Fremantle to Bali May 2017

Kraken, a Sun Fast 3600, recently competed in the Fremantle to Bali race taking second place on IRC racing double-handed.

This race report by Kraken’s skipper, Todd Giraudo of Mira Marine, the Jeanneau dealer for WA.

Fremantle to Bali May 2017

A total of 14 yachts started the race on Saturday 6 May in 10 kts of wind and sunshine. The fleet was split evenly with 7 yachts in race division and 7 yachts in cruise of which there would be 2 retirements, with 12 yachts finishing. We had planned on a 9 to 10 day race time.

The course is simple: start to Campbell mark off Cottelsoe, then Fairway and head north to finish at the entrance to Benoa Harbour, being the port for Bali. Course distance is some 1440 nm and is the longest ocean race that originates in Western Australia.

This is Category 1 race in terms of safety requirements the essence of which is to ensure yachts are self-sufficient for extended periods of time, capable of withstanding heavy storms and prepared to meet serious emergencies without the expectation of outside assistance.

In recent months, Kraken has been fitted with a watermaker, satellite communications, lithium batteries and a beanbag bed [the latter definitely worthy of a mention]. Kraken is entered into the Melbourne to Osaka double handed ocean race, a distance of some 5500 nm, that starts in March 2018. The Fremantle to Bali race was planned to test all the equipment.

With a full moon and light to moderate breezes it turned out to be a glamour offshore race. There were some very light winds on the second night with most of the fleet parked up off Geraldton. Once past Cape Inscription, yachts needed to decide on running the gauntlet of the direct route north against the Leeuwin current and potential light winds or gybe out to sea. We choose the latter with our weather modelling indicating the need to be +111o west to skirt around the low pressure cell that sits west of North West Cape. This is no small detour as this takes you to approximately 100 nm due west of North West Cape.

A southerly came through about 8 h after our gybe out to the west enabling some of the yachts to take the inside route.  Our final gybe was abeam of North West Cape and a straight line to Bali.  The tradewinds did clock to the south east and east several days later after the southerly dissipated. Winds varied from 12 to 15 kts during the day to 15 to 18 kts during the night. Although with clear skies and a full moon, there was not much difference between day and night. It was not all our way with an average of 1 kt of adverse current north of Cape Inscription – which is a long way south of Bali!

Our track took us over the Exmouth Plateau and our first exposure to what +2.5 kts of current does. So much for open oceans being straight forward.  We had favourable currents with only 4 kts against us for about 2 hours prior to reaching the shallow water of Bali. With 10 to 15 kts of wind, we always had +4 kts speed over ground. In previous races, yachts have spent days battling the currents when the winds are light. Prime Factor had 10kts of current against on approach into Bali due to being further east.

Apart from the light winds off Geraldton, the majority of the race was with the wind behind us or from the beam – woohoo – spinnakers, Code O or reaching with a headsail. No water on the deck until Day 6. We hand steered for 5 days and then spent a concerted effort to understand and fine tune to autohelm, which then steered for the majority of the +3 days.

The skipper smuggled on a carton of rum and cokes for happy hour – woohoo! One rum per man per day – repeat as necessary!

Walk on the Wild Side took the trifecta for fastest, first on IRC and YAH. We were very happy with our second place on IRC with a race time of some 8 days, 16 hours, 55 minutes beating Endorfin in third place by 33 minutes on corrected time. The Edge (Sun Fast 3200) and ourselves were the first double handed entries to compete in this race. The Edge retired due to electrical issues.

A delivery skipper and crew will sail Kraken back to HYC. The next adventurers will include: delivery to Melbourne, Melbourne to Hobart in December and then Melbourne to Osaka starting in March 2018. The Melbourne Osaka race is 5500 nm, Australia’s longest ocean race, with all yachts sailed double handed.