Passion

The north east breeze hung in around the 5 to 15 knots range for the evening although I did see one gust over 17 knots while we were waiting for the start. As happened last week a few including Irukandji and Ausreo started on starboard working along the line and across the direction to Onions Point. This week we managed to duck Irukandji and cross in front of Ausreo but were forced low onto the pin and in the dirty air of Much Ado V. That was the closest we got to Much Ado V all evening as they tight reached to the point and streaked off to a fastest times win for the night.
Just behind Much Ado V we were buried in disturbed air and rounded Onion Point mid fleet. At this point we could not see Avalon and Utopia and did not see them again until the finish. The rest of us lesser mortals were becalmed in Humbug and blanketed by the following fleet including the big Ausreo. Flashback made a valiant attempt to pass to windward while Lisdillon was doing well tight against the Onions Point shore. Dump Truck was in the middle with yachts on both sides. Eventually the breeze went behind and we were able to hold out the genoa to windward to capture whatever breeze filtered over the fleet behind. The course was to round Cockatoo Island to starboard but we drove as hard towards Clarke Point as we could without running into Lisdillon. Flashback and Dump Truck were now becalmed to the port of us and the breeze was tending even further north allowing us to carry the big genoa on Passion X almost to Cockatoo Island. The light and nimble Dump Truck managed to round in front but now we both had to contend with a breeze almost dead astern with a large following fleet. Alongside Cockatoo we were being pushed by Joli so we could not afford to go too wide and at the end of the island were left in the wind shadow. Dump Truck three boat lengths to leeward picked up breeze from over the top and took off heeling with the wind pressure. We waited and waited and waited but it was all we could do to keep close to the island and keep Joli behind.
The price for keeping joli behind was paid when we rounded the west end of Cockatoo and saw how big a lead Dump Truck had over us.
We pinched to clear the ferry wharf on the east end of Cockatoo and took off in a futile pursuit of Dump Truck and determined to keep the rest of the fleet behind. This we did until the rounding of Goat Island where Joli slipped by in closer to the island that we thought prudent but it worked for them and they headed off back to Long Nose half a boat length ahead. At the same Goat Island rounding the chasing fleet came through with good wind and now we had a seven boats behind with most doing well on the evening and vying for handicap honours.
The run back to Cockatoo was interesting in the proverbial sense. We ran on starboard gybe to have rights but just a little bit by the lee so that we had clear wind on Joli. That put our course close to the Cockatoo shore. We like running by the lee in the Laser class fleet and can go very hard to leeward but with the big poled out genoa there is a limit to how far one can go without collapsing the genoa in the wind shadow of the mainsail. Eventually Joli gybed to port and started working up to our position. We had to run further by the lee to avoid them to the point we had to ease the vang to keep the mainsail from accidentally gybing. Eventually Joli gybed back onto starboard but with their boom and our pole overlapped we had to take further evasive action.
Being further out from the island was again an advantage as we picked up the breeze first and managed to reestablish the lead we had before the Goat Island rounding.

The task now was to cover Joli to the line. Ahead at Valentia street we could see Utopia who had been passed by Dump Truck around the end of Cockatoo Island the last time but this time on the inside and close to the rocks. This was the first time since the start we had seen Utopia and suggests we had a better work along Cockatoo on the way home. Into Humbug we picked the shifts well and were only put off our desired path by the blue fleet Conquista who tacked onto starboard in front at Onions Point instead of passing ahead on port as we had wished. This forced a early tack away and left room for Joli to skim past Onions Point and mount a last ditch attempt to pass to leeward. Perhaps we were lucky for a little knock which made the pin end of the finish line our best course while Joli was a bit tight to make the mark. At one second to midnight they called mark room which we gave but the camera shows both genoas backed and it was only momentum carrying both of us across the line. The finishers gave it to Passion X by a second but it might have been less than that.

The first five handicap places went to Ausreo, Fireball, Irukandji, Flashback and Sweet Chariot while the spring series fastest times yachts Avalon and Meridian suffered from their well deserved handicaps and took the last places but got given back plenty of handicap for the next race. It is a tough fleet and it is good to see the results get given a shake and the firsts one week easily able to manage a last the next.

