Next Passion

Today we were the only yacht to have a decent sail on Sydney harbour in winds that peaked at 33 knots. We had the new No 4 jib on board and were waiting for the start of our regular RANSA Winter Wednesday race when we found ourselves alone. We pulled into the RANSA jetty and confirmed the worst that the race had been cancelled. Being all dressed up with nowhere to go we sailed most of the course anyway. Our peak speed broad reaching was 12.3 knots in a 32 knot gust. At this stage we had one reef in the main and the brand new No 4 jib hanked onto the forestay.
For the tight reach back to Steele Point we put in the second reef and also tried beating to windward for a while. The peak wind gust during beating was 33 knots in Rose Bay.
It would have been nice to have had a race as the wind angle would have been to our advantage and we would have gained a better appreciation of our performance. All the same we had a very enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine and wind.
Alas the forecast for Friday is even stronger and Saturdays safety audits may have to be shifted to a less windy day.

What was supposed to be a quiet day ferrying the completed boom over to Passion X and fitting it on the mooring turned into quite an adventure. Joe Walsh decided I should bring Passion X into the public wharf at Margaret Street instead. Now that was after I had paid my $9.00 parking fee and as I had not expected to move the yacht today I had left the battery for the new electric outboard motor home. Rowing to Passion X was downwind so that was OK and the trip across to Margaret Street, tie up at the mooring and loading of the boom all went smoothly. In the short time it took to transfer the boom however, the tide went out leaving Passion X stuck on the bottom. Fortunately the local mooring barge was moving at that exact time so I threw them a line and they pulled us into deep water in a moment.
Message to mind the depth indicator is very accurate. If it says 2.45 metres it means 2.45 metres.
By now the wind had picked up to a full 25 knots and at the very top end of the range for picking up the mooring in Greenwich but that was successful at the second rounding and the depth indicator did not go below 4 metres.
The final task was to row ashore against the 25 knot breeze and the full flow of the tide. Now this is exactly when the electric outboard will be useful but alas the battery and tiller control were far away at home. By skirting the shore and rowing in the lee of the Greenwich ferry wharf I made it back safely. Despite all the dramas of the morning it was a remarkably quick process so I had time to pick up the sails from the loft and spend a couple of hours at the Sydney International Boat show. Now the wind on the pontoons was so strong it was not pleasant so it was a quick visit and a quick trip home before the evening traffic and a well earned snooze in front of the TV.

Proof positive of the breeze when I was rowing back to GFS clubhouse

Proof positive of the breeze when I was rowing back to the GFS clubhouse

After a disappointing result on Wednesday it was good to have the boom replacement project to keep me occupied for a couple of days. Also as the weather turned out it was a good Friday afternoon race to avoid as the breeze was gusting 30 knots as the fleet raced past Joe Walsh’s rigging yard where I was doing the boom replacement.
On Wednesday at RANSA we were eight minutes behind the similarly rated Blue Chip around the course despite having the sails looking very well set. We could not say that if we did this if we did that we would have been quicker and the crew lamented that we are sailing at the back of the fleet alone in Div 1s while the Division 1 fleet we raced in with the old Passion had some very close racing.
What could we have done better? If we had carried the No 1 genoa downwind we might have gained a minute but would certainly have lost it on the way back. We did not need a reef in the main either in practice or by reference to the ORCi speed guide. We did get up to the recommended speed to windward on several occasions but could not keep up to the speed consistently.
Perhaps the breeze at 16 knots is just in our “bitter” spot. That has to the the reverse of “sweet” spot so at lighter wind conditions when we can carry the No 1 genoa all the way we might be more competitive and at stronger breezes we can make up a bit of time downwind.
This week our competitors carried full sail around the course and flogged us on handicap. That is all except Duende who had their own set of special circumstances with a too early pole out of the genoa which cost them a lot of time.
So the boom change project was much needed therapy and all the sails are in for a quick check while we are off the water. The boom change over was not straight forward as I had to drill the old boom bag track off the bent boom and transfer it to the new boom. The new internal guide for the single line reefing system had to be riveted inside the track with five countersunk head 3/16 rivets and then drilled to match the holes in the boom bag track.
The new boom has an internal sleeve fitted around the 3.5 metre mark and that meant the second single line reefing system had to be converted to a single continuous line rather than than the version with the internal slider and purchases. On completion the boom has the first reef with internal purchases and the second and third reef lines as single continuous lines. The third reef line has 45 metres of 10 mm line so it is a pretty long route to get in the third reef.
Joe Walsh was very generous with the use of his premises to do the work and also the advice and help with fasteners and tools. It is nice to have company around when you are working all day.
For a bit more therapy I might take the Laser out on the weekend and try the new carbon fibre top section but Saturday looks a bit fresh.

