I have a many small tasks to complete on Passion X before she will be fully finished and today I tackled a few that needed some epoxy undercoat. I had already made up intricate backing pieces for the bolts holding the bowsprit. These had been shaped and painted and now needed to be epoxied inside the anchor locker and finished off with a final coat of epoxy. An extra coat of epoxy was added inside the bolt holes to lock out the water. As I worked away in the confined space of the anchor locker I noticed the area where the latch was fitted was unpainted so it received a coat of clear epoxy and a couple of coats of white epoxy wet on wet to seal the edge of the plywood. This is a really strong area of the boat as I put a 12 mm ply doubler on the hull side to carry the load of the bowsprit and two 12 mm ply doublers on the deck side to compensate for the hole in the deck for the lid of the locker. It is no coincidence that it looks like a J122 anchor locker including a matching latch.
The surplus epoxy primer/undercoat was used for a few tiny touch up jobs and to coat a section of backing ply inside the vanity in the head. It has been unpainted since March but the head is so dry that the piece of ply was as new. Now it has a couple of wet on wet coats of white epoxy to protect it.
When we first launched we were getting a little salt water into the head. After a bit of investigation the source was found to be the outlet for the sink. Passion X is a light boat and heels to 30 degrees in a breeze. At that angle and with wave action some sea water was pulsing up the drain. When racing I now turn the outlet valve off and that has solved the problem. An alternative would be to put a right angle outlet on the sink and lead the hose towards the centre of the yacht but the extra distance is quite small and I suspect water would still pulse up the pipe in a big seaway.
The tiller was manufactured the day the yacht was lifted out of the back yard and with not a lot of spare time before launch it received just two coats of clear epoxy. I sanded it back and gave it another coat today but the rain came before the coat was fully cured so it might be a rinse and repeat task for later in the year. We have modified the angle of the tiller from the plan by gluing a hardwood wedge to the underside where it fits into the stainless steel head. This lifts the tiller and gives more clearance for the knees of the crew.
Following up from yesterdays disappointing race I re positioned the first reef line so that it is fixed to the boom behind the slug on the boom bag. We will now be able to flatten the foot more when we have the reef in the main. Both the first and second reefs come to the boom next to boom bag slugs and I will have both moved soon to give a bit more room to adjust the foot depth when we are reefed.
I am annoyed with myself for not fixing this issue sooner. Almost as annoyed as setting the No 3 jib last night instead of the No 4.

Very briefly we were shown on the Greenwich Flying Squadron results as leading the fastest times point score for the Spring series but after the pride there is always the fall and tonight there were seven in front and three behind.
On reflection the wind was similar to race three when we were third fastest so what was different?
At the front end of the fleet tonight the crews of the Ker 11.3 twins,Much Ado V and Dump truck, put in a very impressive performance. To windward they were particularly strong. Both yacht carried what I would call a No 4 jib and a reefed main and on the course they had the mains out wide in the gusts. Flashback had a very large crew on board and at the presentation skipper Brian paid tribute to the crew doing two headsail changes out on the course. The live ballast on the rail from the fifteen crew would also have helped in the heavy conditions.
Jackpot had their temporary secret weapon on board manning the mainsail ably assisted by a young strong winch man winding it back on. They had similar issues to Passion X and like Passion X they moved their jib cars back and played the main very aggressively. Unlike Passion X they had enough power to handle the conditions.
On the work to Goat Island, Soundtrack picked up a left shift above Passion X and lifted well above us and were never seen again until the race ended.
We had a good tussle with Lisdillon who likes a bit of breeze and was handling the breeze better with a full mainsail than Passion X was with a reef in the main.
Ausreo is a big powerful beast and once she wound up she slowly caught Passion X. She went inside us at Onion Point on the way home and then called for room to tack. There was not room to go through the obstruction so she should not have been there but once she was inside us the only polite thing to do was to give them room to tack. Another place lost on the way to the line was a bit of a dampener on an already disappointing evening.
We did hold out Fireball, Irukandji and Sweet Chariot but only by a short distance and only after strong performances by these three on the beat to Goat Island.
We did much better in race three with the No 4 jib and the reefed main. In that race we took the reef out and lost a place to Lisdillon but possibly saved a place on Flashback. Tonight Flashback was so far in front of Passion X we could not do worse than to revert to the No 4 jib for the beat and take the reef in the main out for the run back to Cockatoo Island.
With the reef in the main we could not pull the foot out as flat as I would like because the reef line was in front of a slug on the boom bag. It seems a small issue but the fullness in the main cancelled some of the benefit of the reef.
We rounded up a lot tonight which is the first time we have experienced this as a persistent and troublesome issue. I was encouraged be Steven Bradley’s observations on the performance of Jackpot in the same conditions and that was the main needed to be dumped aggressively and wound back in just as strongly. As well as move the jib cars back they did tension the jib halyard and that was one area we could have given some attention to.
Above all I think we had too much sail area for the first three quarters of the race and had we had the No 4 jib up we might have taken out the reef for the last run through Humbug.

