Archive for February 2018

Both before and after our Wednesday Twilight race there was plenty of activity. A large three masted schooner was parked across our start line. From the for sale web site “Southern Cloud is a majestic 130’ triple masted motor sailing yacht specifically designed and constructed for long range cruising. She is now available for sale. She is the ideal vessel with the classic appeal, for intimate getaways, long weekends with close friends, family vacations, corporate entertaining or product launches. She is the perfect yacht to take advantage of the enormous deck space and 360 degree views.”

Fortunately we were able to get her to move away for an hour so that the 70 yachts that had to tack out of the Lane Cove River could do so with a degree of safety. A big thank you to John Wood who chased them up on Tuesday and arranged the move just 30 minutes prior to our start.

The race was conducted in an unusual wind pattern with the direction different on the west end of the harbour.  We took punt of the No 1.5 genoa which is the Dimension Polyant Carbon from off Passion that we have used as a No 1 for the last year. In the early gusty conditions we were over on our ear to 40 degrees and struggling a little against the heavier Jackpot and the two Ker 11.3 twins and the nice rig on the new J 112e, Meridian. As the breeze eased we gained some ground but I could also see Lisdillon making up ground determined to continue her winning streak.

In the early windy conditions the aircraft carrier Flashback had an unfortunate mishap when the fractional rig suddenly reverted to a masthead rig. Very fortunately it was a clean break above the shrouds so the mast remained upright. It is a fairly small section and had given 30 years of service so I think around a $1000 per year of sailing is not a bad figure. Perhaps more of a worry will be getting a suitable replacement section and matching it to the very light hull weight.

Our moment of  hope came as we rounded Cockatoo Island for the tight reach to Humbug where the fleet that went in close appeared to be becalmed. We skirted the fleet only to experience the same light conditions further away from the lee of the island and the gap widened out as the leading boats were first to the new breeze.

Captain Beck won the night in the sibling rivalry competition although to be fair the two Ker 11.3′s are not identical twins and Much Ado V should be giving a couple of minutes to Dump Truck on ORCi. That is something they can argue about over the BBQ.

We were four minutes behind Much Ado V. a couple of minutes behind Dump Truck and Jackpot and we split the J112e fleet being a minute behind the professional crew on Meridian and a couple of minutes in front of Joli. I think this one does not count in the head to head competition Stephen.

Sweet Chariot cleaned up in the handicap stakes and we were surprised to beat Lisdillon into second place by a mere 19 seconds.

Sympathy goes out to Soundtrack who must have hit the doldrums somewhere on the course and was a late but valiant finisher. It was the sort of night when they have done well and no doubt they will be breathing down our necks next week.

The finish was affected by the return of Southern Cloud to our finish line and the fleet could not see the finish mark behind the bow of the 130 ft craft.

An hour later a 40 knot southerly swung up and Southern Cloud dragged her anchor. While holding down plates of food on the deck we watched as she drifted towards the ferry dock and were greatly relieved when the crew started the engines and got her back under control. The same breeze made it difficult for the raft up to disembark from the pontoon and thanks to all those who helped and were patient while the yachts peeled off.

Southern Cloud position up to an hour before the race

Southern Cloud position up to an hour before the race

Southern Cloud in the calm before the 40 knot southerly hit

Southern Cloud in the calm before the 40 knot southerly hit


Having just returned from four days of Champagne sailing at the Laser National Masters it would be remiss of me not to reflect on the great sailing conditions. Against the forecasts we had four days of seven to fifteen knots of oscillating breezes during which time we fitted in ten races. Our fleet of around 35 over 65 years of age sailors had a longish start line which was set for the larger standard rig and radial fleets that started ahead of us so it was not too crowded. Most of the starts I was at the pin end with several of my regular club friend and apart from Rob and John and Frank they were not too aggressive. Wait! I think that was all of them. Anyway Rob regularly tacked off early to cover the fleet which gave Frank and John clear air to continue on the the port tack layline. I went when there was clear air and below the layline and had a couple of very good windward works taking advantage of a persistent shift or the occasional knock back. I managed a sixth or seventh placing but it is too long a story to explain the intricacies of the scoring review system or to ponder if ever final results will be posted. Suffice to say that on the drive back towards Sydney on the following day the tune that came into my head was Louis Armstrong singing “O what a wonderful world.”   A nice photo from Beau Outteridge was posted on his web site.

