Some of the crew of Passion picked up the trophy for the first place in the 2016 RANSA Winter Wednesday series last night. It was an good series for Passion as we won the Division 1 by a large margin. What made it particularly pleasing was that RANSA had initially relegated us to Div 2 for the slower yachts but reinstated us in Div 1 on request. We wanted to keep sailing against our familiar competitors, the Northshore 38′s, Rainbow, Izzi and others and the same sentiment is on play this coming season with Passion X.
it was the second time we had won the series and for the third year in a row it was a Greenwich Flying Squadron yacht. Izzi had won for the past two years and as they had been improving over this time it was no reflection on the handicappers. From memory, because we cannot keep the perpetual trophy, Greenwich Flying Squadron yachts had won for four of the last six seasons and we will be trying to make that five out of seven this year.
It is quite an honor to have the name of Passion engraved twice on the perpetual trophy alongside some of the legends of Sydney Harbour and we will try hard to add Passion X to the list.
After a very good test in 35 knots on the trip back from Port Stephens I have had the chance to reflect on some of the choices we made.
The interior is remarkably dry. There are a few drips from deck fittings where a bit more Sikaflex is needed but these are very minor. All the holes are twice saturated with epoxy. By that I mean they were drilled, epoxy saturated and then drilled again and epoxy saturated so there is no timber exposed to swell to seal the leaks and it will have to be done with sealant.
There is no perceptible leak from the engine shaft seal. It is an Italian seal with a spigot for adding lubricant and one for venting the seal so that air bubbles do no accumulate. I thought that the bearing in the stern tube may need forced lubrication and bought the kit in case but the water has never sucked out of leaving the bearing dry so it is one item that will not be used. I did shift the bearing from the top of the stern tube to the bottom to give a longer distance between the gearbox coupling and the bearing. The position at the top of the stern tube was at the end of the recommended range and the alignment of the tube was good enough to give me the option to move it to the bottom of the tube. In hindsight the Volvo seal would have done the job and I now have one in stock as a spare.
The autopilot is a wonderful luxury especially on the long delivery trips. The manufacture is definite of the need for stops to prevent the linear actuator arm turning the rudder more than plus or minus 35 degrees and to that end I have a 24 mm thick plywood beam with a semi circular hole in which the rudder stop travels. It looks very solid and may be over kill but it does stiffen the last frame before the transom. I don’t know when these stops will come into play as I have not seen the autopilot turn the tiller more than a few degrees. I was concerned that on autopilot we would have to lift the tiller to stop it hitting the crew in the legs but on current performance we can just leave it moving around the few degrees and not bothering any of the crew.
On Passion , our beloved jeanneau SO37 we tried many traveller systems and ended up with a top of the range wide travel Harken system. Dudley’s standard is the cockpit mounted traveller and I did install the timber beam under the cockpit in case it was needed. Dudley approved our cabin mounted system because with the 40 ft Cr version the cabin is so long that the connection to the boom is well past half way. The boom was specified for our deck top attachment location. In practice it has been very manageable. It is an idea stolen from the Jeanneau SO349 which while shorter is not too different. To ensure the loads are well distributed we have a very large area of additional 12 mm plywood under the cabin top. The doubler goes from the bulkhead at the end of the cabin forward all the way to the front of the head and quarter berth ante room and serves to lock in the fore and aft bulkheads on either side of the companionway. Where the mainsheet bridle is attached there is an additional 12 mm backing plate bringing the bearing surface for the three 10 mm bolts on each side up to 36 mm. Our very conservative rigger gave it his approval and I will be interested to see how it goes over the years ahead.
I have also added doublers from the chain plate frames forwards to the mast support bulkhead. It is a small area but it does lock in the chainplate frames. In front of the mast bulkhead the cabin top is also made up of 24 mm of laminated plywood so that I could do away with the framing. It give a very nice clean look to the roof of the V berth and is immensely strong. Because it is such a narrow cabin top the additional weight is negligible.
The narrow cabin top limited our selection of deck organizers so we selected the Spinlock 35 mm range. We have a lot of bearing area for the bolts with the 24 mm thick plywood roof so had no worries there. In practice the plastic sheaves could not take the very high loads of the reefing system so we have replaced all the high load sheaves with the alloy variety Spinlock have as an option. Today I purchased enough alloy sheaves to replace all of them for long term peace of mind. The alloy sheaves have stood up to hours of 35 knots wind with the reefing system at full load so it has had a good test.
