Passion

The scores from last weeks Greenwich Flying Squadron first race of the season were updated to include Dump Truck after a minor correction to the entry list. That gave Dump Truck a well deserved fastest times and third on handicap. Meanwhile Passion X was moved down a place to sixth so that puts the record straight.
As for false hopes 65 yachts lined up for the start of the twilight race and only ten percent finished inside the time limit of 2015 hours. The talk around the deck at the post race BBQ was that some were just metres from the finish line but a miss is a miss and we and Much Ado V were lucky that the front runners failed to finish. Both of us were lined up at the start on the Hunters Hill side mark when the breeze died and to make matters worse headed us. I could not say windward or leeward mark because in the absence of breeze sails were on different sides of the yachts and only the tide was giving the appearance of wind. We sat there for five minutes as the lucky ones carried a little whiff of breeze up to Onion Point and into the run out tide of Humbug. At the last minute Dump Truck make a late appearance which left Much Ado V sideways across the starting mark from which position it took a long time to extricate themselves. Somehow Dump Truck caught and passed us while we jostled with the Blue fleet around Onion Point . Eventually a bit of wind camo over the Greenwich and carried us out of Humbug where we could see the tail enders of the Black fleet rounding Cockatoo Island to port. Meanwhile back in Humbug Much Ado V was still becalmed and providing us some consolation from our own miserable position.
Around Cockatoo Island we could see the Blue fleet who were heading straight to Goat all becalmed and before long we had worked the Balmain shore to be crossing tacks with the Blue fleet yachts. Now we could see Jackpot, Joli and Utopia all reaching home down Snails Bay while we still had an island to round.
Rounding Goat was a triumph of hope against reality as the flags on the bridge gave hope of some approaching wind while the reality on the water was nothing.
At this stage we had no idea that the lead Black fleet yachts were becalmed in Humbug and discussion with the Blue fleet neighbours was about who was going the start the motors first. With just seven minutes to the cut off when not even a hurricane from behind would carry us home we retired. A day later and it is blowing 25 knots to 40 knots on the harbour which breeze would have resulted in an abandoned race.

The ominous calm before the start

The ominous calm before the start

Dump Truck and Passion X on opposite tacks going nowhere fast

Dump Truck and Passion X on opposite tacks going nowhere fast

 

The early start fleet already on the way home

The early start fleet already on the way home

Catching the Blue fleet

Catching the Blue fleet

With the advent of daylight saving in NSW a weekend ago the twilight season started at GFS last Wednesday in fresh and gusty conditions.
The forecast had been for 20 knots all evening but as so often happens the breeze died even before we reached the turn around Goat Island. For the conditions we set our No 3 jib and a reef in the main. The reefed main allows us to do the windward work with the fat head of the mainsail passing safetly inside the running backstays and while the wind was strong we travelled reasonably well.
At the start we held back and pinched up to the start line on starboard tack while the early arrivers has to run down the line. Only Jackpot managed to start above us and with their extra 2.3 tonnes of displacement soon worked up above us and eventually the whole fleet. Joli made a spectacular work on port into Onion point and cleared the moored yachts by the smallest of margins to be ahead of Jackpot and Passion X working up Humbug. Dump Truck, while not on the starting list, made a fast entrance onto the scene loaded up with mobile ballast in the form of extra crew. Soon they were to windward of Passion X and as soon as they tacked to go down harbour we followed in their dirty air. Joli had gone a bit wider and lost the lead but were now using that height to sail faster and go over the top of Passion X while we had the dual problems of dirty air from Dump Truck and being a bit too low on the line to clear the moored boats. While we did clear the line we were still low on the navigation mark off Balls Head and a fast catching Utopia was making good progress under a similarly reefed main.
At Balls Head the breeze started to die and only a late gust kept us in contact with the leaders around Goat Island.
On the run back we decided to take the reef out of the main but the leeward backstay was on tight and the only way to get it around the sail was to gybe the main, ease the backstay and gybe back again.
In these manouvers the fleet drew away a little and the breeze died some more. It was now quite calm and the trip around the back of Cockatoo Island was painfully slow.
Humbug was our last chance to make up ground but only the reefed Utopia seemed to suffer by going too wide of Onions Point so we managed to beat her by a minute on handicap for a fifth place in a small fleet of 7 finishers. For a windy start to the season the 5th place is quite a good result as it keeps our handicap intact for the races when the full fleet turns up.
Hopefully Dump Truck and Much Ado will get their entries in for next week and will have to spread the movable ballast over two yachts which might not be such a bad idea given the forecast of light winds for this coming Wednesday.
Across all the fleets there were another 6 yachts that had not finalised their entries so hopefully we will get a larger fleet of starters this week.

