Passion

Both before and after our Wednesday Twilight race there was plenty of activity. A large three masted schooner was parked across our start line. From the for sale web site “Southern Cloud is a majestic 130’ triple masted motor sailing yacht specifically designed and constructed for long range cruising. She is now available for sale. She is the ideal vessel with the classic appeal, for intimate getaways, long weekends with close friends, family vacations, corporate entertaining or product launches. She is the perfect yacht to take advantage of the enormous deck space and 360 degree views.”

Fortunately we were able to get her to move away for an hour so that the 70 yachts that had to tack out of the Lane Cove River could do so with a degree of safety. A big thank you to John Wood who chased them up on Tuesday and arranged the move just 30 minutes prior to our start.

The race was conducted in an unusual wind pattern with the direction different on the west end of the harbour.  We took punt of the No 1.5 genoa which is the Dimension Polyant Carbon from off Passion that we have used as a No 1 for the last year. In the early gusty conditions we were over on our ear to 40 degrees and struggling a little against the heavier Jackpot and the two Ker 11.3 twins and the nice rig on the new J 112e, Meridian. As the breeze eased we gained some ground but I could also see Lisdillon making up ground determined to continue her winning streak.

In the early windy conditions the aircraft carrier Flashback had an unfortunate mishap when the fractional rig suddenly reverted to a masthead rig. Very fortunately it was a clean break above the shrouds so the mast remained upright. It is a fairly small section and had given 30 years of service so I think around a $1000 per year of sailing is not a bad figure. Perhaps more of a worry will be getting a suitable replacement section and matching it to the very light hull weight.

Our moment of  hope came as we rounded Cockatoo Island for the tight reach to Humbug where the fleet that went in close appeared to be becalmed. We skirted the fleet only to experience the same light conditions further away from the lee of the island and the gap widened out as the leading boats were first to the new breeze.

Captain Beck won the night in the sibling rivalry competition although to be fair the two Ker 11.3′s are not identical twins and Much Ado V should be giving a couple of minutes to Dump Truck on ORCi. That is something they can argue about over the BBQ.

We were four minutes behind Much Ado V. a couple of minutes behind Dump Truck and Jackpot and we split the J112e fleet being a minute behind the professional crew on Meridian and a couple of minutes in front of Joli. I think this one does not count in the head to head competition Stephen.

Sweet Chariot cleaned up in the handicap stakes and we were surprised to beat Lisdillon into second place by a mere 19 seconds.

Sympathy goes out to Soundtrack who must have hit the doldrums somewhere on the course and was a late but valiant finisher. It was the sort of night when they have done well and no doubt they will be breathing down our necks next week.

The finish was affected by the return of Southern Cloud to our finish line and the fleet could not see the finish mark behind the bow of the 130 ft craft.

An hour later a 40 knot southerly swung up and Southern Cloud dragged her anchor. While holding down plates of food on the deck we watched as she drifted towards the ferry dock and were greatly relieved when the crew started the engines and got her back under control. The same breeze made it difficult for the raft up to disembark from the pontoon and thanks to all those who helped and were patient while the yachts peeled off.

Southern Cloud position up to an hour before the race

Southern Cloud position up to an hour before the race

Southern Cloud in the calm before the 40 knot southerly hit

Southern Cloud in the calm before the 40 knot southerly hit

 

Having just returned from four days of Champagne sailing at the Laser National Masters it would be remiss of me not to reflect on the great sailing conditions. Against the forecasts we had four days of seven to fifteen knots of oscillating breezes during which time we fitted in ten races. Our fleet of around 35 over 65 years of age sailors had a longish start line which was set for the larger standard rig and radial fleets that started ahead of us so it was not too crowded. Most of the starts I was at the pin end with several of my regular club friend and apart from Rob and John and Frank they were not too aggressive. Wait! I think that was all of them. Anyway Rob regularly tacked off early to cover the fleet which gave Frank and John clear air to continue on the the port tack layline. I went when there was clear air and below the layline and had a couple of very good windward works taking advantage of a persistent shift or the occasional knock back. I managed a sixth or seventh placing but it is too long a story to explain the intricacies of the scoring review system or to ponder if ever final results will be posted. Suffice to say that on the drive back towards Sydney on the following day the tune that came into my head was Louis Armstrong singing “O what a wonderful world.”   A nice photo from Beau Outteridge was posted on his web site. https://www.facebook.com/auslasernationals/photos/a.1924307367898635.1073741832.1601565936839448/1924307994565239/?type=3

