Archive for July 2018

Light winds and tide make for record zig zag tacking angles.

Light winds and tide make for record zig zag tacking angles.

In this case the very light winds and the outgoing tide provided the perfect opportunity to record our worst tacking angles ever. Now I have seen experts go worse and the Volvo Ocean race Tracker provided many examples of much worse conditions and we have heard of times when the fleet anchored not to the carried backwards. But for us this was as bad as it gets.
The short distance between Cockatoo Island and the Hunters Hill shore does not give a lot of opportunity to hang on in the lifts and tack in the knocks. It seemed to us that every time we approached a shore we were forced to tack away from a good lift.
As the day wore on the breeze shifted to the north so the last work up the river along the Hunters Hill shore was more forgiving and we could hug the rocks in low flow areas and make some respectable progress. By then the game was over. As every minute wore on the breeze softened the distance to the lead yachts who were closer to the finish went from minutes to fractions of an hour. Only those behind us fared worse with handicap honors generally going to the earlier finishers.
We did have one bit of luck on the second work up the river when we tacked as the breeze came across the course only to have it stop advancing. Now the crew were a bit dejected at the course we were taking away from the breeze but as happened for Another Planet on the previous leg and for Utopia on the tack before the southern side gave a brief respite and we came back with a handy lead over Utopia and Sweet Chariot. Another Planet was by this time in another world due again to the dying breeze.
Good points for the day were beating Utopia across the line by virtue of that lucky tack on the last work and beating Another Planet courtesy of the dying breeze. Bad points were being thrashed by Irukandji who has done no wrong this series.
It was in all a very pleasant day and topped off by a chat on the deck of knowledge after the race and negotiations on transfer fees for valued crew members.

As a bonus photo painting of the carbon fibre whisker pole is progressing well under the awning. The pole is supported on posts at the two ends so it can be rotated easily for painting.

Carbon fibre whisker pole mounted for easy rotation while painting.

Carbon fibre whisker pole mounted for easy rotation while painting.

Much improved working with the phases of the wind shifts kept us in the game today but a poor downwind leg left us well back in the fleet . While Hanni and Foreign Affairs were enjoying a large break on the fleet we were mixing it with Allegro, Amanti and Joli and enjoying a very pleasant afternoon on the water. At the finish we were as close to a dead heat with Joli as is possible and we must have beaten then across the line by half the length of our bowsprit. At least that is the way the finishers saw it and we will take it.
We both almost caught Amanti but it was too much to expect to sail through the lee of two yacht on a beam reach to the finish line.
The day started well with the sea breeze arriving well before start time and in a direction almost straight down the course. Shifts were moving the favoured end around and we picked the wrong end. It was a bit disappointing to see The Biz at the the pin start on Port and cross the fleet while we were most windward and in dirty air. We sailed on untill all the fleet had tacked away and were rewarded with a nice shift to the left so we could come back on port tack and have all the early tackers below. The exception was Hanni who was already a minute out in front and sailing away. We played the shifts well except for one when we tacked under a port tacker to get back across while Allegro kept going north and came back with a minute gain. We kept a good eye on Joli and swapped tacks a few times, sometimes on the right side of the shifts and sometimes not.
On the run back we went inshore because we were being hunted down by a casual entrant and that cost us dearly. Out further there was stronger wind and stronger tide. Here Amanti, and Joli passed us and Allegro and the front runners pulled away. In Rose bay we could not break the overlap from Silky and had to go wide of the mark. Fortunately the fleet went high and with Silky in front we had to go low which on this occassion allowed us to catch up to Allegro and Amanti as well as slip through Joli. As we rounded Point Piper we passed Amanti who had decided to tack away from Allegro’s dirty air. I would have toughed it out in Allegro’s dirty air as she was going in the right direction but we tacked away for clear air and in two tacks lost another minute with Amante and Joli coming back at us. There was just the run and reach home in very quiet air and despite going as low as we could we could not break through the lee of Joli nor catch Amanti and only a light patch just metres away from the finish line enabled us to put our bowsprit in front of Joli.

Allegro, Passion X and Joli all scored discards today and of the top five Hitchhike shoots to the lead from Joli, Allegro and Trim with Passion X drifting backwards to fifth. Still we live to fight another day and our collective poor handicap showing won’t hurt our handicaps.

2018-07-11 15.53.39

Really nice tacking angles against a strong incoming tide were not enough on the day.

I got excited about this maximum boat speed for the day until I realised it was when we were under motor.

I got excited about this maximum boat speed for the day until I realised it was when we were under motor.

