Archive for June 2020

Getting the asymmetric flying on the first reach

Getting the asymmetric flying on the first reach

The second race of the curtailed West Harbour Winter series was a quiet event with the fleet broken up by the variable breeze leaving some competitors to abandon the race for a DNF result.
For our part we managed to stay mid fleet on both time and handicap but it could have been different but for a few lucky breaks.
Encouraged by the light air we set our asymmetric spinnaker on the leg from Spectacle Island to Clarke Point and drifted down the leg with our fellow competitors. A lucky few including Avalon, Matagi and the two Tigers made a break up the first leg and by the rounding of Spectacle Island they were already specs in the distance.

We enjoyed good company on the leg with Omnishambles, Odyssey, Sweet Chariot and Another Planet all having good moments followed by bad ones. We did not have the amazing reaching speed of Odyssey but did manage to run more directly to the mark and not lose too much ground. After the work to Goat Island we managed to pull ahead of Sweet Chariot and stay alongside Odyssey. The battle with Odyssey was to continue for the next lap and only a lucky break off Long Nose let us nose into fresh wind while they and a bunch of other division yachts dropped out of contention for the day.

At the finish we were mid fleet on time and mid fleet on handicap, a result which I am very pleased with considering we are possibly the oldest and lightest crew in the fleet.




It is hard to imagine a better winter afternoon sailing than that which we experienced today. Perhaps the picky would have asked for a bit more wind as the few very light patches were frustrating but in general the wind hung in around five to seven knots. The southerly breeze gave a mainly single beat legs with some tighter than others. The leg along the Drummoyne shore where the sailing water is restricted by an excess of mooring was as near a dead run as one could wish so no short tacking for us today. On the tight beat to Goat Island we cleared Balls Head without tacking while Irikandji had to do a short tack away from the rocks in the process losing quite a few metres. Around Goat Island we caught a group including Odyssey and the X- Yachts 4.3 Min River by going a little wider from the Snails Bay shore. Unfortunately for us the much heavier Min River carried momentum past the wind shadow off Long Nose while we came to a stop. It was not all bad as Odyssey also languished in the wind shadow losing the beat part of five minutes in the process. We were looking over our shoulders at the fast charging Avalon and were happy to pick up the breeze before she reached us.
The last leg down the Drummoyne shore is the one where we pick up the early starters and Elaine counted seven overtakes for the day. The final tight reach to round Cockatoo Island found us menacing Piston Dawn who fought hard to protect her clear air. We went wider and almost slipped through but for a big lift from behind that came too late for us.
Our one disappointment for the day, if we are allowed one in such perfect sailing conditions, was to see Avalon lift close in to the ferry wharf on the tip of Cockatoo Island and carry an enormous lift past us, Tana, Hasta La Vista and Pistol Dawn. We went from having a handy lead over Avalon to finishing a minute twenty seconds behind in the space of fifty metres.
There were more surprises for the day as Bear Necessity completed the journey a minute faster than Passion X and in the space of a week went from rear of the fleet to a podium finish. The same can be said for Aetos who went from dead last a week ago to first today and certainly need to have a sample taken. In the opposite way Irikandji went from front of the fleet last week to the rearguard this week and Odyssey kept them company. Both results were unusual but that was the nature of the day.

One success for the day was to get my Samsung Tab working to mirror the chart plotter screen so that I could have an instrument display on both bulkheads. The charge in the Tab should last a race of about three hours and it seems a pretty inexpensive way to have the display visible from both sides of the cockpit.

Samsung Tab mirroring one of our chart plotters.

Samsung Tab mirroring one of our chart plotters.

