A record fleet of 19 Sabre dinghies came to the starting line at the first Opening Day of the 2016/17 East Fremantle Yacht Club season on the Swan River.
The large fleet was in part due to the rapid growth in popularity of these 3.7 metre singlehanded dinghies, with fleets in 5 metropolitan sailing clubs and one in the country. Of the 19, seven were visitors, from Perth Dinghy Club, Maylands YC, Safety Bay YC, Fremantle SC and one all the way from Walpole.
Another reason for the numbers (representing around a third of all Sabres in WA) was that it was the first heat in the “Opening Day” Series of races, to be sailed at the 5 metro clubs over the following weeks.
There was a gusty south westerly at the start, in front of the Club, with the course taking the competitors on a close and shifty reach to the first mark, Mt Lyall Buoy. Current State and ex-National Champion, Scott Olsen (FSC) took an early lead, as the fleet returned past the Club, up river to Blackwall Reach Buoy.
Scott maintained his lead, followed by David Meehan (SBYC) and Tony Carr (PDSC), although a sudden capsize slowed him Current EFYC Champion Pete Coop hit a slack spot on the run and dropped 4 or 5 places.
Scott maintained his lead to the finish, finishing 2 minutes 30 seconds ahead of David Meehan, while Pete Coop made a strong recovery to finish in 3rd place, only 17 seconds behind him. They were followed by Tony Carr, Graham Hill (EFYC) and Stacey Arnold (EFYC). In the middle of the fleet, there were numerous place changes, showing how close and competitive the racing is in these exciting dinghies, which make up the largest Centreboard fleet at East Fremantle.