Next Passion

The eighteen to twenty five knot breeze provided quite a challenge for the fifteen yachts in Division 1 of the RANSA Winter Wednesday race. Adding to the challenge was the wind direction which was straight down the course so it is a real credit to the crew of Amanti that they got around in an hour and ten minutes. It is not the best direction for Passion X but we have been more competitive with the pin head main and fixed backstay and were not disappointed with ninth on handicap.
Like a lot of the fleet we hoisted a No 3 jib and reefed main but later shook out the reef, again like a lot of the fleet.
The pin was the correct end to start and we were well lined up when Amanti charged back into the fleet from windward. To avoid a collision we had to give up our safe starting position and go to leeward barely making the pin in the process. The tight pinch to the pin was not pretty and we stalled out in the dirty air of the fleet. When the breeze knocked we tacked and were among the leaders well to windward of the fleet. Leeward came across on starboard and being unable to duck her we went back in a safe leeward position but she kept driving towards Bradleys Head and did not stop until we were both becalmed behind the point.
This was a disappointing pointless exercise as it put us right at the back of the fleet and in the full dirty air of Leeward. After a long slow work back into clear air we set off after the fleet. In the far distance Hanni picked up a nice shift off of Steele Point so we headed that way hoping to get into the lift.

We did get back into the lift but it was short lived and back on port tack we were convincingly bested by Fidelis and Tula out wide.

Coming back into the top mark I set my sights on Allegro as a possible target to catch on the run home. Downwind with the jib poled out we held Fidelis and passed Tula. Into Rose Bay and in lighter air we shook out the reef in the main and jumped away from Fidelis and Tula. Along the reach to Point Piper the fast reaching Fidelis came up to our transom and it was touch and go to round ahead. On the beat around the island we tacked back to Shark Island while Fidelis carried out mid stream. In the chase we made up ground on Allegro but were run over at the mark by Fidelis.

The last run for home  was a chase after Allegro and Fidelis and while we were not able to catch them we did make up enough time to beat them on handicap.

Leeward collected second place which is typical of their heavy air performance but we were happy to stay within two minutes of Joli, to make ground on Allegro and to beat Hitchhike over the line.

We were indeed fortunate with the weather on the rain front as there was a prolonged break in the rain during the race. On the other hand the breeze was well under forecast. Joli and Passion X both had crew numbers appropriate for the 20 knot forecast breeze but a bit over the top for the 10 knots we had. That did not stop us getting first and second on handicap and while Joli was a clear winner Passion X had to fight for every second to beat Allegro on handicap.
On Passion X we made the chase a bit harder than it should have been by being 15 seconds behind the line at the start. We went low to avoid the dirty air of the fleet to windward and sailed parallel to Fidelis, Joli and Allegro to the top mark.
At the rounding we continued on starboard enough to get clear air on the leading three and were rewarded with a lift above the leaders. In hindsight we should have used the lift to get more boat speed and try to get ahead of the next shift but alas we went too high and sailed into the quiet air in the lee of Steele Point.
Joli and Fidelis out wide tacked on a big knock and came back ahead. Allegro chased Passion X along the shore and we had an extended passage side be side sailing into Rose Bay. As we approached the Rose Bay mark Fidelis dropped down on our line giving us a dose of dirty air at which point Allegro started to nudge ahead to leeward. As we tacked for the mark Amanti came in on starboard so we stayed high giving them room to round but they managed to touch in the rounding and went back for a second go. That gave us room to chase Fidelis and try to stay ahead of Allegro. Around the Point Piper mark Joli, Fidelis and Allegro went deep while Passion X went straight to the mark. In that phase Joli drew further ahead, Allegro passed Passion X to leeward and effectively sailed around us while Fidelis did not enjoy the detour and dropped two places. The rest of the way home was a drag race chasing Allegro and trying to stay ahead of Fidelis.
We never caught Allegro but managed to cross the line ahead of Fidelis and Amanti who never made up the extra turns in Rose Bay.