I am very pleased with my three single line reefing system on the Allyacht Spars boom. Two of the lines have the internal pulley system and the third line goes from the boom exit down to a block at the base of the mast back up to the pulley on the third reef and all the way back to the base of the mast. The line is held against the mast at the reef point by a large twisted shackle that conveniently fits into the goosekneck fitting. I have the same system on Passion and it worked very well so we ordered it for the new rig on Passion X. Not many yacht would have three single line reefing systems and we put this one to the test on the way home from Port Stephens in the 35 knot conditions. The only time we tried it on Passion was in a practice run out through the heads in similar 35 knots conditions but this time on Passion X it was for real.
There is lots more that I am really please about and I will try to remember to take photos for the blog.
It has been a big two weeks since the last post. What was going to be a leisurely trip to Newcastle via Refuge Bay turned into a one day dash. The next day was the first ocean race for Passion X, a friendly dash from Newcastle to Port Stephens.
With fresh crew joining us for the dash we made a good start and hung in for the first hour. The course was a tight reach and with winds occasionally gusting to 25 knots we put in a reef and were still overpowered. On reflection we might have sailed faster or at least as fast with a second reef and the No 3 jib. We did break one shackle on the mainsheet system which was not of much consequence but it afterwards the one First 40.7 in the fleet did climb over the top and stay in front. We had been catching Mortgage Choice Rumba slowly until the shackle broke but they managed to hang on to beat us even though we hit 15 knots down a wave after the bear away to the shortened course finish which was placed well above the course route and hard to see.
We did not learn a lot from the beam reach dash other than that we were not sailing to the ORCi rating for the yacht and had room for improvement.
There was no rest for the crew as the following day was the first of the three Commodore Cup races.
The Commodores Cup was conducted inshore in strong tidal conditions and relatively narrow waters between the sandbanks. In the first race we had a few spinnaker issues but still managed to be just 4 minutes behind a Sydney 39 Cr, 2 minutes behind an X43 and one minute behind a Dehler 46. We finished half a minute in front of the First 40.7 and felt we had a lot of room for improvement in our spinnaker skills.
Race 2 showed we needed more spinnaker practice and we were 8 minutes behind the First 40.7
Wednesday was Race 3. When a strong header came in we were caught with spinnaker up to leeward of the fleet and up against the sand bank so no where to sail away square. We lost the spinnaker up in the air and by the time we had it under control we were at the back of the fleet that started 5 minutes after us as they came down with the fresh breeze.
We did much better for the rest of the race catching almost all the second fleet and some of our own. Much happier to windward even with the No 1 and full main in 15 knots. Face saver with the second last tack to the finish where we did beat the 40.7. I wonder what woes they had to be back with us?
I enjoyed the lay day during which we had plenty of visitors who inspected Passion X and complimented us on our achievements. I had it finished enough inside to be presentable and very livable and perhaps only I can see what more had to be done. Elaine and I lived aboard for the regatta and found it every bit a livable as our beloved Jeanneau So37,Passion, which is now up for sale. in some areas the extra length makes it more livable as the extra metre of length is spread out over all the cabins. We did not miss the extra doors on Passion and the only improvements Elaine has ordered are a wall mirror in the V berth and a couple of towel hooks in the head. I for my part have a little behind the scenes finishing such as rounding the under edges of floor panels and several more coats of epoxy on the rounded edges. I am considering re routing the cold water lines so that all the ‘T’ joints are in very accessible locations and I will look for ‘T’ fittings that have enough length for two hose clamps per join. That said what I do have lasted a good pounding in rough seas and 35 knots.
The first race of the Port Stephens Cup was off shore. We started in a light northerly breeze and our Gosford club mate John Sprague in a modified Mont Gay 30 blitzed the fleet away from the line only to be first into the calm between the breeze and last out. We were a lot slower off the line but in the drifting conditions caught the leaders and were among the first into the new breeze. We hung on with the 45 footers for a lap but they drew away and on the run home built up a good lead. Rocksalt a Dehler 38 competition with mast head spinnakers took six minutes out of our time on the last run home but our early lead and with only ten finishers and a third on handicap our prospects looked good for a podium finish.
Race 2 again showed our good upwind speeds against the Dehler 38 but their faster downwind performance as they took 4 minutes out of us on the last run home.
Race 3 was inside and we gave up two minutes on the first of three windward works by being on the wrong side of the fleet. In the reduced fleet we looked lonely at the back except for the even more lonely J35, J Force, who were the shortest yacht in the division except for Devils Lair. The downwind legs were painful as the fleet inched away. The course was too confined for reaching across the downwind legs and despite our very credible hoists and drops we lost ground even to the best of the Division 2 yachts. Upwind for the next two legs we held our own and must have made up ground based on the finishing times. Our tenth place left us sixth overall but only four minutes in the last race out of the podium position for the series.