Jackpot on the way back to the finish with no reef in the main.

Jackpot on the way back to the finish with no reef in the main.

Flashback on the way to the finish with a reef but  a big genoa after a headsail change

Flashback on the way to the finish with a reef but a big genoa after a headsail change

For our part the order of the title for this post was reversed as the wind taketh away on the way out of Humbug but giveth back in plenty on the work to Goat Island. To be fair, it was probably not fair as the win back was massive compared to the loss but then it felt good to be lucky.
Some of us had a long day as we took our sail maker out for a review of the rig just after noon and enjoyed a couple of hours of test sailing in 12 knots. The conditions were ideal for a test sail and I will share all the advice we received. Number 1 was to keep the vang on to windward as we do not have a mainsheet traveller. He observed our mid leech was laying off before the head so that was easily fixed. Number 2 will be harder to implement as he suggested a couple of gorillas on the mainsheet. One for letting off and one for pulling back on. Now non of our crew are young enough to be described as gorillas but we will try our best. Number 3 was a small increase in mast rake to increase the windward helm. I am not sure about this last one as we are pretty well behaved and I don’t want to round up more in the gusts so we will see how the vang sheeting goes for a few weeks.
In the race proper we started on time if a bit low on the line. We made good progress to Onion Point but again got buried in Humbug with the fleet behind. As the course was to leave Cockatoo to starboard we went low only to be headed on what is normally a broad reach into the corner of the island. All the fleet except Flashback and Lisdillon charged off from further to windward leaving us close to the back of the fleet.
Around Cockatoo Lisdillon came with following wind threatening to go inside at the point and we could not have that. (You do understand Andrew) As soon as we could I headed away from the wind shadow of Cockatoo into clear air.
Now this is where the wind giveth back as we had pressure and angle to burn hitting our target speeds of 7.1 knots SOG on more than one occasion.
The tide was flowing out at this time and being mid stream did help with the boat speed but it felt good to be catching the fleet quite quickly.
By Goat Island only Jackpot and Dump Truck were ahead and we were pleased to be sandwiched between the Ker 11.3 twins.
Flashback loomed up around Goat and went East from the gap while we went deep and benefited from breeze through the gap.
As good as the breeze from behind was we could not make an impression on Jackpot and their secret supplementary crew. Over our shoulder Much Ado V was menacing and drew alongside at the turn into Humbug. Here our master strategist, Kevin, insisted on a run deep to the shore and a risky beat alongside the moored yachts. By sheer luck we managed the corner at Onion Point having skirted the becalmed fleets in mid stream still battling the outgoing tide.
At this point a nose in front of Much Ado V stretched out to a minute 23 seconds which hardly seems fair but we will take it all the same. Flashback was just another 20 seconds behind. Out in front was Dump Truck a full four and a half minutes ahead and Jackpot over one and a half minutes in front of us so the closest battle of the evening was for third to fifth fastest. Lisdillon and Sweet Chariot were just a minute behind this group and rightfully claimed third and first place on handicap.
Now Christian Beck on Dump Truck was back on board after last Wednesday winning the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award and could clearly do no wrong this week. The green hulled mean machine picked all the shifts out of Humbug and was so far up the beat to Goat that our big wind shift made little impact. Indeed we were still lifting towards Long Nose on starboard when they hooked into the next lift on port heading into Snails Bay looking like a winner. Perhaps they have the gorillas on the mainsheet that we need.