The forecast for the Wednesday night twilight race at Greenwich Flying Squadron was for thirteen knots at which wind speed we would have set the No 1 genoa. The on water wind was somewhat stronger and we settled for the same No 3 jib we have used for the past three weeks but this time opted to keep the full main for the whole race. Flashback did well through Humbug and they had a large genoa poled out to get a jump on the fleet. The rest of the fleet was tightly bunched on the reach to Cockatoo and for the run around the Island.
We had 69 yachts on the water for the evening and it seemed like all of them were beating up the Hunters Hill shore towards Goat Island so the first work was a nervous one as we ducked and weaved and tacked to stay out of the way of right of way yachts. At one stage we had to tack away from a stalled port tack yacht and plead for water from an approaching starboard tacker who kindly responded.
At Goat Island we were hot on the heels of Joli and Lisdillon but hit a light header approaching the turning mark which had us two tacking at a very slow pace.
The run back around Cockatoo was straight forward until we reached the western end of Cockatoo and had to negotiate the wind shadow of a large cruising yacht which we could not abuse because they had friends on board. Instead we exchanged pleasantries and waited to negotiate the wind shadow.
We enjoyed the next work to Goat Island without the traffic of the first leg and at times seemed to hit our windward target speeds of 7 knots in 18 knots of breeze. At times we were heeled 30 degrees and tracking quite well but could not make up any of the gap to Lisdillon and Joli.
Dump Truck who had a late start was behind but not making up a lot of ground so we were using them as a guage of performance. Again we had to two tack around the end of Goat Island and lost a lot of ground in the process. A couple of good squirts on the way back to Humbug raised our spirits momentarily but like the yacht in front we took a long time to get past the wind shadow of the hill.
We finished perfectly in the middle of the fleet with a fourth on handicap but a long way back from third. If the handicap system does not catch up with Lisdillon after two wins it will after three. They have sailed very well these last few weeks and deserve the results. Congratulations to Jackpot which is doing very well with the new owners on board and took fastest time and second place from Flashback second fastest and third on handicap with Much Ado V across the line in third fastest.

It was a windy forecast for Wednesday afternoon that frightened off all but six of the black fleet. The cooler weather and chance of rain did not set the scene for a comfortable post race BBQ so it was to be expected that numbers would be down. The brave six that did turn up had a good race with the bravest being Adrian with his new J121E who started with full main and jib and was rewarded with a first up fastest time. Flashback and Lisdillon pulled out their reefs next and finished in that order. We left our reef in for the second work to Goat Island and while there were some strong gusts there was also a lot of light air holes. Soundtrack and Fireball started to catch us on this work and Lisdillon and Flashback built up handy leads behind Jodi. A couple of big shifts around the eastern side of Goat Island enabled us to break away from Soundtrack and Fireball and after clearing Goat we pulled out the reef for the run home. We still had the small No3 jib up so we made little impression on the leaders. As the race finished the strong wind we had set sails for arrived but it was too late us.

In an attempt to improve our windward performance in a breeze I changed the bridle system on the mainsheet for two blocks either side of the companionway. It worked fine for allowing the boom to hang to leeward in the gusts but left a lot of spare mainsheet flogging around across the deck. It is a pretty standard arrangement for many of the Hanse yachts but was not to my crew’s liking. Also the spare sheet flicked a winch handle over board and that is expensive. Today I went back to the drawing board researching mainsheet systems and decided to revert to the bridle system. I unashamedly stole the idea from the very successful Jeanneau 439 and since then Jeanneau have used it on the new 440 and 490. I have a lot of respect for the Jeanneau design team and seeing the idea on the latest 490 convinced me to give it another chance. To help with the dumping of the mainsheet in gusts I added another 2:1 purchase to the vang system and then took Passion X for a solo sail to test it. With just the single reefed main up I had couple of pleasant works up to the Balmain shore and back inspecting the flow of the leech tell tales. I had added an upper and lower ribbon yesterday and they had streamed well with the Hanse style mainsheet system so I was interested to see how they went with the beefed up vang. To be honest I think they did not stream quite as well but then I did not have the headsail up so the main was not sailing in the header from the jib.

