Archive for February 2019

Passion X and Joli battling for 5th fastest place.

Passion X and Joli battling for 5th fastest place.

We were very fortunate that the rain held off and the breeze held in for a most pleasant twilight race and post race BBQ at Greenwich Flying Squadron.
A large crowd filled the deck for the post race presentation and we were graced with the presence of all of the crew of Passion X. Under these circumstances it was fitting that we scored 4th place on handicap and courtesy of the absence of the winning crew from Avalon the prizes trickled down to us.
Avalon were just pipped for fastest by Much Ado V and so far in front of the fleet that Much Ado V was second on handicap from Fireball who had a very good race finishing across the line on the tail of Jackpot.
Andrew from Lisdillon gave me a pre race pep talk and the team from Harbour Dive Service gave the hull a thorough scrub just before the race so we were ready to go. Our position at the club end of the line was good and Jackpot working the line on starboard elected not to come all the way so we had a good start. Both Jackpot and Passion X were headed into the rocks at Onions Point and had to tack away while some of the following yachts came away from the point on starboard in a different phase. Our GoPro cam shows Much Ado V, Lisdillon and Utopia with a nice lift on starboard above Passion X and Jackpot. At the point the wind came from every direction including nowhere where we sat becalmed. In one of those becalmed moments Jackpot tacked onto port in our water which necessitated a bit of manual intervention from Jackpot to prevent our prodder taking out their stanchions. It was tricky conditions and the only matter I really objected to was to be thrown around onto port instead of being lead astern on starboard.
Fireball went through to leeward along the shore and it was a long time before Jackpot and Passion X reached the line of breeze. Only Sweet Chariot was behind when we finally went off in chase.
Jackpot pulled away in the breeze while we sailed through the lee of Fireball but we were all back together around Cockatoo Island.
On the work to Goat Island Jackpot pulled away partly due to better speed and partly due to keeping away from the lee side of Cockatoo Island. We stayed in phase with the breeze and were rewarded with a favorable wind direction at the approach to Goat Island that caught us up to Lisdillon and had us on Jackpots tail again. Joli was keeping a safe distance ahead and seemed to pull away after rounding Goat Island. On the run down Snails Bay we pulled away from Jackpot, Lisdillon and Fireball and made up some ground on Joli. We went deeper past the point and kept away from the wind shadow with good effect. Try as we might we could not pull back Joli and so followed them around Cockatoo Island for the work home. Through Humbug we took the Onions Point shore and with a favourable shift freeing up the breeze drew alongside Joli. The breeze went even further aft giving them clear air and a few seconds win across the line.
Because of our poor performance on the previous three races we had a good handicap. Tonight there was less hard working and Passion X likes to be sailed free so it was all working in our favour offsetting the awful ugly episode in Humbug on the way out.

Sailing was ugly on the way out of Humbug but the sky was interesting.

Sailing was ugly on the way out of Humbug but the sky was interesting.

Since our fastest time result in the third race of the summer series we have been going backwards in the fastest times order. In past series we have had the isolated 8th fastest result but this autumn series we have collected a treble of terrible results with a 9, 9 and 8th fastest. We do not expect to beat the Ker 11.3′s of the Sydney 38′s except in extraordinary circumstances and the J112′s and J122 are very hard to beat on the courses that suite them so I am pretty happy with anything better than a 6th fastest and pretty sad with anything worse than a 8th fastest when the whole fleet turns up. Tonight the two J112′s and one of the Sydney 38′s were missing so our 8th place was very disappointing.
We did pinch a lot tonight and that in not one of our strong points. All too often we tacked and had to pinch along a shore where a longer course with wider angles may have been more successful. Also as a result of pinching we spend too long in the dirty air of the yachts in front.
It has been six months since antifouling and perhaps it is time to have a very thorough scrub to freshen up the surface. Our maximum speed under motor has dropped off quite a lot so we will give the scrub a go and see the results.
The breeze did die tonight leaving us with Sweet Chariot, Lisdillon, Irukandji, Ausreo and Fireball a long way behind. Ausreo and Fireball called it quits early while Irukandji found some wind and broke away. We were left with Lisdillon and Sweet Chariot at the back of the fleet and scraping home just within the time limit.