The weather forecast promised 20 knots blowing up from the south so we opted for the No3 jib. Some of our fleet was similarly convinced by the forecast and last weeks winner Fidelis opted for a small jib and reefed main. Hitchhike also had a reef in the main so we felt in good company. The wind was pretty well down the course but favouring the port gybe. We opted for the safe start on starboard gybe and timed the start well to clear the pin and have clear air from slightly over the port side. For the first half of the run we continued a bit over square with clear air and managed to lead the fleet. The gybe to port to make the mark left us in the dirty air of the fleet and Foreign Affairs ran past but for the second week we were second to the first mark.
The first part of the work back to Steele Point was in fresh air and we did quite well although Allegro and Amante were quicker and picked the shifts better. A knock meant we had to tack away from Steele Point just at the time when a small lift would have saved us a lot of time. That and the last tack of the day possibly accounted for a minute at the finish. For this first forced tack we lost a couple of places. The least successful part of our day was the work from rose Bay to Point Piper where we did not power up in the lighter conditions. This was also a poor leg last week and we need to anticipate the lighter winds and trim accordingly sooner.
On the final work to the finish we did trim with more power and were pleased with the VMG readings on the instruments and the pace against the competition.
Ahead we could see Joli and Agrovation having a private GFS battle at the expense of their standing in the fleet and while they were playing with each other we made up some ground. Along this whole leg we successfully held out Hitchhike with their reefed main. As they rounded the last naval buoy they received a large lift just as we tacked for the line and got the huge knock. we needed to tack back to cross the line and just managed a few seconds lead over Hitchhike at the finish.
Over the line we were pleased to see Reve who held us out last week and Fidelis both a few minutes behind and we guessed a mid fleet finish for Passion X on handicap and so it was.

Leeward was the handicap winner which was no surprise as today was their conditions.

With just two days to go to the shortest day of the year it really is mid winter but you would not know from the sunshine we had today. As well as sunshine we had enough light breeze to do the full Friday Afternoon race at Balmain.
After our private good wind last week resulted in a first place the handicap system gave us a whack around the ears and had us starting last of the regular series competitors.
Our start time coincided with a change in the wind with the masthead indicator going the opposite way to the wind at boom height which left us floundering for a couple of minutes. Once the breeze settled it was a light air reach around Snapper and Spectacle Islands and a good long beat to Goat Island against a strong incoming tide. With light flukey winds against the strong tide the tacking angles look somewhat awful but occasionally the wind shifts were large enough to improve the tracks on the chart.
Two visitors. Avalon and Matagi kept us company on the work to Goat and we managed to hold out Matagi for most of the first lap by which time we had started to pick up the tail end of the fleet.
At the end we had passed eight of the 22 starters which was pleasing considering the big increase in handicap and the couple of minutes lost at the start due to the change in the wind. We were third fastest of the regulars behind Irukandji and Van Demon but no match for the visitors Avalon, Matagi and the new X4.3 Min River.

Our small crew was no match for the conditions today as we finished towards the bottom of the handicap results. This was particularly disappointing as we had a good first reach to the turn mark and rounded behind the mighty reaching machine, Fidelis. We held our position until approaching Steel Point when Amanti powered over the top and we fell into her wind shadow. From there it was all down hill.
With a crew of three we opted for the No 3 jib and that was fine for the strong wind reaching leg but once in the wind shadow of Steel Point we were quickly under powered allowing Amanti an easy pass. Once into her dirty air we dropped away and found ourselves on the outside of a left shift which carried a host of the following fleet above us. To make matters worse we were sailing way too low and it took a while to work out a better VMG mode. Once back in the traffic we had a few too many right of way yachts to avoid all of which costs precious seconds which builds to minutes at the finish.
by the end of the work into Rose Bay the breeze had moderated so we had no superior reaching speed to make up time on the way home.
It was forecast to lighten but we could not have carried any of the genoas on the day with the crew so as frustrating as it is that is where we were going to finish.

We did beat five yachts home and Hanni, Meridian and Leeward each had a worse day handicap wise.

After a line of rain went through last night the day cleared to bright sunshine for our first West Harbour Winter Series race following the lifting of some of the Covid 19 restrictions. With a small crew we opted to set only the fractional Code Zero for the down wind legs so set it up before the race.
In ten to fifteen knots we started at the pin end pinching to clear the pin but clear it we did. Right from the start it seemed that Matagi the MD35 would walk away from the fleet which she did beating us by 12 minutes around the course. Ophir the Flying Tiger was second fastest around the course but we did manage to beat her on handicap. The very beam Pogo 36,  Odyssey, was too powerful in the breeze and with a good compliment of crew on board she had even more power for the conditions. Next was the Sydney 36 cr, Another Planet. These yachts set spinnakers on the run from Drummoyne to Goat Island while we sailed with the less effective and smaller Code Zero  so I was quite pleased with the result. While happy with a fourth place on handicap it would have been better have more than the six yachts competing in our division.

