Next Passion

Windrace screen shot of our afternoon sail

Windrace screen shot of our afternoon sail

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

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

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

The forecast was for a reach up to the top mark and back to Steele Point which is ideal conditions for Fidelis and so she took off from the line and was never headed. She must have been a little worried early as she very carefully reached down to our line and gave us all the dirty air she could.
At this stage we had Hitchhike to leeward and Hanni behind so with Fidelis covering us we all sat in line. For a while I sought out her waves and rode them up the course for as long as we could stay in touch but eventually Fidelis was so far ahead that we had clear air and no wave assistance.
We had the same rig as last week but the fresher breeze was helpful and in these conditions we were pulling away from the rest of the fleet. We were using the same genoa we had on Passion and since transferring it to Passion X we have had trouble setting it properly. The tracks on Passion X are further inboard and the J measurement is 200 mm longer so the foot does not flow around the shrouds. To help this I had put a long shackle and snap shackle combination on the tack which lifted the foot and brought the clew higher and the genoa sheet further back and out. The downside was that the sheet pressure pulled the tack away from the forestay and flattened the entry. I had been contemplating a recut of the luff to make the entry angle fuller but today I replaced the long tack attachment for the shortest shackle I could buy and it made a huge difference to the entry angle.
This one small adjustment made an oversize contribution as I could get the leeward lower tell tales to stream at last.
We maintained our position behind Fidelis for the reach into Rose Bay but on the work to Point Piper Hitchhike was making big inroads into our lead. Along this leg Fidelis had a dream run with a big lift while behind we had to tack up the course. Going into the mark I was concerned that we would not be able to tack around in front of Hitchhike but a late knock let us clear her bow and hold her out around the island. We both went in so close as, Hitchhike was trying to get the inside overlap, that the crew, both the bold and cautious ones, tells me that the rocks were very close. We were both so high in the wind shadow of the island that we had to square run to the mark and a quick flick of the genoa to windward let us break the overlap and round in front.
By now we had let Hanni gain some ground on us both and that was to prove very costly on the tricky work to the finish.
Hitchhike tacked away early while Hanni and Passion X took the starboard tack as long as we could looking for the wind to swing to the west late in the day. Approaching the lay line to the last mark the Manly ferry was bearing down and rather than risk two tacks I went as far as was prudent into her disturbed air before tacking for the finish. Hanni was below and needing a tack to clear the last mark and Hitchhike was above and able to foot to the finish. In the middle we managed squeeze past the final mark but not before Hanni was able to tack on a knock and clear our bow easily. In the meantime we pulled up inside Hitchhike at the mark and were able to foot away to the finish line a few seconds ahead.
All the work we could see the fast finishing Joli making big inroads into our lead and they were next home.
There were no surprises with the finish place of Fidelis and Hanni in front of Passion X but we were surprised that Izzi and Senta snuck in ahead of Hanni for second and third and the other surprise was that only Rainbow snuck in between Passion X and Hitchhike and Joli so we did not make up big inroads on the leader board. Still it was good enough to give us a clear third position behind Hitchhike and Joli and but for 7 seconds Joli would have been two points closer to Hitchhike.

The windward works from today's race were good enough.

The windward works from today’s race were good enough.

 

Our result from Wednesday was not helped by the selection of the no 1,5 genoa where we gave away 5 m2 of sail area which would have been very useful in the light conditions. The larger genoa also fits around the shrouds better and has a marginally fuller entry which again would have been useful. Our result towards the back of the fleet was a discard but that did not stop the handicapper applying a small adjustment so that now we have to give Allegro a few seconds. Hanni also had a small adjustment so that now she has to give both Passion and Allegro a few seconds and judging by how well Hanni went to windward last Wednesday we will need all of that allowance and some. Joli did not get much back from her handicap place next to us but if she can sail like Meridian she will be OK.
Now that we have taken the adjustable pole off Passion X we need a short one for poling out the small headsails and for poling the large genoas out to leeward on the broad reaches. An old Laser full rig bottom section was ideal for the job and today I finished the 3 metre short pole ready for next week.
I am still progressing a frame to protect the chart plotter on the bulkhead as we have put a knee through the screen and need to replace the unit. I replacement chart plotter is on order but it will not be installed until I am happy that the new frame will protect it adequately.