It was instructive to see how high the boat would point with the boom dropped to leeward like we sail the cat rigged Laser and it is a reminder why we do not have the boom in the Laser on the centreline as we do with a yacht with a large jib or genoa.

What I did lean from my solo sail is how hard it is to dump sheet when the mainsheet is wrapped around the winch. But who is strong enough to hold it by hand and play it in and out. Perhaps we do need a double ended main with a hand held 16:1 ratio for trimming!

Looking at the promo photos from the various manufacturers web sites I did notice a lot of sideways bend in the centre sheeted booms. Now we had to go for a larger section on Passion X when we bent the first one and I have sleeved the larger section around the spread out blocks so I will have to take a few photos under load for comparison.

The up and down breeze at Fort Denison was typical of our breeze on Wednesday night

The up and down breeze at Fort Denison was typical of our breeze on Wednesday night

For a second week we under canvassed for the runs and reaches without any noticeable improvement on the windward legs. I did replace the top two battens in the No3 jib with softer ones that did improve the sail shape in the lighter conditions and two slightly softer battens in the main seemed to be a small improvement but only at the margins. We made a good start but from the outset were run over by the fleet carrying full size sails. Sweet Chariot was holding us comfortably and on looking at the numbers it is not surprising. Their full size rig is a few m2 smaller than our rig with the No 3 jib but their wetted surface area is also less. The advantage of our longer waterline length did not kick in until well into the second lap when the breeze increased giving us a small jump on Sweet Chariot which we held to home. We sheeted the jib to the gunwhale for the reach home from Goat Island and noticed an improvement. As we approached Humbug we thought for a moment we might catch Fireball but they had a blinder of a run through Humbug and another podium finish. For the Summer series it seemed that Flashback, Fireball and Sweet Chariot could do no wrong and only a reappearance of Lisdillon stopped a clean sweep. If we are to be competitive on all legs of the course we need to find a way to carry the No 1 genoa upwind. Transom cam was in action again but it was not as well aimed as last week and it did not capture much in the way of the competitors. A photo from Jeff Lewis posted on the Greenwich Flying Squadron facebook page from the previous week shows the rig we carried and why we did not finish in the money.

 

Au under canvassed Passion X  finished mid fleet for the last two weeks.

Au under canvassed Passion X finished mid fleet for the last two weeks.

Transom cam capturing the Harbour bridge  as well as the leech tell tales

Transom cam capturing the Harbour bridge as well as the leech tell tales

Flashback to the right

Flashback to the right

Flashback to the left

Flashback to the left

Mainsail shape best seen with the sun behind the sail

Mainsail shape best seen with the sun behind the sail

The GoPro on the pushpit rail captured all the action from Wednesday’s twilight race. Using Chrome cast the action has been displayed on the living room TV providing hours of riveting viewing. Maybe not hours but some very useful shots of the mainsail leech tell tales and the shape of the mainsail.
I angled the camera up the leech to capture the ribbons streaming or not and was pleased to see how effective it was in capturing the action out on the course. As Passion X heels the camera captures the action up the course and some of the outstanding scenery around the harbour.

After days of windy weather we were cautious in the jib selection department and went for the non overlapping No 3 jib for the twilight race. You can imagine how we felt when we lined up for the start and could see the earlier starting fleets becalmed in Humbug. We rationalised that it would be heavier out on the course and made a very good start on the club end of the line on starboard but were forced to turn away early as two of the leeward yachts tacked onto port in our path. Rule 14 says don’t hit them no matter how much they deserved to be hit and we did just manage to tack and get across the bow of Jackpot who started further back along the line.
It was not good being first of the black fleet into Humbug as the earlier fleet was becalmed along the Onion Point shore and there was no room to go below them. Indeed they tacked onto starboard just as we arrived forcing us to tack away from the favoured shore. Jackpot arriving later was able to squeeze down the shore and escape way out in front of the rest of the black fleet. Dump Truck went as low and as fast as possible into clear air but was still a long way behind Jackpot.
Flashback and Passion X were having a good time trading tacks up the course to Goat Island and our pleasure was only interrupted by a sneaky Fireball who found a lift in closer to Goat Island and sailed on past.
Every now and then Dump Truck would park in a windless zone giving us false hopes of catching them but it was not to be.
Much Ado V kept catching from behind giving us anxious moments but we held on in the dying breeze.
We did work the small jib and main as best we could in the light conditions. By easing the back stay in the lulls we put draft into the headsail and powered up the main. In the gusts we wound the backstay back on to depower the main. With the fluky conditions this was a frequent activity.