We finished the week and the West Harbour Winter Series on a good note with a fastest times in the Sunday race, a second on handicap behind a well sailed Mount Gay 30 and a second on ORCi behind a well sailed Fareast 28. Both these smaller yachts carried spinnakers on the short square runs while we were content to defend our fastest times place with the full mainsail and the 110% genoa hauled out to windward.
The extra crew helped today as we were able to tweak the controls to better suit the varying wind conditions. Among the controls we tweaked a bit more was the backstay which we wound on a bit harder than usual to flatten the full main to good effect.
Kevin said our result was because we did not set the spinnakers and I agree as the running legs were too short for our level of experience and flicking the 110% genoa back and forth was very effective in using the wind shifts downwind.
The result on ORCi is one I have calculated myself as the scorers have entered a zero instead of a decimal point with the result that we are the highest handicapped boat ever in the history of sailing. We are not that good and the corrected result will show our second place with quite a bit of time to spare on the rest of the fleet. This is our first good result on ORCi and a timely bit of encouragement.

Our result on Friday was a second fastest and second on handicap but we were outclassed to windward by Another Planet. With one reef in their main they were over canvassed for the over 20 knot conditions but we were more over canvassed with two reefs. While we blitzed the rest of the field our performance relative to Another Planet left me a little disappointed.

In the Winter Wednesday race at RANSA we also had strong breezes and while we stayed closer to the fleet than usual it was only close enough for a fourth place. We had one reef in the main and the 110% genoa for the downwind leg and again did well against the fleet rounding ahead of the J133 and the Sydney 38 as well as Sorcerer and Marloo. Blue Chip, the Sydney 38 had too much sail up and finished the race under jib alone but the time their main came down we felt we would have had their measure on handicap. The heavier yachts, Marloo and Sorcerer powered past us on the wind and for a second week a late knock gave us a slow finish relative to the yacht ahead who had already rounded the last mark.

All the big boys pulled out this week except for the consistent Duende but we stayed quite close in the downwind leg and they did not gain enough ground on the windward work to beat us on handicap. The surprise of the day was to have The Red Hand cross behind us five minutes after the start but then they gybed over to port tack and raced away only to retire on the trip around Shark Island.  We very much appreciated them indicating they would go behind as they were the starboard tack boat and we were still nursing a slightly bent boom through the gybes. We did granny the last gybe rounding of the day as the wind was over 25 knots at the time.

We need to improve our windward performance in strong breezes if we are to have any chance of consistently performing well on ORCi. To that end I invested in the speed guide and polar plots from the ORCi VPP software and have some very interesting guides for sail setting.

The Speed guide for Passion X confirms that we need to reduce sail area aggressively for windward working in 16 knots and over. The new No 4 jib should get a very good work out once it is finished and on board. I feel going for the No 4 before we put the second reef in the main will give us better overall upwind and downwind performance so that is something for us to look forward to.

The other finding from the various rigs I examined with the ORCi VPP was that a 62 msq jib set flying will be a great asset for next year’s Sail Port Stephens with some good speed improvements in 8 knots and under and a very wide effective wind range from 45 degrees around to 120 degrees. In all breezes it fills the gap between the jib being most effective to the point where the spinnakers are most effective.

It was a good note to finish on and this week we will change over the boom for a bigger stronger section and not be so worried about the gybes.

For the record our mistaken handicap and corrected finishing time of around 15 weeks

For the record our mistaken handicap and corrected finishing time of around 15 weeks

A view of The Red Hand which we will see only fleetingly

A view of The Red Hand which we saw for longer than usual.

