Next Passion

Driving to the club early for the twilight race the temperature was a very pleasant 27 degrees C but as I prepared to launch the dinghy for the trip to the moored Passion X the rain came and I sheltered in the club for a good hour.
The rain radar showed that there was a second band of rain following but as luck would have it the second band did not arrive until we were safely on the way home post the BBQ on the deck.
After being under powered last week we set the 40m2 genoa and a full main but in a concession to the threatening breeze has the sails set very flat. During the afternoon one of the crew hoisted me aloft to slacken the D2′s. These had been on very tight and with the D2′s eased the mast adopted a more even bend and the mainsail did seem a bit flatter. Regardless of cause the effect seemed to be a more responsive boat and we handled the gusty conditions as well as any time since we launched.
The race however did not go all our way. We had a mighty tussle with Much Ado V going out of Humbug and were perhaps third out only to have almost all the fleet sail through on the inside in what is usually a nasty wind shadow around Greenwich Point. Now at the back of the fleet we were squeezed between Much Ado V to windward and Utopia to leeward with a large group including Joli and Flashback ahead. Not liking the dirty air from Much Ado V we worked to windward of the tight reaching fleet only to have Much Ado V repeatedly round up in front. That was enough to kick in the caution mode and we went well high of the fleet and eventually into the disturbed air around Balls Point. I did keep as low as I thought was safe from the rounding up yachts below but Lisdillon from behind went low all the way to the Goat clearance mark and made up some good ground. The front of the fleet was very tightly bunched at Goat Island and closed up tightly in the wind shadow of the island. As the leading yachts nudged forward into the oncoming breeze the fleet started to spread out. Just in front were two J112e, two Sydney 38 and one Ker 11.3 and we were giving close chase hoping for a lucky break through Humbug.
No lucky break came and we were forced to tack onto starboard by a Blue fleet yacht well before out clear line to the finish. The extra two tacks were costly and we made up little ground except at the very finish when we had a little more breeze and crept up to the transom of Avalon, but no further.
As we finished quite close to the leaders we expected to do well on handicap. We were declared the winners but when I saw the result sheet I could see that we were finished 2 minutes early in a transcription error. After correction by Harvey at 9:30 pm we lost by 7 seconds to Meridian. We had both received the bottle of wine we deserved for first and second places but in the wrong order but only those who read the blog will know that Stephen was the real winner on the night.

Considering the breeze and the quality of the fleet I was very pleased with our performance. It was the closest we have finished to the similar rating Sydney 38, Avalon and just one minute behind the similar rating Ker 11.3, Much Ado V. I continue to be impressed by the performance of the lower rated J112e, both Joli and Meridian, but the design is a current IRC champion.

For the record the wind did gust to over 20 knots and our boat speed reached into the mid 10 knot range.

Passion X squeezed out by Much Ado to windward and eventual scratch winner Utopia to leeward

Passion X squeezed out by Much Ado to windward and eventual scratch winner Utopia to leeward

Passion X overtaken by the following fleet around Greenwich Point

Passion X overtaken by the following fleet around Greenwich Point

At the finish catching up to Avalon with Joli and Much Ado V just across the line.  Utopia and Meridian had already cleared the frame.

At the finish catching up to Avalon with Joli and Much Ado V just across the line. Utopia and Meridian had already cleared the frame.