Some race photos from the last race showed how small our fractional spinnakers are compared to the fleet. No one is racing on rating so they all go for the biggest kites that will fit on the boat. Our spinnaker was small on Passion and on Passion X it could be 25% bigger and not be extreme. We did put crew on the bow to lift the stern but we still needed crew in the cockpit to work the sheets.
We did learn that beating with the strong tide can be confusing as the boat feels different. We did learn to be very careful to have the boat going flat our when feathering the prop as at zero knot it was possibly just sitting there unfeathered. We did learn that we cannot outpoint a good fleet. it might be ok back at the club but practice and the polar targets for the respective yacht shows our best angle is a couple of degrees lower. In the ocean we could see Passion X drawing ahead if lower than the Dehler 46. This is good if we are sailing into headers but not much help if the breeze is lifting.
We do need to get moving on the bowsprit for Passion X. In several of the off shore races we held in well with the 145% genoa against asymmetric spinnakers but they had occasional bursts when the breeze freed that gained them a lot of time. I think the fractional asymmetric we have will be OK but we do need a mast head symmetric spinnaker to mix it with the Regatta fleet.
The trip home was a desperate dash to beat the week of southerly winds forecast and the high winds forecast for today. We left at first light with two other yachts taking advantage of the westerly winds. We started out with three reefs in the main and the No 3 jib but when the breeze built to 30 knots we took the jib down and lashed it to the deck sailing on with just the triple reefed main at 8 knots. One of our group headed for Newcastle but we were so far out that it would have taken us three hours to get to Newcastle and at our sailing angle towards Sydney we would be twice as far down the coast so down the coast we went. Closer to Sydney the seas were less lumpy and the breeze lighter so we rehoisted the No 3 and made 8 knots again. For the last two hours we were almost on the nose heading towards the heads. The breeze lightened enough for us to take out the third reef and sail on two reefs for the rest of the trip.
Passion X handled the pounding well. The auto pilot did a remarkable job of steering for a good part of the trip and it was only in the tight angles going into the heads that we reverted to hand steering. Nothing broke in the 35 knots conditions and everything went up and down as needed.
We did learn more lessons in the long slog home. We need a smaller jib for 25 knot conditions. A No 4 and two reefs would have been faster. Perhaps we could have hoisted the storm jib for the passage but it won’t cut it in club racing and we don’t club race in much more than 25 knots.
Elaine and I are very happy with our Passion X and I will have a lot of fun optimizing what we have and learning the right sails for all conditions.
A lot has happened in these past few days including completing the water system, installing the last bits of the spinnaker handling gear, fitting the galley drawers and touching up the white primer of galley tops and engine compartment. There are still a few items held in place with tape ready for gluing or for catches to be fitted but in general most of the comfort items of the yacht are finished. Today more milestones were achieved with filling the water tanks for the first time, doing some serious windward sailing on the harbour in 17 knots of breeze, setting the symmetric spinnaker and finally scoring a handicap place at the Greenwich Flying Squadron last twilight of the year. Also the AIS transmission from Passion X has been picked up by the land station at South Head and our position recorded on Marine Traffic. While not as good as the tracks on the chart plotter it was amusing to see our windward tacking angles on Marine Traffic.
The windward working was just a means of getting upwind so that we could run back with the spinnaker but by good fortune many of our Winter Wednesday competitors were out on the harbour racing so we sailed on the same line to see how we performed. As we were intent of keeping clear is was not a good indication of relative performance but we did seem to be going faster and higher and it won’t be long before we join them in serious racing.
The masthead symmetric spinnaker off Passion is quite a good fractional kite on Passion X and could be even taller. A masthead spinnaker will have to be about 2 metres longer on the luff.
Back at Greenwich we put on the No 1 genoa in preparation for the last Twilight race of the season. Just as racing started the breeze faded making it very hard for yacht to get up to the start line. We hovered around the line and managed to start on time with Meridian below and Lisdillon in between. Meridian powered away to an early impressive lead while we struggled to keep in front of Lisdillon all the way to the west end of Cockatoo Island. The crew on Passion X ggave the usual warnings to the attacking yacht not to go inside on the continuous obstruction and we gave up some more ground on Meridian by going so high into the wind shadow to prevent Lisdillon passing us to windward. Once around the island we sailed faster and higher steadily drawing away.
Off Long Nose the breeze died and for a few moments we thought we might get close to Meridian but they got into the new breeze better than we did and drew further ahead. Lisdillon made a good attempt to cross us on port but we experienced a late lift and they tacked away. Luckily for us they tacked away from the approaching breeze and we regained our margin.