Much Ado V gets the front line at the start

Much Ado V gets the front line at the start

Lots of yachts ahead in Humbug

Lots of yachts ahead in Humbug

Dump Truck ahead of Passion X around Cockatoo

Dump Truck ahead of Passion X around Cockatoo

Dump Truck heels with the new breeze and is gone

Dump Truck heels with the new breeze and is gone

Close encounters with Joli

Close encounters with Joli

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Joli and Passion X battle for 5th across the line

The light forecast for the evening was realized and the breeze frequently dropped to just a few knots adding to the frustration of tricky course. The line could not be crossed on Starboard but that did not stop a couple of yachts starting on starboard at the pin mark and forcing the fleet to tack away from the course to Onions Point. Jackpot, Meridian and Joli seemed to get away on Port well as did Lisdillon and Sweet Chariot. The rest of us were put about by Irukandji so that there was a line of frustrated Sydney 38,s and Ker 11.3′s sailing away from Onion Point waiting for a chance to tack back onto port. We tacked when Irakandji did and were promptly knocked back into the point. We took sterns and went as close to the moorings at Onions Point as possible and tacked back with rights to recover a little ground. That gave us a position between two fleets with four J Boats and one RP36 up front and everyone else behind. In Humbug the breeze left us to wallow along while ahead we could see the fleet lifting and leaning into fresh air. Behind Much Ado V and Dump Truck were coming steadily with fresh wind from behind and they passed us. Much Ado V to windward and Dump Truck to leeward but pass us they did.
Our weakness in the variable conditions is changing gears fast enough. The very heavy boom and centreline sheeting keeps the leech of the mainsail very closed where a very twisted leech has some area of the main working in the shifty conditions. On the work to Goat Island we were passed by first Avalon and then Utopia. There was not a lot of difference in the straight line speed but their non overlapping jibs tack much faster than our similar area 140% jib.

That was the end of the parade of yachts passing us and we in turn passed Lisdillon and Sweet Chariot who had made a good start through Humbug. Coming back into Humbug we were heartened to see Much Ado V not too far ahead but once they sailed out of the doldrums it was out turn to sail in and the leading yachts all finished 5 minutes in front all the way back to Utopia who was one minute 20 seconds in front. There was a minute and 46 seconds break back to Sweet Chariot who took handicap honours by two minutes and five seconds courtesy of their very good start.

We were pretty disappointed in our two spells in Humbug and need to find a way to change the mainsail into and out of drifting mode very quickly.

Meridian had another very fine line honours and we were surprised that their very stiff  handicap brought them one place back behind Passion X in the handicap list and we remained tied on handicap for the Spring Series.

Jackpot made a return to the fleet with a second fastest after a short stint in front and a second place on handicap.

While we were disappointed with our eighth place spare a thought for the crew on Avalon who went from roosters last week to feather dusters at 14th this week but they must be pleased with their first and third places in the series off a fairly stiff handicap. Avalon did take out the scratch series by a point from Meridian so there is some pretty close racing at the front of the fleet. We managed to tie with Joli on 4th fastest but they did sail one less race and so had a did not start to discard while we were able to discard our eighth from tonight. Third place on scratch went to Much Ado V so there  is a healthy mix of yachts at the top end of the fleet.

The current handicaps tell a better story of the potential performance of the fleet with the ranking after this week being Avalon, Meridian, Much Ado V, Utopia, Jackpot, Dump Truck, Joli and Passion X.

Becalmed on the way out of Humbug

Becalmed on the way out of Humbug

Much Ado V glides past to windward

Much Ado V glides past to windward

Avalon crosses on the way to Goat Island

Avalon crosses on the way to Goat Island

Becalmed on the way back through Humbug

Becalmed on the way back through Humbug

 

 

 

 

Our weather forecasting did not work out too well on Saturday at Canberra where the various models had a fair breeze for sailing the full sized rig in the Laser State Titles. After surviving a wild afternoon where most of the fleet capsized at the gybe mark I am less sure of the various wind models. In Canberra on Sunday they were more accurate and we ended up with no racing due to lack of wind so the survivors of the three full rig races on Saturday did quite well.
Fast forward to Tuesday and the forecasts for Wednesday are pretty challenging. The day should start off wet with thunderstorms and a low pressure system should establish just off shore from Sydney directing strong southerly winds onto our course. The wind will abate further away from the coast but one of the forecast models has gusts to 40 knots on our race course area.
The challenge for course setters is that the weather system has not established yet and the distance the system has to travel until the start of the race tomorrow is quite substantial. Then there is the added concern that if the forecast is for the winds to be unsafe at 7 pm then what do they do at the scheduled start time?