The short pole made from a Laser full rig bottom section is ready to use.

The short pole made from a Laser full rig bottom section is ready to use.

The start of a frame to protect our bulkhead chartplotter

The start of a frame to protect our bulkhead chartplotter

Joli just ahead of Passion X at the windward mark

Joli just ahead of Passion X at the windward mark

I am sure this is the feeling of many of the yachties who contested the RANSA Winter Series today as many had the opportunity to be in front of the fleet only to find their handicap position was at the bottom of the list.
The first to fall from grace was Larrikin who made a very good start on the pin end of the line in the only breeze on the course. Larrikin shot to the lead and very wisely ran down with the breeze to cross our bow. We had managed to point up from below Trim and Allegro to have a handy lead on that pair and when Larrikin sailed across our bow into nothing we momentarily led the fleet. Below Joli picked up her private streak of breeze and shot to the lead only to sail into another light patch.
For a few minutes it looked like we would catch the No1s fleet yacht, Duende, but a little Nor easter came down the harbout just to Duende and no further so we were left in the no man’s land between the breezes. Eventually the westerly breeze won out and brought the tail enders up to the lead. Senta and Mako must have thought all their Christmases had come at once as they reached up the course and went on to first and second on handicap by three minute margins from Trim.
Trim was having a good day both downwind and upwind and deserved her third position on handicap.
At the top mark Joli lead Allegro and Trim while we were in the dirty air behind. I wanted to keep going left for the persistent shift and to get out of the tide and the two times we tacked away because of dirty air cost us much more than if we had hung on. First it was Allegro whose dirty air we were not enjoying and the second time it was Hanni. On both occasions we lost a minute by being on the wrong side of the next shift. At this stage little Britannia joined us courtesy of better shift picking and only our longer water line and larger sail area allowed us to climb over the top on the way into Rose Bay. The leg into Rose Bay was one of our better ones as the breeze freed up so we were just off a hard beat and were able to build up a bit of speed.
On the windward work the J 121 twins, Joli and Meridian, pulled well ahead with Meridian fastest from Hanni and Joli but that was not good enough to save Joli who joined Passion X and Allegro at the back of the handicap list along with Larrikin and Krakatoa. While we beat Allegro in handicap on the day we both scored discards and as Allegro’s next was half a point better than Passion X’s we slipped back to fourth overall. Joli kept her tenth place and retains second overall while Hitchhike who never showed up stays on top.
On the last work to the finish it paid to be a little high and on this leg we almost caught Allegro who by now must have been wondering if they could do anything right.

Passion X about to tack away from Allegro's dirty air

Passion X about to tack away from Allegro’s dirty air

Passion X about to tack away from Hanni's dirty air

Passion X about to tack away from Hanni’s dirty air

Elaine is nursing a few bruises tonight as a result of being caught by the running backstay during a pre race gybe. As well as injuring Elaine the back stay was caught on the wrong side of the boom in winds gusting to 20 knots so we had to look after Elaine and get the backstay back on all in the five minutes before the start. Both came good about the same time so we headed off to the start line thinking that the pin end was on the wrong side of the start boat. In the pre race rigging we had missed the change from the No 2 course so we steamed down the line towards the committee boat to try to read the course flag which was inconveniently only showing on the far side. In the starters hand was an individual recall flag which I correctly thought was for us as we were running down the course side of the line. The gun went as the committee boat was abeam and we could read the No4 course flag so we tacked around the boat and went off chasing the fleet.
Now the conditions were marginal for spinnakers at the best so we opted for caution and proceeded with the No 3 jib and a full main. The first leg to Shark Island was a broad reach which is the strength for the Didi 40 cr design and in these conditions we were keeping up with the fleet. The brave ones flying spinnakers had their share of problems and a Far East 28 was spectacularly laying over in full broach mode. Even Avalon with what looked like a code 0 was not pulling away in this leg. The very tight reach back to round Clark Island was also a good leg for Passion X. The leg was about 15 degrees off a hard beat and both the SOG and GPS speeds were reading over 8 knots which is the predicted speed under ORCi for 20 knots of breeze at this angle.
Once on the long slog to round Goat Island the more powerful Sydney 38, Avalon, pulled away. They have more form stability, a deeper keel and more crew on the rail and we have come to expect they will pull away in a breeze. Occasionally i saw 6 knots on the speed gauges and we pulled away from the rest of the fleet except for the second Sydney 38 in the fleet, Utopia. We could see Utopia making up good ground and were happy to finish ahead.
The third on handicap was a very good result for the crew of five. We enjoyed our day and Elaine is still smiling.
The track to windward were pretty good as the more open waters of the outer harbour gives more opportunity to work the shifts.