Nice photo of Passion X taken from a passing ferry

Nice photo of Passion X taken from a passing ferry

Passion X just ahead or Much Ado V off Onion Point on the way home

Passion X just ahead or Much Ado V off Onion Point on the way home

I had a lot of trouble finding a clear air lane last night and it shows in the results.
Dump Truck had a crew of professionals on board at that stopped us getting a clear start. We were low on the line and a header made it tight to clear Onion Point so with a mixture of dirty air and pinching we were mid fleet into Humbug. We drifted past Flashback but they and Fireball hugged the shore out of the tide and took the long way but fast way out of Humbug. Sweet Chariot was giving us heaps of dirty air and I made the mistake of trying to lift into the breeze off Greenwich Point which never came. Fireball cleared out to leeward and Flashback climbed out from under us giving us another dose of dirty air.
We has already caught the early fleets and that made finding a clear lane doubly difficult especially when they ignored us when we were on starboard tack and then called starboard on us when we were on port and possible clearing. So we spent the work dipping port tackers and dipping starboard tackers or tacking under starboard tackers. Some of the dips were three yacht deep so long detours.
Now I had the GoPro running for the whole race and can see the ironic grin on my face as we tack away from starboard tackers we had dipped while they were on port.
In this toing and froing we lost track of Much Ado V, Dump Truck and Flashback. Around Goat we had a slow run as the broad reach in pressure turned into a tight beat in fading breeze and post race Flashback’s skipper tells me they had a good run around the island.
We did better on the run home catching Sweet Chariot in Snails Bay and setting our sights on Fireball. Now Fireball did everything they could to stop us passing to leeward and it was touch and go as we went to leeward on the way to the finish line. We seemed to put our nose in front only to have Fireball charge back with wind to windward. At the last minute we nosed ahead by a second to rescue some credibility on the night.

Below are some photos captured from the GoPro video feed

Flashback pinching up to give Passion X dirty air on the way to Goat Island

Flashback pinching up to give Passion X dirty air on the way to Goat Island

Fireball doing everything possible to stop Passion X passing to leeward

Fireball doing everything possible to stop Passion X passing to leeward

The finish line at last

The finish line coming up

Is that the finish line

Is that the finish line

I felt sorry for the Ker 11.3 twins, Dump Truck and Much Ado V last night. Well sorrow is too strong a word and perhaps some empathy is more appropriate for as much as I appreciated lifting up from behind Dump Truck, I did not appreciate all the fleet behind lifting above us.
In the sub 4 knot conditions we made a good start at the leeward end of the line and were first into Humbug on top of the earlier fleets that were still parked.
Dump Truck and Much Ado V caught us on the drift through Humbug and the three of us made it out into the clear still conditions off Greenwich Point.
It was here that the breeze lifted some 60 degrees allowing us to lift well above Dump Truck and Much Ado V.
We were half way to Goat Island and becalmed when the breeze lifted further and freshened from behind to a few knots bringing almost all the Black fleet up to our position. We were being passed by past Commodore Geoff Lucas in his Cavalier 28 Capriole when Dump Truck tacked onto a southerly shift and drew away. Jackpot and Flashback had joined the fray and it made for close racing around Goat Island. Much Ado V recovered from the adverse wind shifts on the way to the island to draw alongside and so the fleet parked on the South side of Goat Island waiting for developments. In the dark and quiet conditions pleasantries were exchanged between boats and issues of lack of steerage discussed.
Flashback managed the rounding best and established a lead of a few boat lengths with Dump Truck and Passion X in close pursuit. The two leaders seemed to reach away with fresh breeze on the quarter but we all stacked up in Humbug drifting across the line stem to stern.
Just as we crossed the line all Hell broke loose with an unexpected Southerly squall bringing the fleet home.
The biggest challenge of the evening was taking the sails down in the 20 knots conditions with the late finishers all coming in from behind. We had to go a long way up the Lane Cove River to find a safe place to drop the sails.
The bonus for the night was beating Much Ado V across the line. I don’t know by how much and am waiting for the official results to be posted but we might be in the hunt for the series fastest times result and it would be nice to know.