After a couple of abandoned races in one week the wind returned in force on Wednesday and it was a pity that there was only three of the regular crew available for the day. The lure of warmer weather in Queensland and some serious Laser competition was too much for two crew and ailments kept three others off the water. Fortunately a Friday crew volunteered for double duty and made our total up to four for the RANSA race.
With a forecast of 20 knots rising to 25 late in the day we set sail with a reef in the main and the 110% jib. Strictly speaking if it is 110% it should probably be called a genoa but I will leave you to research that fine point of sailing terminology.
We started with the big boys and I do mean the big boys as we had Duende and Wild Thing in front and The Red Hand behind. We had discussed our tactics beforehand and had intended to let all the big boys zoom past to give us clear air but they would not go away. For a long time we held our own and had to change course to avoid Wild Thing’s stern ten minutes up the track. What kept us up with the faster yachts was a better path through the gusts including pulling the jib out to windward and sailing a little over square Laser style in the gusts to keep us in the wind.
Eventually when we were all on port gybe they pulled away so we could concentrate on staying in front of Blue Chip and Marloo.
We were a bit pleased with ourselves to manage to round the Cannai Point mark ahead of Blue Chip despite the reef in the main. With a full crew we might have left the reef until the downwind mark and had a bigger gap.
On the upwind leg the two genoa trimmers manned the windward rail and we set out to keep up with Blue Chip. For a short time we appeared to be be losing less ground than usual and it seemed Marloo was taking longer to catch us. I was feathering into the big gusts and the top of the main was reversing giving us noticeable righting moment but we did lay over in the gusts more than I can recall on any other occasion.
At the finish I timed Marloo across the line and thought we had a chance of beating her but a late knock and a line angled downwind from the finish boat meant a longer work to the line and a late tack to clear the pin.
With that I thought we might have been last on handicap but was pleased to find that only Blue Chip and Marloo had beaten us and we pulled back one point on the massive lead Duende has in the series.
A big thanks to the crew for one of the most exciting days on the Harbour this season.
Today the new boom was at Joe Walsh Rigging and I have unwrapped it and already cut the partial sleeve that will go inside the boom at the block hanger position. The partial sleeves fit nicely and should do the job along with the larger section higher moments. The photos show the first partial sleeve sitting inside the boom section from which it was cut. Subsequently the second partial sleeve was cut from the balance of the section leaving just the bottom track and top of the section as waste.

The partial sleeve sitting inside the remainder of the section from which it was cut.

The partial sleeve sitting inside the remainder of the section from which it was cut.

Another view of the partial sleeve sitting inside the section from which it was cut.

Another view of the partial sleeve sitting inside the section from which it was cut.

We have made some progress with Passion X but in the absence of breeze on Sunday we had no excitement. First the bowsprit has been fitted and it fits well. Second we have hoisted the asymmetric spinnaker in the new sock and that works well too. Third we have gybed the asymmetric spinnaker on the outside which is a first for most of the crew and skill in this is a must for heavier breezes. That was all Sunday’s progress before and after the abandoned race.
With all my urgent household chores completed including pruning the roses the first mate agreed to help with some maintenance on Passion X. It was a sunny day and an ideal one to upgrade the remaining Spinlock pulleys on the deck organizers. The rest of the plastic ones had started to fail and last Wednesday we had to put the main halyard into the second reef slot . With 25 knots forecast for tomorrow the second reef is a must so out came the twenty bolts and the last six plastic sheaves changed to alloy. While we were tied up to the Greenwich Flying Squadron pontoon we attended to some deck leaks by withdrawing the offending bolts and refilling the holes with Sikaflex. That process uses up a lot of disposable gloves and is a good one to have finished. I am sure we will find a few more over time but for now all we could see are done.
The next big job will be replacing the boom when the new and better larger section arrives but for now it is ready for sailing including topping up the diesel and a few litres of water into the almost empty tanks.

Before closing off on this blog I want to add a bit of technical information about the network at home. Now that I have all the files stored on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) I can create the blog from any of three computers in the house. I just need to pick the cosiest spot and start typing.