I am still reflecting on the fourth place on Wednesday and only 54 seconds out of first place. It did help that we had a very good start and protected our position going through Humbug. It did not help that we were triple cautious with the No3 jib up, a reef in the main and the boom bag and lazy jacks set up for a second reef.
The very nice Mark Palmer photo of Joli, Passion X and Avalon approaching the start line shows well the sail area we had up for the day. We were giving away 7m2 to Joli and 18m2 to Avalon. That is Ok when the breeze is honking but as it dies we have the largest wetted surface of the three and need the sail area.
While the trend for yacht racing these days is to reduce the jib area first it might be a better solution for Passion X to keep the overlapping genoa on and reef the main more. That will keep the centre of effort lower which might be a good thing as Passion X is quite tender.
The other lesson is that I need to be more conscious of the sail settings as the breeze dies. It took quite a while for me to realize that the back stay was on too tight and the foot too tight for the dying breeze and the jib halyard also too tight.
And when we did shake out the reef in the main I forgot to check that the runner was on the correct side of the head of the main and that the outerhaul was tight enough. It did not help that we went from a reefed flat main to a full main with a large round in the foot and without the backstay a very loose forestay and full genoa.
Well it was a good week to relearn all these lessons and the small fleet ensured our finish place was a keeper for the seasons progress scores.

With the forecast for a stiff breeze we set the No 3 genoa and a reef in the main for the first race of the Greenwich Flying Squadron Twilight series. We were not the most cautious as Flashback with their repaired mast on it first outing had two reefs in the main but the rest of the fleet was fully clad in big jibs and full mains.
While the breeze was fresh we sailed above our handicap and a good start got us out of Humbug first with Sydney 38 Avalon below and the J112e Meridian above. A big persistent shift helped us against Avalon but we gave up a lot of our lead on Meridian who tacked below us for the leg to Goat Island. As the breeze eased we were overrun by Avalon and Joli while Meridian established a handy lead. Much Ado V went a bit low going into Balls Head and had to pinch for the mark so much that we held our ground. Joli tacked away from the point rather than pinch and did better at maintaining speed in the dying breeze. At this point we got desperate and took out the reef in the main forgetting to get the port backstay on correct side of the sail. Once around Goat we quickly dropped the main below the backstay and rehoisted it correctly in a move that seemed to lose very little time.
We were still down 14m2 of sail area on the run home compared to our No 1 genoa but to our surprise we held Much Ado V and were alongside them just metres from the finish line. With the reduced rig we still hit over 8 knots on the run home although this was tide assisted.

Up in front Joli ran down Meridian and Avalon for a close fastest times victory and a first on handicap.

The surprise of the night was that we were only 54 seconds from first place, 11 seconds from second and 8 seconds from third.

A cautious Passion x sandwiched between Joli and Avalon. Photo from the GFS facebook page courtesy of Mark Palmer

A cautious Passion x sandwiched between Joli and Avalon. Photo from the GFS facebook page courtesy of Mark Palmer

A more cautious Flashback from the GFS facebook page courtesy Mark Palmer

A more cautious Flashback from the GFS facebook page courtesy Mark Palmer

Passion X is back in the water ready for another season. The sprayed on antifouling looks very slick and I am very happy with the quality of the service at Woolwich Dock. The proximity to our mooring in Greenwich Bay is a great convenience and I motored the dinghy over on the Torquedo outboard to pick up Passion X from the dock and used just 20% of the battery power for the task.
While Passion X was on the hard stand I torqued up the rear keel bolts with the load of the hull sitting on the keel and got a tiny movement in the back nut so that should be right for the life of the yacht.
I have opened up the hole for the dyneema bobstay at the bow as I want to increase the size of the bobstay so that I can tension up the luff rope of the Code Zero sail. I think with a bit more tension we will improve the pointing angle and also be prepared to carry it on broad reaches in heavier airs. I have the bowsprit off at present for cosmetic treatment as i want to see how it looks in the light grey trim instead of the clinical white of the hull.
The last job was a touch up of the stern where the sharp edge of the sugar scoop stern has been hitting the dock. The angle of the stern leaves the sharp edge of the hull to sugar scoop join slipping under the dock fenders and I feel it would be more practical to have the last 100 mm of the stern cut off vertical. Not only would it be easier to protect the stern we would have 100 mm less water line length in the rating equation. in the meantime the touch up was very minor and an interim measure might be a bit of vinyl wrap.
Today in warm spring conditions a small team of GFS safety auditors finished off another seven yachts ready for the start of the sailing on next Wednesday.

