This weekend saw the final Bluewater Siska race of the 2017 series with RPYC’s 54th Cape Naturalist Race. This a gruelling 225 mile race to Bunker Bay then onto Bunbury and returning to Fremantle  and  is second only to the Geraldton races in its level of demanding sailing.

This year with the top two boats separated by only 1 point on count back it was sheep stations on the line again for the GP42 Dirty Deeds of Alan Stein to hold off Robert Halverson’s Farr 39.5 Giddy Up. Argo was languishing in 5th behind last years Siska winner Indian and 3rd placed Enterprise. When Indian and Enterprise withdrew from the race Argo found herself in with a chance to secure third place for a podium Siska finish two years in a row. Argo also had a particularly intriguing race and played a significant role in giving the two Siska leaders plenty of pleasure and pain.

The forecast looked delightful with 15 – 20 knot southerlies turning to the east for a nice cracked off reach to bunker bay and for once the breeze looking to hold for wind all the way to Bunbury before swinging to the south for a lively kite run home.

Hahahaha, Met Eye is in cahoots with the wind devils!!

It was actually a bone crunching 20 – 25 knot southerly all night, which is a bit like being put in a fibreglass box by some evil giant who delights in shaking the box every 90 seconds to see if you still awake, which of course you are because its impossible to sleep on the rail while  freezing cold and wet. But relief came in the morning where about 15 miles out from Bunker Bay the wind eased, then  died , then it died a bit more , then Glassed off before dying completely!

Then it was the Geograph Bay Wind Devils time to have their turn at torturing the fleet. For some it was simply a case of sitting there doing nothing, but for others it was a case of watching the boat 200 metres away get into a zephyr and disappear a couple of miles up the course undoing 12 hours of metre by metre racing effort.

Argo held onto Mike Giles Sydney 47 and Paul Arns Obsession all the way to the drift out before they took off in their own little pockets of wind and we had to sit back and wait for the new southerly breeze to drift  agonisingly slowly north  before we could also take off to leave the back half of the fleet to do circle work in glassy conditions. With Dirty Deeds and  Sue Sea well around the mark and heading to Bunbury and Endorfin and Obsession chasing them on the rum line.  Argo eventually got to the turning mark in good breezes but several miles behind the leaders and decided to chance fate and head to shore to stay in the breeze. While this took her 60 degrees off the course a boat speed of 8 knots to the fleets stand still speed made the VMG equation very easy to agree with. Closing the gap on the leaders and eventually opening a lead had talk of being first to the Bunbury mark foolishly broached. Eventually the wind arrived and Deeds got around the mark a few hundred metres ahead  with Endorfin hot on her tail and Argo with a back slapping third around.

Giddy Up had to put two boats between themselves and Dirty Deeds to take out the Siska and Deeds was looking pretty grim well down the board with Argo in First and Giddy Up hovering around 3rd place. With  a measly 80 miles to go surely it was in the bag!. Argo had done enough on the Bunbury leg to open up a lead , Deeds had lost the plot and Giddy Up was in the box seat for the Siska.

In 34 hours of racing a lot more can go wrong than right and on the way home Argo blew up a kite and Deeds climbed up the leader board while Giddy Up hung in there and the ever reliable Kraken kept themselves in the numbers. By Mandurah Kraken had taken the lead on the tracker Deeds was 4th and Giddy Up was Third with Ago hanging onto second. Deeds was licking their lips and heading for home with enough to hold on in  a count back for the Siska .

Coming around the windmills a mere 6 miles from home after 230 miles Argo switched to the J3 in 23 knots of wind only to see a shore fade out with 2 miles to go that let Endorfin get over the line a boat length ahead of Argo and Giddy Up snuck inside their handicap margin to finish closely enough behind to take out 2nd place and the Siska Trophy.  Kraken held on to take a well deserved 1st place and Argo picked up 3rd place and third overall in the Siska behind a shattered Dirty Deeds in second place for the Siska.

After 7 bruising and battering ocean races of over 1200 miles a blue water racing season closes  and the exhilaration and adrenaline filled moments get weighed up against the pain , anguish and fear that come hand in hand with each other and of course planning for the next season starts.

Congratulations to all who went to sea to test their will and skill. Congratulations to all those who suffered and endured and congratulations to all those that achieved their goals and thanks to all those who shared Argo’s quest this year.

Chris Higham