The forecast for the Wednesday night twilight race at Greenwich Flying Squadron was for thirteen knots at which wind speed we would have set the No 1 genoa. The on water wind was somewhat stronger and we settled for the same No 3 jib we have used for the past three weeks but this time opted to keep the full main for the whole race. Flashback did well through Humbug and they had a large genoa poled out to get a jump on the fleet. The rest of the fleet was tightly bunched on the reach to Cockatoo and for the run around the Island.
We had 69 yachts on the water for the evening and it seemed like all of them were beating up the Hunters Hill shore towards Goat Island so the first work was a nervous one as we ducked and weaved and tacked to stay out of the way of right of way yachts. At one stage we had to tack away from a stalled port tack yacht and plead for water from an approaching starboard tacker who kindly responded.
At Goat Island we were hot on the heels of Joli and Lisdillon but hit a light header approaching the turning mark which had us two tacking at a very slow pace.
The run back around Cockatoo was straight forward until we reached the western end of Cockatoo and had to negotiate the wind shadow of a large cruising yacht which we could not abuse because they had friends on board. Instead we exchanged pleasantries and waited to negotiate the wind shadow.
We enjoyed the next work to Goat Island without the traffic of the first leg and at times seemed to hit our windward target speeds of 7 knots in 18 knots of breeze. At times we were heeled 30 degrees and tracking quite well but could not make up any of the gap to Lisdillon and Joli.
Dump Truck who had a late start was behind but not making up a lot of ground so we were using them as a guage of performance. Again we had to two tack around the end of Goat Island and lost a lot of ground in the process. A couple of good squirts on the way back to Humbug raised our spirits momentarily but like the yacht in front we took a long time to get past the wind shadow of the hill.
We finished perfectly in the middle of the fleet with a fourth on handicap but a long way back from third. If the handicap system does not catch up with Lisdillon after two wins it will after three. They have sailed very well these last few weeks and deserve the results. Congratulations to Jackpot which is doing very well with the new owners on board and took fastest time and second place from Flashback second fastest and third on handicap with Much Ado V across the line in third fastest.

It was a windy forecast for Wednesday afternoon that frightened off all but six of the black fleet. The cooler weather and chance of rain did not set the scene for a comfortable post race BBQ so it was to be expected that numbers would be down. The brave six that did turn up had a good race with the bravest being Adrian with his new J121E who started with full main and jib and was rewarded with a first up fastest time. Flashback and Lisdillon pulled out their reefs next and finished in that order. We left our reef in for the second work to Goat Island and while there were some strong gusts there was also a lot of light air holes. Soundtrack and Fireball started to catch us on this work and Lisdillon and Flashback built up handy leads behind Jodi. A couple of big shifts around the eastern side of Goat Island enabled us to break away from Soundtrack and Fireball and after clearing Goat we pulled out the reef for the run home. We still had the small No3 jib up so we made little impression on the leaders. As the race finished the strong wind we had set sails for arrived but it was too late us.

In an attempt to improve our windward performance in a breeze I changed the bridle system on the mainsheet for two blocks either side of the companionway. It worked fine for allowing the boom to hang to leeward in the gusts but left a lot of spare mainsheet flogging around across the deck. It is a pretty standard arrangement for many of the Hanse yachts but was not to my crew’s liking. Also the spare sheet flicked a winch handle over board and that is expensive. Today I went back to the drawing board researching mainsheet systems and decided to revert to the bridle system. I unashamedly stole the idea from the very successful Jeanneau 439 and since then Jeanneau have used it on the new 440 and 490. I have a lot of respect for the Jeanneau design team and seeing the idea on the latest 490 convinced me to give it another chance. To help with the dumping of the mainsheet in gusts I added another 2:1 purchase to the vang system and then took Passion X for a solo sail to test it. With just the single reefed main up I had couple of pleasant works up to the Balmain shore and back inspecting the flow of the leech tell tales. I had added an upper and lower ribbon yesterday and they had streamed well with the Hanse style mainsheet system so I was interested to see how they went with the beefed up vang. To be honest I think they did not stream quite as well but then I did not have the headsail up so the main was not sailing in the header from the jib.

It was instructive to see how high the boat would point with the boom dropped to leeward like we sail the cat rigged Laser and it is a reminder why we do not have the boom in the Laser on the centreline as we do with a yacht with a large jib or genoa.

What I did lean from my solo sail is how hard it is to dump sheet when the mainsheet is wrapped around the winch. But who is strong enough to hold it by hand and play it in and out. Perhaps we do need a double ended main with a hand held 16:1 ratio for trimming!

Looking at the promo photos from the various manufacturers web sites I did notice a lot of sideways bend in the centre sheeted booms. Now we had to go for a larger section on Passion X when we bent the first one and I have sleeved the larger section around the spread out blocks so I will have to take a few photos under load for comparison.

The up and down breeze at Fort Denison was typical of our breeze on Wednesday night

The up and down breeze at Fort Denison was typical of our breeze on Wednesday night