded Bass Island around 4am. “It was a tough afternoon in the office, drifting with the East Australian Current, waiting for the forecast north-easterly that never arrived. 

“Finally the south-south/easterly kicked in about 10.30pm last night and we had up to 19 knots on the way down south to Bass. We’re still holding up at 15 knots or so under 3A spinnaker, abeam of Flagstaff Point.  We passed Black Sheep and Wax Lyrical a few miles before the Islet and hope to hang on to them on the way home.”

Her prayers were answered in a race that took patience and courage – 200 nautical miles worth.

Chinese Whisper (with Michael Coxon skippering in Henry’s absence), took line honours 44 minutes and 49 seconds after midnight last evening in the time of 1 day 5hrs 44mins 49secs. Race record creator, Ichi Ban (Matt Allen), finished just over two minutes later, having led her rival for most of the race.

Ichi Ban keeps the record she created in last year’s inaugural race, of 20 hours 52 minutes and 49 seconds.

Two TP52s, Balance (Paul Clitheroe) and Celestial (Sam Haynes), were next to finish, nearly two hours after Ichi Ban and just four minutes apart.

According to Tony Kirby (Patrice), who finished eighth overall, the top four took a big dig offshore: “They went 30 odd miles out to sea. It was a gutsy call. Halfway through the race they were well behind us, but it soon became apparent they had made the right move.”

Kirby also told of the Patrice crew’s frustrations: “Yacht racing can be a cruel sport sometimes,” he said at 11.30pm last night. We were becalmed at Sydney Heads for a while and still had to sail south to Bass Island and back. It’s difficult to keep going in those circumstances,” he said, no doubt echoing the thoughts of others in the same predicament.

At 5.50am Saturday morning, Brad Kellett reported from Brindabella: “We were third around the Newcastle mark behind Ichi Ban and Chinese Whisper with Balance in fourth. “We had a great night’s sailing with lovely upwind conditions. Now reaching down the coast and looking forward to getting to Bass Island before the forecast southerly – hopefully.”

Three hours later, Kellett said: “We are still hanging in there in third. Balance is in sight behind us, with Celestial behind them. The southerly’s arrived and we have 8 knots. Heard Port Kembla say they had 20-30 knots this morning. We’re disappointed we’re not experiencing those conditions yet.”

Aboard Wild Rose at 11.22am on Saturday, navigator Jenifer Wells said: “We’re a pretty happy boat this morning.  It was on the nose all night and the breeze went into the south-south/west about 15 miles from the mark after daybreak.

“Our bowman is bored, as we had only one sail change – just after the start – followed by a brief period with the Code 0 and A3 spinnaker up this morning. It came down as we rounded the mark, with the breeze once more on the bow, as we head south back down the coast. 

“We were in good company at day break with The Goat, Patrice, Black Sheep and Calibre, all within sight towards the coast. We currently have about 13 knots from just west of south,” she ended.

Just before 1pm, Brindabella was 5 nautical miles east of North Head and sailing towards Bass Island in a 10 knot south/easterly. “Ichi Ban is 8 miles ahead of us and Chinese Whisper 6 miles ahead, due east of Clovelly. We’ve lost sight of Balance,” Kellett said.

“We’re quite happy sailing along upwind. It’s a beautiful day and if we keep trucking along like this, we should finish about 11 o’clock tonight,” he ended.

However, shortly after 5pm, Brindabella notified race officials of their retirement. The wind ran out and some crew had commitments ashore. Five others joined them.

At the 4pm sked on Saturday, Shane Kearns’ Quikpoint Azzurro, the smallest yacht in the fleet at 10.1 metres, was still 50nm north of Sydney Harbour with an ETA at the finish of Monday. Kearns, coming to terms with the reality of the situation, retired.

The fourth race of the BWPS is the Cabbage Tree Island Race on Friday, 20 November, starting at 1900 hours on Sydney Harbour.

Full results on the CYCA website at: http://www.cyca.com.au/sysfile/downloads/2015_summer/14_15_Summer/series.htm

By Di Pearson, CYCA Media 

The Goat, Black Sheep and Calibre Newcastle Bass Island 2015

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