Chasing Fidelis

Chasing Fidelis

Nose by nose with Allegro into Rose Bay

Nose by nose with Allegro into Rose Bay

Allegro goes deep and around Passion X

Allegro goes deep and around Passion X

That is the gap from first fastest back to Passion X in a very bunched fleet. On handicap it was even tighter with just 12 seconds separating Joli in second place and Passion X in fifth. Meridian in third was five seconds in front and Coco in fourth just a single second ahead. The handicapper will be very proud of his work tonight.

The race started in northerly winds gusting to fifteen knots and a little more. On that angle Passion X performed well under full main and No 1 heavy genoa where we hung onto the tail of Agrovation and Meridian until the breeze shifted to the north east and we had to work to the top mark. At the shift the yacht to leeward flopped over and passed ahead of Passion X but it was close at the top.
On the run back to Steele Point we travelled well with the genoa poled out and pulled a few metres ahead of Hanni. On the gybe we left the pole up to leeward and gained on the fleet only to have Amanti drop their pole and reach up under us. On the reach to Point Piper we managed to sail out from under Amanti but on the work around the island they were too smart and too fast while we were locked down by the high pointing Hanni just behind.
Around the island and on the reach home it was anyone’s race. We managed to reach out from under Hanni but could not make an impression on the leaders.
At the finish it was a well enjoyed race with the only surprise the narrow loss to Joli and Meridian on handicap.

Despite the increased restriction on sailing events due to the Covid 19 virus a large fleet was able to take to the water at Balmain today for a glorious Friday afternoon sail around the West Harbour. There are a lot of people well past retirement age enjoying these events and to the organizers we extend our grateful thanks. For today we were down to three Zone D sailors. For those uninitiated in the rituals of Covid 19 sailing zones that mean we all live in as odd quadrilateral designated by Sailing Australia NSW as a zone where we are allowed to associate for sailing purposes. It is fortunate that for our Wednesday sailing we are predominately Zone D people and for the upcoming twilight series also Zone D persons.

The wind was favorable for our designated start time and by the first island rounding we were hard on the stern of those that started a minute earlier. That sense of achievement was soon extinguished in the cut and thrust of the windward work up the Hunters Hill shore as Irukandji found the right side of a couple of wind shifts and went on to win the afternoon.

Our next crack at fame came on the reach along the Balmain shore back past the club when we went wide and found more wind to run through the lee of a  large proportion of the fleet. Odyssey was just in front and Avalon to windward but we hung on to their tails for the run down the narrow passage between Drummoyne Yacht Club and the islands. At the “No Loitering”sign where Irukandji parked last week we ran out of wind which was extremely disappointing as we watched Odyssey and Avalon charge off into the distance for second and third place respectively. Meanwhile we had caught Van Demon and were having one hell of a fight with here for one place in a friendly Friday sail. They skimmed across our bow and tacked onto starboard giving us dirty air. When they tacked away we hung on to a progressive lift and came back strongly so they tacked again to close out the passage to the line. We dared the wrath of the sailing gods and drove to the very edge of the Cockatoo Island wall and tacked back trying to get a starboard call on them but alas they snuck through for fifth place leaving us pretty pleased with a sixth place for the afternoon. It was perhaps fitting that we started together and finished together and in the interval had a very enjoyable afternoon on the water playing for sheep stations not.

Our mate Geoff was out on the water running the motor on Capriole and took some great sailing photos for our enjoyment.

The genoa we were using for the afternoon is one we took off of the old Passion so it has done a lot of miles. It was built by Ben Gemmell back in the day and we had it repaired late last year and put aside as a cruising sail. When the Covid 19 virus struck we pulled the sail out of retirement into service as it is high clewed and skims the life lines. The repairs by Sydney Sailmakers have added years to the life of the old Genoa.

The other Covid 19 related change was to remove the fat head from the main so we could sail with a smaller crew and that has been a success as far as enjoyable sailing goes. This is the first good photo of the modified mainsail.

