Meridian leads the fleet home

Meridian leads the fleet home

Utopia got up and went

Utopia got up and went

Avalon leads Passion X (partially obscured far right) and Flashback extreme left

Avalon leads Passion X (partially obscured far right) and Flashback extreme left

Passion with the old genoa brings up fourth place.

Passion with the old genoa brings up fourth place.

The forecast south east fresh winds never arrived and in place was very mild winds of 7 knots dying to nothing at the finish. As the breeze faded those who had an early lead extended their lead and many handicap placings followed fastest times order.
For our part we reflected on last week and thought a bit more flow in the foot of the main would be useful but in a nod to the expected strong winds set the 40m2 old genoa from Passion.
In the pre race quiet conditions this rig looked too flat and too little but we were expecting more. The start line was similar to last week so we opted to start further away from the club so that we could be leeward lifting boat at Onion Point. That did not work out as Meridian came up from beneath and took starboard rights down the line in front of us with enough room to cross us on the gun. That forced an early tack which was too low on Onion Point with an incoming tide and the tide at the lowest point. We pinched to make the point and crossed with 900 mm under the keel which is a bit close for comfort. The yachts starting closer to the club had a better and faster lane into Humbug but fortunately they went a bit high leaving room for Passion X and Joli to pull under to leeward. As we passed Clarke Point we were hard on the tail of Utopia who was nose to tail with Flashback while Meridian did the same as last week and took the inside rounding of Cockatoo without stopping. One day she will die in the wind shadow but not tonight. Utopia, Flashback and Passion followed in single file while Avalon went high. Avalon tacked closer to the island and managed to work out from under Passion X while Flashback and Utopia maintained a lead on both of us. Now Joli steamed up from behind and looked like going over the top until a knock put them into our dirty air and Kevin on the helm was able to work to windward. Back in the cockpit the crew was deepening the foot of the main even more while I was moving the jib cars forward and with these little improvements we started to hold Joli and pick up ground on Flashback. Approaching Goat Island we carried a lift into the Island further than we would usually risk but it paid off when we tacked on the first hint of a knock and lifted above Flashback enough to tack under them for the turn around the navigation mark. Flashback did not like our dirty air and it put them in the way of a couple Blue fleet yachts which also slowed them.
Out of this one move we obtained a jump which by the finish in the dying breeze was worth seven minutes. Joli also had to negotiate this traffic and was similarly slowed.
The run home was an anxious one as the dying breeze seemed to have streaks bringing the fleet down on us while we were not making inroads into the lead of Meridian, Utopia and Avalon.
The last drift to the line was awful as the incoming tide was almost as strong as the breeze and the heading to make the finish line had to be much higher. A couple of yachts did not make the buoy and had to do very slow re rounds.
With the fourth across the line I expected to do well and was not disappointed with the fourth on handicap. After the first four races of the season the two Sydney 38s, Utopia and Avalon at last received competitive handicaps and celebrated with a first and third respectively. The they had some taken back due to their success.

The fine weather brought out the sailors at Greenwich Flying Squadron for the fourth race of the spring series. The largest genoa was hanked on in anticipation of a dying breeze and the extra 5 sq metres of sail area was needed.
The line was biased to the club end and the angle down the line was such that for the most part it could not be crossed on starboard tack. We were early and dumping sail as we approached the club clearance mark while Joli came in from below with speed. Fortunately Adrian made it clear he was not going to force us over the line but wanted us to get as high as possible. The clearance mark was below the actual line from the club flagstaff so we were able to oblidge without going over early but Joli with speed nailed the start and tacked to port from a clear ahead position.
Further down the line Meridian also made a good start and was able to point up from below while Joli reached across our bow from above. We were the proverbial meat in a J112 sandwich. Next Avalon reached over the top and the four of us headed out of Humbug with a handy lead over the fleet.
Meridian took the inside line around Goat Island to port and kept good air and momentum. We went wider for better breeze and when we did head up sailed onto a hole letting Avalon slip further ahead.
The work to Goat Island to port was progressing well and we were keeping in close touch to Meridian, Joli and Avalon until a slow ferry got in the way and we ended up tacking back and forth on knocks trying to find a path through.
Once around Goat Island we set the 6 metre whisker pole and went off in chase of the distant trio. With the large projected sail area we made up some ground although the following fleet could be seen picking up streaks of breeze from behind and running up to our position.
Into Humbug we skirted the whole fleet but ran into a hole to leeward of Street Fighter where it was so calm that they were drifing down on us in the tide.
In this state of suspended animation Much Ado V appeared from leeward hugging the shore line and sailed right around the fleet.
Just behind Much Ado V was Dump Truck, Flashback and Utopia with Irukandji in the mix. Fortunately for us they sailed into our hole as we were emerging from the other end.
The late charge by Much Ado V earned then third place on handicap behind the J112 twins, Meridian and Joli. Avalon and Utopia are still suffering from very severe starting handicaps which seem to be adjusting very slowly to their actual performace.
That left Passion X with another 4th place on handicap, we maintain our place on the top of the table and take a handicap hit into next week.