The balance of the black fleet seemed to be becalmed and the blue fleet that starts 5 minutes behind was just coming out of Humbug as we were working back from rounding Cockatoo Island. The tide was helping on the run home so the distance from the fleet that was still beating into the tide just got longer and longer so we managed a third place on handicap behind Meridian and Lisdillon.
For a change we were one of the first yachts home but the deck was already packed for our last BBQ of the season. The weather was perfect for the last night and we think that 340 sailors and supporters attended and made for a great finale to the twilight season. A big thank you to our Twilight organizers, Andrew Limmer, Glenda Cameron – Strange, the starter crew and the fantastic crew from Foodz. As a twilight race and BBQ it was “As good as it gets.”
We took the opportunity of a beautiful autumn day in Sydney to do some two handed sailing on Passion X and get some engine hours up before the trip to Port Stephens next week.
Elaine and I took Passion X up the Harbour in what I would call our safe cruising mode. We put a reef in the mainsail so that the square head clears the twin backstays and set the 105% No 3 genoa. We tried a few combinations including motor sailing with the No 3 genoa alone and motor sailing with the reefed main and genoa. The conditions were very mild and I cannot recall the breeze being over 12 knots but we made good time with the shortened rig. We are still running the motor in so much of the motoring was moving around the low revs mark and under 6 knots but in the occasional brief high rev range we did 8 knots. That is the maximum we ever got out of Passion with the bigger motor and a clean bottom so I estimate we are going faster in Passion X with three quarters of the power we had on Passion.
After a visit to our Laser friends at Middle Harbour Amateur Sailing Club we hoisted the reefed main and headed out to sea. The reefing system is identical to the very satisfactory system we had on Passion right down to the colour of the reef lines so putting in the reef is simple and with the first reef in we have more headroom under the boom.
We gave the autopilot a good workout both beating and running and it works very well.
With the reefed main and small genoa tacking was very simple and Elaine could winch on the geona while the mainsail was left to fend for itself.
It was good to get some extended hours of motor running and for Elaine to see that Passion X is just as well handled with two on board as was Passion although we have not yet organised a spray dodger.
There is less than a week to go before we leave the shelter of Sydney Harbour and head north to Port Stephens via Newcastle. I am excited about the trip and the chance to catch up with friendly competitors and hopefully show off the sailing capabilities of our new Passion X. We have had Passion X out on the water in 20 knots of breeze with the big genoa and the full mainsail and she has been so well behaved that we should be able to handle most conditions with the No 3 genoa and two reefs in the main. We have a storm jib and a third reef in the main but as we found with Passion it has to be a real storm to reef down that far.
Our efforts to get an IRC certificate were stymied by the lack of weighting facilities for the hull at this time of the year. We are booked in for the first group weigh for the next season and that will both get us a certificate and improve our ORCi Club rating. Sailing Australia were very helpful in getting all the IRC measurements over to my ORCi Club application from July last year but my declared weight is probably 200 kg underweight based on the crane weight when we lifted the hull out of the back yard. The extra 200 kg will reduce the 1.11 rating a little and based on the ratings of other yachts we race against we will need all the help we can get. I say this a bit tongue in cheek as I am delighted with the VPP projections and hope we can sail to the rating. We rate higher than the prototype Didi 38, Black Cat, because we are 600 mm longer, have a 200 mm deeper keel, a 150 mm taller mast and genoa position, a 150 mm longer boom and have a fat head main. We also have a spinnaker pole that is 600 mm longer than our 4.100 J measurement. All these changes were made to improve the light and heavy air performance of Passion X so it is no surprise that we rate faster than Black Cat but I am surprised by the increase in the VPP. On a 135 degree broad reach in 20 knots our predicted speed is a knot and a quarter faster than Black Cat and the same as the VPP for the Pogo 12.50 series of extreme cruisers. The Pogo rates 1.13 but for non spinnaker we rate 1.0299 which is higher than some Pogo 12.5s. As we do a lot of non spinnaker sailing I am pleased with that rating.
The Club rating will soon be on the International web site but for now here is a picture.