Nice photo of Passion X in one of the fresher patches of wind. Photo courtesy Geoff Lucas

Nice photo of Passion X in one of the fresher patches of wind. Photo courtesy Geoff Lucas

Trying to get some twist in the sails for the light shifty conditions. Photo courtesy Geoff Lucas

Trying to get some twist in the sails for the light shifty conditions. Photo courtesy Geoff Lucas

We did get a very good seven to ten knots sailing breeze for the Wednesday sail our of RANSA and a real bonus as only three knots had been forecast. Before the start Geoff had predicted the direction would move about and that it did indeed. Meanwhile inside the boom a shackle pin worked loose, possibly after a flogging last Wednesday and Friday when the main was reefed and the main outerhaul was lying loose inside the boom. The upshot was that we had no outerhaul and had to jury rig and fix the clew of the mainsail in one position for the duration of the race. It was too full for the windward work and too flat for the reaches but it was a reasonable compromise.
We had a well timed start off the boat end in clear wind with a slight shift favouring the boat but eventually it knocked putting the pin end starters who had persevered on starboard well in front when they tacked.
Krakatoa was just above us and as they tacked early we had freedom to move which we did to stay in phase with the fleet. I Super did something super and was clear ahead of the fleet. Back int the pack we were having some good gains and some of those shift which go down as losses. Consequently we were ahead and behind of the same yachts many times on the long work to the heads.  We arrived at the top mark ahead of Allegro and Krakatoa but behind a close bunch including Amanti, Joli, Meridian, Hanni and Hitchhiker. Crosshaven snuck in there too so we had plenty of company for the run back to Steele Point. We stayed out with Crosshaven trying to emulate what they did two weeks ago by going wie around Steele Point but it did not work as the fleet close inside got a good gust along the shore and successfully shot the corner. Out wide we were still hoping to get the breeze from over the top but it came from forward of the beam and we were left in the dirty air of the fleet. Around the Rose Bay mark we gave room to a big Div 2 yacht and suffered from her dirty air so the leaders moved further ahead.

Behind Allegro and Krakatoa were coming down with fresh breeze while we were sitting in our private light patch. The three of us tried to round the  Point Piper mark at the same time with Allegro getting the front spot and Passion X the inside spot on Krakatoa and that was the way we rounded the island.

For the final run home Allegro went north and picked up the first use of a new squirt and bounded away and Krakatoa persisted with giving Passion X dirty air to be successful by a short nose over the line.

Between Rose Bay and home Passion X lost 4 minutes on the leaders which is a bit troubling as it is not normally the case. I suspect we had the rig a bit stiff because as I review the video footage of the race I can see the loose leaches on the mainsails of the yachts leading away from us into Rose Bay.

Well done to I Super for the wind and to Joli for getting back onto the podium. Unfortunately for them the point score series finished last week with Krakatoa taking the prize on a countback from Passion X. It was a well deserved win for Krakatoa as they performed well from the first race.

Thursday in idyllic conditions I audited a GFS yacht and in turn was audited ready for the 2020 2021 season. Post audits I tackled the broken mainsail outerhaul and was able to replace the broken shackle and reinstate the 4:1 purchase system ready for the Friday afternoon pursuit race at Balmain.

The fleet did better close in to Steele Point

The fleet did better close in to Steele Point

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Where the fleet got away with the freshening breeze on the nose into Rose Bay

 

 

The nicest thing about the Friday Afternoon pursuit series run out of Balmain is the spirit in which racing is conducted from the honour system for starting to the leeway given in awkward situations. We sail very short handed for a yacht of our size so we are not the quickest to respond and today even with extra crew the strong wind called for a lot of caution. Thank you to the sailors who gave us some slack and did not drive us into Cockatoo Island off the start line. Thank you to Tana for not putting us about into the moored yachts we had just tacked away from along the Balmain shore.
On the careful front we went out with a double reef in the main and the No3 jib thinking that with the small crew today would be a good time to see how we went with such aggressive reefing. It was a good test as to windward we were competitive with the single reefed sailors while downwind we suffered as would be expected. A gun crew might have taken one reef out on the runs and put it back in for works but we were making a little ground and our 7th place out of 17 starters was a satisfactory result. Maximum boat speed was 9.4 knots according to the same instruments that recorded 12.4 knots on Wednesday with more wind and a single reef.
By a small margin over Odyssey and Van Demon we were fastest around the course but that might be a bit generous as Irukandji parked next to the “No Loitering” sign off of Spectacle Island and while they did not incur the nominated fine they did suffer a bit of embarrassment. At times we made up a little ground on them but when they parked they probably had us by a small margin on fastest time.

