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25 February 2003, 09:26 am
Off to a Flying Start
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Blustery Saturday

Selatan Race Week
Geographe Bay

Last Friday evening, saw more than 200 sponsors, competitors and guests attend the official opening of the inaugural 2003 Selatan Race Week.
The Race Week was officially opened by Mr. Richard Court, a keen yachtsman and former Western Australian Premier.

The Selatan Race Week is a seven day yachting regatta that is being raced on the waters of Geographe Bay. Racing kicked off last Saturday and will run through until Friday 28th February.

Mr. John Compton, Commodore of the Geographe Bay Yacht Club (GBYC), the organising body, said that the regatta had been designed around the highly successful Hamilton Island Race Week.

"In addition to the full racing program that we have scheduled for the event, we have also organized a comprehensive social calendar for both the competitors and sponsors," said Mr. Compton.

"We have a Happy Hour and live band scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Tides Tavern and Restaurant and a picnic day set at GBYC on Thursday, including a band on the beach, giveaways and beach games and a BBQ. We would like to invite yachting enthusiasts to join in the fun of the race week and come along to these events and meet the competitors,"
continued Mr. Compton.

The Selatan Race Week has already experienced extraordinary support from sponsors and competitors alike with many undertaking to continue their involvement with the 2004 event.

Racing

After a delayed start due to some glitches with the starting boat, the first race of the regatta started in gusty conditions, off the Busselton Jetty at 11:20am on Saturday 22 February.

The first race boasted a fleet of 36 yachts at registration, though this was reduced to a fleet of 30 starting yachts, with some of the skippers deciding not to tackle the 20 knot, north westerly winds and high seas.

Two yachts were forced to retire from the race.

Naturaliste 27', d'Vine, skippered by local yachtsman, Mike Davies, was forced to retire after the yacht lost its mast in the strong winds.

Dave Clifton, on his S125, Eftel, led the premier offshore fleet, finishing the Win TV Indian Ocean Race in just over four hours. He was closely followed by Darryl Slee on his Sabre, The Liquidator, with Neville Truman, skippering Bunbury yacht, Back Street Pick Up taking out third position.

Stan Duffy and his Northshore 33', Tosca won line honours in the cruising yacht division, with a time of four hours and 21 minutes, he was closely followed by David Buzzard on his 34' Catalina, Catalynne, with a time of four hours and 26 minutes. Third position was taken out by Naturaliste 27', Desire, skippered by David Doherty.

Line honours in the Busselton Margaret Times race were taken out by Mandurah yacht, Gemo's Recycling, skippered by Ashley Gabrielson. Busselton yachts Comfortably Numb sailed by Brad Skeggs and Beers, skippered by Craig Francis took championship points for second and third place respectively.

Sunday 23 February saw the fleet race for championship points in the Selatan on Port Geographe series. The weather provided skippers with flat seas and 5 to 10 knot south easterlies, with a late sea-breeze resulting in some of the skippers sailing both of the legs to windward.

Eftel once again took line honours in the premier offshore division, with Neville Truman on Backstreet Pick Up taking the championship points with a handicap win. First and fastest in the cruising division was won by Winston Scotney on his 37' Bavaria, Seneschal, with 39' Beneteau Serenity, skippered by Steve Smith coming in at second place.

The trailer sailer division was once again dominated by local yachts, with first, second and third places all being secured by Busselton yachts. John Ayres, on Ayres Rocket was first, followed by Nigel Chesterfield-Evans on Goggmo-Provision in second and Brad Skeggs on Comfortably Numb in third.

Racing continues on Tuesday and Wednesday with the premier offshore division and the trailer sailer division racing two races each day and the cruising division racing a single race each day.
Saskia Doherty/ISAF News Editor
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