I am working away at the services and interior of Passion X and have installed the water system up to the hot and cold shower on the transom where I need a couple of hose tails to complete the connections. On Friday I replaced the hot water lines with ones with a 90 degree C rating. The hot water hose I had already installed was not branded and I could not confirm the temperature rating. As the water is heated from the engine via a heat exchanger it can get quite hot so I replaced the hose with one rated for the duty. Up under the V berth I have installed protection for the 240 Volt cables that run to the water heater and three pin outlets which let us enjoy creature comforts while attached to the Marina shore power. Because we will also be storing heavy headsails and spinnakers under the V berth it was important to have very strong protection for the 240 Volt wiring runs. Now that it is finished four sails are stored under the bunk and the front end looks much tidier. The gas bottle is now secured to the base with a strapping system. I have built in a 12 mm high section in the locker to keep the base of the bottle up out of any water that might get into the locker. The locker needed a 12 mm gas drain hole at the base and the Nylon ring around the hole stops the last traces of water draining out so I will drill a 12 mm water drain hole as well and make sure there is no lip to retain the water.
The Category 4 safety equipment is finished but I had a perplexing problem installing the catch for the sliding hatch. It needs to lock the sliding hatch into position and be accessible from below and above. I did the first half one day and made it lockable from below and did not think how I might get into the boat the next day. I needed to find a narrow blade to fit between the top of the sliding hatch and the vertical one and lever the barrel bolt out. The only readily available solution was to fold and old steel measuring tape into half and insert the folded end into the slot. The very first job after that was to connect the external pull line so that I don’t get caught a second time.
On the cabin top I have installed jack lines which double as hand holds and it is a shame racing was cancelled on Wednesday night before we had a chance to try them out. Our spinnaker sheets are ready to go except for locating the pole downhaul position. A 35 mm deep deck stringer runs down the centre of the foredeck so I might put the pad eye a little off centre rather than drilling a big 8 mm hole through the stringer. The other option is to attach the pad eye with screws secured in the very big laminated beam at the back edge of the anchor locker.
I am also pondering how to attach the tack of the asymmetric spinnaker to the bow. Over winter I will make a nice 600 mm long removable carbon fiber prodder but in the meantime we will fly the asymmetric spinnaker off the tack for the tight reaches and pulled back on the pole for the broader angles. Depending on the conditions we might stick with the symmetric spinnaker.
This week I would like to find time to touch up the screw holes in the galley area. They are all filled but need a decorative coat of white paint to disappear. If I don’t find time a bit of grey insulating tape will make a nice finishing trim for the week.
Last night I was feeling pretty contented with my effort for the week and paused as I rowed ashore to photograph the fastest, shiniest yacht in the bay.
After the excitement of the launch, first sail and first race on our Didi 40 Cr Passion X it was back to work preparing her for the Sail Port Stephens Regatta and the lead in Newcastle to Port Stephens race. There is a long list of wants to have finished including the galley drawers. There are four draws, top three being 150 mm deep and the bottom one 300 mm deep for cooking utensils. I assembled one of the 150 mm deep drawers in the garage and rowed it out to Passion X for a trial fit before gluing it together. The rest are all made now except for site fitting the faces. When I say made I mean they are glued up and have the first coat of paint on them. The extra galley storage will be welcome as most of the utensils are currently stored in sealed plastic containers tightly crammed into the shelf behind the fridge and stove.
I have also made up a base for the gas bottle. The base is a set of concentric rings to be glued into the gas locker so that the bottle cannot slide around. The bottle will be strapped to the base so it cannot move. Another task on the list was rail supports for the hanging locker they are now made and primed.
The long spinnaker pole off Passion has been trimmed to 4.7 metres for a lower rating penalty and once the spinnaker lines are finished we will have to get in some spinnaker practice.
Last night was our second race at Greenwich Flying Squadron on the Black fleet. The forecast was for fifteen knots on the Harbour which means quite light on the west side of the bridge. We set the No 1 genoa and prepared for the start. We were windward boat on the line when a knock put the leeward ones ahead so we had to tack through the fleet on the way out of Humbug. Meridian was one of the leeward boats and she cleared off making a fast passage through Humbug to be five minutes ahead after fifteen minutes of racing. We had a good battle with the rest of the fleet to get through Humbug behind Lisdillon and then all of a sudden the breeze freshened to around 20 knots.
Now this was the first time Passion X has seen any breeze and we had the big genoa up too. We flattened the main and let it flog while sailing on the genoa and survived our first test. Within minutes we had trimmed the sails for heavy air survival and survived very well. Only the big Beneteau 44.7 passed us in the breeze and soon we were reaching away along the Cockatoo island shore in moderating conditions.
We now had a large group of yachts just behind including the Young 40 Flashback who gave us a very tight race all evening.
As we moved back into beating mode after rounding Cockatoo Island we managed to sail over Calliban and Lisdillon while just holding out Flashback.
The next challenge was to sail around Goat Island where we picked the breeze remarkable well and were able to reach around the Island with a good lead on the fleet minus Meridain. The rest of the fleet experienced some very light shifty conditions which took them some time to negotiate.
