Two Handers take on Fremantle to Bali

In our fleet for 2018 as you no doubt know, we have a number of Jenneau Sunfasts lining up. Two of them are from Western Australia. A few weeks both Kraken and The Edge competed in the Fremantle to Bali race and skipper of Kraken Todd Giraudo has sent in some details of their adventure during the event.

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. Twelve would finish.

Aboard Kraken we had planned on a race time of 9 to 10 days. The course for this event 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 1,440 nm and is the longest ocean race that originates from Western Australia. This is a 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 water-maker, satellite communications, lithium batteries and a beanbag bed [the latter definitely worthy of a mention]. Kraken is of course entered into the Melbourne to Osaka double handed ocean race, a distance of some 5,500 nm and the Fremantle to Bali race was planned to test all of our 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. Then once past Cape Inscription, skippers 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 sat west of North West Cape. This was no small detour by the way, as it took us approximately 100 nm due west of North West Cape.

A southerly came through about 8 hours 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 trade winds 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 at night, although with clear skies and a full moon, there was not much difference between day and night. We didn’t have it all our own 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 ocean sailing 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 and this time Prime Factor had 10kts of current against her 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. Woo-hoo – that meant spinnakers, Code O or reaching with a headsail and there was 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 auto-helm, which then steered for the majority of the other 3 days.

A carton of rum and coke had been smuggled on board for happy hour – nice! The prescription: 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 and ourselves were the first double handed entries to compete in this race however unfortunately The Edge retired due to electrical issues.

With the race behind us, a delivery skipper and crew will sail Kraken back to HYC. The next adventurers for Kraken and crew will include our delivery to Melbourne later this year, the Melbourne to Hobart in December and then Melbourne to Osaka starting in March 2018. We’re certainly looking forward to it.

The Edge and Kraken