Joli grabs the prime start position from leeward

Joli grabs the prime start position from leeward

Joli reaches over the top while Meridian climbs up from  below

Joli reaches over the top while Meridian climbs up from below

The 6 metre long whisker pole was not enough to make up lost ground

The 6 metre long whisker pole was not enough to make up lost ground

Much Ado makes the right move and slides through close to the shore

Much Ado makes the right move and slides through close to the shore

Table in the up position

Table in the up position

A view of the base supporting the table in the up position

A view of the base supporting the table in the up position

Base collapsed into the double berth position

Base collapsed into the double berth position

Alternative coffee table top for the base

Alternative coffee table top for the base

Room for four bottles of wine in the upper section of the base

Room for four bottles of wine in the upper section of the base

I am sure it will end up doubling as a foot rest.

I am sure it will end up doubling as a foot rest.

It was good temperate weather for working on the dinette table on Passion X so I loaded up the car with all the components and headed to the club. I first fitted the cleats to the seat fronts to support the table in the down position where it forms a double berth. The table top fitted on the cleats squarely and the base just needed to be screwed to the keel king plank structure. With the base in place and the table screwed in position to the top part of the base the next task was to position the two boxes so that the table top was level. As the boat is sitting a little stern down for heavy air performance the levels were measured off the tops of the settee seats and the two sections of the base screwed together in the up position. A few photos will make it all a little clearer.