The photo shows the significantly greater sail are of the front runners today compared to our 58m2 Code Zero.

Three of the four yachts in front today photo courtesy Mark Palmer

Three of the four yachts in front today photo courtesy Mark Palmer

After failing to finish by 90 seconds last week we were heartened to have our handicap reduced by six minutes and a forecast for more breeze. As the day progressed we experienced a steady light drizzle and much less breeze than anticipated. So light was the breeze that it took four minutes to run down the line and luckily for us we arrived at the club end on time and with a ever so slight increase in wind strength. Irukandji started a minute earlier but lost a fair bit of that tacking to cross the line while we just lifted onto our course. Odyssey was to start a minute later but appeared to be becalmed at the line so fickle was the wind. Approaching Drummoyne we were ahead of Irukandji but to leeward. in the light air our tack was so slow that they lifted on starboard and we could not cross not pull away so we had to tack back into the moored boats and wait for them to pass. After that there was some give and take on the work which was appreciated as the course is so narrow with all the mooring that tacking up the leg is quite taxing on Elaine and I. It was very apparant that the yachts that were able to get in phase with the wind shifts pulled away quickly while we went back and forth on the wrong tacks.
Our lucky break came when we took the stern of Irukandji and pinched hard to clear the rocks off of Spectacle Island which we did courtesy of the high tide.
The next leg was a reach to Goat Island which at times turned into a square run during which Elaine did a great job holding our the foot of the genoa to catch the wind to windward. Along this leg we made good progress against the smaller early starters but the really lucky break came as we rounded the Goat Island navigation mark three yacht deep but with speed to carry us forward into the new wind. Now Krakatini engaged us in a tacking battle while Matagi slipped away .
Along Snails Bay we pulled away from Krakatini while we could see Matagi slipping further ahead until we rounded Long Nose. Here it was Matagi’s turn to suffer light winds while we had a bit more pressure further out and made up considerable ground but not enough for a win.
Fickle it was and it was a relief when the course was shortened after the first lap.

For the restart of the RANSA Winter Wednesday series we were down a crewmember on our already skeleton post Covid 19 lockdown complement but the breeze was forecast to be light so away we went.
The start was heavily biased to the pin which was barely passable in starboard tack but we managed to start behind Hitchhike at the pin. Hitchhike tacked early to port while we were pinned down on starboard by Amanti. In a safe leeward position we were able to hold Amanti and eventually pinch up to windward but with not enough room to tack. In the lee of Bradley Heads Amanti tacked allowing us to follow. A left shift had us looking famous for a short time but as the wind went back east we dropped down behind the line of the early tackers. Allegro was first to tack to starboard onto the new lift and this move gave her a clear lead. Unwilling to do frequent tacks with a small crew we crossed the harbour missing another shift east to lose Amanti and Krakatoa.
we ran back to Steele Point with Krakatoa and went with her into Rose Bay but at the rounding of the Rose Bay mark we were forced to give room to another division yacht allowing Krakatoa to pass to windward with the freshening breeze. Eventually I went chasing the wind and found a streak that came below Shark Island that helped us pass Kratatoa and make up ground on Amanti. Unfortunately we rounded slowly allowing Krakatoa to climb above us and Amanti to step our strongly in front. Perhaps the dirty air from the TP52 was too much for too long but the last leg was not a good one and we let the seconds tick away for a seventh on handicap.
congratulations to Krakatoa for a good race and to Allegro for picking the breeze well on the first windward work. These two deserved their first and second on handicap.
We were happy with our boat speed in the seven to seventeen knots variable breeze and we played the foot and backstay pretty consistently to keep the power on. The single adjustable backstay made for a more relaxed sail particulaly at the top mark gybe and in the conditions we felt we were not losing a lot with the cut down main and old jib.
Allegro’s sails looked a picture in all black and if I was to be envious I would be envious of those.