Congratulation to Christian Beck on Dump Truck for a well deserved first and fastest result ahead of Utopia  and Much Ado V.  With more time in the boat Dump Truck is getting better and better and the new mainsail on Utopia seems to be doing the trick.

After our result tonight one can only hope that some good photographs turn up on the Greenwich Flying Squadron facebook page.

Some pretty awful wind shifts contributed to the last place on handicap tonight.

Some pretty awful wind shifts contributed to the last place on handicap tonight.

I need the guys from Men in Black with their shining light to erase the memory of today’s race. We did all the rig adjustments and that seemed to work out fine. The over full head of the mainsail was corrected with letting off the D2′s and easing the top battens a few millimeters and we set the 40m2 second genoa which was the correct size for the night but from then things went pear shaped. (Not that pears are inappropriately shaped. It is just one of those old fashioned sayings.) On the Greenwich Flying Squadron Facebook page there is a six minute video of the yachts and from 48 seconds in to 59 seconds there is a view of the rig on Passion before the start. With the mast with more prebend and with the vang off the head of the main is freeing up well in the gusts.
What a mess we made of the start! Instead of being up the line on port we ended up at the pin forced down there by Dump Truck as we both had to take starboard transoms. Once Dump Truck hardened up sharply we had no where to go except to the far pin and in dirty air. Only Much Ado V was behind but then they managed to get onto starboard coming of the Onions Point shore causing us more grief.
Jackpot, Utopia and Joli all seemed to get away well up the line and used their clear air and ahead position to advantage. Dump Truck hugged the Onions Point shore for better breeze but the lift eventually came to the windward yachts who hardened up around Greenwich Point and took off towards Goat Island. From behind we managed to lift above Fireball and gradually pull away but we made little impression on Irukandji and Lisdillon who were immediately in front. At this stage Dump Truck and Much Ado V were not far ahead and we were reasonably happy with the performance except for the terrible start. No gains were made on the run and reach back to Cockatoo Island as in that strength of breeze Irukandji and Lisdillon are quite competetive on the run but the most frustration phase was yet to come.
Along the Hunters Hill shore we moved well but once out into the Long Nose to Goat Island area we faced header after header and at the most inappropriate time. We tacked to round Goat Island only to be driven half way down the Island by one huge shift and in a sequence that was repeated a few times Irukandji and Lisdillon and the fleet in front drew further away. Had we been sailing or Lasers we most probably would have tacked back each time onto the lift but so frequent were the shifts we opted to hang on for a lift which did not come until we were on the next tack and it was a knock.
The last throw of the dice was the trip back from Goat Island to the finish. To our frustration we were caught in a very light air phase and made no ground.
Into Humbug we came down with a gust from behind up to Lisdillon’s transom but no further but it was all too little too late as Irukandji and everyone in front was already over the line and dousing sails.
Utopia with a guest driver was 10 minutes in front at the finish and Irukandji who was 4 minutes in front should take the handicap prize once the results are checked. They sailed well and deserve a bottle of wind. We deserved our last place on handicap and empty hands.
That said we had an enjoyable evening battling the adversity of the wind shifts and worked well as a team.

A screenshot from the Video on the Greenwich Flying Squadron Facebook page showing the appropriate twist in the leech of the mainsail

A screenshot from the Video on the Greenwich Flying Squadron Facebook page showing the appropriate twist in the leech of the mainsail

Passion X doing well shortly after the start.

Passion X doing well shortly after the start.

The 157 photos posted by Simon Elliott HERE provided a different interpretation of the race than what I recollected so in the interest of accuracy I have updated the post. There are some pretty special photos of the Black fleet so have a look.  In the fresh 10 to 15 knots tonight the head of the mainsail looked very full and not twisted off enough. Last time it blew this strength was back in race 1 of the Summer series when we finished 5th fastest and three and a half minutes behind Avalon. Our stay tension was the same on the V1′s tonight but the D2′s were one turn tighter. It is hard to imagine that one turn on the D2′s would make all that difference but I will go up the mast tomorrow and loosen them off a turn ready for next week. (We did this on Thursday morning and to our surprise the D2′s were very tight so it will be interesting to see how much of an impact one turn makes on the fullness of the head of the mainsail.)