Here is the update on the post following the error I found in the rating certificate. The yacht is only 12.07 metres long, not 12.7 and I hoped it would make a difference. Hope was a futile emotion as the revised updated rating came through this morning with a revised rating of 1.111. That is a mere one percent reduction and is at odds with my estimate. I don’t have a VPP program but based on engine power required to propel the hull I have calculated a decrease in length of the amount of the revised certificate should have resulted in a three percent reduction in speed and hence rating. This applies right through the speed range which I have modeled with 5, 10, 20 and 30 Hp power available at the engine. I would think that if an increase in waterline length of 630 mm is only going to add 1% to the rating why not go for the longer length. Perhaps that is why all the new fast yachts have plumb stems As I said in the initial post there is no respite in the rating wars as far as Passion X is concerned. Our IRC rating came through and we were rated at 1.122 now revised 1.111 to the same as a First 45. Black Sheep, a First 45,  rates 1.108 so we would have to give this 45 footer some time. This is no surprise as the ORCi ratings are similar. We appear to be rated just a little faster than the Sydney 38′s and an A40 which we have a lot of trouble matching. A J133 would have to give us a few seconds but they usually clear out by many minutes.  The revised IRC certificate suggests we should have a crew of 10 and all of them on the windward rail. That is about 320 kg more crew than we typically have on board. That is about 16% more righting moment and would be significant but we are not going to find that many crew. The rating does suggest we have yet to find the right groove for Passion X in terms of pointing angle and boat speed.

Revised IRC rating for Passion X

Revised IRC rating for Passion X

Passion X new IRC certificate

Passion X incorrect IRC certificate

We were holding down second fastest place in last night’s windy twilight race when we decided to take out the reef in the mainsail. After losing a little ground in the reefing process it seemed like a good idea during the run down the side of Cockatoo Island but once we rounded the island and headed back to Humbug into the 22 knot winds we were not so sure.

At the start the wind came in stronger and longer than forecast so we opted for the No 4 jib and a full main. Within minutes we were reefing the main as the freshening breeze hit the fleet. We were not the only ones caught with too much sail area but we had the luxury of having the small jib up and a few more options.
The more heavily canvassed yachts made good progress on the reach off the start line and we were blanketed by a good portion of the fleet running through Humbug but we went low and carried the gusts further.  Much Ado V was leading the fleet with Flashback to leeward and Jackpot behind. We did well on the beat to windward to Goat Island despite Much Ado V increasing her lead and Lisdillon nipping at our heels.
Around Goat we made the decision to take out the reef and in the process let Much Ado V slip further away and Lisdillon pass us to leeward. The extra sail area helped up reestablish a few boat lengths lead over Lisdilloon but on the run the light weight Flashback surfed up alongside.
Heading back to Humbug Lisdillon was footing just as fast and was a few metres to windward behind on our quarter making a tack difficult. Flashback was low and chanced their arm to scrape through on port in front and then it was tack for tack all the way home.
Due to the large mainsail I was forced to feather the boat up into the breeze and that was not as quick as bearing away for speed. Also with the short tacking we did not settle down and get the best out of the boat.
Lisdillon managed to work to the front of our little group of three while we managed to tack below Flashback on the last throw to the line and pinch up to just beat them across the line.
We will never know if taking the reef out cost a place to Lisdillon or saved a place from Flashback but I will think twice before taking the reef out next time.

Well done to Much Ado V for the win on fastest time. For our part we were happy with the third.

 

I found this gem of a video of the day the Laser Masters fleet was blockaded from the boat ramps so as to give time for the Lasers to be taken out of the water.
The sailors who ignored the blockade are all pretty visible on the video.
The Aussie Radial fleet got a special commendation from the organizers for being well behaved and the naughty ones have been caught on video for the record.

We are back. It has been a long almost four weeks and while the travel and competition in the Laser Masters World Championships in Split were enjoyable it is good to be back home.
The trip did not start off well when I slipped on the launching ramp at Middle Harbour Amateur Sailing Club and cracked some ribs and it was well into the holiday before I could sleep on my left side. As the conditions in Split were very light the cracked ribs were not a problem and I did much better in the stronger conditions anyway.
I was contented with my second place in the first and windiest race and with my 7th overall. The charter boats were in impressive condition and I was pleased to return mine in pristine condition.The big disappointment of the tour was that our fellow travelers were not well and Kevin was unable to sail. He put on a very brave face but it must have been a big disappointment to him too.My first activity on arriving home was to visit the doctors as I succumbed to the bugs on the last few days of the trip and was pleased that I made it home before it hit hard.

