Archive for June 2014

Dolphins1When the West Harbour WInter Series scheduled race was abandoned due to forecast strong winds we went dolphin watching. Our intention was to have a relaxed cup of tea on board Passion and then go for a sail around the islands with our heavy wind rig which was still set up from the windy Wednesday race. We did just that and had a most enjoyable afternoon taking turns to take Passion to windward up the Hunters Hill shore as well as venturing as far as Gladesville Bridge. The No 3 genoa and a double reefed mainsail was the ideal rig for a leisurely afternoon. Just enough sail area to be challenging but not so much as to be dangerous.
Dolphins2I do not recall a gust over 25 knots all afternoon but we did see plenty of dolphins.

The pod may have been as many as a dozen and that means there were more dolphins around Cockatoo Island than there were yachts.

While we missed the opportunity to get a good result in conditions that really suit Passion we did have a great afternoon and back on the mooring I was able to attended to some maintenance.

 

Today’s fresh conditions frightened off all but the hardiest sailors and only five yachts contested the Division 1 race at RANSA. With forecast winds over twenty five knots and spot readings coming in over that level I was surprised that the race was conducted but if racing is on we are there for the party and party we did. In the pre race test run with one reef in the main and the No 3 genoa still furled Passion proved a handful so we took the safe option and put in the second reef. Kevin called the start to perfection so we lead the fleet for a short time until Silky decided that she wanted us to sail up into the lee of Bradley’s Head while Allegro charged down the course to leeward. It seemed a strange tactic as we could not pull away behind their stern and Silky was only driving both of up into the wind shadow of Izzi. Graham and Kath were aboard the start boat doing the duty crew work and Graham took this photo of Silky below us. Compare the sail area and see just how conservative our rig was for the day.

Passion with two reefs keeping up with Silky with a full mainsail

Passion with two reefs keeping up with Silky with a full mainsail

Eventually SIlky pulled away so we could clear Bradley’s Head and in the process we both squared away to the breeze and attempted to pole the genoa out to windward. Rainbow kept the genoa out to leeward and pulled away so eventually we conceded defeat and lowered the pole. In the process we lost a little ground on Silky and Izzi and rounded in last place for the beat back to Steel Point. On the wind we passed Silky and Izzi and took a little time out of Rainbow’s almost two minute gap she had on us at the turn. By this time Allegro had powered over Rainbow and was reaching away to the Rose Bay mark and we held a slim lead over Silky and Izzi but the best was yet to come. Beating out of Rose Bay the wind was approaching thirty knots and our more conservative rig was proving superior to Rainbow’s single reefed mainsail so that by Point Piper we were ahead by a good margin. Graham’s and Kath’s  photos from the start boat shows how much Passion was heeling and how much the double reefed mainsail was just flogging in the gusts.

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Passion’s double reefed main flogging in the gusts

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Kath’s photo of Passion beating to windward

Ron on the mainsheet was pleased we had two reefs in the sail and he got good assistance from the crew all day to drop the main and wind it back in whenever the breeze allowed. In the reach around Shark Island Rainbow with the larger main made good gains from behind and was right on our transom as we rounded for the last beat home. Once back working to windward we showed the wisdom of our sail selection with better height and just a touch more speed so that by the finish we were almost two minutes in front of Rainbow. Even the broken starboard genoa sheet could not stop our progress as we flopped over onto starboard tack and Kevin tied off the shortened sheet just in time to tack away from the yachts moored near Point Piper. For the last beat to the finish line I asked Kevin to tie on a spare sheet to the genoa as a precaution but it was not needed and we crossed with our best ever fastest times place. Congratulations to all the crew for a solid days work and a special thanks to Kath and Graham for doing our duty turn and allowing us to enjoy a memorable day on the harbour.

 

Today was one of those glorious winter’s day where you could sit in the sun, read the newspaper and have a nap but we went sailing instead. Our pre start preparation was marred by the genoa halyard turning around the forestay which necessitated a quick trip to the top of the mast to undo the wrap.

That sorted and the big black genoa raised we motored at maximum revs to make the start line on time. After feathering the prop we hovered around the start boat in windless conditions waiting for the last five minuted to count down. Just to the south east there was ripples on the water from the approaching breeze but we sat in windless conditions unable to prevent Passion touching the start boat. What could have been the start of the season turned into a 360 degree turn to exonerate ourselves from this rule infringement.

With the turns behind us we broad reached to south head and tight reached back to Steel point. What little tacking was required for the day happened in Rose Bay when first one side of the course was favoured and then the next. I think we won one and lost two as the tracks will show.

Giving the picture of the tracks the title “Bad tracks..” is a bit ungenerous as we did well lifting into Shark Island and bouncing off the shore but the memory of the approach to the mark still lingers on .