Waiting for the antifouling to harden before the relaunch

Waiting for the antifouling to harden before the relaunch

Ready for the relaunch

Ready for the relaunch

Another angle on the finished antifouling

Another angle on the finished antifouling

Passion X lifted for annual antifouling treatment

Passion X lifted for annual antifouling treatment

Passion X missed the last two races of the season at RANSA due to crew missing in action in the Laser Masters in Ireland and the last race on the day we returned was abandoned due to expected strong wind. We are very happy with our result and much appreciate being back in Division 1 where we belong. We finished with a handicap of around 1.03 compared to Hanni, Joli and Amanti who finished with handicaps around 1.05. On one occasion we did finish with a fastest time from Allegro and had one second fastest behind Joli but in general we were around 5th or 6th fastest in the fleet. We do not have any more in the tank so to speak as the hull had been pretty clean all season and on lifting for the annual antifouling this week was in excellent condition and a great credit to the team at Harbour Dive Services who have kept the antiouling going for 18 months.
Congratulations to the Greenwich Flying Squadron team that had a great performance at RANSA. In Div 2, Hast la Vista lived up to its name and came second overall, missing by just one point. In Div 1 Agrovation was successful from Izzi with Joli one back in 4th place. I though the handicapper was being a bit tough on Joli during the season but then she did get a 2nd place in the last raced event of the year and shows how much she likes the windward works.

As always the racing at RANSA was well organized even if in now takes two men to do the work of one lady. (Sorry guys but a compliment to Janet) We were a bit disappointed that two of the races were abandoned due to strong winds. On these two occasions we sailed the course alone without any issues with the maximum gust just a short 32 knot burst but in general too little wind for a double reef and No 3 jib. In the last race the Middle harbour fleet sailed that day and most struggled with full mainsails. We did hit 11.4 knots in one strong gust but were searching for more wind given the rig we had up. By contrast last year when we were in Division 1s we were sent out to Manly in stronger conditions on three occasions and used our No 4 jib  to advantage. Sadly the almost new No 4 has not seen sunlight this winter and won’t unless the race officer gets a little braver.

With daylight saving around the corner we are preparing for the Greenwich Flying Squadron twilight series. Since last season we have a few very small changes including a slightly larger No 1 genoa. The main reason for the increased size was to get the foot to clear the shrouds as the genoa off Passion is a little short on the foot and when sheeted hard rubs against the shrouds. The extra 4 m2 will come in handy on the lighter nights. We also have a longer whisker pole for the large genoa so that might be useful downwind. Our Achilles’ heel  is our windward working in stronger breezes and we have yet to get the best out of Passion X in this department. She is quite tender and after 18 months of sailing we still have not found the right formula for getting her up to the velocity prediction program speeds run by the ORCi team. My current thinking is that we need the mainsail to be more automatic in the gusts with the leech of the sail freeing up more in the head. A lot of gust induced twist should reduce the heeling and keep the speed up. In the very light airs we have noticed how straight is the leech and have tried letting the boom sit on the solid vang with some success.

Touching up the Interprotect on the sharp edge of the delta bulb

Touching up the Interprotect on the sharp edge of the delta bulb

 

 

Looking up the wind readings on Sydney Harbour from the Wednesday RANSA race left me with the feeling it was a good one to miss.
While the fleet was battling light conditions I was journeying to Ireland for the World Laser Masters regatta and regretting that we would be missing two important races at the end of the RANSA regatta.
Allegro and Joli did not make up much ground on Passion X on the leader board but for all of us the horses have bolted and our previous positions near the top have been taken by Agrovation and Izzi.
Hanni did well on the day and deserved a better result but the handicapper has her pretty well nobbled to continue the horse metaphor. The handicapper has still not relented on Joli’s handicap and it appears that spending any time on the podium results in a persistant bias to the upside.
At this stage of the season the only honour we can rescue will be a high handicap representing our standing in the fleet as a fast boat.
We will return for the last race hoping that our fellow GFS members, Agrovation and Izzi, stay at the top.

