Archive for May 2019

The handicaps are out for next Wednesday’s race at RANSA and while our handicap has been increased not everyone will be happy.
We started the season with a generous handicap and after the first race were penalized 12% which seemed pretty fair. In the next windy race we picked the shifts well for a third on handicap and a further increase in handicap to 0.9641. The third race was in ideal conditions for Passion X but we were well beaten over the line by Joli and Hitchhike in a dying breeze that left the later finishers struggling for handicap places so we scored a lucky second and a further increase in handicap to 0.9729.
Then last week we had a blinder with a perfect start for clear air and just the right reaching conditions to allow us to hang on for a fastest times and another first on handicap. With that win our handicap is now 0.9838 which is 15% tougher than the start of the season.
There is no doubt that when we get into the windier windward leeward races we will drop back through the fleet. Passion X is very tender with a beam of just 3.4 metres and a narrow waterline beam compared to the modern IRC and ORC types or ever the more voluminous cruisers. As the wind increases we will do well on the downwind legs if we can carry the full main but will struggle on the windward legs.
In the meantime with a 1, 3,2,1 record our handicap might seem generous and we will be out there taking the maximum advantage while the sun shines. Currently Seabreeze has a forecast of 18 knots up to 4pm on Wednesday which might mean a full main and No3 jib to start the race and possible a reef in for the work home. In any event it will be a more challenging day for Passion X especially that last beat from Shark Island to the finish.

Today there was little breeze making it a perfect day for the Greenwich Flying Squadron presentation day.

Glassy condition today at Greenwich so perfect for Presentation Day

Glassy condition today at Greenwich so perfect for Presentation Day

The conditions could not have suited Passion X better. The beam reach up the course and the less than hard on work back to Steele Point were the conditions that Passion was made for so we just had to hang on for the work into Rose Bay and the one back around Shark Island to score our first fastest time result for the season. Last year in similar light conditions we also scored a fastest times when we flicked from starboard onto port on the way to the top mark without changing direction. Today’s race had none of this luck and was more of a drag race out and a anxious work back to the finish. I made one small improvement for the day and that was to put 1.75 mm dyneema tails onto the spinnaker halyards snapshackles so that the idle ends could be raised to the top of the mast. This reduces the drag from the three 12 mm lines and also takes 5 kg of rope off of the mast which is equivalent to 20 kg of lead on the keel. Now the read deal would be to replace the alloy mast with a carbon fibre one which would be like adding 200 kg to the keel but that is not going to happen. This was one of our best starts ever as we stayed low enough below the favored start boat end as to not be forced up by leeward yachts. We ducked Britannia’s stern at the last moment and were able to bear away for the line hitting it at speed and on time. From there we were never headed. Initially Allegro was close to leeward and holding her position but Joli reached out from the fleet behind and may have sent some dirty air down the way of Allegro. For the beam reach to the top mark we enjoyed clear air and had good speed so that we pulled out 50 metres on the fleet. Once around the top mark we were 5 degrees off a work into Steele Point and holding our distance from Joli and the chasing fleet. We were well beyond Steele Point when Joli took a small dig into the point and tacked back onto a progressive lift. We were already into the lift and not in a position to tack back until we reached the island. The tack back was into a progressive lift the other way which worked out reasonably well. In the end the angles into Rose Bay were good if not quite as good as Joli’s. On the leg around Shark Island both Joli and Passion X suffered from a 1S fleet yacht sailing close above us but I figured they were so fast we should just go as high as possible and get into the clear air behind their stern. We were very fortunate sailing into the mark at the bottom of Shark Island to get a lift around the mark and avoid two tack which may well have put Joli into the lead. With this last stroke of luck we reached away for the finish looking over our shoulder at the fast finishing Joli. Behind her we could now see Hanni and the fast reaching Fidelis as well as Allegro who had hung on well in the light conditions to score 4th on handicap. As I said at the beginning we could not have had better conditions and it was good to have two GFS yachts fighting our for fastest time. The win over Joli was pleasing as they had all the J112 experts on board and between Steve and Adrian they would have thrown everything as us. When we looked at the progress scores we were surprised to see that we had been elevated to second place last week which I can only presume was a correction to the results so with our win today we are still on just seven points. We need these points as we will be away for the last three weeks of the series as we go to the Laser masters in the Netherlands. In the meantime I am expecting no mercy from the handicapper for the rest of the season.

Not bad angles into Rose Bay but the progressive shift off Steele Point suited Joli well.

Not bad angles into Rose Bay but the progressive shift off Steele Point suited Joli well.