Looking at the results while in transit on Singapore I observe it must have been a tough day on the water. The wind readings on Seabreeze.com looked to be all over the place in strength and direction so well done to Crosshaven.

Looking at the progress scores we fared quite well with the best performances by yachts further down the ladder. We will keep watching from a distance for the next two weeks.

The RANSA results site is still having problems so here is a heads up on the result from yesterday.
My back of the envelope calculations were correct. We finished fifth behind Allegro on fourth. Two places back on seventh was Rainbow so on the progressive scores we gained an additional two point buffer going into the last three races where we will not compete and so have to include our current discards of 10, 11 and 11.
Rainbow will have to do well in the last three races to overtake us and if they do then more power to them.

With no results yet posted I don’t know whether to be happy of sad but with such a pleasant day in the harbour everyone was a winner. The wind was better than forecast and it hung around enough for a shortened race. Everyone had a chance to do well so the results are eagerly awaited.
We started at the heavily favoured boat end but then so did the rest of the fleet and there was no way through the tangle. Just to leeward there was a lot of noise but we were too focused on trying to accelerate in the dirty air of half of the fleet that we had no time to watch the action.
We had wanted to take the eastern shore out of the tide and did an early dig back following Amante. We tacked back when they did but found ourselves between the breezes. Joli on port was lifting across our bow while Amante on starboard above us was lifting away. More worrying was Rainbow, next on pointscore, on port crossing well ahead.We kept going on starboard hoping for some of the angle that Joli enjoyed but it never came. Never means never as we looked across the course and could see Allegro. Amante, Joli and Hanni away on the eastern shore lifting in breeze while we were stuck on the western shore waiting of that knock that never ever came. At least we were in breeze and lifting on the outside of a great arc. We were at times lifting so high that we might pass to the east of the Sow and Pigs but that did not happen so we committed to pass to the west and take the shortest leg possible across the tide to the top mark. We tacking for the mark and looked famous for a few moments as we pointed across the bows of Allegro and Amante but they lifted and we knocked a little and were forced into another two tacks and to take their sterns.
Aroud the mark we were surprised at the gap back to the fleet and very pleasantly surprised that we had recovered the distance on Allegro and Amante which at one stage was the width of the harbour. The run back to Steele Point was somewhere between a broad reach and a pole out genoa. Amante and Allegro did a bit of both but at Steele point our steady very broad reach had not lost much ground. Another very broad reach on the other tack to Point Piper was similarly conducted with Allegro having to bear away hard from the knocking breeze while Amante went high to be able to pole out more gracefully. At Point Piper we were a little closer and rounded the mark pointing above our two close competitors. At the first knock they both tacked away leaving us clear air and a fully powered up rig going for speed. On the layline we tacked and had Allegro covered but Amante coming in on starboard. As we were pretty well on the line to the mark we planned to take Amante’s stern but they had other ideas and tacked below and in front but having to pinch hard to clear the mark. That left us no gap to bear away to the mark and we were forced to wait until they slowly shot the mark and reached away to the shortened course finish line at the south end of Shark Island.

In this short period we pulled out about half a minute on Allegro but probably not enough to beat them on handicap.

Anxiously we hung around the finish line timing our competitors over the line and second guessing the scorerers on where we might finish. Hanni and Joli were so far ahead they must have first and second wrapped up while the casual Foreign Affairs was way out there with them.  Depending on the finish time of the back marker we have a chance at fifth behind Allegro. Larrikin might sneak in there but we had a good eleven minutes on Rainbow which should be enough on the day. We havd been disappointed before but with such a pleasant day on the water with wind and sunshine any place would be a winner.

Caught on the wrong side of the harbour and lucky to get back.

Caught on the wrong side of the harbour and lucky to get back.