Tonight we were 5 minutes behind Avalon and the minute and a half difference would have brought us back to 6th fastest and a mid fleet finish. It would not have changed our handicap place but there is a fastest times pecking order which we all try to achieve. To be fair it was not the only change as I have had the battens out and may have over tightened them making the head fuller. Two other changes were the largest genoa and the main sheet traveller system. Our second genoa is 5 m2 smaller and is much easier to skirt. had we  had that up we would not have punctured the foot of the big 45 m2 genoa and had all the subsequent problems with it catching on the stanchion. ( The stanchion penetrated only the cross ply base laminate and no damage was done to any of the carbon fibre tapes so a couple of layers of taffeta on both sides has fixed the small hole.)

The traveller system was supposed to make it easier to drop the boom in the event of a gust but in practice it is hanging down to leeward and reducing the leech twist. While it is good on the runs and reaches the consensus among the crew is that we are giving away too much height and leech twist. (The centre sheeting has been reinstated and we will be back to dumping lots of sheet in the puffs.)

Not everything is down to rig tuning. We were down one of our young strong crew for the night and had very little weight on the rail. Where last week we had a perfect passage through Humbug on the way home this week we could not find a favorable phase and took an extra two tacks compared to our close competitors. (On reviewing the tracks back through Humbug they were not a bad as I had recollected so I would love to see the tracks from Jackpot, Irukanji and Lisdillon for comparison.)

At the beginning however it was all roses as we took sterns right on the pin mark and started well to leeward of the chaos further up the line. Only the mighty Ausreo reached Humbug ahead of us and from the post race photos Lisdillon can be seen to windward of Ausreo so they must have had a good run from the line too.  We were overlapped inside and could not go up above them had we wanted. Also it was low tide and as we had started well to leeward we were very close in to Onion Point and had no where to go. Fortunately Ausreo went up trying to maintain clear air on the charging light brigade and that left us alone to leeward with wind coming over our stern quarter giving us clear air and a clean run albeit a longer one. When we did come up we had Much Ado V in front and Dump Truck alongside. We had a cordial exchange with Dump Truck along the Cockatoo shore on who had rights but it mattered not as eventually they took off to leeward chasing the brother in the sister ship in front. Initially we had some favorable shifts that kept us in touch with Dump Truck but Utopia came through pretty quickly followed by Avalon, Ausreo, Irukandji, Jackpot and Lisdillon.  Around Goat Island the large genoa helped and we emerged chasing the fleet back to the Long Nose corner hoping to make up ground. The square run with the genoa poled out down to Cockatoo Island was also a good run for us as we overtook Lisdillon and Irukandji and were on the tail of Jackpot and Ausreo. Initially we pointed up around Cockatoo Island to be clear ahead of Irukandji but once clear of the corner they were lifted well above our line. I think their difference in tacking angle was too much to be accounted for by our traveller being down 150 mm but whatever the cause it put us immediately on the back foot. Apart from being out of phase on the way back in the stanchion puncturing the foot of the genoa was not quick. First priority is to loosen the D2′s and reinstate the original cabin top centre sheeting. If these do not reestablish our correct mainsail camber and twist the battens will be loosened off.

Congratulations to Much Ado V on a fastest times result and to Dump Truck and Utopia for the rare dead heat for second across the line. For the handicap results the heavy air specialist Ausreo took the prize from Utopia, Irukandji and Avalon. The transition back to the Spring handicaps caused a few problems but Harvey has that all sorted and yes we did dead heat for last on handicap with Jackpot and Avalon was catapulted from last to fourth place.

Our tracks back through Humbug were not so bad. The others must have been spectacular.

Our tracks back through Humbug were not so bad. The others must have been spectacular.