Sunday was an unexpected bonus as far as sailing goes as the breeze was good enough for a shortened race in the West Harbour Winter Series. We were started in no breeze and were still on or just over the line when the next fleet started five minutes later so there was a large fleet trying to make progress up the Hunters Hill shore. We had expected a beam reach but were stuck in a dead square run with our 60 m2 code zero up so we poled it out and in the sub 3 knot breeze fared particularly well. Our code zero rates as a headsail with a pretty large rating penalty but it can be poled out to windward legally while some were carrying spinnaker versions which cannot be flow to windward but no one seems to care about rules west of the bridge. No names but some yachts sailed inside the moored yachts and even hit them with loud bangs and some yacht think that if they don’t make eye contact they can ignore port and starboard rules. Oh well! it was Sunday and we were trying to be charitable. In  the three knot conditions the dead run with the poled out headsail fared as well as the drooping asymmetric spinnakers. Very cheekily I tried to carry the code zero headsail up the work from Spectacle to Schnapper Island but it was too tight so we hoisted the genoa and furled the code zero without losing any places. It was on starboard tack coming up this work that the fleet ignored the starboard call but as I said earlier it was Sunday and a good day to practice forgiveness. We fared well on the work up to the mark at Goat Island but from there the cards fell the other way. Avalon and Passion X took the eastern side of the dead square run while the following fleet went hard down the Snails Bay side in much stronger wind and a better angle. This choice cost us both dearly as we ended up at the back of the handicap fleet. The Adams 10′s were particularly potent along this leg with large spinnakers working well. We opted to keep the code zero pole out but in the slightly stronger breeze the spinnakers were coming back into their own.

We were satisfied to keep the Pogo 36 behind on the square run. They looked very fast in any gusts as they hotted up the angles with their asymmetric but the longer distance they traveled seemed to work out for us by the Spectacle Island mark. Now we were very happy as the breeze had swung right just far enough for us to carry the code zero all the way up the leg to Schnapper Island. In four knot of breeze the hard strapped down code zero was back winding the mainsail and we were flying. If only this leg was longer! If only we sailed this angle more often!

Today one day later the breeze was too light for a race but the new forecast for Wednesday is for a very promising 8 knot southerly.

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The handicaps for the RANSA Winter Wednesday race next week are out and the three Greenwich Flying Squadron yachts have all had their wings clipped by about 0.01.

https://app.sailsys.com.au/club/4/results/series/301/races/2905

If we had raced on Wednesday on these new handicaps the positions would not have changed. Joli would still have come first of the regulars, Agrovation second and Passion X third. Our places were however influenced by the incoming tide and fading breeze which left some yachts far out on the course when in more usual conditions the time differences would have been much less. The forecast for next week does not look promising with around 4 to 5 knots of wind and a small outgoing tide making for quite different conditions. I cannot recall having so many days of light winds and the sea state is down to a forecast 0.4 metres by the week end. The upside has been idyllic conditions for doing a bit of boat maintenance. Rather disappointingly I have had to do a second overhaul on the Spinlock deck organizers due to the sheaves seizing on the shafts. The first overhaul shortly after launch was to replace the all plastic sheaves with alloy ones with plastic bearings. Inexplicably the plastic bearings of the now two year old sheaves have seized on the 12 mm stainless steel shafts. The remedy was to remove the organizers to the workshop and drive the pulleys off the shaft with a perfectly sized aluminium tube. Even after cleaning the shaft and bore, the sheaves would not slide back over the shafts so the plastic bush has been reamed out to the original 12 mm diameter. The 38 mm diameter sheave organizers with six sets of sheaves is ideal for the deck layout on Passion X and I had hoped that the expensive alloy sheaves that replaced the failed plastic ones would have been a permanent solution. If the plastic bushes in the alloy sheaves seize again I will have bronze bushes made but let’s hope that is not needed. The other tedious task was to touch up the paint on the wooden plugs in the toe rail. The toe rails are hard meranti timber with many coats of epoxy and polyurethane paint which are standing up to the conditions on the yacht very well. In the rush to get Passion X on the water the wooden plugs covering the fastener holes received only a single coat of epoxy paint which has not lasted well. The remedy for this was to clear out the single layer of paint off the tiny plugs and saturate the timber with clear epoxy and finish with a coat of white epoxy. While the task was time consuming in the very pleasant conditions it was an enjoyable task.

