CHECKMATE (F66) crossing OBSESSION (F1245) just after the start of the Bunbury and Return race.

Fremantle, WA, Feb 12, 2021: Geoff Bishop, owner of UK Sailmakers Fremantle, won first overall in the 170-mile Bunbury and Return Ocean Race sailing his King 40 CHECKMATE by following their pre-race plan to a decisive victory. CHECKMATE crushed the second-place boat, OBSESSION, by over 28 and one-half minutes. Third place went to another UK Sailmakers customer, James Halvorsen’s Farr 395 GIDDY UP. All three boats had UK Sailmakers sails aboard.

“As with ocean racing and most racing for that matter, it’s the planning that wins you the race,” said Bishop in a radio interview on 91.3 SportFM. “What you do beforehand is what gets you there. On Wednesday, Kingsley Piesse our navigator, Mark Wheeler our tactician and myself met to go over plan for the race. After going over the latest weather forecast and consulting our routing software, we realized that on the way back from Bunbury we had to head out to sea to avoid a patch of light winds that would be sitting on the rhumbline. On Thursday our plan was reinforced by the latest forecast and then we got to the weather briefing before the race where the meteorologist presented a map showing the same information we were planning for. To say they least, we were disappointed that she shared that information. Now everyone saw what we saw.”

Geoff and team CHECKMATE kept to their plan after rounding the turning mark off Bunbury. They kept close to shore only long enough to avoid a shallow bank and then picked up two knots of boatspeed by peeling from the Code Zero to the A1 as they bore off too sail offshore. Geoff was surprised that no one followed, as all four weather models were painting the same picture. As the wind swung south CHECKMATE was lifted and had the perfect angle for maximum boatspeed while their competition was having to run deep in lighter wind.

While the first boat to finish was the Carkeek 47 INDIAN, she had no chance of making the podium after getting caught in the light air on the way back from Bunbury. But the race for second to finish was exceedingly tight between the 40-footer pack of OBSESSION, CHECKMATE and AL FRESCO. A crewmember on OBSESSION said, “On the reaching and downwind legs home, we were pushed the whole way by our close competitor CHECKMATE. Their decision to go out for breeze paid off for them as they snuck past [us] shortly before the finish, well sailed.” Beating OBSESSION and AL FRESCO across the line was truly rewarding since both boats rate faster.

In the SportFM interview Geoff said that it’s nice to win the race as a boat owner because you get to have your name added to the trophy. He’s won the race before with customers, but now he has his name on the major ocean race trophy that has a lot of top sailor’s names engraved on it – including his father’s.

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