Encouraged by the results of slackening our D2′s to allow the mast to be more flexible and flatten the main more when required we set the 40m2 old faithful genoa off the original Passion and a full sized but very flattened main. The first leg was a windward work out of Humbug to take Cockatoo Island to starboard and while the breeze was hitting 20 knots I knew there would be light patches through Humbug and the course was more free after the Cockatoo rounding.
Out start was timed to perfection and we were windward boat on the pin end of the line. The only downside was that we had to pinch hard to stop the yacht behind working to windward of us and preventing us tacking for the passage through Humbug. Avalon the Sydney 38 was right on our tail so we took the first available knock to tack and they tacked in perfect timing with us. The problem for us was now they were leeward boat and pointing higher. To make Onion Point we were above our sweet spot and in their dirty air so it was a pretty slow work up the Woolwich shore. Joli above with a bit less disturbed air was quickly alongside and Utopia was charging up from behind. Approaching Clarke Point we found ourselves again pinching with Utopia to leeward calling us up while we were avoiding a starboard tacking yacht. Utopia kept calling after we passed the starboard tacker so we felt obliged to pass on the call to Joli who was above us. Joli responded and we tacked into their dirty air but that left Utopia charging up past Clarke Point on a nice lift while Joli and Passion X took the nasty knock on the other tack.
Joli tacked back for Cockatoo island early and were rewarded with a lift along the shore that regained some of the ground on Utopia for them.
As the fleet converged on the corner of Cockatoo Island for the starboard rounding it was tightly bunched except for Avalon who with a large crack crew on board was enjoying their powerful rig and making a clean break for a fastest time win by 5 minutes.
Back with the mere mortals we were behind the two J112e’s,, the two Sudney 38s, the two Ker 11.3 and the one J 122 but with a good gap to the rest of the fleet. From behind we could pick our path around the fleet where there was some pretty aggressive attempts for inside room on the island. Fortunately the outside path while a lot longer had more breeze and we were able to sail around several competitors and set off chasing Jackpot the J122, the two Ker 11.3 and the two Sydney 38s. Out in the less disturbed air between Cockatoo and Long Nose we were off the hard beat and going quite quickly up the course. In front the Utopia, Dump Truck and Much Ado V were giving us a good guide to the next wind shifts and we were aggressively adjusting sail trim for the next wind phase. Around Goat Island we were a little lower than ideal and again had to pinch in slow model to clear the lee shore. Dump Truck had the worst of the wind shifts around the Goat Island navigation mark as both Much Ado V and Passion X had a good lift well inside the line that Dump Truck had been forced to sail. From Goat we had a good following breeze for a short time and in this section our large genoa held out to windward worked well to make up time on Utopia, Dump Truck and Much Ado V. We stayed on the outside line for the approach to Long Nose but when we thought Much Ado V was going to shake out the reef in their main we went above and perhaps into too much disturbed air. Utopia from below was into the new breeze just as early and Dump Truck to windward did not suffer too much.
Avalon was still not to be seen but the four boats in our group were enjoying a very tight tussle. (All four boats have very similar ORCi ratings) Dump Truck with full main was overpowered on occasions but the reef in the main of Much Ado V did not stop her rounding up hard in the big gusts.
As we followed these three around Cockatoo for the last time we held out the genoa to windward for good effect and skirted the Island by the largest margin possible. Utopia in closest lost the most ground and Dump Truck pulled ahead while we managed to get to leeward of Utopia and the reefed Much Ado V.
Into Humbug our leeward position was rewarded with fresh wind from over our leeward quarter which gave us clear air but still had us on starboard tack for rights.
French Connection from Blue Division sensed our charge towards the finish and gave us room to attack the finish line. Dump Truck thought they were home and unknowingly started to close our path to clear the mark but fortunately responded in time.
To our surprise the finish time was only 2 seconds different with Utopia 10 seconds behind followed by Much Ado V just 8 seconds later.
We did win on handicap but only by 19 seconds from Fireball enjoying the fresher conditions.
Full credit is due to the two Ker 11.3 who sailed in the gusty conditions very lightly crewed and seemed to enjoy the family rivalry. I am sure if they had the gorillas that were aboard Avalon the extra crew weight would have made a big difference. It was also interesting to see that there was only seconds difference in the finish time of Dump Truck and Much Ado V despite Much Ado V carrying the reefed main for the whole course.
That is our best result in a breeze since we launched Passion X. The lesser tension on the D2 has allowed the mast to bend more letting us carry more sail area through the gusts and be better powered up for the lulls. We were very attentive to back stay tension and had them quite slack every time the breeze died. We were also more diligent in letting the genoa off during gusts on the tight reaches and that let us track straighter and faster.
We will leave everything as it is and see if our light air performance will still be ok.

For the record top wind speed was over 22 knots and top boat speed was 10.2 knots.

Sailing into a  light patch around Long Nose Point

Sailing into a light patch around Long Nose Point

Much Ado V rounding up across the course in a gust approaching Goat Island

Much Ado V rounding up across the course in a gust approaching Goat Island

Holding out the genoa to run deep around Cockatoo Island. Utopia and Much Ado V already reaching for Clarke Point

Holding out the genoa to run deep around Cockatoo Island. Utopia and Much Ado V already reaching for Clarke Point

 

Held out genoa and wind over the port quarter helped us catch Utopia and Much Ado V

Held out genoa and wind over the port quarter helped us catch Utopia and Much Ado V

That is the finishing mark with Dump Truck oh so close 2 seconds in front.

That is the finishing mark with Dump Truck oh so close 2 seconds in front.

 

I have been making glacially slow progress on a table for Passion X. The original plan was for the table to be supported by a box sliding inside a box so that in the lower position the settee would convert to a double bed and in the upper position it would be a standard table. The square box concept did not fit in the space and so it became a very odd shaped four sided box on the outside and an even odder eight sided box sliding up on the inside. The sided of the outer box are joined with standard triangular timber cleats while the inside box is glassed inside and out. Carbon fibre has been used for the outer side of the inner box and the base of the outer box has been joined with carbon fibre to ensure the box can take the weight of the crew leaning against the column.
Progress has been glacial because of the need for a very close fit over a very large area but it has progressed to the point of a final trial fit to locate the table top perfectly in the double bed position.
As the table and bed are just for cruising occasions I have made a small top of coffee table size to be left in the down position during the racing season. The box has room for four bottles of wine and that might come in handy over the summer.