Poles no longer apart but joined in the warmth of the sun room

Poles no longer apart but joined in the warmth of the sun room

One of the advantages of overlapping genoas is that if you are doing “non spinnaker” racing you can pole out the overlapping genoa and have more projected sail area downwind. On Passion we had genoas with LP of greater than 6 metres and had both a 5 metre fixed pole and a 6 metre extendable pole. The large overlap genoa with the 6 metre pole was quite successful in the Greenwich Flying Squadron blue fleet.
With Passion X, I was concerned to get a better ORCi rating and had the 5 metre pole cut down to 4,7 metres to match the 600 mm short bowsprit. The reduced length was not a big issue in strong winds but in the light winds the genoa transferred from Passion to Passion X was not setting well. Also the extendable pole is heavy and difficult to extend in heavy airs. The crunch came when I dropped the 4.7 metre pole on Geoff’s head and I realized it was too heavy for safety. I subcontracted the task of finding a carbon pole to the crew and they came up with a suggestion of a CST pole from New Zealand. After a bit of negotiation we settled on a size and specification and Elaine agreed it was a good idea so we went ahead. As days progressed we found lots of bits missing from the quote and so the cost grew. Because more work was coming in we let the cost grow including the GST when the kit arrived in Australia.
I had proposed to put the kit together at Joe Walsh rigging and then motor over and throw it on board Passion X but the work was still piling up so I picked up the kit from Margaret Street in Woolwich and started the work at home.
Tonight it is all joined up except for some extra carbon I am going to put over the outside of the join. A little bit extra carbon on the outside will improve the strength considerably due to both the extra thickness and the larger diameter. Still it will be a light air pole and mainly for poling our the genoa but we will probably give it a go on the big yellow spinnaker in the light airs where an extra 1.3 metres projection will be useful.

What a wonderful day on the harbour! The forecast breeze arrive ten minutes late but was as expected. We made a good start at the pin end of the line and were able to cross most of the fleet on the first tack back. After that the wheels fell off our wind shift selection and it is a wonder we made it to the top mark in the place we did. When Hitchhike came back to the fleet from the right hand side we had to take her stern and that was just one of many sterns we took. Despite the slight outgoing tide the tacking angles look like we were beating into a big incoming one. Not that the yachts around fared much better as we would do well on one tack and lose on the other. Joli went well to windward, found themselves on the wrong side of a right hand shift but made it up on the next left shift. Allegro was back early on the beat but picked the north side for the approach to the top mark and won big time. We were chasing Krakaota, Crosshaven and Trim on our side of the course and we were all surprised to see Fidelis coming in on Port well ahead of us having been on the favoured side on the last shift.
Once around the top mark we poled out our large 44m2 No 1 genoa and stayed mid stream in the slight tide. The yachts ahead, and there was a bunch of them including Crosshaven and Joli, went too close to the shore and into a light patch. We were now chasing Allegro and slowly we made ground. Crosshaven worked back out into the breeze and made ground but lost it again going too close to Steele Point. Joli went wide but we were also wide and keeping a watch on our clubmates. We did not catch Allegro. The closest we came was on the work back to round Shark Island but again they picked the correct side and drew away enough to hold us out to the finish.

Hitchhike took the gun from Foreign Affairs, Arunga and Allegro with Passion X next just 20 seconds in front of Joli. Handicap honours went to Co Co from Trim who looked dangerous all day and The Biz. Hitchhike finished fourth in front of Rainbow and Arunga with Passion X just beating Allegro by three seconds. On progress points Hitchhike and Joli are on 23 points from Allegro on 25 and Passion and Trim on 29.

 

Not our best tacking angles

Not our best tacking angles

 

 

 

Passion X with the fat head main and the fractional code  0 flying

Passion X with the fat head main and the fractional code 0 flying

After a short delay the fifth race of the combined West Harbour Winter Series started in a freshening 6 knots of wind. Despite our best intention to get to the windward end of the line to have first go at the freshening wind we were stuck head to wind on the line in no breeze at the leeward end. To add insult to injury the wind headed as we worked up the Hunters Hill shore making life quite difficult. The work up the narrow waterway around Schnapper and Spectacle Islands was difficult with the large overlapping genoa so by the time we reached away along the Balmain shore we were playing catch up. The deficit was pretty apparent as we worked up to the Goat Island mark watching the leaders reach back up in good breeze.
From the Goat mark we carried the code 0 down the broad reach and along the shore all the way back to the islands. This tight reach made up some ground and the work up the islands was achieved in one board while yacht ahead had to two tack the work. Back down the Balmain shore the code 0 was again working a treat but not on the occasions the breeze was free enough for the surrounding yachts to fly their asymmetric spinnakers. Along this leg Another Planet loomed up to leeward and passed us until the breeze headed and we were able to keep the code 0 flying when they had to douse the spinnaker.
Again the work to the Goat mark had breeze in our favour so we made it in one board. On the broad reach back to Manns mark Another Planet caught us again but once on the tight reach back around Cockatoo we picked up speed and started to haul in the fleet ahead. We pay a very large penalty for the code 0 as it measures as a headsail so on the few occasions it can be flown when asymmetric spinnakers cannot we do well. This one leg let us pull away from Another Planet by three minutes and it appears we made up this time on the fleet ahead.
At the finish we managed a third on handicap courtesy of our good handicap from previous performances. We are only occasional users of spinnakers and so do not fare as well in spinnaker racing as in the no extras event. Anyway we are getting more practice and today it was good enough to get a third.