The rain forecast from Windy for Wednesday at 6pm

The rain forecast from Windy for Wednesday at 6pm

The 7pm wind forecast from Windy for Wednesday night

The 7pm wind forecast from Windy for Wednesday night

before the race the concern was whether we would have enough breeze for a race. After deciding on the largest genoa for the race the breeze freshened to gusts of 17 knots but there were lots of holes so we decided to keep the full sail area.
For the unusual north west breeze we planned to start near the club and be on the leeward side of Humbug and hopefully in better breeze. It did not work out in practice as Avalon started further to windward and carried a gust through Humbug and out into an early lead. The rest of us battled for clear air and eventually we abandoned our leeward position for one with clear air following Much Ado V, Dump Truck and Avalon. the big Ausreo was putting in an impressive performance and mixing it with the best at the front of the fleet, Avalon exlcuded. It was a long reach and then run from Cockatoo Island around Long Nose and then to take Goat Island to starboard. Much Ado V took the low path away from Balls Head and seemed to be heading for Goat to port but at the last minute changed course and came reaching up from below to regain a spot near the front of the Avalon pursuit. Flashback ran down on top of Utopia and Passion X as we lined up the navigation mark at Goat Island looking for a safe passage. We held back waiting for the clear ahead Blue fleet to round the mark and found a safe spot behind Caliban and inside Utopia. Now we were in the wind shadow of Goat Island and in the eddys from the island the wind was doing strange things. Utopia picked up a gust from behind and ran over the top of Passion X. Presently all chaos broke out in the fleet as a rain squall brought winds of 32 knots from different directions. We flattened the sails and did our best to negotiate the many yachts. Out of the chaos Dump Truck emerged in front and Lisdillon came up from behind. The rest we could not see. The next we saw of Lisdillon was when they crossed us going into Long Nose. We held on longer in a lift and by the time we tacked on the next header had made a very large gain on Lisdillon. Irikandji came out of nowhere to be just astern but we picked a small breeze and pulled away again. Dump Truck, Ausreo and Utopia were parked off Greenwich Point so we sailed the long way around and eventually skirted Utopia and wore down Ausreo but could not make any headway on Dump Truck.
Our fourth across the line was only good enough for 6th place as Avalon took the win by a 11 minutes from Ausreo Much Ado V and Dump Truck. I had thought that our 6 minute lead on Irikandji would be enough but we fell short by a minute and thirty eight seconds and had to settle for sixth place. In the pointscore the sixth is our worst place so it became our drop and we moved to the top of the table courtesy of the absence of Meridian and Joli who are cruising elsewhere this week. Our fourth across the line puts up temporarily third on the fastest times table courtesy of the race when no one finished being included in all competitors series. This means that Passion X which has raced in every event can drop the 11 point while anyone who was absent from a race gets to drop the did not start points but still carries the 11 points from the race where no one finished.

A bit of a lean in the squall

Dump Truck emerges out of the rain

Dump Truck emerges out of the rain

Maximum wind speed was 31.7 knots. Photo taken with a wet phone.

Maximum wind speed was 31.7 knots. Photo taken with a wet phone.

Top boat speed was 8.1 knots as we were beating into the squall. It would have been much higher has we been around Goat Island when it hit.

Top boat speed was 8.1 knots as we were beating into the squall. It would have been much higher has we been around Goat Island when it hit.

Dump Truck sails show how variable the wind was. We are tight reaching and their jib is blowing out to windward

Dump Truck sails show how variable the wind was. We are tight reaching and their jib is blowing out to windward

A close rounding of Goat Island. Flasback, Utopia, Dump Truck, Ausreo and Much Ado V are all in the picture

A close rounding of Goat Island. Flasback, Utopia, Dump Truck, Ausreo and Much Ado V are all in the picture

 

Just clearing Onions Point

Just clearing Onions Point

A twisted pole topping lift delayed deployment of the big genoa but here it is two minutes later.

A twisted pole topping lift delayed deployment of the big genoa but here it is two minutes later.

