Windy conditions challenge yachts in annual Hillarys to Fremantle race

Mulberry slips into the passing lane on her way to setting fastest time Fremantle to Hillarys.
Mulberry slips into the passing lane on her way to setting fastest time Fremantle to Hillarys.

THE fastest time going down to Fremantle in the annual Hillarys Yacht Club to Fremantle yacht race was an hour faster on Saturday than the return journey the next day, reflecting the contrasting wind conditions.

Reaching on a strong easterly breeze, the catamarans showed a clean pair of rudders to the rest of the fleet with Sally Malay (Ian Walker) first and fastest. But the Beneteau First 35s – Mulberry (Mark Pitt) and Haywire (Brett Young) – recovered to cross the finish line off the South Mole second and third and on handicap as well.

Pinta (Kevin Stacey) continued on her winning way in division two but only by 27 seconds from the division’s fastest Covert Operation (Graham Atkinson), which flew a tiny spinnaker and reached speeds of over 11 knots.

It finished nine minutes ahead of third placegetter Pandora (Chris Grant). Catabatic (Rob Bills) was the best of the jib and main fleet (div 3).

For the return race on Sunday, an accurate forecast of 12 to 15 knots ENE turning to the NW proved to be a testing challenge for the yachts as they tacked all the way back to HYC.

This did not suit the catamarans at all and any hope of taking the trophy for best performance over both races was gone with the wind.

It did suit a classic racing yacht in Mulberry, which had Quantum sailmaker Brent Fowler on board calling out tactics.

Mulberry was fastest but was pipped on handicap by Salamander (Bruce Bradford) and Perle (John Bird) in third place. Once again Covert Operation proved the fastest yacht in division two but on handicap lowered her colours to the Viking 30 Blue Chip (Deborah Fisk) and two other Vikings Tropical Itch (Tony Brooke) and Helga (Mark Taylor). Rob Bills in Catabatic completed the double in division three.

Overall, Mulberry, Tropical Itch and Catabatic were the trophy winners in their divisions based on the combined place results and fastest corrected time.