The original keelson specification was 15mm by 150mm meranti which Dudley increased to 18 mm due to the deep keel we fitted. In practice I used 19 mm by 150 mm meranti and instead of individual packers under each of the keel bolt washers I used continuous hardwood stringers 19 mm by 50 mm thick down both edges to match the keelson and this gives an effective top plate on the keel for and aft I beam structure of 19 mm by 250 mm and over 2 times the original cross section. The extra width matches the keel and provides a very strong support for the table due both to the extra width and the strength of the hardwood compared to meranti.

The coffee table sized lid for the table support with the small hatch for storing the four bottles of wind

The coffee table sized lid for the table support with the small hatch for storing the four bottles of wind

The eight sided inner box sliding inside the four sided outer box. The two holes in the inner box floor are to clear the keel bolt nuts

The eight sided inner box sliding inside the four sided outer box. The two holes in the inner box floor are to clear the keel bolt nuts

The two boxes separated. There is an 82 mm wide slot in the base of the outer box where it sits around the 82mm wide full width keel bolt backing plate.

The two boxes separated. There is an 82 mm wide slot in the base of the outer box where it sits around the 82mm wide full width keel bolt backing plate.

Driving to the club early for the twilight race the temperature was a very pleasant 27 degrees C but as I prepared to launch the dinghy for the trip to the moored Passion X the rain came and I sheltered in the club for a good hour.
The rain radar showed that there was a second band of rain following but as luck would have it the second band did not arrive until we were safely on the way home post the BBQ on the deck.
After being under powered last week we set the 40m2 genoa and a full main but in a concession to the threatening breeze has the sails set very flat. During the afternoon one of the crew hoisted me aloft to slacken the D2′s. These had been on very tight and with the D2′s eased the mast adopted a more even bend and the mainsail did seem a bit flatter. Regardless of cause the effect seemed to be a more responsive boat and we handled the gusty conditions as well as any time since we launched.
The race however did not go all our way. We had a mighty tussle with Much Ado V going out of Humbug and were perhaps third out only to have almost all the fleet sail through on the inside in what is usually a nasty wind shadow around Greenwich Point. Now at the back of the fleet we were squeezed between Much Ado V to windward and Utopia to leeward with a large group including Joli and Flashback ahead. Not liking the dirty air from Much Ado V we worked to windward of the tight reaching fleet only to have Much Ado V repeatedly round up in front. That was enough to kick in the caution mode and we went well high of the fleet and eventually into the disturbed air around Balls Point. I did keep as low as I thought was safe from the rounding up yachts below but Lisdillon from behind went low all the way to the Goat clearance mark and made up some good ground. The front of the fleet was very tightly bunched at Goat Island and closed up tightly in the wind shadow of the island. As the leading yachts nudged forward into the oncoming breeze the fleet started to spread out. Just in front were two J112e, two Sydney 38 and one Ker 11.3 and we were giving close chase hoping for a lucky break through Humbug.
No lucky break came and we were forced to tack onto starboard by a Blue fleet yacht well before out clear line to the finish. The extra two tacks were costly and we made up little ground except at the very finish when we had a little more breeze and crept up to the transom of Avalon, but no further.
As we finished quite close to the leaders we expected to do well on handicap. We were declared the winners but when I saw the result sheet I could see that we were finished 2 minutes early in a transcription error. After correction by Harvey at 9:30 pm we lost by 7 seconds to Meridian. We had both received the bottle of wine we deserved for first and second places but in the wrong order but only those who read the blog will know that Stephen was the real winner on the night.

Considering the breeze and the quality of the fleet I was very pleased with our performance. It was the closest we have finished to the similar rating Sydney 38, Avalon and just one minute behind the similar rating Ker 11.3, Much Ado V. I continue to be impressed by the performance of the lower rated J112e, both Joli and Meridian, but the design is a current IRC champion.

For the record the wind did gust to over 20 knots and our boat speed reached into the mid 10 knot range.

Passion X squeezed out by Much Ado to windward and eventual scratch winner Utopia to leeward

Passion X squeezed out by Much Ado to windward and eventual scratch winner Utopia to leeward

Passion X overtaken by the following fleet around Greenwich Point

Passion X overtaken by the following fleet around Greenwich Point

At the finish catching up to Avalon with Joli and Much Ado V just across the line.  Utopia and Meridian had already cleared the frame.