 A brief turn of the lead approaching Cockatoo Island

A brief turn of the lead approaching Cockatoo Island

Utopia having a turn in front of the fleet.

Utopia having a turn in front of the fleet.

Avalon snatches the lead in the dying light.

Avalon snatches the lead in the dying light.

One of many position changes with Flashback

One of many position changes with Flashback

The end of the on water part of the evening.

The end of the on water part of the evening.

A great photo worth repeating

A great photo worth repeating

The Greenwich Flying Squadron facebook page has inspired keen photographers and there is lots of good viewing. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have taken too many photos and a big thank you to all the photographers.
We had the gopro live last night and a few shots round out the commentary from the evening.

While no one in the Black fleet finished the course on time we nevertheless had a very enjoyable and friendly tussle out on the course.
We did start in a very light Nor Easterly breeze that suited our low on the course position and once around Onion Point we were able to pole out our large overlapping genoa to good effect. The fingers of breeze channeling down the course favored first one side and then the next. We were stuck to the north of the fleet running down the Hunters Hill side but were able to skirt the fleet to round Cockatoo Island just behind Utopia. Back on the wind on the way to Goat Island we held the fleet at bay while Utopia was first into fresher breeze ahead and pulled out a six boat length lead. Approaching Long Nose point the other fleets were becalmed so we went very wide only to have the short cutters on the two J112s lift around the point. We stayed in phase with the shifts and came out ahead of Utopia and only letting Avalon gain from the short cut.
The rest of the work to Goat Island was frustratingly slow but we pulled back a little on Avalon and rounded in the dirty air of Much Ado V. Around the Island Joli overtook us to windward and Dump Truck came up from leeward. At this stage there was no wind on the water despite a nice showing from the flags on the Harbour Bridge.
Meridian came up from behind and all of the fleet including the big Ausreo bunched up behind.
Avalon had now bolted and Much Ado V established a good break on a very large bunch of us including the 80th birthday celebrating crew on Flashback. Dump Truck correctly decided that the race was not going to be finished on time and started the engine. Once around Goat Island we could see Dump Truck pretending to Much Ado V that they were still in the race and catching them. The rest of the optimists in the fleet were spread out across the river. Here we again did well to hold out the rest of the fleet although Flashback went wide around Greenwich Point and it would have been interesting to see how the race to the finish would have ended. For the record we did hold out Joli and the fast finishing Lisdillon but had it been a real race Lisdillon would have beaten Passion X on handicap.
Conditions on the deck were ideal for the post race BBQ

The Ker 11.3 twins approaching Goat island. Passion X is out of the picture to the right of the screen

The Ker 11.3 twins approaching Goat island.
Passion X is out of the picture to the right of the screen

The fleet clearing Onion Point

The fleet clearing Onion Point

The Black Fleet leaving Humbug

The Black Fleet leaving Humbug

Dump Truck catching Passion X on the way to Goat Island

Dump Truck catching Passion X on the way to Goat Island

Meridian leads the fleet home

Meridian leads the fleet home

Utopia got up and went

Utopia got up and went

Avalon leads Passion X (partially obscured far right) and Flashback extreme left

Avalon leads Passion X (partially obscured far right) and Flashback extreme left

Passion with the old genoa brings up fourth place.

Passion with the old genoa brings up fourth place.

