In the midst of the euphoria surrounding yacht racing in Australia during the 1970’s and 80’s, when Alan Bond’s repeated tilts at the America’s Cup were attracting worldwide attention, the Fremantle Sailing Club was re-born in its current clubhouse and marina, and the search began for a marque event to put the club on the international stage. That search led to the establishment of the first Fremantle to Bali International Yacht Race.
The inaugural Cliffminex Fremantle to Bali Classic started on Saturday 2nd May 1981 and attracted 33 yachts to its racing division and a further 16 to a cruising division. Rolly Tasker’s 75 foot Siska IV sizzled up the coast at the head of an ugly weather system, to set a time that stood for 30 years before Alan Brierty’s state-of-the-art all carbon Limit smashed it in 2011.
The inaugural race was full of drama – even before it began. The late Dr Harold Dicks (circumnavigator David Dicks’ father) had a flaming and very public row with the Commonwealth Health Department about the policy of the destruction of unused canned Australian food brought back to Australia, and Sue Hutton had a horrendous fall from the mast onto the deck and fractured her pelvis. She missed the race as a result of her injuries.
The drama continued during the race as wild weather hit the fleet within 24 hours of the start. Rob Appleyard’s SixPack broke a rudder and pulled into Geraldton, Peter Engelbrecht’s Aztec broke a mast and there were many reports of sail damage and seasickness.
Then on Thursday afternoon on 7th May, about 50 miles north of NorthWest Cape, Ray Parker’s ferro cement Tahara’a hit a whale and went down within two minutes, taking with her all the crew’s belongings, radios and gear. Fortunately their flares were spotted by the cruising yacht Lois III, which picked them up some four hours later.
Declining numbers and the threat of international terrorism resulted in a 12-year hiatus for yacht races to Indonesia, but in 2010, after some spirited campaigning, it was decided to run a Bali race in 2011. Enthusiastically led by Richard Webster and Nick Clews, the event received the support of the Indonesian Ministry for Culture and Tourism and the race was branded the Visit Indonesia Fremantle to Bali 2011.
The twenty three participating yachts enjoyed some wonderful Indonesian hospitality and most also took the opportunity to cruise through the Indonesian archipelago before returning to Fremantle. Alan Brierty’s RP62 Limit made headlines within hours of the start, when one of her crew fell across the full width of the boat, landing heavily against the rim of a winch, breaking six ribs in the process. Five days later, Limit made the headlines again by smashing the thirty year-old record for the race.
Many of the 2011 fleet of yachts made full use of their cruising permit travelling on from Bali to the Eastern Indonesian archipelago and subsequently reported such a wonderful range of experiences that a formal “Beyond Bali” component was added to the 2013 event with a special course and program prepared by the 2013 Rally Director and participant Ralph Newton. Again the reports from all who joined the fleet for the extended sailing showed the area to be a wonderful cruising ground with welcomes by all the Indonesian people and fantastic scenery in calm inviting waters.
Once again the participating yachts will have a YB tracker installed. The tracker will collect and transmit data such a gps co ordinates, speed and directions at predetermined intervals. This data is sent throught the Iridium satellite network to YB HQ servers, where it is visualised on our race player so family, friends and arm chair admirals can follow an individual boat or the whole fleet easily.
For more information please visit the race website.