Nice angles working back to Balmain from Clark Island

Nice angles working back to Balmain from Clark Island

Today was perfect for a bit of routine maintenance on Passion X as the sun was out but there was barely a breath of wind.
I realigned the motor and prop shaft for the first time since launching last March. It was more of a check than any concern but it did require a little adjustment which took all the motor mount back to very nearly the centre of the range. After the realignment I took Passion X for a run to Balmain to see the Friday sailors drifting on a mirror like sea waiting for breeze for a start. Unfortunately breeze never came.
I made use of the calm conditions to hoist the asymmetric spinnaker and have a look at the settings. The spinnaker was on the wrong side of the snuffer haul up line but in the dead calm it was easy to unclip the tack and clew and put them on the correct side. Just enough breeze came through for a couple of photos, a gybe and more photos but not much else.

That is a drift

That is a drift

Still  a drift

Still a drift

We scored a surprising sixth on handicap after a slow and frustrating race at RANSA today. From the start in light and fading breeze we were to leeward of Hanni and could not break through for clear air. As much as we drove to leeward Hanni followed and kept us in her wind shadow. Amanti who had started below with speed managed to power through into clear air and headed off for a well deserved win. Above the fleet worked to leeward and ahead so we looked to be in a pretty desperate position. Ahead the breeze changed from north west to north east so we took the header as far as we could before tacking onto starboard for the long beat towards the heads. As if connected by a long elastic band Hanni followed but courtesy of the big shift was now leeward yacht but in clear air. For what seemed ages we sailed side by side and only a persistent shift enabled us to climb above Hanni to the point she decided to tack away back to the Watsons Bay where the fleet appeared to be in better breeze and lifting. Behind was Fidelis who would have enjoyed the forecast reaches and was now contending with a hard work and square run back. We hung on with Aurunga well ahead and ourselves the most northerly yachts in the fleet and seemingly in a poor position. At last the breeze headed and we tacked for the mark but the shift was short lived and now we were knocking back into the fleet on the south side. As we neared the lay line Allegro passed clearly ahead and we looked to have the early tacking Hanni well covered. The next tack would take us on starboard towards the turn mark where we picked up a few boat lengths on Allegro but we went too early and to leeward of Hanni and needed a port tack to round. With the benefit of a lift Hanni was inside us at the mark forcing us to tack away with a starboard call. That was an expensive and slow tack which let Arunga, Allegro and Hanni pull away on the run to Steele point. Out came the new lightweight whisker pole and while only the same length as the extendable pole we had from the old Passion it is lighter. It projected the large genoa well to windward and we slowly hauled in Allegro and Arunga as well as drawing clear from Fidelis. At Steele point Allegro and Arunga went in close while Hanni and Passion X went wide. The big pole did not come down neatly and in the time it took to get the genoa back to leeward Hanni had pulled ahead. Now it was out turn for a bit of luck as the breeze headed bringing us onto a work and then freed up to a run. In the change of directions we managed to climb above Hanni and finish with just enough time gap to beat her on handicap. While the dirty air we had from Hanni was frustrating we gave the same treatment to Allegro on the run back to Steele Point. Approaching the point the wind shifted a little so we were sailing by the lee just to keep wide away from the wind shadow. At this stage Allegro and Arunga had clear air but they both went in too close and became victims of the wind shadow. We worked hard to take the stern of Arunga and Hanni just to keep wide and were rewarded with clear air. The dying breeze did no favours to the following fleet as can be seen from the handicap results. Joli was third across the line and third on handicap. Meridain was five and five, Passion was six and six, Hanni was seven and seven and Arunga was eighth a eighth. Once the casual entries are culled from the results we were fourth behind Joli for the day and move up to third overall on a count back from Allegro

The big wind shift very apparent from the tracks

The big wind shift very apparent from the tracks

Going

Going

Going more

Going more

And more

And more

Gone

Gone

Very nice sequence taken by a crew during the last West Harbour Winter Series.

