Archive for April 2018

We did have a couple of very good races at the Sail Port Stephens regatta and considering it is our only spinnaker regatta for the year we should be happy with the result. The biggest winner of the regatta had to be our code zero sail and while it cost a lot in the rating department most of the time we are sailing Performance Handicapping Systems and just want to be closer to the front of the fleet. Every time we flew the code zero it we had a good result and the one time we flew the asymmetric spinnaker in lieu we had our worst result. To be fair to the spinnaker it was the first time we had flown it and we were on the wrong side of the course for the freshening wind. Still the code zero would have let us fight for clear air and point higher towards the freshening breeze. In one race we thought the asymmetric might have been better than the code zero we flew but judging by later experience that may not have worked for us. Our weakness in the regatta was still the heavy air working to windward but I felt we made some progress. Even with a years experience we are still learning and over the post race discussions with fellow skippers and crew we picked up some more advice to try. I have already tightened the cap shrouds and put a little pre bend into the mast. That has improved the sail shape off the mast and even when short handed on the way home we managed to handle 20 knots with the full main and No 3 jib. While I did put in a reef for comfort the full crew would have been pressing for speed records and may have done better than the 13 knots recorded as the maximum hull speed. I am not sure how accurate that is but we did see an 13.7 max speed during the regatta in lighter conditions. On both occasions we saw 10 knot briefly on the live instruments and I think a jump to 13 is probably a very short spurt down a wave. The big yellow mast head spinnaker was certainly a winner in the light running conditions but it is a bit heavy for the dead drifts when the foot tends to droop into the water. The spinnaker snuffers worked well except when I packed the small runner incorrectly. We took that one down and put up the big mast head runner which was packed correctly and as it turned out was the correct one for the conditions. I was more comfortable using the old No 1 genoa and the full mainsail for the whole regatta even when we saw 20 knots and after seeing a mast bending demonstration on one of the competitors I now know we have been too conservative in the back stay tension area. On the last day of racing we had a second on handicap in the Performance Cruising division 1 and an eleventh fastest overall. We started well and were fourth to the windward mark and for the first time in the regatta were matching Amanti to windward. Their crew work was too slick downwind and we were becalmed on the way home when the second last placed yacht in the fleet sailed around the hole and went on to fourth fastest. It was rewarding to be in front of so many larger yachts in that race. After the racing on the second last day we had a violent hail storm that rained down mini golf balls denting cars in the parking lots and stripping leaves off trees. Accompanying this was a powerful gust that freed the awning from the lifelines and left the deck exposed. At first I thought we had escaped any damage but later noticed two stanchions had been bent in. A small price to pay for a most enjoyable week. On the way home we sailed away from some of our competitors as the beam reach suited Passion X well. We just need more of these conditions. For the Newcastle to Port Stephens race we did have tight reaching conditions for the first half of the race and with the code zero flying we were making a strong showing. Once the breeze headed the fleet we had to drop the Code Zero and go into tight beating mode where the heavier boats slowly overtook us.

The autopilot doing the steering on the way Sydney to Newcastle

The autopilot doing the steering on the way Sydney to Newcastle

Happy crew on the race to Port Stephens while the Code Zero was flying

Happy crew on the race to Port Stephens while the Code Zero was flying

The tracks for the beating part of the race to Port Stephens

The tracks for the beating part of the race to Port Stephens

Top speed for the regatta was 13.6 knots but we did not see this on the cockpit speed readout

Top speed for the regatta was 13.6 knots but we did not see this on the cockpit speed readout

Top wind speed in the marina on last day of cancelled racing was 33.4 knots

Top wind speed in the marina on last day of cancelled racing was 33.4 knots

Well that is cutting it fine because the updated ORCi Club rating for Passion X with the jib set flying just came through on the email. It is pretty well as expected as I ran a few trials before committing to the purchase. I have the speed targets from the trial ratings and they are so close to the official ones that I will save the paper and ink and use the trial ones as a sail selection guide. In some very limited wind angles the code zero is a potent beast adding half a knot over that very narrow range. The speed targets show very little angles and wind speeds where the larger asymmetric spinnaker would be more useful and then only if on the pole and not tacked to the centreline.
So I have voluntarily added sail area so that our terrible ratings under ORCi Club and IRC are even more terrible. If the wind is fresh we will be carrying a penalty for sail area we cannot use so we have to hope for very specialist conditions where the breeze is light and just in front of the beam.
The new ORCi rating is 1.0987 up which I thing is a fair increase. We could not however sail to the old rating and in a breeze will find the extra .006 a difficult addition.
As expected the IRC rating was extreme due to the code zero being treated as a head sail. The rating has gone from 1.111 to 1.127, an increase of 0.016 or almost three times the penalty under ORCi.

It will be interesting to see how we fare against these ratings over the coming season but our interest is just in going as fast as we can in whatever conditions we meet so it should be fun.

 

Running the code zero out to windward. We can do this because it rates as a headsail with a massive penalty rating.

Running the code zero out to windward. We can do this because it rates as a headsail with a massive penalty rating.

