2023 Fremantle to Exmouth Wrap – Bernie Kaaks

A huge vote of thanks to the team of volunteers who made Exmouth 2023 come together. The Exmouth group, under the leadership of Chris White worked tirelessly as did the Fremantle based group under Cam Berg, who looked after communications. The eagerly awaited results that don’t appear on the official website results page can now be disclosed – and there are some interesting stories among them.
Mimosa caught the biggest legal fish, a 91cm yellowfin tuna, proven with a photo showing the fishing licence and measuring tape as proof. Mimosa also won the “Smallest Footprint” award for the Rally Division.
Hongkers, with its crew confined to the boat due to Covid, took out the trophy for the best meal prepared on board.
Blue Lagoon featured strongly in several categories and won the award for the best video.
Warren Erasmus was presented with a Special Contribution Award. Toroa IV lost its navigation equipment early in the race forcing Warren to take on navigation responsibilities with his hand-held GPS. On arrival he assumed medical duties, jumping on board another boat to deal with a broken toe and in addition proved a dab hand at the barbecue. The boat closest to realizing its arrival time forecast at its 6-hourly call was just two minutes out – Rebecca Jane from the rally fleet. Toroa IV with its limited navigation gear, was second.
Selkie won the 6-hour award in the race fleet, with Wyuna and Sirene only 5 minutes further away. Selkie made it a double in taking out the “Smallest Footprint” award for the Race fleet.
Congratulations to the race winners. Dave Davenport’s Crush fulfilled its expectations by taking out the line honours/IRC double and Anthony Kirke’s Enterprise NG lost no friends in being runner-up in all three categories. Alan Stein’s Fat Bottom Girl was a popular winner of the performance handicap trophy for division 1.
What about the finish in division 2? Just two minutes between the first two boats when a fast-finishing Wyuna almost gobbled up the pacemaker, Merlin. Talking about Merlin’s first race after her rebuild, I wondered how many people realize that this boat is timber, more than forty years old and has spent the past twelve years in Jim Prott’s shed in Esperance being painstakingly dismantled and reassembled. According to Dubbo who crewed on the yacht, despite its low freeboard and narrow beam it turned out to be relatively dry and surprised everyone with its performance.
Wyuna won the IRC trophy and Merlin the PHS. The little Dunsborough yacht Kwilena with a crew of just three, arrived to an emotional welcome in Exmouth as the last boat home. The smallest boat in the fleet hung on to the pack during the early stages of the race but parked in some long-lasting holes in the mid-stages, though never giving up!
Some of the rally yachts are taking the opportunity to expand their horizons and continue northward while those who have to go back to work slog their way home.
A final word about news coverage. Sincere thanks to Auntie ABC and in particular Kelly Gudgeon who runs the ABC Pilbara morning show, and Julian Vicentini at the Channel 7 regional network both of whom supported the event with coverage. A fond retrospective to the 1981 Bali race shows just how much the print media has changed. That race received full pictorial coverage in both the West and Sunday Times, with detailed stories written by their own journalists to cover the sinking of Tahara’a after hitting a whale, dismastings, and other misfortunes befalling competitors. These days, free copy provided by organisers (even for world championship events overseas) together with images, can’t find a space in the print media. If you don’t kick it, hit it or throw it, it ain’t sport (nags excepted).
Well done Fremantle Sailing Club. Now planning begins for the reunion party and attention turns to the next long distance race in a couple of years from now.