At the finish catching up to Avalon with Joli and Much Ado V just across the line. Utopia and Meridian had already cleared the frame.

I am still reflecting on the fourth place on Wednesday and only 54 seconds out of first place. It did help that we had a very good start and protected our position going through Humbug. It did not help that we were triple cautious with the No3 jib up, a reef in the main and the boom bag and lazy jacks set up for a second reef.
The very nice Mark Palmer photo of Joli, Passion X and Avalon approaching the start line shows well the sail area we had up for the day. We were giving away 7m2 to Joli and 18m2 to Avalon. That is Ok when the breeze is honking but as it dies we have the largest wetted surface of the three and need the sail area.
While the trend for yacht racing these days is to reduce the jib area first it might be a better solution for Passion X to keep the overlapping genoa on and reef the main more. That will keep the centre of effort lower which might be a good thing as Passion X is quite tender.
The other lesson is that I need to be more conscious of the sail settings as the breeze dies. It took quite a while for me to realize that the back stay was on too tight and the foot too tight for the dying breeze and the jib halyard also too tight.
And when we did shake out the reef in the main I forgot to check that the runner was on the correct side of the head of the main and that the outerhaul was tight enough. It did not help that we went from a reefed flat main to a full main with a large round in the foot and without the backstay a very loose forestay and full genoa.
Well it was a good week to relearn all these lessons and the small fleet ensured our finish place was a keeper for the seasons progress scores.

With the forecast for a stiff breeze we set the No 3 genoa and a reef in the main for the first race of the Greenwich Flying Squadron Twilight series. We were not the most cautious as Flashback with their repaired mast on it first outing had two reefs in the main but the rest of the fleet was fully clad in big jibs and full mains.
While the breeze was fresh we sailed above our handicap and a good start got us out of Humbug first with Sydney 38 Avalon below and the J112e Meridian above. A big persistent shift helped us against Avalon but we gave up a lot of our lead on Meridian who tacked below us for the leg to Goat Island. As the breeze eased we were overrun by Avalon and Joli while Meridian established a handy lead. Much Ado V went a bit low going into Balls Head and had to pinch for the mark so much that we held our ground. Joli tacked away from the point rather than pinch and did better at maintaining speed in the dying breeze. At this point we got desperate and took out the reef in the main forgetting to get the port backstay on correct side of the sail. Once around Goat we quickly dropped the main below the backstay and rehoisted it correctly in a move that seemed to lose very little time.
We were still down 14m2 of sail area on the run home compared to our No 1 genoa but to our surprise we held Much Ado V and were alongside them just metres from the finish line. With the reduced rig we still hit over 8 knots on the run home although this was tide assisted.

Up in front Joli ran down Meridian and Avalon for a close fastest times victory and a first on handicap.

The surprise of the night was that we were only 54 seconds from first place, 11 seconds from second and 8 seconds from third.

A cautious Passion x sandwiched between Joli and Avalon. Photo from the GFS facebook page courtesy of Mark Palmer

A cautious Passion x sandwiched between Joli and Avalon. Photo from the GFS facebook page courtesy of Mark Palmer

A more cautious Flashback from the GFS facebook page courtesy Mark Palmer

A more cautious Flashback from the GFS facebook page courtesy Mark Palmer

Passion X is back in the water ready for another season. The sprayed on antifouling looks very slick and I am very happy with the quality of the service at Woolwich Dock. The proximity to our mooring in Greenwich Bay is a great convenience and I motored the dinghy over on the Torquedo outboard to pick up Passion X from the dock and used just 20% of the battery power for the task.
While Passion X was on the hard stand I torqued up the rear keel bolts with the load of the hull sitting on the keel and got a tiny movement in the back nut so that should be right for the life of the yacht.
I have opened up the hole for the dyneema bobstay at the bow as I want to increase the size of the bobstay so that I can tension up the luff rope of the Code Zero sail. I think with a bit more tension we will improve the pointing angle and also be prepared to carry it on broad reaches in heavier airs. I have the bowsprit off at present for cosmetic treatment as i want to see how it looks in the light grey trim instead of the clinical white of the hull.
The last job was a touch up of the stern where the sharp edge of the sugar scoop stern has been hitting the dock. The angle of the stern leaves the sharp edge of the hull to sugar scoop join slipping under the dock fenders and I feel it would be more practical to have the last 100 mm of the stern cut off vertical. Not only would it be easier to protect the stern we would have 100 mm less water line length in the rating equation. in the meantime the touch up was very minor and an interim measure might be a bit of vinyl wrap.
Today in warm spring conditions a small team of GFS safety auditors finished off another seven yachts ready for the start of the sailing on next Wednesday.

