Archive for July 2014

Ian & GrahameS

Graham and Ian are kept busy

It was the day for Rainbow to turn the tables and she did it in style recording a second on handicap. The look alike sister ship Izzi keeps getting better every week and notched up first place.

The broad reach to the heads and the just off the beat leg back to Steel Point favour the Northshore 38s with their long narrow hulls and light displacement so it was no surprise that they did well.

For our part we looked to have third place sewn up until the last two tacks to the finish. Not only were we caught in heavy traffic but we were also on the wrong side of the last shift so we slid down to eighth place in an ever so tightly bunched finish.

The rest of the day was pretty classy. A good start and a good first beat around Shark Island had us just on Rainbow’s tail and as well up in the fleet as I remember. Starr Ferry reached up to us in the lee of Shark Island but on the beat back we were soon a minute ahead only to lose it all on that last shift of the breeze.

Mostly good angles deserved a better result

Mostly good angles deserved a better result

Bunched handicap results

Bunched handicap results

 

Now I mentioned winter is for boat building so here is the progress report on the next Passion.

The building jig for the next Passion with eight of the fourteen legs already set in concrete.

The building jig for the next Passion with eight of the fourteen legs already set in concrete.

It was one of those perfect winter days that reminded me why winter is for boat building and summer is for sailing. It did not help that we were a minute late for the start nor that we had a crew supplemented by two young men who had been pressed into service for the afternoon not having sailed before. These were small handicaps compared to the fickle fluctuating breeze. Now you cannot be upset with fluky conditions as everyone gets a turn of the roulette wheel out on the course and the warm, sunny conditions were most pleasant but as far as memories of the sailing are concerned I will show the tracks and then call in the “Men in Black” Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith to erase it from your memory. First the tracks where the short section between Cockatoo Island and Hunters Hill are as near as I can recall the worst set on record.

Tacking into an outgoing tide with light shifting wind

Tacking into an outgoing tide with light shifting wind

And now Tommy and Will to erase the memory.

Look at the light please

Look at the light please

Despite the late start and that short spell of poor tacking angles that you can no longer remember we managed to finish sixth on handicap and are now in second place in the series so some of the other yachts must have had a bad day. Talking of bad days, Elaine heard Out of Africa call up on the VHF asking where the finish line was only to be told the time had elapsed and there was no finish line. Perhaps we should send the Men in Black around to them. Now I mentioned winter is for boat building so here is the progress report on the next Passion.

The building jig for the next Passion with eight of the fourteen legs already set in concrete.

The building jig for the next Passion with eight of the fourteen legs already set in concrete.

Nice Day on the Harbour

A nice day on the Harbour except GWhizz is in front

Well the crew has finally done it. After eight years of racing on Passion they have got me to break the start line. Fortunately the two minute penalty that is applied cost us only two places so we dropped from eleventh to thirteenth which hopefully will be a discard at the end of the season. It was a good day to be on the water. While the temperature was down to 16 degrees there was no chilling wind which resulted in a pleasant afternoon. The wind angle meant there was a tight work for part of the first leg until it freed up towards the heads and a broad reach back to Steel Point followed by a square run the the shortened course finish line off Point Piper. The dying breeze at the finish strung the fleet our time wise which is why we lost only two places.

Geoff as Wild Oats XI ducks our stern

Geoff as Wild Oats XI ducks our stern

The luckless Rainbow sailed into a hole on the first beat and Kevin was able to sail around her on our own private lift. That left Rainbow well behind and gave us our fourth time win over her. The lucky Gwhizz was only yards in front of us in Rose Bay when they found their own private lift which took them higher and faster to the Rose Bay mark while we were slow and low and had to tack to the mark. While we almost caught them the record will show the additional two minutes premature start penalty. In the absence of any tacking to windward except for a one to clear Bradley’s Head and the one mentioned above to make the Rose Bay mark there is not much point showing tracks up and down the Harbour. Off the water I have been enjoying a little wood work preparing bulkheads for Passion’s big sister. The photo shows a typical bulkhead with fiddly little doublers around the slots for the hull stringers and some triangular cleats to which will be attached shelves. There are over 200 of these fiddly little doublers to make and fit to the bulkheads as they go on both faces and on most stringers This bulkhead is the last one before the transom. On the right are the cleats for lockers that go alongside the huge quarter berth which is larger than a queen size. To the left is an opening for access to the space behind the bulkhead where the rudder post and auto steering links will be fitted.

A bulkhead for Passion's big sister

A bulkhead for Passion’s big sister

I know we might be cocky today and eating crow next week but we had a great windward work to finish off the day and snatch a fourth place. This also lifts us to fourth on the leader board after eleven races.