Bad tracks! Bad tracks!

Bad tracks! Bad tracks!

On the second short windward leg we almost made up ground by tacking short of the lay line and lifting to the mark but a late header put paid to the gains we had made and we reached home without much hope of a good result. Our 11th place on handicap out of a field of 19 was a bit of a surprise. As much as we were affected by the light breeze at least eight others fared worse but still I felt cheated as the 15 knots promised never eventuated. You see we want it all, sunshine and robust sailing breeze, not this glorious sunbaking weather.

We scored a fourth place today in a windy West Harbour Winter Series. Only nine yellow division yacht braved the forecast of 30 knots and were rewarded with a rain free gusty sail around the inner harbour.

The aim was to start low and pinch up to the start boat on starboard but we were too late and too low and just made the pin but the breeze was flicking around so much it was just a case of hanging on for the knock. Upwind we were clearly overpowered with the No1 A on the furler. We have three No 1s, the black one is No 1 B, the pentax base with carbon and Kevlar tapes is the Big No 1 and the North tri radial is the No 1 A. The thinking was that we needed a genoa that was easy to skirt and not too small for the downwind legs.

Our strategy worked out well for the varying breeze and at the peak of the wind strength we reefed the main and made good progress at catching the fleet. Even during the reefing process we seemed to pull away from the adjacent yacht and not loose ground on the fleet.

For most of the competitors it was too windy for spinnakers so our big genoa kept us in the game downwind and wound the boat speed up to 9 knots at the peak of the breeze.
The anxious moment was when Elaine copped a flick in the face from a wildly flapping genoa clew. Thankfully apart from the shock the trauma was mild and she quickly was back in good spirits.

The final drama for the day was the position of the finish boat on the leeward end of the line just next to the turning mark of the previous leg. It would have been obvious where the finish line was if the boat had been on the windward end or if the flag on the pin mark end of the finish line had been the colour specified in the sailing instructions and not the faced bit of rag that it was. This little misunderstanding cost us a minute which would have given us third place but we are happy with the fourth place and retaining the lead in the series.

The results for the race and the series are here.

The tracks for the day are below

Windward works in 15 to 22 knots

Windward works in 15 to 22 knots

After the rain front there is usually a good sky and tonight the city of Sydney looked like an array of golden temples.

Sydney on sunset looking over Woolwich ferry wharf

Sydney on sunset looking over Woolwich ferry wharf

Now if you don’t like that you are not human.

 

The forecast warm sunny day was true to forecast and alas so was the breeze. Luckily for us there was enough breeze to finish the race in Rose Bay before it dropped away to nothing.

Little breeze on Sea Breeze

Little breeze on Sea Breeze

The start was a classic starboard reaching one with all the pin end boats reaching up to the start boat where there was not enough room for all the yachts who went in below close hauled. We were one of those reaching in late due to a small yacht in a later fleet occupying our starting area. By the time she motored away there were just enough seconds left to broad reach for the line and hope the fleet would bear away on the gun. We were lucky to find a spot up near the start boat that was wide enough for Passion so we could start on time.

It was five knots for most of the run and reach to the top mark with occasional holes of no breeze to negotiate. The genoa poled out to leeward worked well for the broad reach and the long extendable pole worked well for the square runs so we arrived at the top mark ahead of Loco and Rainbow. We renamed L’Eau Co as Loco for the afternoon and that name might stick for the rest of the season.

The tracks for the work back are impressive even allowing for the incoming tide carrying us into the fading breeze. The tracks show the big header we took off Steel Point before tacking into the progressive shift into Rose Bay. At this stage we were the meat in the Northshore 38 sandwich of Rainbow and L’Eau Co with the progression of the breeze helping Rainbow to windward and helping us over the leeward L’Eau Co. On this lift we overtook Star Ferry who deserved better having been well ahead of us on the run and for most of the work back.

Incoming tide and big shifts make impressive tracks

Incoming tide and big shifts make impressive tracks

In Rose Bay we finished eleventh in a fleet of nineteen. We were fifteen minutes behind the equal fastest times Luce Change and Allegro and fifteen minutes ahead of our mark boat Viva so in every respect we were mid fleet. After the race I commented to Kevin that I was happy with mid fleet as the old Passion would have struggled to complete the course in such light conditions. So the race was a shorter distance than usual and a longer time than normal but a most enjoyable contest all the same.

After the race we towed The Biz back to RSYS in very calm conditions. The Biz is an etchell who sails off a similar handicap to Passion but on the day finished six minutes in front but only two places on handicap.

The forecast had been for a very light breeze but a nice southerly came in which built to ten knots at time and lasted long enough for us to complete a shortened course race.