The new bowsprit on Passion X looks the part

The new bowsprit on Passion X looks the part

Well almost nothing! After a lot of hard work from the crew we had Passion X weighted for the IRC rating certificate and for a measured input to the ORCi Club certificate. While the weight on the certificate went up from 4306 kg to 5042 kg the rating came down only 2% from 1.11 to 1.092. The rating was influenced a little by the larger spinnaker which gave a small speed increase in light air running and the removal of the runners which were incorrectly shown on the certificate. It was not until I read the detailed Velocity Prediction Program description that I realized the incorrectly shown runners impacted the rating. That contributed 0.004 to the rating reduction.
So for a lot of effort we have a small rating reduction but still cannot sail to the new rating.
I will probably go for the full International ORCi rating and see if the extra measurements make a significant reduction to the rating.
There was a little good news with the rating reduction but that was off set by the slower top speed potential in the VPP. Our reaching speed in 20 knots of wind is now predicted to be 11.71 knots and not the 12.25 knots we would have had if the yacht had been 700 kg lighter. This speed reduction is pretty much the same as I calculated for the performance under motor with the different weights so I was not surprised with the top speed reduction. What did surprise me was how little the rating came down.
We still have a lot of work to do to sail Passion X to its full potential and we have not yet tried the light air reaching angles suggested on the VPP program. Up to now we have run square the wind while the VPP suggests we should be sailing at gybe angles of 142 degrees true. Hopefully we will soon have the asymmetric spinnaker running from a short bowsprit and will get some excitement from that.

Passion X being weighed at Woolwich Dock

Passion X being weighed at Woolwich Dock

Passion X weighed in a little over 5,000 kg which was quite a bit more than the 4,600 kg I was expecting. Our ORCi Club certificate currently has a weight of 4,306 kg which means we will get the rating benefit of the extra 700 kg of weight and it will be interesting to see what that figure will be. So the good news is that the rating will improve quite a bit and the extra weight that has gone into the hull will ensure a long life for Passion X.
The bad new is that the speed targets on our ORCi Club certificate will be superseded with lower targets and the exciting 12.25 knots in 20 knots of breeze will not be realized.
I have a copy of a trial certificate for Black Cat, the 38 ft prototype of our Didi 40 Cr which shows a weight of 5,285 kg and a rating of 1.03. it is only a trial certificate and while the true weight of Black Cat may be 4,500 kg the trial certificate is based on the stated weight. If we plug in our 5,000 kg, increased hull overhang, more sail area and deeper keel we are going to get a figure higher than 1.03 but less than the 1.11 we have at present.
On the other hand we have to declare the larger spinnaker which may off set some of the improved handicap from the higher confirmed weight.

Of course we know that it is very hard to get all things equal especially when it comes to rating systems for yachts. Today with very helpful crew I was preparing Passion X for weighing for IRC and ORCi. To do this we needed to remove all the sails and loose items from the yacht. After two and a half hours we had removed most of the required equipment except for regulation safety gear that will be unloaded at dock side tomorrow.
The gear unloaded can be seen in the photo stacked up in the Greenwich Flying Squadron overnight. While the photo of the removed gear is impressive even more impressive is the photo showing the water line with the ship in light mode. Based on the water line I am guessing that we have removed 400 kg of sails and equipment and water. The water tanks were reading empty long before the pump stopped pumping so I guess there could have been 100 kg of water so that still leaves 300 kg for the equipment.
Again I am guessing that the sails and battens are 140 kg as we have three jibs, three spinnakers and a heavy main but that still leaves 160 kg of gear. At this stage we still have the Cat 7 anchor and rode on board and some mooring ropes.
Perhaps for the winter we should remove all the category 4 gear which included a separate set of life jackets, harnesses, tethers, man over board gear etc, etc, etc.
Now this gets back to all things being equal as the rating system only accounts for the unladen weight of the yacht so every item of comfort or safety on board is dead weight. As light as the melamine kitchen ware may be perhaps it is too heavy. Do we need so many knives and forks before the next offshore cruise? Should the spare blanket, and wet weather gear be removed for the winter?
None of this matters if we race a performance handicap system and have the same gear on the yacht from week to week. It only matters if we want to race IRC or ORCi and we get no allowance for cruising comfort or more durable (read heavier) sails.
Tomorrow is weighting day and we will see how our handicap improves.

Some of the gear removed from Passion X prior to weighing.

Some of the gear removed from Passion X prior to weighing.

The water marks on the waterline show how much higher Passion X floats with the gear removed. There is probably another 40 kg to go before weighting.

The water marks on the waterline show how much higher Passion X floats with the gear removed. There is probably another 40 kg to go before weighting.

