It is late summer in Western Australia and it is normal for endless blue skies, hot sunny temperatures and glamorous clear waters at this time of year.
You hear the comment at many regattas around the world: “Its not normally like this here”
I often get asked “Are the weather conditions really that good for sailing off Fremantle”
Well the answer is: “Yes it really is like this here”
The summer months in Perth, Western Australia enjoy blue skies nearly every day.
“I travel to these parts seasonally for about 3 months a year to enjoy the sailing. Since arriving in the first week of January this year, you can count the number of overcast days on one hand and there has not been a drop of rain so far this year!”
There is a reason why the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, Flying Fifteen, 505, 420, Dragon and Etchells classes have all decided to stage their world championships on Fremantle’s waters.
The host organiser of the 2023 Flying Fifteen World Championship is the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club which is located on the Swan River where most of the dinghy / keelboat racing takes place, however the attraction of sailing on the Indian Ocean waters off Fremantle, (about 3 km down stream from the RFBYC) is too much to ignore for organisers.
‘Clear turquoise waters, good sea breezes and downwind surfing waves’
One of the overseas competitors, Ian Pinnell from the UK, has sailed on the same Owen Anchorage race course before when sailing at the 505 World Championships in 2019. He has competed all over the world at big regattas and describes this venue as one of the best in the world!
The infamous ‘Fremantle Doctor’ sea breeze blows regularly from lunchtime onwards throughout most of the summer months, easing slightly in late summer.
“The March timetable has been chosen as the weather conditions are generally more forgiving at this time of year. The infamous ‘Fremantle Doctor’ strong sea breezes have usually weakened” say the organisers
It is fair to say that all the world championship regattas mentioned earlier were all held during December & January so there is less known about the predicted conditions during March.
Current World Champions, Graham Vials and Chris Turner from the UK have not sailed at this part of the world before but Graham explains:
“I think we could be in for a mixed bag in March. A little later than normal and we could see a mixture of wind and sea states. We are generally pretty good in all conditions, so I think a mixed bag should suit us but who knows”
The event host is the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club but the regatta will be sailed out of Fremantle Sailing Club on the pristine waters of Owen Anchorage in the Indian Ocean off Fremantle. The facilities at Fremantle Sailing Club are world class and Fremantle is renowned throughout the world for its unique sailing conditions.
Local WA sailor Nick Jerwood comments:
“We have had limited experience racing on the worlds course area, in February 2020 FFIWA ran the Tally Hobbs regatta off Fremantle on the Owen Anchorage course. It was sailed in perfect 20 - 23 knot conditions over two weekends, so this gave us some good feedback of what can happen on the course, but in general, my experience of the course area has been very limited until this year. It has been possible to get some experience there since the new year, but conditions could be quite different in March”
“March off Fremantle, well, I have no idea to be honest! The sea breeze pattern that we see at the moment could easily continue on through the year until then, but thats less likely than conditions changing to more moderate breezes and occasional hot strong shifty easterlies. I guess we will find out in a few weeks time”
WA based sailing coach Grant Alderson also compliments the race area:
“I’m very much looking forward to sailing in another Flying 15 World Championships. My last was back in 2013 so a significant absence! Having a World Championships in your own backyard was to good too ignore. A quick makeover of (AUS3933) and we are ready to tackle the waters off Fremantle. The Owen anchorage race area is semi protected from Garden Island and provides perfect conditions for the Flying 15”
“March in Perth should provide a variety of wind with seabreezes and Easterlies. The fleet of nearly 80 boats should enjoy Fremantles famous seabreeze. Stretch the legs and enjoy a steady 20 knots or test your tactics in a shifty easterly. Having travelled the world for sailing and coaching I still think this is one of the best places to sail in the world. Enjoy the crystal clear waters off Fremantle!”
Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club with support from South of Perth Yacht Club looks forward to welcoming competitors to Fremantle, and in particular, the many visitors expected from overseas and the East Coast of Australia.
This event is well supported by the local government and community so you can rest assured that visitors to Fremantle will be treated to a good show.
Incredibly 77 entries are already on their way to sailing paradise. This figure would not have been possible without the funding provided by key sponsors including Endeavour Homes and the transport and logistics provided by the MSC group.
Flying Fifteens are coming from as far away as South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, New Zealand and all over Australia. Whilst the overseas boats are being shipped to Fremantle, it takes a good three days to tow a F15 from Queensland to West Australia, a similar distance as New York to San Francisco or London to Istanbul!
Of course no regatta of this scale is possible to organise without the help of a small armada of volunteers and this regatta is no exception.
Nick Jerwood sums it up quite well:
“I can’t wait to get out racing in a big fleet again, put all the troubles of Covid behind us and reunite as an international class at a major regatta. The passion for F15 sailing amongst friends is still strong, to see 77 other like minded crews enter the event is a real buzz. I will be wonderful to welcome everyone to Fremantle when they arrive.”
Details of the F15s entered for the regattas will be sent out in the next couple of weeks.
The schedule of racing begins with an Invitational race on Sunday 12 March, then four days of racing for the Australian Championship. (7 races scheduled)
Another lay day is followed by seven days of World Championship racing (12 races scheduled) with a provisional lay day in the middle.
Mar 9 - 12 - Registration & Measurement
Mar 12 - Invitational Race
Mar 13 - 16 - Australian Championship
Mar 17 - Lay-day
Mar 18 - 25 - Flying Fifteen World Championship
sponsors & supporters: https://www.flying15worlds2023.com/sponsors
social media: facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Flying15worlds2023
by Jonny Fullerton - Regatta Services