Ignoring Meridian, we now had a larger lead on the fleet that in our first race but in a repeat performance we were becalmed on the run home. At the finish we just held out Flashback not noticing the large group of yachts just a minute behind who had come home with good breeze.
I was surprised that we managed the 20 knot conditions so comfortably. All the mainsail flogging was not fast due to the drag but we did not round up so I am looking forward to some steady 20 knot conditions with the No 3 genoa set.
We still have some issues to resolve with the sailing gear. The sheeting angle on the No 1 is fine in light airs but at 20 knots the pressure needed to keep the leach (leech if you prefer) near the spreaders pulls the foot in against the shrouds. I will try moving the sheeting angle forward to let the foot curve around the stay base but the angle will be very much down the leach. We have yet to put shock cord on the runner to pull them forward of the boom in a tack or gybe. It should be on the must do list for next Tuesday’s measurement slash busy bee jobs. The No 3 sets forward of the stays and inside them so that is good to go for a blow. The No 2 has not been hoisted but I fear we will have trouble finding a sheeting position where the foot does not clash with the stays. It might have to go between the D1′s and V1′s. On a lighter side I started referring to the No 1 last night as our No 2. The crew new that I was mentally preparing for a bigger No 1.
I must not rush this one as we seem to go well in the light beating conditions with very good height compared to the fleet. I already feel the 200 mm deeper keel, fat head main and longer foot on the main are working a treat with superb balance and a bigger genoa would impact our rating. On the other hand we have almost 2 metres of track behind the No 1 position which seems an awful waste and we do a lot of light air sailing in the RANSA Winter Wednesday series.
This week I will be trying to finish the galley as well as measuring Passion X for an IRC rating.
After the rush to get Passion X ready for the first twilight race last night I thought I would be ready for a rest today. I was wrong. I was up early registering my EPIRB with AMSA and following up suppliers who have been tardy with their bills. A stop at the local shopping centre for the Financial Review and a sit down coffee did not keep me quiet for long and I was soon home packing tools for a visit to Passion X on the mooring near Bay Street Greenwich. I rafted up at the club alongside friends who were also preparing for the Port Stephens Regatta and we were both having spinnaker gear fitted. Even with all the social activity and with people coming aboard for a look I managed a long list of small jobs.
It was a perfect day for on water work with little breeze which made rowing to and from the mooring a pleasant task. It was hot enough for the slow epoxy to set in four hours and many small supports were finally glued in place having been temporarily held on just the screws for the first race.
The final positioning of plumbing was completed in the head vanity unit with the end result much more pleasing that the first attempt. I did waste a lot of hose at almost $50 a metre in the process but it is finished to my satisfaction. I will upgrade the bilge pump hosing in time when I can find a product that is more robust than the local suppliers stock.
After some discussion with club members I realised that I have not said a lot about the sailing performance.
The mast, boom, vang and rigging were supplied as a package by Allyacht Spars from Queensland. They supplied the new rig for Passion in 2010 and I could not have been happier with that one. For the longer Passion X with more righting moment and a narrower base we had to have a stiffer lower section and that was achieved with a spectacularly well fitted sleeve for the bottom 5 metres. Right from the first sail the mast bend looked well suited to the yacht. The crane effect at the head is a little more pronounced than on Passion as we have an extra 550 mm between the top of the forestay and the mast head. With the extra leverage we do not need as much backstay to bend the head so we can have a bit of forestay sag in the light airs to induce camber in the genoa. The No 1 Carbon genoa off Passion looks superb on Passion X with a bit more forestay sag. Even with the bigger Passion X we have the same boom section because the attachment for the boom blocks are much further aft than on Passion.
We have shamelessly copied the Jeanneau 349 mainsheet bridle for Passion X. I have tried so many traveller combinations on Passion that I joke that I have a doctorate in travellerology. The bridle is attached to the cabin top through 36 mm of plywood. In anticipation of the bridle I extended the plywood doubler under the cabin top forward to the second laminated beam. That means the whole of the head area and the quarter berth ante room roof is 24 mm laminated plywood and there is an extra 12 mm plywood backer for the bridle bringing it up to 36 mm. So far with just two practice sails and one race it has worked very well but I will upgrade the blocks on the bridle so I can fit a larger shackle.
The carbon No 1 genoa fitted on the new yacht very well. As the J measurement is 200 mm longer there is less overlap and tacking was easier. I am not sure that our converted No 2 will sheet outside the stays as the No 1 only just clears the turnbuckles. It might sheet between the V1 and D1 but we will give it a trial as soon as there is enough breeze. The No 2 started life as a multiaxial aramid laminate but within a few months I added a lot of carbon tapes to it to convert it to a string sail. As such it is very well behaved with the draft not moving aft. As my sister in law says, it would not dare.