A real close look at Passion X's waterline

A real close look at Passion X’s waterline

Last Wednesday the RANSA race was cancelled for lack of breeze. on the plus side we did get the mainsail back on Passion X and had a little beat to windward before the race was cancelled. Our three knots to windward in the light winds was not enough to convince the starters and it was a good call to send the fleet home. Our race around the islands on Friday with the Balmain Club was a slow event but we managed a lap of the course for a third place finish and managed to keep our nose in front of the Sydney 36 despite the best efforts of the Sydney Ferry to block our path to the finish line.

Saturday was a bonus sailing day with Kevin and Sue and Ian on Brisbane Waters. The light winds were enough to get us around the course but made for tricky conditions with many big gains and losses to be enjoyed or bemoaned as the case may be. Kevin’s Ross 780 beat the Adams X around the course while on Sunday in Passion X we could only beat two out of three of the Adams X’s.

Glassy water behind the crew of Kevin's Ross 780

Glassy water behind the crew of Kevin’s Ross 780

Sunday was a windy West Harbour Winter Series race and despite a losing a minute at the start we performed well. The 22 knots we saw before the start encouraged us to keep one reef in the main for the whole race while some of our smaller competitors braved the course with full mains. To our delight we held our ground downwind with the reef and pointed well in the flat water. A few hardy souls tried spinnakers but there were less and less on display as the race progressed.
I was pleased with the result on handicap as we had not performed so well in breeze on previous occasions. This time we finished mid fleet on PHS and were not last on ORCi. Allowing for the minute we lost at the start we would have been mid fleet on ORCi and I still expect this rating to reduce when Passion X is weighed.
I think the flat water assisted in managing the stronger breeze as I was able to feather into the gusts and still keep speed with great height. I have not been able to do this on the Wednesday races with a lot of the tacking in waves coming through the Sydney Heads.
We are on schedule to have Passion X weighed next Tuesday and will soon see what happens to our ORCi rating.
In other news Passion has been sold and while it was sad to see such a good yacht go we cannot be fleet owners. I hope the new owner gets as much pleasure as we have had from her.

On a wet and windy Wednesday there were only three starters in the Division 1s and five in the Division 1 who braved the conditions. We were not alone on the harbour as Prince Harry and assorted local dignitaries braved the awful conditions to promote the Invictus games and full credit to every one of them.
I had hoped that the 20 knot forecast breeze would swing to the east and give us a tight reach home but it was not to be so for another week we had a broad reach to the mark off Cannai Point and a solid slog home in wind and waves. With only a J133 and a TP 52 for competition it could have been a lonely trip but we held close to the J133 on the downwind leg and then let them get away another seven minutes on the windward leg home. We had some very nice tacking angles on the way home due in part to feathering the rig with the No 3 genoa and a reefed main into the breeze and in part to tacking on the knocks. We were hemmed in on the north side of the Sow and Pigs for a while but had a reasonable leg back to the southern shore.
While we always expected to be last on handicap the surprise was how close were the results. Passion X was only 45 seconds behind the second placed Duende. I had thought out on the water that we did well relative to them on the downwind leg and perhaps leaving the full main up until the turn was a good move so our 1.04 handicap is not too far off the mark and will be better next week at 1.035.
We are also closer to getting our ORCi Club rating adjusted and an IRC ratings as a weigh in is scheduled for the next fortnight. This might be a bitter sweet experience as a confirmation of the 1.11 rating will tell us we need to lift our game a lot and a much lower rating will tell us that our speed potential is not so stellar. During the construction of Passion X and tweaking of the design parameters with Dudley Dix I was aiming for a performance close to J122 yacht of 1.05 which is what the then fastest 40 ft yacht at Greenwich Flying Squadron was rated at. Since then Dump Truck came along with a 1.08 rating.
the best of both worlds would be a 1.08 rating and we crew on Passion X learning to sail at that level. It is also the rating of the Sydney 38 Blue Chip and its ilk and we have not beaten then yet.