Another windy day this time beating towards Darling Harbour

Another windy day this time beating towards Darling Harbour

A big thank you to RANSA for running the Wednesday afternoon series today and getting it done before the big breeze hit. We did see 38n knots on the sind instruments on the way back to the mooring. Today was the first time we had contemplated the No 4 jib since we purchased it for the 2017 series but that contemplation was brief and I brushed the thought aside in favour of the No 3 jib and a reefed main. Before the start we watched our competitors one by one sail off into Rushcutters Bay to put in a reef so that by the start most of the fleet was on smaller jibs and reefed mains.
Krakatoa timed the start perfectly while we had to wait for Reve to get far enough forward so we could duck her stern and head to the line.
Helped by the strong breeze we were able to hang onto Krakatoa’s tail for the reach to the heads and the most exciting bits were surfing down her stern wave in the gusts. Our maximum boat speed showed at 12.4 knots although the most we saw while watching the dial was mid tens. The 12.4 must have been off of Krakatoa’s stern wave in one of the gusts where we momentarily drew level. We had by now build up a handy 80 metres lead on the fleet and were content to safely follow Krakatoa around the top mark and head off on a very tight reach to Steele Point. Along this leg we went higher to be able to pass without any interference and pass we did particularly as we approached Steele Point and freed off for the reach into Rose Bay. Amante and I Super were also not far behind and we had a long beat to the finish line to try to hold them out.
In theory the Sydney 36crs are faster to windward in 20 knots and we had all of that and some more so we knew we would be working hard to hold our slim lead. Everyone pitched in with winching and tailing the main and jib and calling the angles and telltales so we were in good shape for the work home. We stayed in phase with the fleet on the way home and were surprised when Amante took a detour not realising that we were sailing the No 2 course and heading straight for home. Next in line was i Super with a full main then Krakatoa holding onto here place from a mighty reach to the heads. Behind we could see Leeward with mainsail backwinding and enjoying the fresh conditions and further back Allegro but we held on for our first fastest time for the season and first in a breeze. On handicap we had a close win over our similarly handicapped I Super and we waved to our old crew member as they crossed the line..
The win elevated Passion to equal first with Krakatoa on the leader board and a handy place to be at this time of the series.

The moment we caught Krakatoa

The moment we caught Krakatoa

This Friday afternoon was possibly the lightest day sailing in a long list of light day sailing. Quite probably a day just as light was experienced in Canberra in the distant days when I sailed NS 14s and where the water was so flat it was hard to tell what was reflection and what was real. In the even more distant days when I was a young Moth sailor 54 years ago we had a winter race at RPYC in Western Australia where the breeze died and in second place I refused to retire even though it was windless. In that distant day before cut off times for races the committee turned off the lights so I could rock home over the line and everyone could go home. Also there was a string of light days at Jeju Island in South Korea where we could not get off the beach for lack of wind but as far as light days where we actually started today was possibly a record. We started in two to three knots and made good progress up to Birchgrove but along the Drummoyne shore any wisp of wind was a figment of an overactive imagination and off of Spectacle Island the committee cruised around the fleet making gestures as to indicate that the race was dead. Yes like the Norwegian Blue it was dead, deceased, no more.
On the bright side we motored home at speed stowing the sails and beat the rain. Now safe inside the warm house with air conditioning blasting warm air into the room we can be grateful for another day of light exercise and sunlight before the rain.

Britannia cleaned up big time today both on the upwind leg to the turn mark and spectacularly on the reach back into Rose Bay where they went right across to Shark Island for breeze and skirted the fleet.
Our goose was cooked when we planned on reaching into the line and starting behind the most windward yacht.

 That was good in theory but awful in execution as the breeze died and headed so we had a slow work to the line the dirty air of the big Reve. While we were only a minute late at the line we had our fair share of dirty air until we worked out to windward in clear air. With the occasional flick back to the north we had glimpses of success until the breeze did the forecast change to the North East while we were at the back of the shift. We had to stay on the north side of the fleet and try to stay in phase and with a bit of luck we managed to come back in front of Agrovation and Crosshaven. Other notables behind were Allegro and Whistling Kite while just in front was I Super. Further ahead was Meridian, Hanni, Foreign Affairs, joli and Amante.