Our No 3 off Passion is a very fast sail for the 20 knot wind range but I wanted a woven sail for the heavy air durability so we purchased a Dimension Polyant Hydranet Radial to complement the other sails from the same loft. I will be keen to get it up in 15 knots plus. I am curious to see how much use we get from our No 2. And we will see how long I can resist buying a big No 1 to us up that spare 2 metres of track behind the No 1 sheeting position.
Our first race was in very light conditions and we were lucky to get our nose into the breeze around the Greenwich point corner ahead of the fleet. On the long beat from Cockatoo Island to Goat Island we had plenty of time to assess the fleet behind and from our perspective we were slowly pulling away from the J 35. We lost a little to the Dehler 44 with a too early tack onto a header but otherwise seemed to be holding them as Black Cat’ polar plots would indicate. The did catch us on the long square run home both due to the breeze gradient across the course and the fact that their polar plot shows the square run to be their best performing angle compared to Black Cat. So all seems to be going according to the polar plots. Our tacking angles were quite remarkable and better than I expected. No doubt the 200 mm deeper keel helps a little both with area and keeping the boat more upright. It will be good to show the plots when there is not such a big outrunning tide.
I have Laser racing this weekend and it seems a waste as there are some pretty windy conditions forecast for Sunday. I would love to be out in Passion X in that with the No 3 and two reefs in the main.
It has been busy days since my last post. Saturday was Club Championships in the Lasers at Gosford Sailing club. Sunday Elaine and I rafted up Passion alongside Passion X and transferred a lot of personal gear across. Monday the riggers finished the lifelines and the electrician connected up the masthead gear. We finished that on Tuesday, commissioned the autopilot and then welcomed on board the auditor for our Category 7 safety check. After the audit I finished the plumbing in the head and gave it a trial test. Wednesday was finishing some hose clips and tidying up some piping runs before a last test sail at 1:00 pm. The test sail went well and we made a note of a few minor adjustments to make before the race proper at 6:05 pm.
We made a good start but there was no wind in Humbug so the fleet drifted trough. At the exit to Humbug we managed to get first use of the breeze and took off with the J35 Soundtrack close behind. It was like that all the way to Goat Island where we opened up a lead on Soundtrack but surrendered some distance to the Dehler 44, Meridian. On the run back to Humbug we were running away from a dying breeze which meant the whole fleet was catching. By the entrance to Humbug Meridian drifted past and we were becalmed waiting for wind which never arrived. What wind there was brought Soundtrack up to our stern and it was all we could do to hold them out for second fastest.
Soundtrack sailed very well in the conditions. Her big overlapping genoa worked well in the light air running while our No 1 carbon sail is more of a bullet proof job.
All the crew seemed happy with the way the boat performed and it was extremely well behaved.
I said many times during the build progress that we would put the rig on one day and sail the next. We did that with the change of rig on our Jeanneau 37, Passion so I thought we could do the same. Thanks to the cooperation of Joe Walsh Rigging and Sydney Sailmakers we were able to do the same with Passion X. At 2:40 pm Sydney time we cast off and headed out towards Cockatoo Island for our first sail. The sailing went to plan. The helm was super light and responsive and no one noticed the slight pressure from the connected Raymarine linear actuator autohelm. I think it did not even register in their minds. The new No 3 genoa set very well inside the shrouds and could not be a centimeter longer. I might try a softer top batten for a little more depth in the head but it looked perfect for heavier air sailing. The 1 metre wide fat head main held up very will with the untapered fractional rig and the running backstays were very easy to use. In the light conditions we soon hit 6 knots speed over the ground GPS readings and later 6.3 knots on a reach but it was very light airs and possible only eight to ten knots of breeze. All the crew had a turn on the helm and there were plenty of smiles. There was one annoyance as the AIS alarm went off with every passing ferry and I will have to turn that off for river racing. A passing inconsiderate power boat threw up a huge wave and gave us our first big slam into a wave but there will be many more of those out in the ocean. Our sail today could not have been achieved without an enthusiastic crew and I am very grateful for their support and company.
I have been very preoccupied getting Passion X ready for launch and stepping the mast so I need to catch up with the reporting.
In my last post I showed the colour of the antifouling on Passion X from inside the shed. It is lighter in the sunlight which Passion X saw again on Thursday as she was taken from the shed for the final touch up to the pad areas of the hull and for applying the Propspeed. We kept working as long as possible on the internal fittings and by launch had all the skin fittings installed and most attached to the plumbing. There is a lot left to do but the boat floats.