For the evening we set 12 m2 less area than the J122 and 20 m2 less than the First 40.7. While both yachts are heavier their wetted surface area is similar so it is not surprising that both did well on handicap.

The surprise was our 3rd place on handicap as we did relatively better against everyone except the J 122 and the First 40.7 and quite a few were left out on the course in the dying breeze.

Hopefully next time the breeze is this strength we will set an extra 10 m2 of sail area that is fuller and more suited to the light breeze.

Small jib with very stiff battens did not look good in the dying breeze

Small jib with very stiff battens did not look good in the dying breeze

Room to tack diagram very similar to the position discussed.

Room to tack diagram very similar to the position discussed.

On Thursday I was still contemplating  a yacht’s response to a call for room to tack. Rule 19 gives only two options for a call for room to tack. The first is for the hailed yacht to tack and then the hailing yacht must promptly tack too. The hailing yacht must tack even if she subsequently gets a lift that would carry her above the obstruction. If she does not tack she would be subject to a protest and would lose. The other option is for the hailed yacht to call “You tack” if she is prepared to give the hailing yacht room to tack and avoid her in a seaman like manner. A yacht that is not given safe room to tack and avoid a collision would win a protest as the hailed yacht has assumed responsibility for giving room. The particular circumstances which have left me perplexed was a response to our call for room to tack to being met with a response to “go behind.” Now “Go behind” is not a valid response although in a protest it might be accepted that it was shorthand for “You tack and please try to go behind if you can.” I did not anticipate that we would be able to complete the tack and go behind in a seaman like manner but was left with no choice but to attempt the manoeuvre. We did clear the stern of the hailed yacht but not in a seaman like manner. The hailed yacht might argue well you cleared our stern so our call was good, ignoring all the alternate possibilities if we had not cleared. The sharp tack and bear away might not have been possible if the breeze had been a couple of knots stronger.  In most cases the windward right of way yacht can tack and be in either a clear ahead position or at worst in a leeward position As for the rest of the race we did better as the breeze faded and those caught out on the course in fading breeze had a particularly slow trip home. We have been there before and I felt empathy for Soundtrack and Ausreo. Soundtrack in particular had been with us at Goat Island and must have found a lot of holes on the way back. At the front of the fleet Captain Beck scooted away early and managed to stay in front of the aircraft carrier, Flashback, who has sailed in a very flash manner this past two weeks. The light air conditions on Thursday was an opportunity to take the mainsail of Passion X and have the reef points on the luff moved aft to match the position of the reef  lines further back on the boom than is usual. We have three sets of single line reefs that can be managed from the cockpit and with the third reef in the sail meets Category 4 requirement. It is a 50 m2 sail made from heavy Hydranet radial and that makes it a handful for one person. I was fortunate to have the help of a fellow club member for the take off but was not so lucky for the refit. I did use the 2:1 main halyard to winch the sail up onto the boom but there was still a bit of man handling needed to fit all the slugs in the track and re attach all the lines. I stopped a couple of times for a rest and still managed to have it all packed away by 4:00 pm. Included in my refitting exercise was testing the bottom two reef positions which meant hauling the mail to almost full hoist. It was a very civilised process swinging on the mooring and enjoying a cool beer from the fridge which by luck I had left on for the day.

No 1 reef point now in the correct position

No 1 reef point now in the correct position

No 2 reef point also moved aft

No 2 reef point also moved aft

Another job ticked off the list was replacing the nozzle head on the transom shower. At $14.95 this will be one of the least expensive luxuries on board. During the day I heard from the crew on Sirocco who had the embarrassment to be knocked overboard by the boom during an unplanned gybe. They are all well and thankful for the assistance from the crew of GWhizz who plucked them from the water and for the crew of Dreamer who stood by in case extra aid was needed. It is a timely reminder to practice crew retrieval.