Now putting all that aside tonight despite bugs and jet lag we pulled off a win on time and handicap. The breeze had been forecast to build but with a lot of cloud cover during the day the breeze was later and lighter and died earlier. We took a vote and elected to go with the big genoa. A deciding factor was the strong crew we had on board and the knowledge we could reef the main if need be.

We won the start from Jackpot in the hands of new owners but with the gun dealer team on board. An interesting new competitor was Much Ado V which is another Ker 11.3 seemingly in the Beck fleet. It will be fantastic for GFS if Dump Truck and Much Ado V can match race around the course every week.
Having our nose in front at Onion Point gave us a clear air advantage which we used to maximum advantage and we were able to keep in front for the whole race. A few forced tacks away from leeward shores when the breeze was lifting gave us some concern but we had enough of a gap to hand on for our first fastest times in the Black fleet.
We do not sail ORC but to be fair on ORC Jackpot
would have won.
Much Ado V has an even more challenging ORC rating than Passion X so we were very pleased to beat her over the line.
The balance of the fleet were at the mercy of the dying breeze which dragged out the time differences and allowed our first handicap win of the season.

Wed twilight 11 Oct 2017

Passion X is duty boat next Wednesday at RANSA and so assured a fourth place for the day. That will not be enough to change our overall series position as the fleet is small and a last place can be a third on a bad day.
Today’s race was cancelled for fear of a few gusts over 30 knots that were noticed before the scheduled start. We moored up in Rushcutters Bay solving the worlds problems and for the afternoon our maximum recorded wind speed was 30.4 knots which was significantly less than last week.
Now I would be the last person to criticize a race committee for cancelling a race due to strong winds. They have an implied duty of care to the competitors and any decision has to be respected. That said we would have enjoyed the race today as the wind was strong enough for our No 4 jib and a reefed main and the wind angle was a broad reach up and a tight reach home. The crew has waited patiently for these conditions all season and to be denied the race on the last day we were were sailing was frustrating indeed.
With the wind strength and angle we have consistently been with Blue Chip at the Cannai Point mark and the angle home was the broadest it has been all season so we feel we would have kept Marloo and Sorcerer at bay at least until the work home from Shark Island. The conditions gave us the best chance we have had all season for a first place but it was not to be.
The only first place we had all season was the third race when the conditions were quite light but no so light as to have the race abandoned. The next light race that we finished was a weird wind pattern when Sorcerer and us were left in a hole and finished long after the fleet.
For the season we were not last fastest in every race. We did beat Blue Chip once when they got lost and we did beat Marloo and Sorcerer once when they decided to sail a longer course. In actual sailing we did beat Sorcerer twice in light conditions. In fair sailing we were not last only twice in the season and that was with a trouble free series when we had no breakages or brain fades.
We would prefer if more yachts of Passion X’s speed were included in the Division 1s. Amante, Allegro and Fidelis have all had a turn and did not like it. Well we liked the longer course but found the lack of close competition very frustrating. There is a wind strength range from 8 to 18 knots where we do not have the righting moment to keep up with the more powerful beasts. Over 20 knots we have a small jib and can sail survival mode quite well as well as doing well downwind. Under 8 knots our tenderness is not a handicap.
Perhaps I need a bigger boat!