It was a soldiers course for much of the race starting with a broad reach to the heads. On this leg we could not match the speed of the fleet and dropped back to be second last around the first mark. The next leg was a tight work back to clear Steel Point but as the fleet approached the point it was headed and only the leaders were able to clear it without tacking. On the headers we kept falling into the dirty air of Izze and in turn GWhizz fell into our dirty air but generally we had height and speed to start winding in the mid fleet yachts.

By the time Rainbow tacked to clear Steel Point we had made up a lot of ground. The run into Rose Bay continued the soldiers course theme but once onto the breeze for the beat to Point Piper we restarted our advance up the fleet. On the run around Shark Island we could see Rainbow and Enigma being given a bit of a nudge to windward by the Etchell “The Biz” which suited us fine as we ran up to all three. Rainbow seemed to come out the most affected by The Biz’s moves and she was now within catching distance.

On the beat from Shark Island to the finish I gave the crew a heart attack by tacking after the mark right towards the shallow water post. It was I thought the best option since we had three yachts dead ahead and no way of progressing forward in their dirty air.┬áHaving gained the two boat lengths to windward and clear air I prayed for a progressive shift to lift us above the fleet. We did not get much of a lift but the breeze hung on until we reached the line of moored yachts and then right on cue headed us so we could tack now with a line well above the early tackers. It was the lift that kept on giving and it gave long enough for us to pass Rainbow. Kevin called for us to tack back on the first header towards approaching breeze out of Double Bay and the tack on the next header lifted us to the Naval buoy and right onto Enigma’s stern. The tracks for the day show just how fortunate we were with the wind shifts.

Great tacking angles against the tide

Great tacking angles against the tide

It was another great day on the Harbour and thanks to all the crew for the great result. After rowing ashore after Passion was safely back on the mooring the sun was just above the horizon and shining on the city. The light was not a golden as in a previous post but still worth the time to pause and take it in.

Sydney at sunset from Woolwich

Sydney at sunset from Woolwich

 

Sunny skies, a fresh breeze and a keen crew are all the ingredients for a fine Sunday West Harbour Winter Series race.

The afternoon started with a surprise cake courtesy of Frank which was washed down with tea or coffee. In fact so good was the cake and company that we were still hoisting the mainsail on the mooring when the five minute gun sounded for our start. Fortunately the start line was only metres from our mooing in Woolwich and at a pinch a tight work directly from the mooring would have taken us just below the start boat.

Having missed the sound signal I had to wait for the one minute gun to set the timer and we were not the first off the line for the short work to the Cockatoo Island rounding mark. There were some competitors we were keen to beat today. Fist there was GWhizz a fellow GFS sailor who also races against us at RANSA and then there was Macscap the Jeanneau Sun Fast 37 which is a hull sister ship to Passion but started life with all the manufacturers go fast gear that Passion has tried to acquire over the past five years. Both these yachts lead us up the course having made more precise starts.

By Manns Point we were close on GWhizz stern and on the tight leg to Goat Island we went higher than the fleet which left us more room for the big knock up near the mark so we rounded mid fleet pretty pleased with our progress. The broad reach back to the start area was less impressive. Macscap reached out from under us and Gwhizz reached over the top with fresh air from behind so that we were last onto the section of the course which is three laps around Cockatoo, Spectacle and Snapper islands. To windward we seemed to sail a little higher than most and for the main picked the shifts better. We tacked on the headers with Kath and Elaine ensuring that the low footed No 2 genoa came back over the rails. I think the smaller headsail which allowed us to tack more quickly was a big part of the better track to windward.

Mostly good tracks for the three laps of the West Harbour Islands

Mostly good tracks for the three laps of the West Harbour Islands

We found better angles close to Cockatoo Island and passed GWhizz. On the first circuit Macscap did as well and was ahead but on the first beat of the second circuit we found a big inside shift which brought us ahead and we tacked underneath her for a clear leeward position from which we were able to pinch up and giver her the full dirty air treatment.

On the last broad reach down the Hunters Hill shore it seemed like Macscap was going to run us down but at the Clarkes Point corner we had wind a bit by the lee which meant we had clear air and with the genoa hand held to windward we broke any overlap well before the mark. On the last work to the finish we kept a close eye on Macscap but as on every other windward leg we seemed to have their measure and crossed for a minute lead. On handicap we finished a credible fourth with Macscap fifth but importantly we still hold a series lead by two points.

It was a great afternoon on all counts and God willing we will do it again in two weeks time.