The forecast south east fresh winds never arrived and in place was very mild winds of 7 knots dying to nothing at the finish. As the breeze faded those who had an early lead extended their lead and many handicap placings followed fastest times order.
For our part we reflected on last week and thought a bit more flow in the foot of the main would be useful but in a nod to the expected strong winds set the 40m2 old genoa from Passion.
In the pre race quiet conditions this rig looked too flat and too little but we were expecting more. The start line was similar to last week so we opted to start further away from the club so that we could be leeward lifting boat at Onion Point. That did not work out as Meridian came up from beneath and took starboard rights down the line in front of us with enough room to cross us on the gun. That forced an early tack which was too low on Onion Point with an incoming tide and the tide at the lowest point. We pinched to make the point and crossed with 900 mm under the keel which is a bit close for comfort. The yachts starting closer to the club had a better and faster lane into Humbug but fortunately they went a bit high leaving room for Passion X and Joli to pull under to leeward. As we passed Clarke Point we were hard on the tail of Utopia who was nose to tail with Flashback while Meridian did the same as last week and took the inside rounding of Cockatoo without stopping. One day she will die in the wind shadow but not tonight. Utopia, Flashback and Passion followed in single file while Avalon went high. Avalon tacked closer to the island and managed to work out from under Passion X while Flashback and Utopia maintained a lead on both of us. Now Joli steamed up from behind and looked like going over the top until a knock put them into our dirty air and Kevin on the helm was able to work to windward. Back in the cockpit the crew was deepening the foot of the main even more while I was moving the jib cars forward and with these little improvements we started to hold Joli and pick up ground on Flashback. Approaching Goat Island we carried a lift into the Island further than we would usually risk but it paid off when we tacked on the first hint of a knock and lifted above Flashback enough to tack under them for the turn around the navigation mark. Flashback did not like our dirty air and it put them in the way of a couple Blue fleet yachts which also slowed them.
Out of this one move we obtained a jump which by the finish in the dying breeze was worth seven minutes. Joli also had to negotiate this traffic and was similarly slowed.
The run home was an anxious one as the dying breeze seemed to have streaks bringing the fleet down on us while we were not making inroads into the lead of Meridian, Utopia and Avalon.
The last drift to the line was awful as the incoming tide was almost as strong as the breeze and the heading to make the finish line had to be much higher. A couple of yachts did not make the buoy and had to do very slow re rounds.
With the fourth across the line I expected to do well and was not disappointed with the fourth on handicap. After the first four races of the season the two Sydney 38s, Utopia and Avalon at last received competitive handicaps and celebrated with a first and third respectively. The they had some taken back due to their success.

The fine weather brought out the sailors at Greenwich Flying Squadron for the fourth race of the spring series. The largest genoa was hanked on in anticipation of a dying breeze and the extra 5 sq metres of sail area was needed.
The line was biased to the club end and the angle down the line was such that for the most part it could not be crossed on starboard tack. We were early and dumping sail as we approached the club clearance mark while Joli came in from below with speed. Fortunately Adrian made it clear he was not going to force us over the line but wanted us to get as high as possible. The clearance mark was below the actual line from the club flagstaff so we were able to oblidge without going over early but Joli with speed nailed the start and tacked to port from a clear ahead position.
Further down the line Meridian also made a good start and was able to point up from below while Joli reached across our bow from above. We were the proverbial meat in a J112 sandwich. Next Avalon reached over the top and the four of us headed out of Humbug with a handy lead over the fleet.
Meridian took the inside line around Goat Island to port and kept good air and momentum. We went wider for better breeze and when we did head up sailed onto a hole letting Avalon slip further ahead.
The work to Goat Island to port was progressing well and we were keeping in close touch to Meridian, Joli and Avalon until a slow ferry got in the way and we ended up tacking back and forth on knocks trying to find a path through.
Once around Goat Island we set the 6 metre whisker pole and went off in chase of the distant trio. With the large projected sail area we made up some ground although the following fleet could be seen picking up streaks of breeze from behind and running up to our position.
Into Humbug we skirted the whole fleet but ran into a hole to leeward of Street Fighter where it was so calm that they were drifing down on us in the tide.
In this state of suspended animation Much Ado V appeared from leeward hugging the shore line and sailed right around the fleet.
Just behind Much Ado V was Dump Truck, Flashback and Utopia with Irukandji in the mix. Fortunately for us they sailed into our hole as we were emerging from the other end.
The late charge by Much Ado V earned then third place on handicap behind the J112 twins, Meridian and Joli. Avalon and Utopia are still suffering from very severe starting handicaps which seem to be adjusting very slowly to their actual performace.
That left Passion X with another 4th place on handicap, we maintain our place on the top of the table and take a handicap hit into next week.

Joli grabs the prime start position from leeward

Joli grabs the prime start position from leeward

Joli reaches over the top while Meridian climbs up from  below

Joli reaches over the top while Meridian climbs up from below

The 6 metre long whisker pole was not enough to make up lost ground

The 6 metre long whisker pole was not enough to make up lost ground

Much Ado makes the right move and slides through close to the shore

Much Ado makes the right move and slides through close to the shore

Table in the up position

Table in the up position

A view of the base supporting the table in the up position

A view of the base supporting the table in the up position

Base collapsed into the double berth position

Base collapsed into the double berth position

Alternative coffee table top for the base

Alternative coffee table top for the base

Room for four bottles of wine in the upper section of the base

Room for four bottles of wine in the upper section of the base

I am sure it will end up doubling as a foot rest.