Screen shot from Volvo Ocean race footage showing a fishing boat off the coast of the Solomon Islands

Screen shot from Volvo Ocean race footage showing a fishing boat off the coast of the Solomon Islands

AkzoNobel off the coast of the Solomon Islands taken from drone footage

AkzoNobel off the coast of the Solomon Islands taken from drone footage

Mapfre in port Cape Town helicopter photo

Mapfre in port Cape Town helicopter photo

The video footage from the Volvo Ocean race has been amazing. The images taken from the helicopter at the start of the legs has been groundbreaking in showing how awesome these yachts are and how fast they can sail.
I believe each yacht is carrying a drone and the footage from the on board drones is a first for ocean racing. The cruising blogs have been using the drones for a few years now and showing scenes from remote locations and now the Volvo Ocean racers are showing some footage far out to sea.
I have taken a screen shot from the latest drone footage not just for the view of the yacht but to show the by catch of the footage, a deep sea fishing boat off the east coast of the Solomon Islands.

The first race of the New Year was our chance to see if the extra rake in the mast had made any difference. It started in a good fresh breeze and in those conditions the No 3 jib and full main were doing a good job of keeping in front of Flashback and Dump Truck. Stephen was in his element in the new Meridian and with a crack skipper on board he lead the fleet all the way around the course. Meridian’s race was outstanding considering her rating and if that form is continued the J 112 yachts will be winning a lot of ORCi and IRC races.
As the breeze died we found ourselves very much under powered. Our No 3 is a heavy air flat sail and does not develop the power of a light air non overlapping jib so we suffer from more than the 10 m2 of sail reduction.
I am tempted to try the No 1 in heavier conditions with the reefed main even thought this is not the optimum sailing configuration. In this mode we can take out the reef if the breeze dies but only if we have the leeward backstay right off and behind the head before we start.
We did score third place on handicap for the night so perhaps we are a bit hard on ourselves. We knew what gear we had up and there were no grumbles from the crew as we enjoyed a very pleasant evening.
Christian Beck fresh from the Hobart race in Infotrack had a slow start on Dump Truck but once in the groove made a good recovery and sailed quickly through the fleet. For the record Dump Truck had 10 m2 more sail area up and weighs 500kg less so I have to be circumspect about our performance as the breeze failed us.

Thursday was a great day for a light air trial of our new Code 0 which has been sitting in the hull for weeks waiting for the bowsprit rigging to be finished and for a suitable day. In around 7 knots we had a very pleasant reach out to the heads and back down the harbour. The 60 m2 sail area will serve us well in light air tight reaching and might be an interesting sail for short leg work in the west harbour.

Sunday was the hottest day since we launched Passion X and the heat on the perspex sliding hatch was so much that it expanded until it would not slide. A quick remove, trim and replace was effected in 35 degree heat but the job is done and will suffice until the next temperature record in say 80 years time.

Tight reaching to the heads with the Code 0

Tight reaching to the heads with the Code 0

A tricky attempt at flying the code 0 to windward.

A tricky attempt at flying the code 0 to windward.

No not the cricket but a photo of Passion X on the cover of the latest Australian Amateur Boat Building magazine. The designer Dudley Dix has a good article on his radius chine method of construction and used a few photos of Passion X and his original Black Cat to illustrate the article.

Australian Amateur Boat Building magazine cover shot of Passion X

Australian Amateur Boat Building magazine cover shot of Passion X

It has been quiet on the sailing front with the last race of 2017 abandoned due to a storm cell and accompanying lightning at the time skippers were attempting to get yacht off their moorings. The cell did pass but too late for the racing which was already appropriately abandoned.

For Christmas we headed north to Ballina for family celebrations and a good rest. After Ballina I flew to Perth for some time with my family there and am now back ready for sailing.

Today Joe Walsh had a look at the rig and we raked it back a few centimetres to try to gets some weather helm. The forecast for tomorrow is 20 knots so we should soon know if we have enough rake. The bend in the mast now looks more even so we will see how the draft looks.

The book the “Art and Science of Sailing” given to me by a crew member has provided much food for thought. It has the best description of the forces on the sail that I have read and a good scientific basis for how to trim the sails. Now if I could only work out how to invert the top of the mainsail to give windward forces on the head to counteract the heeling forces I would be happy.

In other Christmas reading I note the new Jeanneau 490 has a mainsheet bridle just like the one we have on Passion x and this is a yacht that weighs twice as much so it seems the idea of the bridle from the 349 is migrating to larger models.

 

 

 

It has been a few busy days since the last race at Greenwich. On Thursday I was preoccupied connecting the NBN HCF connection and on Friday preparing Passion X for a quick exit to Pittwater on Saturday. The weather was perfect for a very tight beat up and a broad reach home. The beat was perhaps just 2 degrees tighter than I would have liked and the speed difference was noticeable but I was too lazy to bear away and have to tack back out to sea.