Today’s results was almost a Greenwich Flying Squadron trifecta with Izzi, Ghwizz and Passion finishing second third and fourth respectively. Starr Ferry sailed by a fellow MHASC member kept the top places in the circle of close associates.
The CrewWe compromised on the rig and set the No 2 genoa and full main in anticipation of the forecast winds of over twenty five knots that never arrived.
The first mark looked like a tight beat but the incoming tide and a bit of easterly shift meant the whole fleet would have to tack onto starboard at some stage to make the mark. With that in mind we started near the pin on port and pulled away behind the stern of the one brave starboard tacker who caused a bit of havoc for the boats higher up who did not have the room to bear away. The problems the starboard tacker gave to the rest of the fleet meant we had only Luce Change in front of us and we soon pinched to windward for clear air.

Star Ferry

Winner on the Day Star Ferry

Allegro down low was as always going faster and when the wind knocked she was able to tack and cross the fleet. We tacked on the same knock and forced Gwhizz to tack onto starboard. When we tacked back to port Gwhizz opted to hang on longer and that was her undoing. Izzi had made a good start and was well up in the fleet on the beat. Starr Ferry had tacked away early and made good use or the first lift to run over the top of us but at the top mark she tacked too low and had to tack again for the rounding.

Mostly a port tack course to the heads

Mostly a port tack course to the heads

Respectable Proportion of the Fleet Behind

A Respectable Portion of the Fleet Behind

The run back to Steel Point was frustrating as the big Benetau First 45s wanted to push us wide. Eventually I did a hard deviation to take their stern and we matched them to Steel Point only to lose them in Rose Bay when they just achieved the inside overlap on the rounding mark.
We did better into the Rose Bay mark than Star Ferry and Larrikin who sailed into the lee of the hill but by Point Piper Larrikin had caught us .
It was a bit of a procession from here to home and I was delighted to finish in top half of the fleet on time. Our benchmark both old and new were well behind on the day .
The equal forth place with Enigma lifted our series ranking from eighth to equal fifth but the 1, 7, 4 places in the last three weeks will probably get the handicappers attention.

Martin at Work

Martin – The Forward Hand’s Work is Never Done

Crew on Passion

The Afterguard

It was a wonderful sunny day on Sydney Harbour and the perfect setting for a winter race. In contrast to the five yachts that fronted last week in gale conditions the temperate afternoon brought out nineteen starters.

We started at the pin end working up to the start line on a very tight angle with only Krakatoa below us when we were headed and could just make the pin with no place for Krakatoa. She tried gamely to get up to the pin but went past head to wind with the genoa blowing back towards Passion. We did our best to avoid them and went past head to wind too and were disappointed when they failed to do penalty turns after the start. With that delay we were late onto the reach to the heads and low on the course. To windward the fleet was reaching away in fresher conditions leading me to think our goose was cooked for the afternoon.
It was a slow procession to the heads so I handed the helm to Frank and went below to plan some routine maintenance on Passion by finding the appropriate part number for our shower and bilge pump repair kit. When I emerged the breeze had freshened on our side of the course and Frank had Passion right back in the running for a good result.
We had good company from Silky who politely stayed to leeward until she could clear our stern and then gave us a bit of clear air by going high. We rounded the mark on Silky’s stern and set about working back to Steel Point. The outgoing tide was meant to be working against good windward angles but so large were the wind shifts that you had to take them when they came and the resulting tracks look quite impressive.

Nice windward angles against an outgoing tide thanks to big wind shifts

Nice windward angles against an outgoing tide thanks to big wind shifts

Silky looked like she was history out deep into the mid harbour but she picked a miracle shift to come out well ahead of us by Steel Point. Meanwhile we had been picking the shifts in closer to Vaucluse and doing quite well against our nearby competitors. One of our benchmark yachts L’eau Co was close at hand giving us a good guide to our speed and I was delighted that we were able to hold her out for the day in conditions that usually favour her. Poor Viva our substitute benchmark for the light air days we do not so well was very far behind. Rainbow was uncharacteristically far behind with possibly her worst performance relative to Passion in many years.

In Rose Bay I sensed a progressive right hand shift was developing so we went early and almost caught Silky but she crossed and managed to keep ahead for the rest of the day.
For several anxious moments we endured quiet conditions around Point Piper watching Gwhizz and L’eau Co catch us but once around we pulled away and rebuilt a handy lead.
Kevin took Passion home and across the line for a good fleet position considering the light airs. On handicap we managed a seventh place. The big black genoa sheeted one hole forward for the light airs and the backstay eased gave us plenty of power whenever the breeze kicked above the six knots that seemed to prevail for the afternoon and it was one of our best light air performances to date.