After the race just before sunset with a great reflection of the yacht and background on the water

After the race just before sunset with a great reflection of the yacht and background on the water

I often refer to a yacht racing series as an attendance records as the results favour those who turn up week after week in all conditions. Today was one of those days where the conditions were forecast to be marginal and that kept many yachts away from what was a quite enjoyable bash into the breeze. At Fort Denison the wind briefly hit 27 knots on start time but for most of the day was a quite sailable 20 to 25 knots with gusts up to the thirties.
We had planned to carry the full mainsail downwind and reef at the turning mark but a pre race gust over the 25 knot mark made us cautious and we put in the first reef before the start. With the first reef in the fat head main passes inside the running backstays so there is one less task to worry about .
As we watched the division 1s yachts start we could see an abundance of caution with Blue Chip not bothering to hoist the jib and shortly after the start abandoning the race leaving Duende to finish the windward work without a headsail for a first and fastest. Now that is caution for you.
The first run was won by Amante with a full mainsail set. We passed Allegro who had similarly set a No3 jib and reefed main and had a slight lead on them at the turn. Star Ferry was rocketing down the course and giving Allegro a scare while to the north side of the course Leeward was exercising a great deal of caution for which we were very grateful. At the start we were sandwiched between Leeward and Allegro and a less cautions skipper could have put us all in trouble. Thank you Leeward.
Just before the turn we put in the second reef and set off after Amante. At first we were pointing higher which looked good but Amante powered away and had plenty of room to cross well in front. Allegro was powering up from behind and to leeward and judged the line into Steele Point better to be ahead. At Rose Bay we were right on their tail and tacked away for clear air. They were however quicker through the water and rounded Point Piper about a minute ahead.  Allegro did look a picture with the black sails as she powered through the gusts so we were pleased to stay close on the day. That was the gap at the finish after a long beat to the finish line we we were pleased to have not slipped further behind. Rainbow and Star Ferry enjoyed the windward work back home less than Passion X so the handicap places were the same as the fastest times places and we were very grateful for our third place.
Amante carried their full main all around the course and apart from one round up seemed to handle the conditions exceptionally well and will probably suffer a bit at the hands of the handicapper.

Windy but not unsailable

Windy but not unsailable

The honour role for the finishers

The honour role for the finishers

We were on the wrong side of a progressive lift today and lucky to escape with a fourth fastest.

We were on the wrong side of a progressive lift today and lucky to escape with a fourth fastest.

Today we were on the wrong side of a progressive shift and were lucky to find the one shift back for the afternoon that let us get across to the lifting side and save some face.
On the windward work in six knots of sea breeze we were stuck on the northern shore with a huge gap to the fleet on the southern shore. As we were lifting in breeze it would have been a long way back had we tacked so we hung on and hoped. Eventually around Chowder Head we found a knock and tacked immediately to get back to the fleet. Surprisingly we got back across to Amante but Leeward and Hanni were too far away. Leeward was further up the course in clear air and Hanni was well to windward and picking up her own set of lifts. The rest of the fleet was very close behind. Of particular note were Larrikin and Agrovation who had picked the shifts well.
We rounded the mark behind Crosshaven who came in on starboard while we on port had to kill speed and time until they rounded. In the process Amante, Hanni and Leeward escaped further up the course. Allegro also made up ground so that on the reach back to Steele Point we were chasing Crosshaven and trying to stay in front of Allegro.
That game went on all the way to the Point Piper mark where we positioned ourselves to come in on starboard gybe and clear ahead of Allegro and Crosshaven. That mark rounding allowed us to pull away from Crosshaven and Allegro as they were now clear astern in dirty air but still laying the mark with no way to get clear air. On the leg to Point Piper Fidelis put in a charge and crossed our stern but fell a few boat lengths behind on the approach to Point Piper and for Fidelis boat lengths are a long measure.
The reach around Shark Island provided no overtaking lanes and the dead square run to the finish was equally follow the leader.
Leeward took the daily double of first and fastest while Agrovation and Larrikin filled the minor places and we finished back in tenth place, a bit further back than I expected even given the first work issues. Spare a thought for Crackerjack who loves the heavy air and had to put up with the light conditions today for the exact opposite of the Leeward result.

During the 20 minute delay waiting for wind we had a perfect view of the city and harbour bridge bathed in winter sunlight. We are indeed spoiled with this venue where sailing in mid winter is better than some places in mid summer.