Elaine enjoying the cruising on Passion x

Elaine enjoying the cruising on Passion x

A very quiet Refuge Bay on the weekend before Christmas

A very quiet Refuge Bay on the weekend before Christmas

At Refuge Bay the boom tent awnings provided excellent protection from the sun and Passion X was more comfortable than Passion by a long way. On the run home we did miss the Bimini but made up for it with long pants, long sleeved shirt, wide brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen.
I was disappointed with last weeks race at Greenwich. It was almost a retrial of a race earlier in the season where I said I would like a resail with the No 4 jib instead of the No 3. Well it was better on the work to Goat Island and on the run back to Cockatoo and we were still in contact at the West end of Cockatoo island until we became becalmed in too close to the lee of the island. The small jib and reefed main need plenty of wind to keep the boat moving and we had none of that.
The second windward work was also very gusty but with a lot of holes and in the holes we suffered probably more than most and the gains in the gusts were not material. The final disappointment was to see Soundtrack pull out the reef in the main and with a much larger genoa just power away from us on the work home from Cockatoo Island.
Well done to the crew on Flashback who set a very conservative rig for the first windward work and held on for a good win. We expect Much Ado 5 to do well and they did come second with a heavy air loving Lisdillon beating us by 4 minutes over the line and 7 minutes on handicap.

Antifouling touch up on Passion X

Antifouling touch up on Passion X

While the top guns from Dump Truck and Much Ado V were away playing with Infotrac the rest of the GFS Black fleet enjoyed the YOTS night at the club. A group of enthusiastic youths from Youth Off The Street descended on the club and we were fortunate to have three strong young men join Passion X for their first sailing experience.
We were delighted to give them a close race with Jackpot and Flashback and even more delighted to score a fastest times win.
Courtesy of our photographic ambassadors we have some more photos from the evening.
The race was conducted in the aftermath of a rain and lightning front that had me a bit concerned. The BOM rain radar suggested it would all clear up in time and so it did with the wind returning right on cue.
With the change in wind direction the only was to cross the line was on starboard tack but for some reason a couple of port tackers forgot what was their left hand and what was the right hand and even refused a call. To make matters worse they tacked onto starboard on front and forced us up above our line. No wonder we were not first into Humbug and had to chase Jackpot down the course in just a couple of knots of breeze.
It was pleasant with the three young guns on the bow lifting the stern of Passion X right out of the water and reducing the wetted surface. We had just snuck past Jackpot and were still in front of the menacing Flashback when fresh wind sprung up turning the run into a tight work to Goat Island. Being in front helped as we had first use of the breeze and held the lead around Goat and back past Snails Bay. In Snails Bay the YOTS trio provided live ballast so we could take advantage of the last gusts to come up the river.
Jackpot and Flashback were giving each other a bit of treatment behind and that left us to concentrate on using what fluky wind there was.
Through Humbug our first two tacks were right out of phase and the chartplotter tracks show how easy it was for Flashback to catch and lead us out of Humbug. Our salvation was a starboard tacking red fleet yacht that put Flashback about leaving us free to sail closer to the lay line to the finish. We took advantage of that piece of luck from to windward and Jackpot took advantage from leeward to establish the finishing order.
Nothing it seems can stop Sweet Chariot winning on handicap with a naughty 35 footer in second place while we managed the third spot for the night.

Today we had lift at Woolwich Dock to touch up the antifouling on Passion X and it was a stunning Sydney day for the task.

Passion X enjoying first us e of the new breeze

Passion X enjoying first us e of the new breeze

Passion X leading into Humbug with the YOTS trio on the bow

Passion X leading into Humbug with the YOTS trio on the bow

Passion X takes the gun

Passion X takes the gun

 