Waiting for the antifouling to harden before the relaunch

Waiting for the antifouling to harden before the relaunch

Ready for the relaunch

Ready for the relaunch

Another angle on the finished antifouling

Another angle on the finished antifouling

Passion X lifted for annual antifouling treatment

Passion X lifted for annual antifouling treatment

Passion X missed the last two races of the season at RANSA due to crew missing in action in the Laser Masters in Ireland and the last race on the day we returned was abandoned due to expected strong wind. We are very happy with our result and much appreciate being back in Division 1 where we belong. We finished with a handicap of around 1.03 compared to Hanni, Joli and Amanti who finished with handicaps around 1.05. On one occasion we did finish with a fastest time from Allegro and had one second fastest behind Joli but in general we were around 5th or 6th fastest in the fleet. We do not have any more in the tank so to speak as the hull had been pretty clean all season and on lifting for the annual antifouling this week was in excellent condition and a great credit to the team at Harbour Dive Services who have kept the antiouling going for 18 months.
Congratulations to the Greenwich Flying Squadron team that had a great performance at RANSA. In Div 2, Hast la Vista lived up to its name and came second overall, missing by just one point. In Div 1 Agrovation was successful from Izzi with Joli one back in 4th place. I though the handicapper was being a bit tough on Joli during the season but then she did get a 2nd place in the last raced event of the year and shows how much she likes the windward works.

As always the racing at RANSA was well organized even if in now takes two men to do the work of one lady. (Sorry guys but a compliment to Janet) We were a bit disappointed that two of the races were abandoned due to strong winds. On these two occasions we sailed the course alone without any issues with the maximum gust just a short 32 knot burst but in general too little wind for a double reef and No 3 jib. In the last race the Middle harbour fleet sailed that day and most struggled with full mainsails. We did hit 11.4 knots in one strong gust but were searching for more wind given the rig we had up. By contrast last year when we were in Division 1s we were sent out to Manly in stronger conditions on three occasions and used our No 4 jib  to advantage. Sadly the almost new No 4 has not seen sunlight this winter and won’t unless the race officer gets a little braver.

With daylight saving around the corner we are preparing for the Greenwich Flying Squadron twilight series. Since last season we have a few very small changes including a slightly larger No 1 genoa. The main reason for the increased size was to get the foot to clear the shrouds as the genoa off Passion is a little short on the foot and when sheeted hard rubs against the shrouds. The extra 4 m2 will come in handy on the lighter nights. We also have a longer whisker pole for the large genoa so that might be useful downwind. Our Achilles’ heel  is our windward working in stronger breezes and we have yet to get the best out of Passion X in this department. She is quite tender and after 18 months of sailing we still have not found the right formula for getting her up to the velocity prediction program speeds run by the ORCi team. My current thinking is that we need the mainsail to be more automatic in the gusts with the leech of the sail freeing up more in the head. A lot of gust induced twist should reduce the heeling and keep the speed up. In the very light airs we have noticed how straight is the leech and have tried letting the boom sit on the solid vang with some success.

Touching up the Interprotect on the sharp edge of the delta bulb

Touching up the Interprotect on the sharp edge of the delta bulb

 

 

Looking up the wind readings on Sydney Harbour from the Wednesday RANSA race left me with the feeling it was a good one to miss.
While the fleet was battling light conditions I was journeying to Ireland for the World Laser Masters regatta and regretting that we would be missing two important races at the end of the RANSA regatta.
Allegro and Joli did not make up much ground on Passion X on the leader board but for all of us the horses have bolted and our previous positions near the top have been taken by Agrovation and Izzi.
Hanni did well on the day and deserved a better result but the handicapper has her pretty well nobbled to continue the horse metaphor. The handicapper has still not relented on Joli’s handicap and it appears that spending any time on the podium results in a persistant bias to the upside.
At this stage of the season the only honour we can rescue will be a high handicap representing our standing in the fleet as a fast boat.
We will return for the last race hoping that our fellow GFS members, Agrovation and Izzi, stay at the top.