Picture perfect harbour views waiting for wind

Picture perfect harbour views waiting for wind

After the delay we lined up for a start on starboard at a place that seemed appropriate but for the high pointing Hanni a couple of boats to leeward.  The leeward yacht sails in the lift from all the fleet and when it is a high pointing yacht that points even higher when to leeward we were squeezed out. The tack to port was short lived as the starboard tackers from the boat end charged through so we were forced back onto starboard but this time in clearer air. Amante, back so soon from the Sydney to Southport race was a bit too eager and broke the start but was quickly back to restart, sailing low until a good knock came through and half way up the leg she was back in front of Passion X. Hanni had made a good start and together with Crosshaven and Allegro were out in front by a good minute or more. We played the shifts as best we could and by the top mark had pulled back the gap to Allegro and hung on to Amante better than expected considering it was a long beat straight into the wind. At the rounding Crosshaven was well in front of our little group with Hanni almost a dot in the distance further ahead. We all poled out the genoas for the long dead square run back and again this is not our favourite angle so we were pleased to make little gains out a bit deeper into the harbour risking the outgoing tide.

Around Steele Point Hanni and Crosshaven kept wide while Amante, Allegro and Foreign Affairs went in close enough to be becalmed. Wider out we stayed in the breeze and sailed away for a very significant break. Along the leg from Rose Bay to Point Piper we were passed by Foreign Affairs who is a casual entry so we let then go and sailed for speed making up a little ground on Crosshaven. Hitchhike was making better use of their genoa poled out and coming up from behind in a disturbingly fast fashion but we held on till the Point Piper mark.

The finish was shortened to to the top of Shark Island which was another beat into the wind and I was pinching to keep Hitchhike from climbing over the top. To our relief they tacked away as we were getting lifted so we held on for the final tack to the finish.

Across the line we were third of the regulars a long way behind Hanni and just over a minute behind Crosshaven and considering the amount of windward word and dead square running we were pretty pleased with our place. On handicap Hanni blitzed the fleet and will no doubt pay dearly at the handicap adjustment. Agrovation, Senta, Star Ferry and Crosshaven all finished in front of Passion X but courtesy of a small relief in handicap following our last place last week we scraped in ahead of Rainbow and Larrikin who are just behind us on progress score.

Star Ferry in the calm before the start

Star Ferry in the calm before the start

 

The tracks were pretty good considering it was at the top of the tide and not a lot of assist on the way up the course.

 

Quite respectable tracks at the top of the tide

Quite respectable tracks at the top of the tide

Our handicap has caught up with us and in less than optimal conditions for Passion X we finished last by one second. In the fresh conditions we could only set our No 3 jib while many carried their large genoas on the down wind leg. We did manage to hold out Hanni and Crosshaven on the run despite spending much of the very broad reach come run in the wind shadow of the fleet. Only a shift to the windward side up near the top mark saved us from a very wide mark rounding behind half the fleet. Fidelis lead the way with Allegro up near the front. Unfortunately for Allegro and Passion X, Allegro caught her genoa on the mark rounding and reached away from the mark driving Passion X deep into the headland. Hanni to leeward was pointing up leaving us no where to go until Allegro tacked away. by then we were close to the rocks and calling for room to tack on Crosshaven. Crackerjack was with the early leaders and tacked early so we had a guide as to the wind direction and strength. We held our position for a couple of tacks but let Crosshaven tack to the southern shore without following. On the next lift they pulled out a half minute lead which we never recovered.
At Steel Point we put in a dig into the point and came away quite well. The next knock allowed us to tack to starboard on a good lift into Rose Bay and for a while we thought we had pulled back some distance on Hanni but she waited for the next knock and tacked across well in front. All up the work Hanni was travelling faster and higher than Passion X and her sails were nicely flattened out for the windward work. Perhaps a carbon No 3 jib on Passion X might be faster but for heavy air cruising we opted for a radial cut Hydranet and while probably bullet proof the leech does not look as streamlined as the nice flat black genoa on Hanni.
The tracks show we sailed the shifts to windward pretty well and the boat speed was up at the 7 knot mark so it is hard to know what else we could have done.

On the reach into Point Piper we did make up some time but were seven boats deep at the rounding and had to wait for the Div 2 boats to round before we could pull away behind their stern. A the top of Shark Island we had to sail around another two Div 2 yachts and it took a long time to get clear ahead for the tack to the mark for the reach home.

