Archive for January 2018

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

 

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

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

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

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

Flashback to the right

Flashback to the right

Flashback to the left

Flashback to the left

Mainsail shape best seen with the sun behind the sail

Mainsail shape best seen with the sun behind the sail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Room to tack diagram very similar to the position discussed.

Room to tack diagram very similar to the position discussed.

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

No 1 reef point now in the correct position

No 1 reef point now in the correct position

No 2 reef point also moved aft

No 2 reef point also moved aft

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

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

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

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

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

Mapfre in port Cape Town helicopter photo

Mapfre in port Cape Town helicopter photo

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

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

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

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

Tight reaching to the heads with the Code 0

Tight reaching to the heads with the Code 0

A tricky attempt at flying the code 0 to windward.

A tricky attempt at flying the code 0 to windward.

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

Australian Amateur Boat Building magazine cover shot of Passion X

Australian Amateur Boat Building magazine cover shot of Passion X

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

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

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

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

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