The Greenwich Flying Squadron sailors had a great day with Joli, Agrovation and Passion X first, second and third respectively of the series entrants in Division 1 and Hasta La Vista first in Division 2. Adrian and Michael respectively in Joli and Agrovation sailed exceptionally well in the light and tricky conditions and deserve their places. It is ironic that these two club members were giving me the biggest tease over our handicap in the series and they still beat us.
The light air and incoming tide was always going to help those who rounded the top mark early and had the benefit of the tide to pull away from their competitors still beating into it.
On Passion X we were very fortunate to recover from a decision not to cover the fleet tacking back to the shore behind us. We started well behind Britannia, who was pretending to be a much bigger yacht, right on the stern of the committee boat and lifted as soon as we could. Further up the harbour there were some right hand shifts but down at our end there was mostly lifts on starboard. Foreign Affairs and Joli were two of the early yachts to tack away for the shelter from the tide and into a progressive lift. Amante and Agrovation soon followed. Allegro was out in the middle with us and we tacked back to the shore taking their stern. We tacked back to starboard before reaching the line of breeze but had enough to just keep pace with most of the windward fleet including Amante and Agrovation. Foreign Affairs disappeared over the horizon and Hitchhike and Joli were now well ahead. Allegro came back on one of the few right hand shifts but we managed to cross her bow for a small gain for the two tacks. We were still mid stream and in too much tide as the saw tooth pattern on the chart plot shows and as soon as we headed I tacked back for our get out of jail shift for the day. That one shift let us cross Amante, Hanni and Agrovation. Having got out of the tide we short tacked Steele Point and the baths until we worked into a nice lift towards the mark. The lift disappeared up near the east channel mark and I tacked back to avoid the dirty air of Amante and Hitchhike just as the lift returned. That may or may not have cost us a little as there is no telling how badly we might have fared in the direct dirty air for the work into the mark.
Along the leg into the mark Joli was badly headed and crossed the closest we had been since the start but we did not follow and they picked up a good lift along the shore gaining back a considerable amount of the ground they had lost with the big header. Then they were next around the mark to Foreign affairs and took off with the tide for a substantial lead over Hitchhike, Passion X and Amante.
The run back was very quiet. Amante went inshore and picked up breeze while Hitchhike went wider and picked up tide. Around Steele Point we were defending our position from Hanni and Agrovation and came in closer than we normally do but to our surprise we passed a becalmed Amante to windward while Hitchhike to leeward picked up breeze and pulled away a minute by the shortened course finish in Rose Bay.

We would have done better defending our good start and going back into Rose Bay in phase with the fleet. Fortunately we had the one right hand shift to get back across to the fleet but by the look of the results there were others no so lucky and they languished out on the course as the breeze died.

The third place on handicap for the series was pleasing considering how much of the sailing was conducted to windward and with a 1,3,3 we have a good lead in the progressive point score.

The saw tooth pattern of our windward works against the tide is pretty evident as is the get out of jail lift in the middle of the chart plot.

The saw tooth pattern of our windward works against the tide is pretty evident as is the get out of jail lift in the middle of the chart plot.

 

Crackerjack likes a bit of breeze and usually does well and today, with wind and handicap in the right area, was no exception. Also Krakatoa returned to the podium with a small handicap advantage over Passion X where we filled the third place. It was very close from third through to 12th place with just two minutes separating the ten yachts.

We started at the start  boat behind Crosshaven and were pleased to keep our nose in front of the fleet for most of the run. We overtook Crosshaven when they ran deep due to having the jib poled out but in turn were overrun by the windward fleet as they drove down in the gusts.  Crackerjack and Joli were two of the yachts that ran past us to the top mark.

On the way home we had some pretty good angles but were mostly in phase with the fleet who were all picking the shifts well so it was mainly a speed test. Amante, the much modified Sydney 36 Cr won the windward work speed test pulling back Hanni a little but not passing her and leading out from Joli by a couple of minutes with Crosshaven just 4 second behind.  We enjoyed a tacking duel with Trim and Allegro who both passed us and we gave away three minutes on the work home to fellow GFS club member Joli and were mid fleet in conditions where we are still trying to find our mojo.

For the day we set our new No1 heavy genoa and a reef in the main. This worked quiet well as we were a little under powered on the run but over powered on the work. We had not expected continuous hard on the wind conditions on the way home and had hoped for tighter conditions on the way out and more free ones coming home. What we did try was OK and worth persevering with particularly if the wind has a bit more north in it however for today the full main and small jib poled out might have been more successful.

Courtesy of generous handicapping we had a first last week and a third this week which gives us the series lead for the time being. We will lose a bit of handicap next week and we might not pick the shifts so well.