At the finish Fidelis was almost three minutes ahead but it was Crackerjack a minute and a quarter ahead across the line who took out the handicap result. Agrovation was half a minute behind in second place on handicap after a pretty impressive downwind leg. Senta was half a minute further back after also having a good downwind leg.

The last time there was breeze and Crackerjack won we were a similar distance behind Crackerjack over the line but this time we were closer to Hanni and Crosshaven so perhaps we sailed better.

Very good angles to windward today were not good enough in the conditions.

Very good angles to windward today were not good enough in the conditions.

No wind for us on Sunday

This is the asymmetric spinnaker that we put to good use today.

We have been missing in action from the West Harbour Winter Series for the last two races with commitments in Western Australia and Queensland and as the last race we fronted up for was abandoned it has been a long break. After the abandoned race we practised setting the asymmetric spinnaker and ironed out a few issues which was very timely as the asymmetric was the perfect weapon for today.
We carried the spinnaker from Spectacle Island down the Hunters Hill shore and up into Woolwich for a gybe to go to the Goat Island mark. On this leg the breeze faded and shifted so many times that the asymmetric was the only spinnaker that could handle the angles. With a few shifts in our favour we were able to catch the Sydney 38, Utopia and the Pogo 36, Odyssey. Utopia managed to round in front of us and did better on the work back to Long Nose but we went wider and managed to keep abreast all the way into the Cockatoo mark rounding. As we both  lined up to round the mark the mooring tackle under the buoy was caught by the keel or rudder of one of the other division boats and took off towards the next mark. Utopia and Passion X both rounded the bow of the offending yacht as the crew struggled to free the ground tackle but while Utopia was trying to hoist their spinnaker Passion X drifted past under genoa and main. We caught the last of a dying gust and carried it well down towards the Woolwich mark and were delighted to have pulled clear by many boat lengths. From there we extended our lead over Odyssey and Utopia while the front leaders were extending their lead on Passion X. Boxer in particular was having a good day and Balmain Tiger left us behind while we were preoccupied with Utopia and Odyssey. The second leg down the Hunters Hill shore was a bit square and quick enough but from behind the Sydney 36 Cr, Another  Planet came charging across the gap between Odyssey and Passion X. At the Woolwich mark rounding we tangled the genoa sheets with the doused spinnaker allowing Another Planet to climb to windward. Very luckily we were both headed putting Passion X back in front just enough to hold on for a few second across the line and a fourth on handicap.

Across the line we were seven minutes behind Boxer who followed Balmain Tiger, Matagi and Wilding 2. Then there was a few seconds to the fast finishing Another Planet with a nine minute gap to Odyssey. The fleet was indeed spread out with the front runners sharing the podium places on handicap.

We made a few changes to the asymmetric spinnaker settings after our practice sail six weeks ago. We added a strop inside the sock so that the mouth of the sock could be hoisted higher allowing the sail fly freely and we added a swivel so that the gybes did not twist the spinnaker inside the sock. The spinnaker was used on our old Passion but has sat in the new Passion X since launch because previous efforts to fly her were unsuccessful. Now that we have the bugs ironed out it might get to fly more often. The last gybe of the day was perfect as we pulled it through to windward still drawing before the boom was gybed so lost no time at all. Lets hope we can repeat this performance often.