That is the best excuse I can muster for our twelfth place on handicap today on a day when the breeze direction was favorable. I had considered going up one genoa size for the lighter conditions today but when the breeze freshened pre start the crew agreed the old faithful off Passion would be adequate for the day. We made a very good start on the line with speed but were squeeze out by Hitchhike coming up from Leeward and Allegro reaching down across our bow. Now we are getting to the pointy end of the season and a bit of dirty air is to be expected but I felt uncomfortable in such close quarters and dropped behind Allegro as soon as I could to take a higher course . To my surprise Joli was already in front of the fleet and close enough for Passion X to be in her wind shadow. With Allegro and Hitchhike below there was not a lot of room to run away for clear air. We made small gains and had almost broken through for clear air when Amante and Allegro now behind, came up with fresh breeze and forced Joli to go higher. We held our line to the mark and were rewarded with a clear ahead position behind Hitchhike at the top mark. Hitchhike did the safe thing and put in a short dig to the shore so that she was not tacking back into the starboard tack fleet and we did the same to a lesser extent so that they were just ahead and to windward on the way back. With the 40 m2 genoa and flattened main we held our position quite well to Steele Point and were pleased with our windward speed and height. Once past the point Joli was the first to tack away into Rose Bay and was rewarded with a big lift and a huge gain on Hitchhike and Passion X. We were the most leeward and ahead yacht and soon had the fleet lifting well above us. Allegro powered ahead in the strong breeze until forced away by The Red Hand charging through the fleet. We had almost reached the island when the lift reached us and that meant tacking away from the lift. Without The Red Hand in the way we might have been able to lift further along the shore of the island but we had the hand we were dealt and carried the knock all the way into Rose Bay only to tack for the mark and be knocked again. There is no doubt that the out of phase sailing cost us a couple of minutes as we went from a better than usual position at Steele Point to a pretty average one in Rose Bay. The tracks from last week were still on the plotter and the difference in similar wind strength and direction is very telling. In this phase Hanni and Amante drew well away and Amante went on to take line honours while we were two minutes adrift. Joli who had been first to tack for the new lifting breeze deserved a better result but the Hanni and Amanti group got the lifts coming and going and I would like to see their tracks for the day. It was a bit of a procession around the island and back to the finish and while we made up some ground on the reach the breeze was now fading and our chance of big gains on the reach limited. There were a lot of good points for the day. We did beat Hitchhike and Hanni and Meridian on handicap. Our positions at the back of the handicap fleet reflects both the punishment from the handicapper and that the following yachts had a better angle into Rose Bay.  Joli, Hithchike and Passion X who had been on the podium will suffer from today’s results  and Trim, Izzi and Agrovation who were not far behind will be celebrating their gains. The new chartplotter looks safe in the new enclosure, the cleat along the centre line of the cockpit floor was well received by the crew and the new numbers on the cabin side for the genoa car position look very professional. We has a safe day with plenty of close racing and plenty of action.

Boat speed was down from 10.6 knots last week.

Boat speed was down from 10.6 knots last week.

Maximum wind speed was 5 knots lower than last week.

Maximum wind speed was 5 knots lower than last week.

The genoa car numbers look the part.

The genoa car numbers look the part.

I have a list of small jobs to do on Passion X to complete some original task, to add crew requests and a small amount of routine maintenance.
The sticky back cable tie mounts on the bilge pump lines proved inadequate for the task so a small maintenance task was to replace these with some solid screw mounted ties and while the tiniest or jobs it is satisfying to have the pipe runs now very secure.
On the unfinished tasks list was installing the gland packing in the rudder stock housing. Now the gland is well above the water line and the high lube Vesconite bearing has minimal clearance so a negligible amount of sea water makes its way into the boat. Indeed there is still some dry sawdust on the floor but for the sake of good order I have installed the gland packing and secured the keeper with four stainless steel bolts nipped up just finger tight.
The crew has been very demanding of late and as if two spinnaker poles were not enough they wanted extra foot holds on the cockpit floor. I have been very pleased with my 850 mm wide cockpit but as Passion X heels a lot a central floor cleat for a foot hold seemed like a reasonable request. Today with Elaine’s help I installed the cleat and we will see if the effort was worthwhile.

A cleat for a foot hold on the cockpit floor.

