For its forth-consecutive year, the Clipper Fraser Island Regatta begun with a flotilla of 15 semi-displacement and planing hull boats beaming at what the next 10 days would bring.
The first day was spent cruising from Coomera to Horseshoe Bay at Peel Island, with the Brisbane based boats joining the fleet for welcome drinks and fresh prawns on the beach while the captains and crews introduced themselves. The light northerly winds dropped right out that evening and they woke to “glass out” conditions Friday morning.
Leaving Horseshoe Bay, the impressive procession of boats included 5 Clipper Heritage 40’s, 2 Cordova 45’s, a Cordova 48 and 60, Hudson Bay 50, Prestige 42, Princess 56 and 67, Ocean Fast 72, and a Leopard Cat 42.
For the first-timers on the trip, it was an awe-inspiring experience to see whale season in full swing with many venturing playfully alongside the boats. Frank, who was onboard a Clipper Heritage 40, managed to capture amazing video footage of these cetaceans interacting with the boats.
“It was unbelievable how many there were! I’ve never seen so many whales in a single stretch of water before,” exclaimed Frank.
After spending Friday evening moored at Mooloolaba Marina and a full day of cruising, the boats crossed the Wide Bay Bar in perfect conditions – at high tide with half a meter of swell. From here they spent the days covering the anchorages of Yankee Jack Creek, Arch Cliffs, Kingfisher Bay and Tin Can Bay Marina.
It was great to see the tenders getting a work out with trips to shore for walks along the coloured dunes, skurfing, fishing and a match of beach cricket. The Pacific Motor Yachts’ 6.2 mtr tender also proved to be the ultimate workhorse as the on water limo for boat transfers and trips to shore.
Each boat showed off their best-dressed crew costumes on the Monday night and sat down to a succulent charcoal spit roast of lamb, beef and Wagyu eye fillet thanks to the culinary skills of the Clipper crew. Not only did the owners prepare great outfits but a selection of side dishes to compliment the roast and share amongst the crews. They capped off a great night with a huge beach bonfire along with plenty of social drinks together.
Over the next few days they enjoyed more cruising, and wildlife watching with a relatively tame dingo that approached the tenders when owners went to the beach for a closer look.
The evenings consisted of beach BBQ’s, dinner at Kingfisher Bay Resort and a night dining and dancing to the live music at the superb Black Cockatoo restaurant, in Tin Can Bay that had been booked out for the whole fleet.
Veterans of the regatta and owners of a 60ft Clipper Cordova, Gary and Jan, said the regatta keeps getting better and better each year.
“There’s always great camaraderie amongst the crew and we make new friends to go boating with every trip,” said Jan.
Heading south the Friday morning, the Wide Bay Bar was rolling with 2m swell. Like all Clipper regattas however, Master Class 5 skipper, Jeremy Cooper guided the fleet through the crossing safely. The weather got better by the hour, changing from a southerly to northerly wind and dropping to 5 -10kts.
The remaining boats departed at 7am the next morning with most wanting to extend the wonderful journey as much they could and opted to take the scenic route pass Tangalooma.
“We had a great time at Fraser. We have done more with the Hudson Bay this year than all our boats put together,” said Lionel, the proud owner of a Clipper Hudson Bay 50.
“This is what its all about,” said managing director, Brett Thurley.
“We love boating and love seeing our owners out on the water enjoying their boats. The regattas give them an opportunity to get away and learn more about their boats in a social, safe and well-coordinated setting.”
You can always rely on Fraser to provide plenty of whales, great relaxing anchorages and great company, which is why this regatta will always be a favourite, made all the better with no mobile reception that far north on the beach. It was a cruising experience not to be forgotten and one not to be missed next year.
The crew is already looking forward to the next Clipper regatta – cruising the Clarence River in April 2014. If you’d like to join them, please contact Mel on (07) 5519 4019