The first leg was a runch! Some times a run and sometimes a reach so towards the top of the course I poled the genoa out to leeward to open the gap and get the foot more in line with the apparent wind. In this configuration we seemed to hold the fleet to a two minute lead on our position.

Even though the gap was not large we were well back in parade around the top mark and had a job to do to get back into the race. I took the high road and kept to windward of the fleet which paid off when the breeze lifted along the shore leading up to Steel Point. At this stage we had caught Enigma and passed Star Ferry and Silky and were catching a new shiny silver grey competitor, Mojo. Kevin spotted the breeze coming around Steel Point and guided us close in which paid off well. We continued to benefit from a lifting breeze and were looking closer to Rainbow than we had been all day.

The tracks show some nice angles up into Rose Bay and by the time we had reached away to Point Piper we were surprisingly close to the fleet bunched around the mark. From Point Piper there was just the reach to the shortened course finish line but a fading breeze and an agonisingly slow reach home meant the short distance was still a long time.

Nice tracks up into Rose Bay

Nice tracks up into Rose Bay

For our efforts and concentration we achieved fifth place which was a mighty fine effort for the light conditions. We were beaten by our old mark boats Rainbow and L’Eau Co and their sister ship Izzi. That made three Northshore 38′s in the first three which suggests the predominantly reaching conditions suited their narrow water lines and light weight. Our new mark boat the big blue Viva does not like the light conditions and was well back.
So considering the forecast it was a bonus race and we were very pleased to score a fifth place.

You can see some photos of the race and the day below.

A tiny crew of Ron, Elaine and I raced Passion in the second West Harbour Winter series race with remarkable success. As we were down on crew numbers I arrived at Passion early to set up all the gear. Ron joined us at noon at the GFS pontoon and Elaine joined us at 12:30 at Woolwich where we were pulled up on our mooring waiting for the start. As we can see the start line from the mooring it is a relaxed way to prepare and hoist the sails before motoring to the start line.
Just in time enough breeze sprang up for us to turn off the motor and circle for the start. We took a few transoms as we started on Port but the starboard tack was away from the mark so we were soon into the lead. The lead looked even better when a big progressive header developed but I hung on for the lay line only to have the wind shift back as we tacked taking us back to the middle of the fleet. A zoomed in section of the tracks from the chartplotter shows how extreme were the wind shifts.

A big progressive header on the first work and a big progressive lift on the next

A big progressive header on the first work and a big progressive lift on the next

On the reach from Manns Point to Goat Island we carried breeze down on the fleet and rounded well up for the reach and run back to Balmain.
We were pleasantly surprised that we were still mid fleet as the wind was not enough to set spinnakers well and when it was it shifted around a lot making the spinnakers less effective. Once the wind picked up the lightweight flyers took off. The work back along the Birchgrove shore was always going to be difficult with such a small crew but Ron left the mainsail to look after itself and with Elaine skirted, tailed and winched away all day to good effect. We did try to stay out of the hurley burley by going closer to Cockatoo than the rest but that cost us as we languished in the wind shadow while Aggrovation and Macscap our jeanneau cruiser rivals took off. Once clear of the wind shadow I took the Long Nose side and we were gifted with this progressive lift that took us all the way to the mark, inside Macscap and right on Aggrovation’s tail. That is the second set of tracks on the chartplotter. Most of the spinnaker carrying yachts made ground on us on the next broad reach but we did hold off Mascap because the reach tightened towards the end which meant we had to harden up but she had to drop the spinnaker and hoist the genoa.
By the work along Spectacle and Spinnaker Ron had the tacking well sorted out and we used the full width of the track from moored yachts to shallow shores to good effect.

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Using all the available width on the work along the islands

The chartplotter tracks from this section of the race show how we took transoms but made it up on the next tack. We took the work carefully but did well and were very happy with our work. Aggrovation had pulled away on the previous reach and was in different wind now so she was no use as a benchmark but Macscap was still behind. We could see her and the smaller Jeanneau Sunfast 32 Tana battling along the Hunters Hill shore for bragging rights and for a while they appeared to be catching us. At Clarke Point our breeze picked up and we skipped away. We were still carrying our private breeze as we rounded for the reach to the western corner of Cockatoo Island and this was our highest speed leg of the day. By now everyone was enjoying our breeze as we tight reached to the finish line of the shortened course at Balmain.

Well satisfied to have beaten the Sun Fast 37 Macscap we followed the original course around the islands and back to the mooring. Ron helmed her home to complete a day where he did every conceivable task on board including holding our the genoa to windward on the square run. Elaine did a great job skirting, tailing calling the genoa trim and we declared the day a success.  We were not expecting any great handicap result so I was very pleased to see we had won on handicap  on a day we had not set the spinnaker.