I am sure it will end up doubling as a foot rest.

It was good temperate weather for working on the dinette table on Passion X so I loaded up the car with all the components and headed to the club. I first fitted the cleats to the seat fronts to support the table in the down position where it forms a double berth. The table top fitted on the cleats squarely and the base just needed to be screwed to the keel king plank structure. With the base in place and the table screwed in position to the top part of the base the next task was to position the two boxes so that the table top was level. As the boat is sitting a little stern down for heavy air performance the levels were measured off the tops of the settee seats and the two sections of the base screwed together in the up position. A few photos will make it all a little clearer.

Encouraged by the results of slackening our D2′s to allow the mast to be more flexible and flatten the main more when required we set the 40m2 old faithful genoa off the original Passion and a full sized but very flattened main. The first leg was a windward work out of Humbug to take Cockatoo Island to starboard and while the breeze was hitting 20 knots I knew there would be light patches through Humbug and the course was more free after the Cockatoo rounding.
Out start was timed to perfection and we were windward boat on the pin end of the line. The only downside was that we had to pinch hard to stop the yacht behind working to windward of us and preventing us tacking for the passage through Humbug. Avalon the Sydney 38 was right on our tail so we took the first available knock to tack and they tacked in perfect timing with us. The problem for us was now they were leeward boat and pointing higher. To make Onion Point we were above our sweet spot and in their dirty air so it was a pretty slow work up the Woolwich shore. Joli above with a bit less disturbed air was quickly alongside and Utopia was charging up from behind. Approaching Clarke Point we found ourselves again pinching with Utopia to leeward calling us up while we were avoiding a starboard tacking yacht. Utopia kept calling after we passed the starboard tacker so we felt obliged to pass on the call to Joli who was above us. Joli responded and we tacked into their dirty air but that left Utopia charging up past Clarke Point on a nice lift while Joli and Passion X took the nasty knock on the other tack.
Joli tacked back for Cockatoo island early and were rewarded with a lift along the shore that regained some of the ground on Utopia for them.
As the fleet converged on the corner of Cockatoo Island for the starboard rounding it was tightly bunched except for Avalon who with a large crack crew on board was enjoying their powerful rig and making a clean break for a fastest time win by 5 minutes.
Back with the mere mortals we were behind the two J112e’s,, the two Sudney 38s, the two Ker 11.3 and the one J 122 but with a good gap to the rest of the fleet. From behind we could pick our path around the fleet where there was some pretty aggressive attempts for inside room on the island. Fortunately the outside path while a lot longer had more breeze and we were able to sail around several competitors and set off chasing Jackpot the J122, the two Ker 11.3 and the two Sydney 38s. Out in the less disturbed air between Cockatoo and Long Nose we were off the hard beat and going quite quickly up the course. In front the Utopia, Dump Truck and Much Ado V were giving us a good guide to the next wind shifts and we were aggressively adjusting sail trim for the next wind phase. Around Goat Island we were a little lower than ideal and again had to pinch in slow model to clear the lee shore. Dump Truck had the worst of the wind shifts around the Goat Island navigation mark as both Much Ado V and Passion X had a good lift well inside the line that Dump Truck had been forced to sail. From Goat we had a good following breeze for a short time and in this section our large genoa held out to windward worked well to make up time on Utopia, Dump Truck and Much Ado V. We stayed on the outside line for the approach to Long Nose but when we thought Much Ado V was going to shake out the reef in their main we went above and perhaps into too much disturbed air. Utopia from below was into the new breeze just as early and Dump Truck to windward did not suffer too much.
Avalon was still not to be seen but the four boats in our group were enjoying a very tight tussle. (All four boats have very similar ORCi ratings) Dump Truck with full main was overpowered on occasions but the reef in the main of Much Ado V did not stop her rounding up hard in the big gusts.
As we followed these three around Cockatoo for the last time we held out the genoa to windward for good effect and skirted the Island by the largest margin possible. Utopia in closest lost the most ground and Dump Truck pulled ahead while we managed to get to leeward of Utopia and the reefed Much Ado V.
Into Humbug our leeward position was rewarded with fresh wind from over our leeward quarter which gave us clear air but still had us on starboard tack for rights.
French Connection from Blue Division sensed our charge towards the finish and gave us room to attack the finish line. Dump Truck thought they were home and unknowingly started to close our path to clear the mark but fortunately responded in time.
To our surprise the finish time was only 2 seconds different with Utopia 10 seconds behind followed by Much Ado V just 8 seconds later.
We did win on handicap but only by 19 seconds from Fireball enjoying the fresher conditions.
Full credit is due to the two Ker 11.3 who sailed in the gusty conditions very lightly crewed and seemed to enjoy the family rivalry. I am sure if they had the gorillas that were aboard Avalon the extra crew weight would have made a big difference. It was also interesting to see that there was only seconds difference in the finish time of Dump Truck and Much Ado V despite Much Ado V carrying the reefed main for the whole course.
That is our best result in a breeze since we launched Passion X. The lesser tension on the D2 has allowed the mast to bend more letting us carry more sail area through the gusts and be better powered up for the lulls. We were very attentive to back stay tension and had them quite slack every time the breeze died. We were also more diligent in letting the genoa off during gusts on the tight reaches and that let us track straighter and faster.
We will leave everything as it is and see if our light air performance will still be ok.