Some pretty good tacking angles on the day

Some pretty good tacking angles on the day

I was apprehensive about the strong wind forecast for our first West Harbour Winter Series race. For several days the predicted wind on the harbour was above 25 knots and for the Woolwich area the BOM Meteye forecast was around 14 knots. The choices for the rig were the No 3 jib with a full main or the No 1 heavy genoa with a reef in the main. We chose the No 3 Jib which is very easy to tack but the full main is harder to gybe because of the running backstays. We started a minute late due to a very short preparation time and will reschedule our affairs so we have more preparation time for the next race. Nevertheless we did well to arrive at the start line with most of the spinnaker sheets run and ready to take off on starboard tack. Being a minute late was a blessing in a way as we had a clear lane and no interference. Before long we were overtaking the tail of the fleet and with careful adjustment of the halyards and foot tension were making best use of the sail area we had deployed. While we had the code zero set up we elected not to deploy it due to the tight angles, short legs and forecast strong wind.
It was an enjoyable and uneventful sail until the second reach along the Hunters Hill shore. We had been having a close race with the Pogo 36 which also has a fat head mainsail but it is 600 mm wider than Passion X which gives it great stability Also they were flying a code Zero or asymmetric spinnaker, I am not sure which, and that gave them an edges on the broader legs. The Flying Tiger was also just in front and we are happy to be in company with FT’s any day. The peaceful sail was interrupted when the yachts just in front flying spinnakers were hit with a freshening header causing a lot of chaos. The Fareast 28 in particular was giving a demonstration of how to lay a boat sideways while more cautious ones were dousing their spinnakers.
With just the main and jib we were making up good time until overtaken to leeward by a yacht that had a curious interpretation of “Proper course”. We were both under just main and jib where the proper course would have been to run to Clarke Point but we were driven well above the point and eventually at right angles to the course to the mark in near Woolwich. This enormous detour required two gybes to get back to the mark and a lot of lost time. Instead of a safe and cautious day we had a few moments of mayhem. Fortunately we had just the work to the finish to manage which we did as carefully as we could under the circumstances losing as little as a minute and two fastest times places in the process.
The handicap result was more generous where we finished on fourth place just a second shy of third and two seconds in front of fifth. A clear start on time might have seen us reach second place on handicap but I much prefer a string of fourth places and less damage to the handicap for the next outing. http://www.topyacht.net.au/results/balmainsc/2018/kb/whws/01RGrp19.htm

As we sailed back to our mooring in Greenwich the forecast wind arrived together with a rain squall so we were thankful the sailing for the day had finished. For the Greenwich yacht that had ventured under the bridge for the winter series on the harbour proper they saw gusts of up to 34 knots.

The promised fifteen knots breeze did not eventuate but the six to nine knots one suited Passion X quite well. The crew selected the No 1 light genoa which I conceded should be ok for the windward work before the forecast breeze kicked. It is just as well I conceded as the run home was mostly in light airs where the lighter sail cloth kept the genoa flying. The pin end was favoured but non of the Div 1 s yachts took that lane so I did not jockey for the end but started three back from the start mark and tacked for clear air as soon as I could. Our starboard tack was curtailed by a passing ferry and we had to make a huge dip to clear the stern of Allegro who kept sailing into the dirty air of the ferry and into lighter air. The north shore proved a poor choice and we overtook a couple of Div 1 s yachts who were becalmed on that side and sailing back into a header. Allegro suffered some of that and allowed us to take off after Hitchhike and Hanni. With a couple of good tacks we were crossing tacks with the leaders but they got the better of us on the last tacks into the windward mark. The run home was a matter of preserving the lead we three had built up over Amante, Allegro and Trim. Around Steele Point we went wider than Hanni and Hitchhike and kept breeze for longer but they received new breeze in time to maintain a lead into Rose Bay. While we had been catching Hitchhike and Hanni, Amante had been catching us but we held her off into Point Piper and pulled away around the Island. A poor gybe around the south of Shark Island cost us a few yards and anxious moments on the run back to the finish line. Hanni and Hitchhike pulled away once they cleared the wind shadow of Shark Island but we suffered more in the wind shadow. We were very pleased with our third fastest on the day and particularly the windward working in the eight knots of breeze where we consistently sailed at six knots. A clean bottom and clear air helped and with no close company to worry about tacking angles we sailed for speed. The first on handicap was a bit of a gift but we will take it and be prepared for a stiff correction next week.

Nothing spectacular about the angles but we did well to windward anyway.

Nothing spectacular about the angles but we did well to windward anyway.