It is good to have a deadline to motivate one to complete a few tasks. The upcoming trip to Port Stephens was the perfect motivator to get a few tasks ticked off the list. The list includes topcoating the primed areas of the V beth, more filling and fairing of the galley drawer surrounds, reinforcing on the chart table support and on the shower seat in the head.  The reinforcing timber was pre painted in the workshop and needed only to be glued into place and have a final coat of epoxy paint to hide the glue join. In the head I did some more filling and fairing of the vanity unit face and Elaine made up a new curtain for the opening. After 12 months of pretty robust sailing nothing has fallen out of the cabinet so I feel a hard door is not needed. Under the edges of the floor I fixed hatch gasket tape to take away the wood on wood sound and a small amount of tape goes a long way. There were a few tiny tasks to complete like lubricating the lip seal on the shaft and topping up the coolant that both cools the engine and heats the hot water. In the circuit I have a tiny drip which over the course or a year adds up to half a glass of coolant. That is about the same as on our Jeanneau SO 37 and in eleven years never found the source of that drip. At least on Passion X I do know the drip comes from the inlet and outlet of the hot water system and will perhaps one day attempt to make a better seal. In the meantime I topped up the system ready for a long motor to Newcastle on Saturday. Our jack lines were attached ready for our Category 4 race from Newcastle to Port Stephens and for good measure the hatch and washboard were polished. As I worked away the fridge was on cooling a beer for later in the day and as I sat looking at the interior of the yacht I felt contented with the appearance. I did think hard about the finish of the interior and in particular the cabin roof and items that would be up at the eye level. The laminated room beams were made wider at 27 mm so that I could join the cross sheets on the line of the beams. While that meant trimming each sheet to a precise width the result was no visible joins in the sheet inside and no glue joins to open up under load.  In the V berth I used four layers of 6 mm ply on the ceiling to achieve a clean and strong structure where other wise there would have been timber framing. The frame between the  galley and saloon was kept as small as practical to open up the saloon and the finish result is bright and fresh. Under the deck where reinforcing ply was needed for butt joins or hardware backing I beveled the edges of the timber with a 45 degree angle and that has made the backing  pieces blend in well with the base layers. Well satisfied with my review of the finish I took a few photos for the record. I am still working on a saloon table for the future. The plywood table top is cut out from 9 mm ply and a box structure has been commenced to support it however the position of the support over the centre line means that one side of the box has to be tapered to follow the line of the berth. That needed a site measure and the marked up box is sitting in the garage waiting for a future deadline. I am hoping to have the table support made from a set of tightly matched oblique boxes that will be securely bolted through the king plank to take heavy loads when the table is raised in the table position or lowered into the convertible bunk position. if it proves strong enough I might add a teak hand rail along the walkway edge for some additional support in a seaway. Anyway that is the idea and time will tell if it works as planned. The low height of the saloon seats leaves little room for error if the table is to be high enough to be practical. The king plank ended up the full 250 mm wide as instead of putting small spacers under the keel bolt washers I ran the 19 mm hardwood the full length of the cabin to give a neat finish to the floor. Also the keel washers were replaced with 80 mm wide full width backing plates to increase the bearing area. These were hot dip galvanized and then painted with white epoxy which can be seen poking our from under the sail bags on the saloon floor. It is this 19 mm hardwood which will take the table loads

I am well pleased with the bright airy cabin

I am well pleased with the bright airy cabin

A close up of the clean lines of the 24 mm thick moulded ply V berth ceiling

A close up of the clean lines of the 24 mm thick moulded ply V berth ceiling

A little gasket tape under the floor supports makes a quiet boat. Note the position of the battery switches including one for the neutral.

A little gasket tape under the floor supports makes a quiet boat. Note the position of the battery switches including one for the neutral and the keel bolt backing plates sticking out from under the sail bags. The hardwood strip along the king plank is also shown.

 

As we prepare to set sail for Newcastle, the Newcastle to Port Stephens race and Sail Port Stephens the forecasts are all very quiet.
The forecasts on Windy now go out to Friday which is the first race of the second series and by then there may be breeze to sail but in the intervening period there is little to trouble the sailors.
For the first time since launching over a year ago the fuel tanks are showing full on the dial and I have an extra 20 litres in the fuel locker which should be enough for the trip there and back and for charging the batteries in the meantime.
The trip up on Saturday the 7th looks a very quiet affair with a ghost of a breeze off shore in the morning shifting to a North East closer to Newcastle and strengthening for a tight beat. I think it will be No 3 Jib hanked on ready for the beat with the Code Zero deployed in the morning if there is any breeze.
For Sunday’s race to Port Stephens both wind models have a light southerly for the start but so light the heavier spinnakers will be hanging limp from the mastheads. Later in the afternoon the wind swings more easterly but the two models have the strength from 2 knots to 4 knots which is going to be a challenge for the race organizers. We might just get to deploy the Code Zero and make headway against the current.

Day 1, 2 and 3 of Sail Port Stephens have forecasts from 2 knots to 9 knots so the order of the day will be plenty of sunscreen, water and patience.

I am looking forward to the quiet trip up the coast and on arrival at Port Stephens, morning coffee with the crew and catching up with fellow sailors.