For the record top wind speed was over 22 knots and top boat speed was 10.2 knots.

Sailing into a  light patch around Long Nose Point

Sailing into a light patch around Long Nose Point

Much Ado V rounding up across the course in a gust approaching Goat Island

Much Ado V rounding up across the course in a gust approaching Goat Island

Holding out the genoa to run deep around Cockatoo Island. Utopia and Much Ado V already reaching for Clarke Point

Holding out the genoa to run deep around Cockatoo Island. Utopia and Much Ado V already reaching for Clarke Point

 

Held out genoa and wind over the port quarter helped us catch Utopia and Much Ado V

Held out genoa and wind over the port quarter helped us catch Utopia and Much Ado V

That is the finishing mark with Dump Truck oh so close 2 seconds in front.

That is the finishing mark with Dump Truck oh so close 2 seconds in front.

 

I have been making glacially slow progress on a table for Passion X. The original plan was for the table to be supported by a box sliding inside a box so that in the lower position the settee would convert to a double bed and in the upper position it would be a standard table. The square box concept did not fit in the space and so it became a very odd shaped four sided box on the outside and an even odder eight sided box sliding up on the inside. The sided of the outer box are joined with standard triangular timber cleats while the inside box is glassed inside and out. Carbon fibre has been used for the outer side of the inner box and the base of the outer box has been joined with carbon fibre to ensure the box can take the weight of the crew leaning against the column.
Progress has been glacial because of the need for a very close fit over a very large area but it has progressed to the point of a final trial fit to locate the table top perfectly in the double bed position.
As the table and bed are just for cruising occasions I have made a small top of coffee table size to be left in the down position during the racing season. The box has room for four bottles of wine and that might come in handy over the summer.

The original keelson specification was 15mm by 150mm meranti which Dudley increased to 18 mm due to the deep keel we fitted. In practice I used 19 mm by 150 mm meranti and instead of individual packers under each of the keel bolt washers I used continuous hardwood stringers 19 mm by 50 mm thick down both edges to match the keelson and this gives an effective top plate on the keel for and aft I beam structure of 19 mm by 250 mm and over 2 times the original cross section. The extra width matches the keel and provides a very strong support for the table due both to the extra width and the strength of the hardwood compared to meranti.

The coffee table sized lid for the table support with the small hatch for storing the four bottles of wind

The coffee table sized lid for the table support with the small hatch for storing the four bottles of wind

The eight sided inner box sliding inside the four sided outer box. The two holes in the inner box floor are to clear the keel bolt nuts

The eight sided inner box sliding inside the four sided outer box. The two holes in the inner box floor are to clear the keel bolt nuts

The two boxes separated. There is an 82 mm wide slot in the base of the outer box where it sits around the 82mm wide full width keel bolt backing plate.

The two boxes separated. There is an 82 mm wide slot in the base of the outer box where it sits around the 82mm wide full width keel bolt backing plate.

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