We managed to stay in the breeze for most of the day and score our third fastest times result for the season. The forecast wind never eventuated but the eight knots westerly with frequent swings to the south provided plenty of tension out on the course. The starboard gybe from the pin end allowed us to run low out into the middle of the harbour until the wind swung so far west that we had to head towards Steele Point to prevent an involuntary gybe. From the start we ran to leeward of Fidelis and Crosshaven while Amante took the far southern side of the course. As the breeze swung and freshened from the west Hitchhike popped out into the lead while behind Larrikin made impressive gains coming up with the fresher breeze. Eventually we steadied with the pole out running by the lee which gave us clear air on the fleet but the angle took us all the way over to the Amante side of the course before we gybed to Port. Hitchhike managed their smaller jib better to round in front while at the approach to the mark we jumped out a few boat lengths from Amante. At the rounding we receives our first bonus of the day with a shift which lifted us above the line of Hitchhike. The crew spotted a shift to windward which was stronger and lifting more so we put in a short dig out to seaward and tacked back into the lift for another gain on Hitchhike. They however held their nerve and waited for the next bit of southerly to tack back and cross us. Hitchhike came back on starboard just short of Steel Point and pinched to clear the point. We tacked out a few boat lengths more and came into the point with more speed to run over the top into the lead. The work to Point Piper was tricky. Fortunately we had the Div 2 yacht in close company as a guide for the wind conditions. We went wide to avoid the large wind shadow in against Point Piper only to see Hasta La Vista from Div 2 charging up the leg on a southerly squirt while we ended up tacking into the mark on a bit of westerly. Luckily for us Hitchhike and the rest of the Div 1 fleet followed us so we maintained our lead. The loop around Shark Island was  good one for Passion X as we stayed out of the wind shadows  and then shaved the southern side of Shark Island to stay as far out from the Point Piper wind shadow as possible. The shortened course finish line at the first Naval mark was welcome as it was now just a soldiers course home. Across the line we could see Larrikin still well up in the fleet from their early good speed out to the north of the fleet on the first run.  Also with freshening breeze Allegro came charging up the last reach to be just 15 seconds behind Hitchhike and 25 seconds clear of Amante. Not surprisingly Larrikin took the handicap honours from Passion X and Agrovation just 10 seconds behind.

A few tack  did not leave much room for the fleet to catch us on the way home.

A few tack did not leave much room for the fleet to catch us on the way home.

An anxious quiet reach to the finish while Div 1s The Red Hand powers away ahead.

An anxious quiet reach to the finish while Div 1s The Red Hand powers away ahead.

 

It was one of those days when there was enough shifts and lulls and gusts for everyone but only the best made full use of their opportunities.
After a good even start Amante managed to spear out from below the fleet for a good lead while Joli managed to get over the top of Passion X and gave us the maximum grief possible for the first reach to the heads. Hitchhike also suffered in the dirty air of both Joli and Passion X while Crosshaven to leeward managed to avoid all the dirty air and round not far off the lead.
The reach back to Steele Point was a procession and the big moves came on the run into Rose Bay. To our great detriment we went low and while avoiding the lull where the leaders were becalmed near the mark we were blanketed to leeward of the whole fleet with fresh wind coming from the west. We ended up many yacht wide and below the big Fidelis who was slow to come onto the wind so we were very low on the fleet for the work to Point Piper. Only a very lucky flick of the wind to the west in on the Point Piper shore allowed us to recover a few positions. We made up some ground on Fidelis on the work to Point Piper but had to allow them to round the mark before spearing off below their transom for the run around Shark Island with Allegro in hot pursuit. On the square run back to the bottom of Shark Island we managed to hold the genoa out to windward and skirt the fleet but gained not enough ground to round first. This time we managed to keep wide and harden up above Fidelis. We stayed on starboard all the way back to the shore while Hitchhike tacked away and picked up more wind and a better angle out in the middle. We were making up ground on Crosshaven so were content to keep following them but in the process we lost out to Allegro on two crosses where they had starboard tacking rights. Allegedly Joli and Amanti picked up some northerly breeze on the work back to the finish but this is second hand information. The rest of us mere mortals had a hard beat and struggled to clear the naval buoys after successive headers . The tide should have been helping the fleet clear these marks but apparently no one told the tide gods.

So it was Joli who prevailed over Amante with Hitchhike making a good recovery with their early tack out to the middle on the last work. Crosshaven held on for fourth fastest while Allegro out tacked Passion X on the last work. In the light windward work Fidelis slipped a further one and a half minutes back.

The handicap results went to Amante from Rainbow and Joli so perhaps there was some truth in the rumour that Amante and Joli picked up a nice bit of northerly breeze on the work home. There is also an unconfirmed rumour that Joli had a crack crew on board and judging from their result perhaps it is true.

Larrikin was not having a good day and finished towards the rear of the fleet on both time and handicap. Hopefully all us handicap tail enders will get a bit of handicap back for next week.