On the run to Steele Point we ran square while Crosshaven and Britannia went far out into the mid channel and came back around the fleet. Agrovation was slowly gaining ground and giving us a dose of wind shadow while we did the same to I Super. Allegro was charging up on the shore side when we decided to stay wide. As we watched Britannia reach away over on the Shark Island shore we tried to stay as low as possible and keep some wind across the sails. At times I Super and Agrovation looked to be picking up wind inshore but eventually the sailed into nothing as did Allegro behind them .
From there it was a follow the leaders home and the best breeze of the day was the work to the shortened course off the top of Shark Island.

The dying breeze into Rose Bay spread the fleet out so that some of the finish margins look a bit cruel. In particular the six minutes gap from Meridian and Amante and the 4 minutes from Joli hurt but then our 5 minute margin over Allegro was not indicative of boat speed.

For the day we were happy to hold out I Super and Agrovation by a minute over the line and salvage eight handicap points and hang onto equal 4th place overall with Larrikin.

The forecast wind shift put us behind the eight ball.

The forecast wind shift put us behind the eight ball.

The run of fine weather had to come to an end and it did so with a vengeance. So wet was it that only six yachts braved the conditions and Elaine may have been the only lady on the course.
The early starters were unlucky as right on 14:09 hours, our start time, a breeze sprang up and powered us up the reach to Long Nose where the becalmed fleet lay waiting. from there it was almost all drift with just a little shifty wind around the south side of Goat Island.
The drift back to Cockatoo Island was particularly frustrating as the wind from the Harbour proper kept filtering through up to Long Nose and no further.
Avalon made good us of the wind filtering in across Balls head to lead the fleet by Cockatoo Island. At this point we managed to put our nose in front of the rest of the fleet and set off after Avalon.
On the final reach from Snapper Island Elaine took the helm and I played with the sail settings and we made up a lot of ground on Avalon. Perhaps it was our turn to have the breeze but if felt good to do a bit of catching up. Of course that meant a big gap to third place and possibly a nasty handicap for Passion X and Avalon next week.

Firstly I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims of the massive blast in Lebanon today. This nation has suffered enough and hopefully this tragic accident will unite them on a path to recovery. I used to work at a factory that made explosive grade Ammonium nitrate and did the field testing on the product to verify that it exploded properly. That produce was destined to the mining industry and we handled the product with utmost care under strict regulations.
Putting aside the sad news the day in Sydney started with clear skies and fresh westerly breezes as is typical for August. Before the start I said to the crew our result would be determined by the selection of the correct genoa and so it was.
I opted for the No 1 heavy which is a light skin carbon sports cut a little flatter than the No 1 light. The selection was perfect for the breeze with our better windward performance particularly pleasing.
The first leg was a broad reach on port tack and we started on time in the middle of the fleet. Unfortunately we could not reach out from under the windward yachts nor run away far enough for clear air. Sandwiched between i Super and Allegro we were letting Fidelis, Amanti, Agrovation and Crosshaven reach away ahead. At one stage Allegro did a little round up which was our cue to break cover and then pull ahead of i Super. Hitchhiker was just in front too and we had to judge the mark rounding carefully to give the yachts in front room to round.
The biggest surprise of the day was our windward working speed. Admittedly we were a few degrees of hard to windward and ten degrees is worth a knot of boat speed but seeing over eight knots occasionally was a delight. It must have been a good angle for us as we held Allegro and I Super and Whistling Kite for that leg and for the bear away into Rose Bay. We tried hard to run over Hitchhike with her reefed main but no no avail and again we had to negotiate a lot of traffic at the Rose Bay mark. Amanti got a bit of a break here but we held on to Hitchhike. Around the top of Shark Island we went wide and avoided the wind shadow that trapped Crosshaven and Hitchhike but could not break through their lee. Ahead we could see Agrovation unwinding herself to pass the mark and that cost her quite some time but she did not wait for us. All that was left was the work hard on the nose to the finish and her we managed to lift inside Hitchhike but had Hanni lift inside us so we gained one and lost one.
Across the finish line we were delighted to have finished ahead of Whistling Kite, Leeward, Allegro and Joli given the fresh conditions.
Our fourth place on handicap was enough to climb up the leader board to second but only one place ahead of Amanti who gained two points on us for the day.