The new No 4 jib is getting quite a work out and I am already happy to hoist it if the breeze is forecast to be above 18 knots. Today the forecast was for 23 knots so we started the long reach to Cannai Point with the No 4 jib and a full main. Ignoring the larger quick boats, Ichi Ban, Margaret Rintoul V and Duende, our usual competition, Blue Chip, Marloo and Sorcerer, set larger genoas and reefed mains. While the wind was strong we did well keeping ahead of these last three but when it lightened we were caught by Blue Chip. At one stage we hit 14.8 knots boat speed in a 35.4 knot wind gust which was some quite exciting sailing. At quite long periods the breeze dropped back to the 13 knot range where we were a bit too comfortable. There was even one point when Duende and Margaret Rintoul V were becalmed and we caught right up to be alongside their position. Simultaneously Sorcerer and Marloo caught up to us as we lost the ground gained during the 30 knot wind stage.
We rounded Cannai Point hard on the tail of Blue Chip and for a while in the very strong wind we held our own. Sorcerer behind had trouble in a big gust and lost a lot of time in a round up.
While we had the sheets cracked off to get down to the channel mark we held our own but as the wind headed Marloo came steaming through and Blue Chip built up a handy lead. We chased these two through Rose Bay and due to course uncertainty rounded the Point Piper mark on the way back to the finish line. It was not out of our way and Marloo had rounded it and headed off to round the island. Sorcerer which had now caught up to our tail also ran away as if to round the island. We were still beating to the finish when Marloo and Sorcerer changed direction and followed us home. They both made up a lot of ground on the hard beat home but the course was too short for them to catch the time they had lost in their respective detours.
I believe that with our handicap we would have beaten Sorcerer and Marloo on the day but judging by the finish times I think they threw away places to Duende and Blue Chip with their detours.
We were very happy with our second on handicap but more so pleased that the time differences were shorter than usual for windy conditions taking into account the short course. The angle of breeze suited us with a lot of the early beat back free enough to crack sheets and the stronger wind on the downwind leg also suited our light hull weight.

Maximum true wind speed 35.4 knots

Maximum true wind speed 35.4 knots

Maximum boat speed 14.8 knots

Maximum boat speed 14.8 knots

 

On Starboard approaching the Harbour Bridge

On Starboard approaching the Harbour Bridge

After the disappointment of Wednesday in not getting the Gopro camera to work I spent time on Thursday connecting and disconnecting the network settings and learning how to not interfere with the phone blue tooth connection to the car multimedia. That solved I decided to try the camera in shutter button only mode on Friday and that worked well.
Friday’s conditions were benign and we set the black No 1 Genoa from Passion. It is just under 40 % LP and will do until it wears out and we get a slightly larger one that clears the shrouds. In the meantime we get a small deflection in the foot of the genoa when strapped on tight.
The small fleet and pursuit start means a very relaxed sail and with our share of luck we passed the fleet before Long Nose and stayed in front for the rest of the race. We seemed to have a private breeze along the Hunters Hill shore where we passed most of the fleet. We passed within a few metres so it was a most unusual breeze for which we claimed  we paid for “premium” breeze.  When the breeze filled in across the course Pistol Dawn made a good impression of being a serious threat at stages but in the end our longer waterline and generous sail area won the day.

After the race I switched off the instruments so that the wifi would not interfere with the go pro and paired the mobile phone for a quick review of the footage. It was all there in 17 minute blocks and post race it has given Elaine and I a lot of amusement revisiting the race. On review we were a very professional crew who managed the yacht with little fuss. Elaine is looking forward to some footage from some wild days when the conversation might not be so civilised but for now the record is clear.

After tacking to round Goat island with the city of Sydney in the background

After tacking to round Goat island with the city of Sydney in the background

It was another very pleasant day on Sydney Harbour with winds from the South averaging 15 knots with a maximum wind speed on our instruments of 22 knots. In anticipation of a freshening breeze we set the No 3 genoa and full main which we carried for the day.
We rounded the downwind mark at Cannai Point level with Marloo and just in front of Sorcerer with Blue Chip a couple of minutes ahead of our group of three. With the wind freshest at the rounding mark the big Sorcerer quickly climbed over us or more correctly we dropped below their line. Expecting the breeze to quieten in Rose Bay we kept the full main although at times it seemed to be doing very little work.
We had good breeze in Rose Bay where the course had us reaching and here we seemed to gain a bit on Sorcerer and Marloo who had a quiet patch off Point Piper. The reach home was a very comfortable angle and the race was one of the quicker ones of the season.
Our time difference to our competitors was instructive. Sorcerer was clearly quicker than usual and that showed in the results with their second place but showing what a mixed bag the handicaps were we had our best time relative to Ichi Ban but they won the race on handicap.
Against Blue Chip our time difference was exactly our average right down to the last second but considering the wind it was our best result in those conditions. Against Marloo our results were even better with an elapsed time 2 minutes 49 seconds better than average for the season but on handicap we could only beat them by 47 seconds.
Against Kookaburra we also had our best result for the season by some three minutes and at least that one showed in the handicaps.
Duende is on average 16 minutes 30 seconds faster than us and today they were only 14:53 in front so it was disappointing to see the finish 1:15 in front on handicap.
On balance I thought we did remarkably well and deserved a result near the top of the fleet behind Sorcerer. It is the best we have done in those conditions except for when our competitors have had mishaps on the water.