A cleat for a foot hold on the cockpit floor.

After a long wait the replacement chartplotter is installed and protective cage completed. The cage had solid stainless steel rod across the face to protect the screen from the crew.

A protective cage for the chartplotter. It is removable so that the sun cover can be replaced after each outing.

A protective cage for the chartplotter. It is removable so that the sun cover can be replaced after each outing.

I am more than half way through changing the dome nuts on the chainplates for nylock nuts. At launch last March the rigger said he would prefer nylock nuts as there is a chance that the dome nuts will pull up in the bolt instead of the flange. Now nothing has moved in the 18 months since launch but for the sake of peace of mind I am changing out the nuts and concede that some of the dome nuts were pulling up on the bolt instead of the chainplate.
The list is longer as I have still to install a small amount of furniture trim and do the final painting of the galley tops and chart table. Perhaps these will get done before Christmas.

Our handicap has been getting tougher of late and today in perfect conditions for Passion X we were relegated back to 11th place and have fallen off the podium in the overall point score. On the course we enjoyed the conditions immensely with a fresh reach to the heads and a single board back to Steele Point. For the reach down we saw 23 knots wind speed at one stage and hit 10.9 knots of boat speed. Only the reaching demon Fidelis and the well sailed Hitchhike beat us to the heads.
I was worried about tacking back into the fleet as the fleet was broad reaching on starboard to the mark and we would be tacking back into them on port so I did a short dig into the shore which was our undoing. Hanni just behind hard tacked on the mark and then worked up under us driving us further and higher into the shore line. As the boat speeds were very similar we could not pull away under her stern and ended up high and in the rubbish breeze coming over the hill. Amante coming up from behind was able to keep wide and steady and pull through to leeward of both of us.
We had the carbon genoa off the old Passion up for the day and with the breeze gusting up to 20 frequently we had the mainsail flogging in the slipstream off the genoa. This was quite comfortable and we were making up some ground on Hitchhike which was pleasing On the only real work of the day Hanni caught Hitchhike and gave her the same treatment she had given Passion X earlier on the leg and driving her above the layline to the Rose Bay mark. Meanwhile Allegro had come charging up on the work and had a clear overlap on Passion X at the Rose Bay mark. Despite the next two legs being free ones we could not overtake Allegro and sat in her dirty air for quite a while. Once around the island we went high for clearance and were able to pull over the top of Allegro to beat her across the line. On handicap however Allegro did Passion X by just 2 seconds. Close behind Allegro was Trim looking very threatening and it was no surprise that Trim took second on handicap from Izzi with Fidelis third. Izzi is a very good Northshore 38 and likes the reaching conditions too. Now I had not been paying attention and did not realize that the handicap on Fidelis had shrunk so much but with first and third in the last two races the handicapper will be having a hard look at that.
Hanni in seventh place was just 32 seconds clear of Passion in 11th place so it is all good racing and places are there for the taking.
Now we are off the podium by 2 seconds. Yes that is the time Allegro beat us by today and had we not dropped that one place we would still be third. Joli is half a point ahead and will be hoping for a return to the long windward beats to get back to the front of the fleet.

10.9 knots boat speed

10.9 knots boat speed

23.2 knots true wind speed at the peak.

23.2 knots true wind speed at the peak.

A course that suited Passion X

A course that suited Passion X

Windrace screen shot of our afternoon sail

Windrace screen shot of our afternoon sail

The boat speed is a pretty good proxy for the wind strength which was strong early and late but quite manageable the rest of the day

The boat speed is a pretty good proxy for the wind strength which was strong early and late but quite manageable the rest of the day

The officials at RANSA abandoned today’s race due to persistent gusts over 30 knots but as we were there and ready to go we had a training session.
The No3 jib and one reef in the main was a good choice for the solo sail to the heads during which time we hit a modest 10.6 knots. For the broad reach I feel we could have easily carried the full main but on the beat back to Steele point the reefed main was hanging out flogging in the wind.
We sailed the short course and went around the Point Piper mark before beating back to what is usually the finish line. For practice I put in the second reef and was pleased with that because a 34.6 knot gust hit and put us on our ear even with the double reef. The round trip took very close to 60 minutes but as we had started just after 1:30 pm it was an early finish to what was a very tidy solo sail.
I did play around with a phone app for the afternoon and it recorded our speed and direction.