Light duties are driving me nuts since I would rather be out on the water testing sail settings on Passion X than sitting at home writing blogs. I am also mortified that my gentle observation on my face book page that we need to do better to sail to our difficult ORCi and ICR ratings was cheekily construed by a “friend” as wielding the cat o nine tails whip. The crew has already rejected T shirts bearing the observation “The beatings shall continue until morale improves” so perhaps I am just digging a deeper hole by raising the topic. Despite my disbelief at the level of our ratings in both forms of the game (ORCi and IRC) I do believe we are not sailing the yacht to its potential. The crew have observed some very good performance and we would like to emulate them more often. Some recent very good photos of Passion X on a twilight evening at Greenwich Flying Squadron gives a basis for comparison with the really top gun boats in the 40 ft size range. Tongue in cheek, but perhaps more seriously than that, I have found a few photos for comparison. Apart from the rather obvious large numbers of crew leaning hard from the rail of Invictus there are some sail setting observations worth considering. These Fast 40+ yachts have wider spreaders and despite that their sails when beating in heavy air are well wide of the spreaders and their booms are dropped to leeward. This is something we need to experiment with and find how to have such a free leech with out it flogging in the wind or hooking with a tight leech line.

Passion X current windward sail settings. This was in a light patch of an other wise average 13 knot evening.

Passion X current windward sail settings. This was in a light patch of an other wise average 13 knot evening.

Invictus at a similar angle to Passion X in the first photo with some minor changes to crew positions

Invictus at a similar angle to Passion X in the first photo with some minor changes to crew positions

Girls on Film on starboard crossing Invictus on a hard windward beat.  Note the jib twist and boom down.

Girls on Film on starboard crossing Invictus on a hard windward beat. Note the jib twist and boom down.

I am on light duties for a couple of weeks so the light weather on Wednesday night was just what the doctor ordered. For most of the night I occupied the back corner with Elaine and we shared the back stay duty. From the stern I could get a very good view of the mainsail and played the back stay on and off according to the strength of the breeze. After eight months of sailing Passion X I was still surprised at how responsive the mainsail is to back stay tension and Ron was able to leave the mainsheet in the one position for much of the windward works. In the light conditions we drifted out of Humbug with the fleet closely packed. Dump Truck had her nose in front at the exit and was first to the breeze. Soundtrack had edged ahead to leeward and also took off early so there was a good crowd going down the side of Cockatoo Island. From recall we had Flashback to Leeward on starboard and Soundtrack in front when a competitor pushed through inside alongside the continuous obstruction and then wanted room to not hit Soundtrack. We could have argued all night but rule 14 says avoid a collision and I was in no mood for a protest hearing so I told the crew to let it go. My reading of all the discussion on continuous obstructions is that the yacht passing inside must have a clear path and that includes all other yachts ahead which are obstructions. If the passing yacht is naturally faster and has a following wind that blankets the clear ahead yacht then there is no way they should go inside. If they want to be there they have to win the race to the corner of Cockatoo Island. Irukandji was having a good night and threatening to go inside around the end of the island so we pinched up into the dirty air of Soundtrack and which was not the fastest place to be. Soundtrack and Jackpot ahead drew away while we had an absorbing tussle with Irukandji and Flashback all the way to the finish line. Flashback made a huge gain alongside the Greenwich shore while we lost out on the Balmain shore but with all the wins and losses we came together at the navigation mark off Goat Island with Flashback streaming in on starboard. It did not help our case that Irukandji had just tacked onto port above and overlapped so that we had no where to go to other than take Flashback’s stern below the navigation mark. Perhaps it was the outgoing tide or the lift off the sails of Flashback but just as we tried to tack we lifted to the mark and scraped around it with inches to spare. Once we regained our composure it was time to chase Flashback down and try to stay in front of Irukandji. From my perch at the back of Passion X I aimed the Gopro camera at Irukandji and ordered her to stay behind. I aimed it at Flashback and noted her sweet sail settings and tried to emulate them on Passion X to a degree of success. We made a little break on Irukandji which lasted to home and soon ran down Soundtrack. The fleet ahead of Jackpot, Dump Truck and Much Ado V were becalmed in Humbug and we hoped for another miracle by hugging the Onion Point shore. Flashback ahead had to tack away from the shore while we lifted further along and were able to tack back ahead. (Thank you wind gods) From behind Irukandji also caught Flashback to add to the insult. Our fourth across the line was a little undeserved but as always we take what crumbs we can. Talking about crumbs the series wrapped up tonight and we were 4th fastest over the spring. There was a tight race between Jackpot, Flashback and Passion X and to be fair Dump Truck might have won had the paper work been in order but as I said we take what crumbs we can.

Stay there Irukandji

Stay there Irukandji

Nice trim on Flashback sails ahead

Nice trim on Flashback sails ahead

Fastest times result for the spring series

Fastest times result for the spring series