After the launch on Wednesday morning we took time out for a breakfast with friends at the Deckhouse and then took Passion X around to Joe Walsh Rigging for the stepping of the Allyacht Spars mast.
True to his word Joe stepped the mast today and the crane was gone by 1:00 pm. During the afternoon enthusiastic crew helped to lead all the halyards and reefing lines to the appropriate jammers and winches and fit the boom bag. By late afternoon the yacht looked deceptively finished. Tomorrow I hope all the life lines will be finished and enough of the rigging so that we can have a sail over the weekend.
Our Passion X is a Didi 40 Cr Wide Stern version by Dudley Dix. I always liked the hull lines but wanted a more racing oriented cockpit which Dudley drew for me. It meant a bit of extra work doing my own detailing to the new lines and detail around the cockpit structure but the strength and stiffness has amazed me. With Dudley’s help we have also done a little more to the racing potential with a deeper keel to 2.45 metres and a tiny increase to mast height and boom length.
The longer cockpit always seemed to need a longer boom and I am looking forward to sailing photos to see how it looks. it is surprising how very small changes in dimension can improve the appearance of cars or yachts. The slightly shorter cockpit coamings on the Wide Stern version look very attractive and the blending of the coamings into the cabin also looks more modern. The deeper keel meant a lot of extra work to support the small increase in righting moment. One option was to keep the righting moment the same and save 200 kg of hull weight. We have made our choice and hope that the upwind speed will be just a little faster. I am waiting on an ORCi Club rating for the updated configuration and will let you know how we fare. Black Cat raced in the Cape to Rio race with an IRC of 1.05 which I think was achieved with some sacrifice of genoa area. We are going the full sail area route as we do a lot of light air sailing in Sydney twilights and RANSA Winter Wednesday races and were looking for a light air flyer. As a consequence I think our rating will be around the 1.1 and hopefully we can sail to that.
To my surprise all the plastic protection was removed from the hull when I arrived at the Dock on Saturday morning. The colour will appear lighter when the yacht is out in the sunlight and it will be interesting to see what shade of grey it is when immersed. The first coat of two pack polyurethane non skid is already on the cockpit floor o when all the construction gear is cleared away we will see the final colour scheme.
The colour scheme on our new Didi 40 Cr, passion X, is white with shades of grey. The boot top is light grey and we mixed up white and black antifouling to achieve a mid grey. I am waiting for the plastic masking the hull to come off to get a first look at the colour scheme and will post photos when I can.
Since the keel and rudder fit we have had the Hydralign three blade feathering prop fitted and the hull painted. We have been unable to get access to the hull for the past two days due to the masking and painting but tomorrow work can start again. At home I have finished shaping the tiller and applied the first coat of clear epoxy and I am getting gear ready to put on the boat at launch on Wednesday morning.
Passion X our new Didi 40 Cr left home this morning. We had to take the roof off the awning, lift the hull out and then replace the awning. It all went to plan on a morning that was perfect for the task.
Last week the keel travelled from the Central Coast to the Woolwich Dock and now the hull and keel are side by side. Quite separately the mast, boom and rigging travelled from Queensland to Woolwich and is just around the corner from the hull. There is still a lot of work to do to finish the interior to our satisfaction but in some aspects the yacht is more complete now than the much loved Jeanneau 37 that it will eventually replace. The instrumentation is at the standard that we developed on Passion over ten years and we have safety harness attachment points that we took several years to add to Passion. The fridge will be colder, the alternator is almost twice the size and the fuel tank and water tanks are larger. What we do not have is a lot of fancy teak trim and I still have to add a lot of painted trim around the galley which I will do over the next few years.
Our next steps are to fit the hull to the keel, step the mast and go sailing but I am getting ahead of myself.
A crew busy bee yesterday saw all the winches and turning blocks fitted as well as the last five portlights. While the crew was doing that I was busy installing hose for the engine cooling system and the fuel supply. We had a deadline of 8 am today for the boat electrician to return and start the motor so there was no time to lose. More holes of the fuel line and plumbing routs had to be drilled and wet on wet coated with epoxy paint to seal the end grain of the plywood. The touch up painting was completed after 10 pm last night and I was up at 6 am today to pass all the hoses through the holes and connect the fuel lines. By 7:30 I was on the way to buy 20 litres of diesel. The Yamnar diesel started first time but we needed some advice on bleeding air out of the hot water system. I had all the gear needed to suck coolant through the hot water system and connect it to the motor so by lunchtime the engine was running sweetly.