From Right to Left

 

What a nice day for a drift! The sun was out and with no breeze the conditions on the water mid winter were very comfortable. Gone was the cold of the previous two days when the east coast of Australia recorded some very low temperatures and in its place was soft winter sunshine.
We started in very little breeze with the 1s fleet which started five minutes early still just in front of the starting line. The division 2 boats also started while we were just in front of the line so it appeared like one big slow moving fleet drifting seaward on an outgoing tide.
Much debate was had about the best end of the line on which to attempt a start and our final position right on the line in the middle was a reasonable choice.
After a while of drifting we lowered the main halyard enough so that the boom sat on the rigid vang allowing the leech of the sail to droop to leeward. Next we sat all of the crew to leeward and then we just relaxed as we inched closer to the lead. Soon it was Arunga, Amanti, Hitchhike, Passion X and Larrikin battling it out at the front of the fleet with Larrikin clearly ahead on handicap. By this stage this little group had passed the division 1s yachts, Duende and Blue Chip and were fast overtaking The Red Hand. In these conditions the less slippery the hull the better the tide gripped it and carried it to the front of the fleet. The though of poling our the genoa was tempered by the amount of resistance it might make to our progress with the tide.
Mercifully, just like this post, the race was abandoned.

Light winds and tide make for record zig zag tacking angles.

Light winds and tide make for record zig zag tacking angles.

In this case the very light winds and the outgoing tide provided the perfect opportunity to record our worst tacking angles ever. Now I have seen experts go worse and the Volvo Ocean race Tracker provided many examples of much worse conditions and we have heard of times when the fleet anchored not to the carried backwards. But for us this was as bad as it gets.
The short distance between Cockatoo Island and the Hunters Hill shore does not give a lot of opportunity to hang on in the lifts and tack in the knocks. It seemed to us that every time we approached a shore we were forced to tack away from a good lift.
As the day wore on the breeze shifted to the north so the last work up the river along the Hunters Hill shore was more forgiving and we could hug the rocks in low flow areas and make some respectable progress. By then the game was over. As every minute wore on the breeze softened the distance to the lead yachts who were closer to the finish went from minutes to fractions of an hour. Only those behind us fared worse with handicap honors generally going to the earlier finishers.
We did have one bit of luck on the second work up the river when we tacked as the breeze came across the course only to have it stop advancing. Now the crew were a bit dejected at the course we were taking away from the breeze but as happened for Another Planet on the previous leg and for Utopia on the tack before the southern side gave a brief respite and we came back with a handy lead over Utopia and Sweet Chariot. Another Planet was by this time in another world due again to the dying breeze.
Good points for the day were beating Utopia across the line by virtue of that lucky tack on the last work and beating Another Planet courtesy of the dying breeze. Bad points were being thrashed by Irukandji who has done no wrong this series.
It was in all a very pleasant day and topped off by a chat on the deck of knowledge after the race and negotiations on transfer fees for valued crew members.

As a bonus photo painting of the carbon fibre whisker pole is progressing well under the awning. The pole is supported on posts at the two ends so it can be rotated easily for painting.

Carbon fibre whisker pole mounted for easy rotation while painting.

Carbon fibre whisker pole mounted for easy rotation while painting.