That is the best excuse I can muster for our twelfth place on handicap today on a day when the breeze direction was favorable. I had considered going up one genoa size for the lighter conditions today but when the breeze freshened pre start the crew agreed the old faithful off Passion would be adequate for the day. We made a very good start on the line with speed but were squeeze out by Hitchhike coming up from Leeward and Allegro reaching down across our bow. Now we are getting to the pointy end of the season and a bit of dirty air is to be expected but I felt uncomfortable in such close quarters and dropped behind Allegro as soon as I could to take a higher course . To my surprise Joli was already in front of the fleet and close enough for Passion X to be in her wind shadow. With Allegro and Hitchhike below there was not a lot of room to run away for clear air. We made small gains and had almost broken through for clear air when Amante and Allegro now behind, came up with fresh breeze and forced Joli to go higher. We held our line to the mark and were rewarded with a clear ahead position behind Hitchhike at the top mark. Hitchhike did the safe thing and put in a short dig to the shore so that she was not tacking back into the starboard tack fleet and we did the same to a lesser extent so that they were just ahead and to windward on the way back. With the 40 m2 genoa and flattened main we held our position quite well to Steele Point and were pleased with our windward speed and height. Once past the point Joli was the first to tack away into Rose Bay and was rewarded with a big lift and a huge gain on Hitchhike and Passion X. We were the most leeward and ahead yacht and soon had the fleet lifting well above us. Allegro powered ahead in the strong breeze until forced away by The Red Hand charging through the fleet. We had almost reached the island when the lift reached us and that meant tacking away from the lift. Without The Red Hand in the way we might have been able to lift further along the shore of the island but we had the hand we were dealt and carried the knock all the way into Rose Bay only to tack for the mark and be knocked again. There is no doubt that the out of phase sailing cost us a couple of minutes as we went from a better than usual position at Steele Point to a pretty average one in Rose Bay. The tracks from last week were still on the plotter and the difference in similar wind strength and direction is very telling. In this phase Hanni and Amante drew well away and Amante went on to take line honours while we were two minutes adrift. Joli who had been first to tack for the new lifting breeze deserved a better result but the Hanni and Amanti group got the lifts coming and going and I would like to see their tracks for the day. It was a bit of a procession around the island and back to the finish and while we made up some ground on the reach the breeze was now fading and our chance of big gains on the reach limited. There were a lot of good points for the day. We did beat Hitchhike and Hanni and Meridian on handicap. Our positions at the back of the handicap fleet reflects both the punishment from the handicapper and that the following yachts had a better angle into Rose Bay.  Joli, Hithchike and Passion X who had been on the podium will suffer from today’s results  and Trim, Izzi and Agrovation who were not far behind will be celebrating their gains. The new chartplotter looks safe in the new enclosure, the cleat along the centre line of the cockpit floor was well received by the crew and the new numbers on the cabin side for the genoa car position look very professional. We has a safe day with plenty of close racing and plenty of action.

Boat speed was down from 10.6 knots last week.

Boat speed was down from 10.6 knots last week.

Maximum wind speed was 5 knots lower than last week.

Maximum wind speed was 5 knots lower than last week.

The genoa car numbers look the part.

The genoa car numbers look the part.