We do appear to be paying for the one first place on handicap in the third race of the season in light winds with no offsetting correction for the second last place the next time it was light. Also our string of last places when there was only three or four starters do not appear to have improved our handicap. And while a better deal on handicaps would look better in the results what we need is a few minutes faster boat speed so we can have some company on the beat home.

With Elaine away for the whole day I used the time to visit the club early and swap equipment audits for a fellow club member and then sail the regular Balmain Friday Afternoon pursuit series. It is a very pleasant dash around the islands west of the bridge and with a fresh 16 knots of breeze it was all over in less than 60 minutes.
Some of the time in the past two days was spent setting up a new data page for the Raymarine cockpit plotter to show VMG to windward in big bold numbers and we did hit a full 6.0 knots in a couple of gusts when we were feathering into the breeze so I am hopeful that the full main and No 4 jib will be a useful combination in these fresher conditions. The drawback is that if the breeze dies we become under powered so there was a lot of discussion on board of how quickly we could change the headsail up.
Everyone agreed we had the appropriate rig up for the day and with the short footed jib tacking was very civilized. There was a few stronger gusts up to 18 and possibly 20 knots and we saw 9 knots of boat speed on the broad reach along the Hunters Hill foreshore. To help in the gusty conditions we kept the vang loose and the leech of the mainsail well twisted. Upwind we cranked on the backstay but eased it on  the downwind legs a la Etchell style.

At the end we caught all but the one yacht so we must have been doing most things right.

By contrast on Wednesday when we had the larger No 3 jib up the winds were a couple of knots stronger today and that seemed to make a lot of difference. Also today there was more reaching while Wednesday was dead into the wind one way and dead square the other way and that is not our sweet spot.

And while Elaine was away for the day she would have wanted to thank all the crew for keeping me occupied and happy for the day.

The weather was perfect for a sail on the harbour and we were given our first true beat to the top mark for the season.
The breeze had already kicked on to fifteen knots by the time we were selecting sails so we opted for the No 3 genoa and full mainsail. With this rig we had a comfortable beat to windward regularly hitting 7.3 knots but occasionally slipping back to six and taking time to rebuild up to 7 knots. Blue Chip demoralized me by blasting away to windward as would be expected of a yacht with a 200 mm deeper bulb keel that weighs an extra 100 kgs. Their extra hull width possibly help them with more form stability too and I struggle to understand why the ORCi gives us similar ratings.
The top yachts in the Division 1 that started 5 minutes behind had I believe gained about a minute or two on us by the time we were abeam of their top mark so I am disappointed we are not in that division.
By our top mark at Cannai Point we were a couple of minutes behind Marloo and Sorcerer and hoping for some gain on the downwind leg. It was not to be as the wind was too light for our small headsail compared to the big overlapping ones on Marloo and Sorcerer. The breeze did lighten on the run home and that was not helpful with the small headsail.
We sailed pretty well to our speed targets hitting 8.5 knots on a beam reach on the way back to the finish line but our competition kept their distance ahead and we finished last by 3 minutes 57 seconds. Our handicap did bring us home 12 seconds in front of Duende who seemed to get on the wrong side of a couple of shifts.
Our tracks to windward look pretty impressive in terms of angle to the wind in a slack tide but the reality is that we were well beat. We were 4 minutes slower than our average result to date against Blue Chip and 2 minutes 13 seconds slower on average against Sorcerer. Against Duende and Marloo we were 15 seconds better than average but even being better than average against Marloo left us over a minute shy on handicap.
We could not have carried any more sail to windward although we could have carried a reef in the main and the full genoa and then taken the reef out at the top mark. A couple of knots lighter and we would have carried the No 1 all day and a couple of knots stronger and the No 3 would have been fine down wind. On the square run home the extra two knots of wind would have added 0.8 knots of boat speed.
We have just three races left before some of us travel to Croatia for the World Laser Masters championships and it would be good to have at least one race with the breeze in our sweet spot before we finish for the season.

I should have checked the photo before I left the yacht for the evening but if you look hard you will see the tacks in the tracks

I should have checked the photo before I left the yacht for the evening but if you look hard you will see the tacks in the tracks