A Good Friday to Race to Port Fairy?

A short ocean sprint, 135nm in total distance, 65nm in a South Westerly direction to the famous and historic Cape Otway, then a 70nm reach to the north west, along arguably the most iconic stretch of Australian coastline, past the Twelve (8???) Apostles and on to the idyllic coastal village of Port Fairy, what could possibly go wrong?
That's what Alan Briedahl and his crew aboard his RP46 Hartbreaker were thinking as they sailed down the bay last night.
Sure, like the rest of the fleet, they were focused on the 3:00am start at Queenscliff, and more importantly the south westerly change the fleet was expecting by mid morning, but their experienced team was more than up to the task, and following a solid practice sail last weekend, they had high expectations of taking Line Honours and even AMS and PHS honours, particularly if they could make the most of the favourable north westerly conditions in the start of the race. And for a while, it was all coming together nicely for them, and they were all set to be the 'hero' of this year's race.

Every great story has to have a villain, otherwise, there is no great story to tell in the bar at the end, right?

Cue the south westerly change! 
This villain never seems to disappoint, especially at this time of the year. Even a moderate Bass Strait sou-wester will throw an element of surprise at even the most hardened of yacht racing teams.
Back to our supposed 'hero' in the story....Hartbreaker. 
The Change met the fleet almost as predicted, between 0900 -1000, when they were almost abeam of Lorne.
Hartbreaker were the first boat to experience damage as the front hit. As we all suspected from watching tracker as the morning went on, they suffered damage to the mainsail, and decided to turn for the heads and the shelter of Port Phillip Bay, and even more time over the Easter Break with their families and loved ones.
Alien was the next yacht in the fleet to succumb to the effects of the front. They too turned their backs to the breeze, later citing "weather conditions" as the reason for retirement.

Merlion was our third casualty of the race, deciding to take refuge in Apollo Bay, primarily for the purpose of finding a nice, secure tree to seat a seasick crew member!

So that is the story as most of us know it, however, as many stories do, this one also had a twist in it.
Our would have been 'hero' Hartbreaker called the race management team at approximately 1415 and reported that they were approximately 10nm from Port Phillip Heads and they had started taking water through the rudder stock, which was being managed by bailing and pumping from the manual bilge pump.
At that stage they were fine, and wanted the race management team to be aware of their circumstances. 
The Incident Management Team were immediately contacted and began providing assistance via mobile telephone, and before long they were able to liaise with Queenscliff marina to arrange access to the travelift, and by late afternoon the boat was secured in a sling with the rudder stock well out of the water, and we'll out of harms way.
All's well that ends well, as they say!
01 Apr 2018 08:20

Glorious Port Fairy again turned on the picture perfect weather we have begun to expect of this Easter Weekend race. The small fleet started in moderate winds with fine sailing until near Cape Otway. The wind swung and built to over 20, with some gusts to 30 knots, never extreme and then slowly died away again but still good to keep the fleet moving jauntily to its ultimate destination. It did mean though a somewhat confused sea state which took its toll on White Noise. Skipper, Daniel Edwards, regaled the gathered crews at the presentation with stories of 'spewing'. Spewing on the rail, spew [ ... ]

29 Mar 2018 01:50

2018 Melbourne To Port Fairy Race Simon Dryden, PRO for the Osaka race and backup Race Director for the Port Fairy race, has produced a good summary of the weather situation for us on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/V7giguic7pw As he observes, the models are coming into alignment now, with minor variations. The weather is influenced by the leading edge of an approaching high but it looks like it won't have any major influence on the race area except a general lightening of the wind towards the end of the race. Winds will initially be from the NW, swinging SW around mid-morning. There is a bit  [ ... ]

12 Apr 2017 07:20

A slow Port Fairy race is on the cards Looking at the weather at high pressure is crossing Victoria over the weekend. The fleet will have South Westerlies for the start, with the wind moving more south over Friday, once round Cape Otway the wind could come from all points of the compass with it finally settling in from the west, the models are not in agreement so watch this space. The trip home is looking great with West to South westerlies on Sunday and Monday       Predictwind Map for a Beneteau 40

16 Mar 2017 14:00

Melbourne to Port Fairy Ocean Yacht Race  Traditionally held over the Easter holiday, the race to the historic and picturesque western district town of Port Fairy is one of three coastal races conducted by the club. The 135 mile course is often a race in two parts. The first takes competing yachts south-westwards past the coastal resorts of Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay before rounding rugged Cape Otway. The second part is from Cape Otway to the finish line where it is often possible to ease sheets for a reach or run. All weather berthing is available in the Moyne River exc [ ... ]

24 Mar 2016 01:30

Port Fairy Race Weather Since yesterday the wind has increased in strength a bit,  the direction at the start will be South West at 6 to 8 knots, then shifting 20 degrees to the west and increasing 10 to 15 knots. By lunch time the wind will be a westerly The boats will be tacking to Cape Otway and the 40 footers should reach the Cape by 3pm on Friday. From there it should be long tack. short take to Port Fairy. Friday night will see the wind clock more right and become a bit more shifty. The waves will increase in size as the days goes so helming will be critical to you success. The P [ ... ]

23 Mar 2016 02:23

What do the weather Gods have to say about this weekend’s Port Fairy race? Looking at the weather maps for weekend there is a very slow moving high pressure that will endure for the weekend. The race will start under south to south easterly winds of 8 to ten knots moving to a westerly and going to the west after that. Looking at the Predictwind models they are in broad agreement that a Beneteau First 40 will be finishing early Saturday morning. So sailors we will keep you updated, but plan for light weather and you will need plenty of diesel to come home.  

30 Oct 2015 04:512015 Stanley Weather

Weather Forecast for Melbourne To Stanley Yacht Race Forecast at 1200 0n Friday 30/10/2015 So Overall things are looking set for a great race across to Tassie. The Predict wind models are all very consistent and you can see from the course tracks they are all following closely the rhumb line. The larger boats in the TP52 size should expect a fast trip arriving by Midday Saturday and maybe threatening the race record. The smaller boats in the Beneteau First 40 range will arrive around 1400 and the latest boats should be enjoying festivities by 2200. All in all a pleasant, fun and fast event f [ ... ]

30 Oct 2015 00:33


01 Apr 2015 22:18

Boat Beacon AIS smartphone/tablet app - Aids to Navigation Further to our website article on the Boat Beacon AIS smartphone/tablet app, one of many benefits of Automatic Identification System (AIS), is virtual Aids to Navigation (AtoN). For the trial of the Boat Beacon app the ORCV is conducting during the 2015 Melbourne to Port Fairy ocean yacht race, Steve Bennett the CEO of Pocket Mariner (the Boat Beacon developer) has created some virtual AtoN.  These AtoN only appear in the Boat Beacon app, not on global internet based AIS traffic sites like Marine Traffic. To follow ar [ ... ]

27 Mar 2015 00:32

2015 Port Fairy Race Documents Available Sailing Instructions, Radio Sked sheets and the Leave at Home Document for the Port Fairy race have been published on the website. Click HERE for all the information.

More Articles