Tracks for today's race showing the angle to Steele Point compared to the hard beat home

Tracks for today’s race showing the angle to Steele Point compared to the hard beat home

 

To my surprise we did get in a lap of the Balmain Friday Afternoon series but not everyone was able to finish in the time limit of 16:30 hours. From our start at 14:10 hours to at least 15:30 we drifted around Snapper and Spectacle Islands and along the Hunters Hill shore in less than three knots of breeze. We drifted better than a lot and with the exception of Avalon we were happy to be picking off the fleet one by one. Off of Cockatoo Island ferry wharf Odyssey retired so that she could head off to Yamba and we wish her well in her cruise off the coast.
About the same time we caught Irukandji and for the rest of the afternoon had a see saw contest with them. When the wind did kick in it was a work to windward where Irukandji was much slicker due in no small part to an injury to a crew just before he stepped aboard for the afternoon. As the day progressed he stiffened up so we were back to the David and Elaine duo doing everything. Avalon tacked on the shifts nicely and soon drew a long way ahead while we left the last tack into Goat Island too short and had to pinch to avoid a big red mark down the side. Avoid it we did but in the process Irukandji drew further ahead.
The leg back to Long Nose was also a good one for Irukandji where they went for the freshening breeze and got it together with a faster angle. We had no choice but to chase the same breeze and leave Krakatini behind in light air close in the Snails Bay.
The last throw of the dice was to go wide of Long Nose and come back at the finish line on a tighter reach. Out wide there was better wind and we soon passed another two and drew alongside Irukandji. Now we were right up the backside of Hasta La Vista and rather than be taken high we chose the leeward side which was not a good choice as the freshening breeze arrived at Irukandji and Hasta La Vista before it arrived at Passion X. So Irukandji got us by two seconds which is a good result for a long day on the water. Four points for the day was our best result since we won the first race and a pleasing result given the condition of the crew.

After a few rough wet days with an east coast low hammering the coast we woke this morning to brilliant sunshine and forecasts for around 10 knots. We were not disappointed with the consistent 10 to 15 knots which propelled us around the full course in just over seventy minutes.
The first leg was a broad reach where we went low to avoid the jostling of the fleet. Perhaps we pushing against more tide out in the middle but the free air and faster approach to the mark had us near the front of the fleet alongside the eventual first and second fastest times yachts, Hanni and Agrovation. Fidelis was doing her reaching best and had streaked out on the first leg and it was easy to predict her win on handicap from that position. Hitchhike and Whistling Kite were also out front on the reach. Whistling Kite hung on for third on handicap but Hitchhike did not fare as well on the hard tacks home.
The work back to Steele Point and into Rose Bay was always going to be a challenge. Hanni did well by going all the way to the rocks before tacking for Steele Point and had clear air. We were back in traffic and dirty air and had to tack away from the second division starboard tackers who had just rounded their turning mark. We tacked inshore for clear air and did well until the wind shadow off of Steele Point where the yachts out wider moved forward and then tacked back off the Shark Island obstacle. Amanti tacked below us on the way into Rose Bay and gave us a healthy dose of disturbed air to break away and eventually beat us by a couple of minutes. Along the reach to Point Piper we held our position and again on the run to round the Island we held our position against the chasing pack but gave away some time to the yachts with genoas poled out. On the work back around Shark Island we were fortunate to clear the heavy air specialist Leeward who loves a stiff beat to windward but clear her we did and held her out to the finish. Ahead was Hitchhike and Meridian but as hard as we chased on the tight reach home we could not catch them.
At the finish it was a close contest with eight yachts in front with margins from 2 minutes 48 seconds down to 20 seconds. On handicap it was even closer with Larrikin, Britannia and Leeward leapfrogging us into fifth, sixth and seventh place.
We were pretty satisfied with our performance in the conditions particularly finishing in front of Allegro for the second week in a row and finishing just 2 minutes 23 seconds behind Agrovation in solid windward beating conditions.

