YACHT RACING - Rally yachts set sail for Bali

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Visit Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Yacht Race and Rally, Australia’s longest yacht race, underway

YACHT RACING - Rally yachts set sail for Bali
YACHT RACING — Rally yachts set sail for Bali

Crowds of well-wishers gathered at the Fremantle Sailing Club, on support vessels and on Fremantle Port’s North Mole to farewell the 15 yachts in the Visit Indonesia Fremantle to Bali Ocean Rally last Saturday.

With the Fremantle Sailing Club bagpipers and traditional Indonesian musicians performing, there was plenty of atmosphere as family and friends cheered on the 100-plus sailors for their 1440nm journey. Many are expected to join them in Bali for their arrival.

Yachts competing in the Race component of the event will leave on Tuesday (April 26) and the leading competitors are expected to cross the finish line at Bali Marina, Benoa Harbour after approximately six to seven days of intense racing.

The Rally fleet are expected to arrive within two weeks of today’s departure.

Visit Indonesia Fremantle to Bali race director Richard Webster said Saturday’s start was the culmination of many months of planning and preparations.

"Although 2011 is actually the 30th anniversary of the first Fremantle to Bali race, we have had a break of 14 years, so it is really exciting to witness the start of another era of ocean racing at the club," said Webster.

"The skippers and crews have attended several briefings, had safety and medical checks, completed customs and immigration documentation, spent time planning their food supplies and it is great to now see them on their way.

"Thanks to the Indonesian Government’s support, we have the event back for at least five years and we expect it to grow each year as word gets out from this year’s entrants about our Sydney to Hobart of the West," he said.

Indonesian Government officials participated in Saturday’s Rally start and Dr Sapta Nirwandar, director general of tourism marketing for the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism said as well as promoting positive relationships between Australia and Indonesia, sponsorship of the Race and Rally would also help strengthen relationships with boating countries.

"Through supporting races such as the Visit Indonesia Fremantle to Bali, it helps our efforts to attract more yachts and sailors to Indonesia," said Dr Nirwandar.

"The Republic of Indonesia comprises more than 17,000 islands – not many countries can offer this to sailing enthusiasts!" he added.

Some of the Rally fleet will sail non-stop to Bali and others will make stops along the way on the Western Australian coastline in places such as the Abrolhos Islands, Carnarvon, and Broome.

Skipper of rally yacht Marco Polo 1 and past WA Police Commissioner and Sports Minister, Bob Kucera said he was in the event for the adventure rather than to compete.

"I did the Race back in 1981 and we had some great experiences," said Kucera.

"On the way back from Bali, we ran into the US Battle Fleet in the early hours of the morning off Exmouth. It took us about two hours in the dark to work out what the lights were, and it turned out to be planes taking off from the Aircraft Carrier Carl Vinson. We were politely shepherded away by a couple of destroyers.

"When in Government I got very little time to sail. I bought Marco Polo 1 for the express purpose of making up for all the lost cruises I dreamed of when sitting listening to many hours of speeches in Parliament," he said.

All will gather at the Sanur Beach Hotel on May 10 for the presentation dinner before many take the opportunity to cruise around the islands and back along the Western Australian coast. — Janine Pittaway

To follow the journey, see the online tracker and read the latest news and results at www.vifb2011.com.au

Photos: VIFB Rally start; Dr Sapta Nirwandar bangs gong to signal departure of Rally yachts; Rally competitor Icecube; Farr-Lap of Sydney, with owner Shane Leavy at the helm. (Photos by James Campbell).


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