I have a list of small jobs to do on Passion X to complete some original task, to add crew requests and a small amount of routine maintenance.
The sticky back cable tie mounts on the bilge pump lines proved inadequate for the task so a small maintenance task was to replace these with some solid screw mounted ties and while the tiniest or jobs it is satisfying to have the pipe runs now very secure.
On the unfinished tasks list was installing the gland packing in the rudder stock housing. Now the gland is well above the water line and the high lube Vesconite bearing has minimal clearance so a negligible amount of sea water makes its way into the boat. Indeed there is still some dry sawdust on the floor but for the sake of good order I have installed the gland packing and secured the keeper with four stainless steel bolts nipped up just finger tight.
The crew has been very demanding of late and as if two spinnaker poles were not enough they wanted extra foot holds on the cockpit floor. I have been very pleased with my 850 mm wide cockpit but as Passion X heels a lot a central floor cleat for a foot hold seemed like a reasonable request. Today with Elaine’s help I installed the cleat and we will see if the effort was worthwhile.

A cleat for a foot hold on the cockpit floor.

A cleat for a foot hold on the cockpit floor.

After a long wait the replacement chartplotter is installed and protective cage completed. The cage had solid stainless steel rod across the face to protect the screen from the crew.

A protective cage for the chartplotter. It is removable so that the sun cover can be replaced after each outing.

A protective cage for the chartplotter. It is removable so that the sun cover can be replaced after each outing.

I am more than half way through changing the dome nuts on the chainplates for nylock nuts. At launch last March the rigger said he would prefer nylock nuts as there is a chance that the dome nuts will pull up in the bolt instead of the flange. Now nothing has moved in the 18 months since launch but for the sake of peace of mind I am changing out the nuts and concede that some of the dome nuts were pulling up on the bolt instead of the chainplate.
The list is longer as I have still to install a small amount of furniture trim and do the final painting of the galley tops and chart table. Perhaps these will get done before Christmas.

Our handicap has been getting tougher of late and today in perfect conditions for Passion X we were relegated back to 11th place and have fallen off the podium in the overall point score. On the course we enjoyed the conditions immensely with a fresh reach to the heads and a single board back to Steele Point. For the reach down we saw 23 knots wind speed at one stage and hit 10.9 knots of boat speed. Only the reaching demon Fidelis and the well sailed Hitchhike beat us to the heads.
I was worried about tacking back into the fleet as the fleet was broad reaching on starboard to the mark and we would be tacking back into them on port so I did a short dig into the shore which was our undoing. Hanni just behind hard tacked on the mark and then worked up under us driving us further and higher into the shore line. As the boat speeds were very similar we could not pull away under her stern and ended up high and in the rubbish breeze coming over the hill. Amante coming up from behind was able to keep wide and steady and pull through to leeward of both of us.
We had the carbon genoa off the old Passion up for the day and with the breeze gusting up to 20 frequently we had the mainsail flogging in the slipstream off the genoa. This was quite comfortable and we were making up some ground on Hitchhike which was pleasing On the only real work of the day Hanni caught Hitchhike and gave her the same treatment she had given Passion X earlier on the leg and driving her above the layline to the Rose Bay mark. Meanwhile Allegro had come charging up on the work and had a clear overlap on Passion X at the Rose Bay mark. Despite the next two legs being free ones we could not overtake Allegro and sat in her dirty air for quite a while. Once around the island we went high for clearance and were able to pull over the top of Allegro to beat her across the line. On handicap however Allegro did Passion X by just 2 seconds. Close behind Allegro was Trim looking very threatening and it was no surprise that Trim took second on handicap from Izzi with Fidelis third. Izzi is a very good Northshore 38 and likes the reaching conditions too. Now I had not been paying attention and did not realize that the handicap on Fidelis had shrunk so much but with first and third in the last two races the handicapper will be having a hard look at that.
Hanni in seventh place was just 32 seconds clear of Passion in 11th place so it is all good racing and places are there for the taking.
Now we are off the podium by 2 seconds. Yes that is the time Allegro beat us by today and had we not dropped that one place we would still be third. Joli is half a point ahead and will be hoping for a return to the long windward beats to get back to the front of the fleet.

10.9 knots boat speed

10.9 knots boat speed

23.2 knots true wind speed at the peak.

23.2 knots true wind speed at the peak.

A course that suited Passion X

A course that suited Passion X

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