Much improved working with the phases of the wind shifts kept us in the game today but a poor downwind leg left us well back in the fleet . While Hanni and Foreign Affairs were enjoying a large break on the fleet we were mixing it with Allegro, Amanti and Joli and enjoying a very pleasant afternoon on the water. At the finish we were as close to a dead heat with Joli as is possible and we must have beaten then across the line by half the length of our bowsprit. At least that is the way the finishers saw it and we will take it.
We both almost caught Amanti but it was too much to expect to sail through the lee of two yacht on a beam reach to the finish line.
The day started well with the sea breeze arriving well before start time and in a direction almost straight down the course. Shifts were moving the favoured end around and we picked the wrong end. It was a bit disappointing to see The Biz at the the pin start on Port and cross the fleet while we were most windward and in dirty air. We sailed on untill all the fleet had tacked away and were rewarded with a nice shift to the left so we could come back on port tack and have all the early tackers below. The exception was Hanni who was already a minute out in front and sailing away. We played the shifts well except for one when we tacked under a port tacker to get back across while Allegro kept going north and came back with a minute gain. We kept a good eye on Joli and swapped tacks a few times, sometimes on the right side of the shifts and sometimes not.
On the run back we went inshore because we were being hunted down by a casual entrant and that cost us dearly. Out further there was stronger wind and stronger tide. Here Amanti, and Joli passed us and Allegro and the front runners pulled away. In Rose bay we could not break the overlap from Silky and had to go wide of the mark. Fortunately the fleet went high and with Silky in front we had to go low which on this occassion allowed us to catch up to Allegro and Amanti as well as slip through Joli. As we rounded Point Piper we passed Amanti who had decided to tack away from Allegro’s dirty air. I would have toughed it out in Allegro’s dirty air as she was going in the right direction but we tacked away for clear air and in two tacks lost another minute with Amante and Joli coming back at us. There was just the run and reach home in very quiet air and despite going as low as we could we could not break through the lee of Joli nor catch Amanti and only a light patch just metres away from the finish line enabled us to put our bowsprit in front of Joli.

Allegro, Passion X and Joli all scored discards today and of the top five Hitchhike shoots to the lead from Joli, Allegro and Trim with Passion X drifting backwards to fifth. Still we live to fight another day and our collective poor handicap showing won’t hurt our handicaps.

2018-07-11 15.53.39

Really nice tacking angles against a strong incoming tide were not enough on the day.

I got excited about this maximum boat speed for the day until I realised it was when we were under motor.

I got excited about this maximum boat speed for the day until I realised it was when we were under motor.

Poles no longer apart but joined in the warmth of the sun room

Poles no longer apart but joined in the warmth of the sun room

One of the advantages of overlapping genoas is that if you are doing “non spinnaker” racing you can pole out the overlapping genoa and have more projected sail area downwind. On Passion we had genoas with LP of greater than 6 metres and had both a 5 metre fixed pole and a 6 metre extendable pole. The large overlap genoa with the 6 metre pole was quite successful in the Greenwich Flying Squadron blue fleet.
With Passion X, I was concerned to get a better ORCi rating and had the 5 metre pole cut down to 4,7 metres to match the 600 mm short bowsprit. The reduced length was not a big issue in strong winds but in the light winds the genoa transferred from Passion to Passion X was not setting well. Also the extendable pole is heavy and difficult to extend in heavy airs. The crunch came when I dropped the 4.7 metre pole on Geoff’s head and I realized it was too heavy for safety. I subcontracted the task of finding a carbon pole to the crew and they came up with a suggestion of a CST pole from New Zealand. After a bit of negotiation we settled on a size and specification and Elaine agreed it was a good idea so we went ahead. As days progressed we found lots of bits missing from the quote and so the cost grew. Because more work was coming in we let the cost grow including the GST when the kit arrived in Australia.
I had proposed to put the kit together at Joe Walsh rigging and then motor over and throw it on board Passion X but the work was still piling up so I picked up the kit from Margaret Street in Woolwich and started the work at home.
Tonight it is all joined up except for some extra carbon I am going to put over the outside of the join. A little bit extra carbon on the outside will improve the strength considerably due to both the extra thickness and the larger diameter. Still it will be a light air pole and mainly for poling our the genoa but we will probably give it a go on the big yellow spinnaker in the light airs where an extra 1.3 metres projection will be useful.