 

Nice tacking angles in circa 20 knots kept us close to the fleet on handicap

Nice tacking angles in circa 20 knots kept us close to the fleet on handicap

What a beautiful day to go sailing! Sunny skies and a light breeze made for a most enjoyable afternoon for the West Harbour Winter Series. After the last scheduled race two weeks ago was abandoned for lack of wind the starter took the precaution to set the short courses so we had just over 100 minutes on the course.
We lined up for a start at the boat end and a long way back so when a big header came we had to tack back to preserve our position. Then the breeze died and left us a minute short of the line. At least we were free to tack at the line and make up half of our deficit by the first mark. Most of the legs of the course were tight reaches or hard on the wind but we set the big yellow spinnaker on the two short square legs and held out the genoa on another short square leg.
On the first tight reach we caught lot of yachts whose skippers were trying to fly spinnakers while we chose to two sail reach. This was the pattern for the rest of the race so that by the finish we had moved up to second fastest but a long way behind the MD 35. Our eighth place on handicap out of a fleet or 15 finishers was encouraging and we were not last on ORC scoring.
There is room for improvement. The one minute lost at the start could be avoided and we can be faster with the spinnaker hoists. One drop we left until we had gybed and that made it harder to control and pull down the sock. A Quick drop on the square run would have saved a few more seconds. Potentially there was one place we could have saved on ORC and two places on PHS.

There was a few short windward works and the angles on two of these were something spectacular so perhaps there is also ground to lose a few places.

Some very good tacking angles on two of the short windward works

Some very good tacking angles on two of the short windward works

We scored a fourth place in the windy RANSA Winter Wednesday race this week due to the non appearance of the larger yachts in the fleet and gear trouble on Blue Chip. I would like to say that we went faster for this result and to some extent that is true. With a reef in the main and the No3 genoa set we were first of the small trio in the fleet to the bottom mark. We don’t expect to keep pace with a TP52 in any conditions and we did not but we did beat Blue Chip and Sorcerer on the windy running leg. At the turn for the beat home we put a second reef in the main and settled down for the long slog. Even with two reefs we were overpowered and the X-Yachts 442 Sorcerer which is twice our weight and had twice as much ballast was just too powerful into the wind and waves. Blue Chip looked to draw away well but had trouble with a genoa and changed down to a nice No 4 jib. After the change they were quick and so quick that we failed to catch them. Their delay did however put a big enough dent in their elapsed time for us to beat them on handicap.
I thought we sailed well for our weight and would be happy if it was not for the ORCi velocity predictions which say we should match Sorcerer and Blue Chip to windward. Perhaps we are still too overpowered with the No 3 genoa and as a result have the main flogging too much and creating too much drag but if anything Blue Chip with one reef and Sorcerer with none did better in the light area around Shark Island.
Looking at our performance against Blue Chip over five races and Sorcerer over four races we appear to be averaging about 1.03 rating compared to our ORCi of 1.11.
We did well in the one light air race and could easily add a light air No 1 Genoa to the wardrobe to improve that performance and a heavy air No 4 jib might give us a couple of minutes in the stronger breeze but I struggle to see where we can make up 8 minutes to sail to our rating.

We had our first win at the Balmain Friday afternoon race today. It helped that the early starters in the pursuit format had little breeze but by the time we started the breeze had filled in. The light air with not a lot of hard windward work suited us and we sailed to about a 1.05 to 1.06 rating. It is still a long way off the 1.11 ORCi rating but it is reassuring to beat the Sydney 36 Cr.
Without the pressure of a lot of tacking it was a good day to introduce a new crew member to the boat. There was however enough wind at the finish to get the leeward rail into the water and give the new crew member a proper baptism.

Our fourth race in the Division 1s at RANSA was disappointing as after our first place last week we were back to our usual place of last this week. It was the second race of the series where the breeze was strong enough to use the No 3 genoa and we stacked the rails with all the crew available but were still outclassed on the windward works.
In these conditions where we are the lightest and shortest water line length in the fleet we cannot expect to be as fast to windward but we did improve a little on our first race of the series with the same genoa.
Relative to the fleet in that first race we picked up two minutes on Marloo and four minutes on Blue Chip around the course.
At the finish we were three minutes behind Sorcerer and over the three races they have contested we are on average only 10 seconds per race behind so we will have to hope for more light air races.
To be honest I would prefer more heavy air races so we can work out how to get the most out of Passion X in heavy air beating and I am still looking forward to a good 25 knot breeze where we can see if the light weight works down wind.
Today’s race was inside out as we had the light airs on the run to Cannai Point and the fresher breeze on the work home.