It was certainly a wet day for the last race of the Covid 19 curtailed West Harbour Winter Series. Many decided that with no chance of winning they would stay home but for those who ventured out it was not an upleasant race. After the first lap of the course the breeze died so we practices setting and gybing the asymmetric spinnaker. The first windward work was a good test of boat speed and but for tacking too soon in a knock we were sailing above our handicap. The first downwind leg we two sailed the course while Matagi, Ophir and Avalon were slick with their spinnaker work and drew well away. The second windward work was a bit unkind as we were knocked along the Hunters Hill shore well below the line of the yachts ahead. Still we managed to hang onto Odyssey and Omnishambles until the reach home. Despite setting our asymmetric spinnaker, Odyssey with a masthead code zero drew away. I would like one of those in my Christmas stocking please Santa.
From there it was a lonely sail to windward back to the finish line and a pleasant surprise to find that we had beaten Omnishambles on handicap.
Today added a bit more confidence in our windward working speed post the rig changes and the spinnaker practice was useful. We did pull the sock down before raising the genoa for the windward work and found we could do that very quickly with very little time spend bare headed. It was certainly good practice ahead of going offshore in two weeks time.

Five knots of breeze arrived just five minutes late and with some very well judged starting by the committee we were away into the sea breeze just five minutes behind the scheduled start time. We were aiming for the pin with Krakatoa reaching over the top and with either Foreign Affairs or Hitchhike below. Joli tried to climb over the top but even in the dirty air of the two pin enders in front we managed to climb out from a safe leeward position. When Joli tacked for clear air we promptly followed but found the boat end starters all lifting above us. Taking a few sterns was very costly as with each stern we dropped below Joli’s line even though we had tacked above. As a result we found ourselves deep into the fleet but with clear air and freedom to tack. We used both to good effect settling into a fast mode and tacking on the shifts. We also covered the fleet when we made a gain and at the top mark found ourselves up with Foreign Affairs and Hitchhike.

Freedom to tack and covering the fleet paid off

Freedom to tack and covering the fleet paid off

Around the top mark we poled out the genoa and drifted back to Steele Point. With the wind behind the apparent wind was down to a couple of knots but the close competition kept us on our toes. I Super also had a good windward work and was on out tail. Into Rose Bay we were looking for a finish boat but none came. Foreign Affairs ran away and Hitchhike pulled out a safe distance leaving us to be hassled by I Super all the way home. I Super did pull ahead down the side of Shark Island but on the broader reach home we found a wisp of wind and drew ahead again and hung on for a third fastest place. Hitchhike managed to pull ahead just enough to beat us on handicap by 10 seconds but they in turn were beaten by Coco and Britannia so we were pushed back to fourth on handicap just ahead of I Super. With the close racing we were able to talk to our ex crew now racing on I Super so that added a bit of good competitive tension to the day. Today was the best result since we trimmed down the fat head main to a conventional pin head with a bit of roach. In the light airs we have to drop the main halyard to get the roach under the backstay. A mast head flicker would be nice but just for sub 5 knot breezes it seems a luxury. I have been using the quiet sunny days of this week to so some maintenance and upgrades on Passion X. Some are just the routine tasks like tightening the water impeller v belt and changing the seal on the head toilet pump in preparation for a week away at Port Stephens but another is a more permanent change. When Passion X was designed it complied with the offshore racing standards of the day but that standard is no longer accepted for yachts built after 2010. I am working through the current codes which were updated in 2019 and have reviewed all the structural scantlings for the hull. All of the sheeting exceeds the 2019 code requirement and almost all of the stringers do too. Of all the stringers only eight need a small section of timber glued to the existing stringers to comply. The largest addition is two stringers which need to be increased from 22 by 44 to 28 by 50 mm. One stringer needs as little as a 22 mm wide strip 6 mm thick added to comply. In two days I am half way through completing all the stringers and I plan to have them all finished and epoxy painted in the next week.

An example of the stringers in the quarter berth with one completed and the other with the first addition glued and clamped.

An example of the stringers in the quarter berth with one completed with strips on the side and top and the other with the side strip glued and clamped.