What a wonderful day on the harbour! The forecast breeze arrive ten minutes late but was as expected. We made a good start at the pin end of the line and were able to cross most of the fleet on the first tack back. After that the wheels fell off our wind shift selection and it is a wonder we made it to the top mark in the place we did. When Hitchhike came back to the fleet from the right hand side we had to take her stern and that was just one of many sterns we took. Despite the slight outgoing tide the tacking angles look like we were beating into a big incoming one. Not that the yachts around fared much better as we would do well on one tack and lose on the other. Joli went well to windward, found themselves on the wrong side of a right hand shift but made it up on the next left shift. Allegro was back early on the beat but picked the north side for the approach to the top mark and won big time. We were chasing Krakaota, Crosshaven and Trim on our side of the course and we were all surprised to see Fidelis coming in on Port well ahead of us having been on the favoured side on the last shift.
Once around the top mark we poled out our large 44m2 No 1 genoa and stayed mid stream in the slight tide. The yachts ahead, and there was a bunch of them including Crosshaven and Joli, went too close to the shore and into a light patch. We were now chasing Allegro and slowly we made ground. Crosshaven worked back out into the breeze and made ground but lost it again going too close to Steele Point. Joli went wide but we were also wide and keeping a watch on our clubmates. We did not catch Allegro. The closest we came was on the work back to round Shark Island but again they picked the correct side and drew away enough to hold us out to the finish.

Hitchhike took the gun from Foreign Affairs, Arunga and Allegro with Passion X next just 20 seconds in front of Joli. Handicap honours went to Co Co from Trim who looked dangerous all day and The Biz. Hitchhike finished fourth in front of Rainbow and Arunga with Passion X just beating Allegro by three seconds. On progress points Hitchhike and Joli are on 23 points from Allegro on 25 and Passion and Trim on 29.

 

Not our best tacking angles

Not our best tacking angles

 

 

 

Passion X with the fat head main and the fractional code  0 flying

Passion X with the fat head main and the fractional code 0 flying

After a short delay the fifth race of the combined West Harbour Winter Series started in a freshening 6 knots of wind. Despite our best intention to get to the windward end of the line to have first go at the freshening wind we were stuck head to wind on the line in no breeze at the leeward end. To add insult to injury the wind headed as we worked up the Hunters Hill shore making life quite difficult. The work up the narrow waterway around Schnapper and Spectacle Islands was difficult with the large overlapping genoa so by the time we reached away along the Balmain shore we were playing catch up. The deficit was pretty apparent as we worked up to the Goat Island mark watching the leaders reach back up in good breeze.
From the Goat mark we carried the code 0 down the broad reach and along the shore all the way back to the islands. This tight reach made up some ground and the work up the islands was achieved in one board while yacht ahead had to two tack the work. Back down the Balmain shore the code 0 was again working a treat but not on the occasions the breeze was free enough for the surrounding yachts to fly their asymmetric spinnakers. Along this leg Another Planet loomed up to leeward and passed us until the breeze headed and we were able to keep the code 0 flying when they had to douse the spinnaker.
Again the work to the Goat mark had breeze in our favour so we made it in one board. On the broad reach back to Manns mark Another Planet caught us again but once on the tight reach back around Cockatoo we picked up speed and started to haul in the fleet ahead. We pay a very large penalty for the code 0 as it measures as a headsail so on the few occasions it can be flown when asymmetric spinnakers cannot we do well. This one leg let us pull away from Another Planet by three minutes and it appears we made up this time on the fleet ahead.
At the finish we managed a third on handicap courtesy of our good handicap from previous performances. We are only occasional users of spinnakers and so do not fare as well in spinnaker racing as in the no extras event. Anyway we are getting more practice and today it was good enough to get a third.

After our Raymarine es750 playing up and my tired start watch malfunctioning it was time to break out the backup start watch.
I have become so accustomed to the Casio count down timer that when I use tha spare it is time to buy a back up.
From Mandurah to Castle Hill I have sought out spares which have them languished in the wardrobe until required. The last one survived the rigours of building Passion X and it was probably one of the two nasty falls that crached the start button. So I am on the lookout for a special to restock.