 

 

We were promised 8 knots from the north west and a pleasant reach up and down the harbour but got as little as 5 knots at time and some pretty wide swings in direction. The reach out from the RANSA start line was broader and from the leeward end of the line we were well blanketed instead of having our nose in front. We went low for clear air and watched as the fleet above had first use of the gusts only to run into a dead spot mid leg. From below we carried the wind further up the coarse and made up some ground on Hitchhike and Fidelis but were in turn over run by Amanti, Allegro and Joli coming up with fresh breeze from behind. We rounded the mark on Allegro’s tuck but they were not about to let us go above so we were forced below for a quiet tight reach to Steele Point. Along the way Crosshaven reached lowest of all to Steele Point and did well in the process. Into Rose Bay we ran square with the genoa poled out while Fidelis and Joli went well wide on the point and came back on a tighter angle with enough speed to make up for much of the extra distance travelled. Larrikin was pretending to be a much bigger yacht and hanging on to the leaders well.
In the work to Point Piper we had a fair share of dirty air from the leaders and watched Joli power away to leeward.
The way around Shark Island was entertaining if only for the antics of the competitors in front trying to get inside rights at the mark. We thought we might make up some ground but were over run by Larrikin still pretending to be a bigger boat. Amante seems to have escaped from the front of this group for a 30 second win over Hitchhike with Crosshaven a further minute and a half back then Joli, Allegro and Passion X. Fideis and Larrikin were respectively two and four minutes further back which seemed unfair given their earlier much more prominent positions. The beat back from Shark Island was in light and flukey conditions and in a very light patch we managed to sail over the top of Fidelis while Larrikin found her private patch of nothing along the way. The wind maps for the day show non of the  westerly breeze direction we were forced to contend with on the work home so perhaps the leaders had the much more northerly direction shown on the graphs.
We had no luck on the day either good or bad but the hard beat back to the finish line was a far cry from the easy single board we had expected from the forecast and the three Greenwich Flying Squadron yachts, Joli, Passion X and Agrovation had to settle for eighth, ninth and tenth on handicap.

On Wednesday we were driving from Exmouth to Shark Bay while loyal crew performed our start boat duty for the season. While the 4th place allocated for start boat duty was welcome the reaching conditions were arguably the best of the season. Judging by the results the mighty Fidelis would have still scored fastest time and first on handicap but it would have been very interesting to see how close we could have been.
As of today the forecast for next Wednesday is for a NE breeze and good reaching conditions from the other angle but importantly warmer and sunnier than Shark Bay.

Lifting inside Fidelis on the way into Rose Bay

Lifting inside Fidelis on the way into Rose Bay. Will we cross or not?

We have been waiting for the South East breeze for a few weeks now because we know Passion X does relatively better in the reach up and down the course than in the square runs and hard beats to windward. The forecast of nine knots was also favourable so we set the large No 1 light genoa and full main for the day. Despite our careful approach to the line Joli stole the start by coming in closer hauled to the pin mark and then kept going a bit. I think it was Leeward that was the meat in the sandwich to leeward as we tried to get the sheets on so we could point higher. No sooner were we in high mode Joli bore away to the mark and we were able to follow. Very quickly the fast reaching Fidelis was out in front and to windward while we gave Joli a wide berth in between. At the sailing angle to the mark we had reaching sheets sheeting to the the rail and slowly pulled away from the fleet. In the light patches we made up a little ground on Fidelis but at the heads the breeze picked up and they took off again. The leg back to Steele Point was 5 degrees off of close hauled which is good for Passion X as we drop off speed fairly quickly if we point too high. Not needing to point was bonus and we sailed this leg mostly at 7.4 knots which is right on our polar plot for 14 knots of breeze and 45 degrees to the true wind. I could not see the speed from my steering position but Graham kept calling 7.4 and I am not sure if it was true of he just knew that number would keep me happy.
Past Steele Point we got into a progressive lift which we had to carry to the island. Fidelis tacked early and once we tacked at the island we could see ourselves lifting inside her. So good was the lift that we crossed Fidelis with starboard rights and luckily managed to cross her while on port going into the Rose Bay mark. Reaching into Point Piper we were not confident of holding Fidelis out but we did and did so also for the run and work around Shark Island. On the work into the mark at the bottom of Shark Island we received a late lift which delayed our tack for the rounding and that resulted in a small over stand and a loss of distance to Joli. The broad reach back home was also on our favoured angle and again to our surprise we held out Fidelis by a few seconds for our second fastest times for the year.

On handicap Fidelis turned the tables and the improved Rainbow took third place just 14 seconds behind. Allegro and Joli were next in line with the results keeping the progress scores pretty well as they were with first second and third in the progress scores scoring second, third and fourth on the day.

The Starboard cross where we passed Fidelis

The Starboard cross where we passed Fidelis