Archive for December 2020

The strong wind on the harbour pre race and the forecast for the breeze to freshen all evening was enough for us to set our new No3 jib. It has a little more area than the old No 3 and is fuller off the wire for a more forgiving steering angle but that was not enough to off set the lighter conditions that prevailed through the race.

While the winds were fresh on the work to Goat Island we kept with the pack or rather dropped back less than usual. This was aided by a very well timed start low on the line and a first into Humbug and second out of Humbug. Utopia did a great job with their whisker pole on the short run through Humbug and carried it high around Greenwich point to lead the fleet. Dump Truck and Much Ado V suffered from overly aggressive competition on the line and a clear break from which they were recalled so they were late to the party on the work to Goat.

Eventually Joli and Ausreo went below Passion X and lead us into the mark but the gap was small and I was unconcerned given the forecast. From Goat the breeze faded and the fleet drew away on the long run to Cockatoo and the work back to Goat Island. We were 2 minutes 11 seconds behind Meridian and 1 minute 20 seconds behind Ausreo at the second rounding of Goat Island but after that the breeze faded more and we fell further behind on the run back to Cockatoo.

It was most apparent as we rounded Long Nose that the fleet had drawn well away in the second transit of Goat Island and the reach back through Snails Bay. When the race results are out I will know how far behind but for now it seemed like a very long way. Indeed on the last run Fireball came charging up from behind in close company with Lisdillon so we were more intent on staying in front than worrying about the ones that had got away. Around Cockatoo we held Fireball well but tacked for Humbug too soon. Fireball went further and tacked onto a nice lift to pass Passion X.

Our next move was to be to take the stern of Passion X but the wind had other ideas and a gust prevented us bearing away enough so we tacked back below Fireball to avoid contact and they tacked away. For the next pass I aimed below their stern from a long way out and successfully tacked for Starboard rights. Fireball tacked below aiming to come up from leeward but the wind had other ideas and to make matters worse Lisdillon was getting a nice lift from behind.

At the end we managed to keep in front of Lisdillon and Fireball while Sweet Chariot had the benefit of some late stronger breeze to catch up somewhat through Humbug.

In the tricky conditions we struggled to find a comfortable setting between too much heel and not enough helm to keep high. A larger genoa may well have helped and it would have helped on the downwind legs where we suffered tonight.

Passion off Robinsons Point Birchgrove – Patrick Medley Photo
Joli goes through to leeward and Dump Truck to windward on the work to Goat Island
Much Ado V scoots through while Passion X tacks.
A variety of rigs and reefs out on the course
The fleet getting away after the rounding of Goat Island

After a couple of weeks of sailing into wind shadows we went wide on the corners and skirted the worst of the doldrums to claim third place on handicap just three seconds in front of Joli.

Joli also skirted the corner into Humbug by going on a great circle and all we had to do was go a bit wider, stay in the wind and get through Humbug as fast as we could to take advantage of our more generous handicap.

As generous as our handicap is it was not enough to overcome the elapsed time lead of between eleven to twelve minutes of Dump Truck and Much Ado V and they must be cock a hoop at beating the MC38 over the line.

We enjoyed the beat to Goat Island and did not lose too much time on the short work. With a reasonable reach to Long Nose we would have been among Joli and Meridian but a ferry on the corner came between us and cost us some distance. We did make up some time on the fleet on the run to Snapper Island but on the long work back they extended their lead and so it was quite a lonely beat back to Goat. By the time we reached the rounding mark at Goat the fleet was out of sight around the corner and the tail of Sweet Chariot and Fireball was quite some way off in the distance. To be precise Joli was 2 minutes 30 ahead at Goat and 2 minutes 40 seconds at the finish. Ausreo looked to be half a minute in front of Joli and but for breaking the line on the way to another handicap victory.

Ausreo who had broken the line was still sailing on and was a good guide to how we were performing on the beat to Goat but it did seem that the leaders all pulled away substantially on the beat. It was fitting then that they all fell into a hole off of Greenwich Point at the entry to Humbug and waited for us to catch up a little.

At the finish we were happy with our choice of sails for the evening, with our crew work and how we found our way around the course.

A new face on the course was the Xp38 Solveig II who slotted in in front off Meridian and Joli on a night where I imagine they enjoyed the conditions. Time will tell.

Infotrack blasts away at the start
Passion X trailing the fleet into Humbug
Infotrack gets the first big gust after leaving Humbug

It was a long race tonight and the longer the race the more time allowance we receive which resulted in a surprise sixth place on handicap.
At times the sailing was satisfying with good boat speed in the ten knot conditions and then there were times when a favourable lift brought a smile to our faces only to be wiped away by the next self inflicted wound. In true Python fashion it was only a flesh wound but at the time the distance lost was disappointing.

From the start we reached Humbug in good company only to have the fleet sail through to leeward just a boat width or two below. That would be ok if they did not then point up from under and take off in clear air while we languished in disturbed air waiting for the breeze that never came. The only consolation was that Dump Truck was stuck behind us in the same disturbed air and was making just as little progress. So disadvantaged were they by this unpredictable lack of air that it half way to Goat Island before they finally passed us and went off chasing their peers.

We were generally sailing well in the fresh conditions with the No1 heavy genoa and satisfied with boat speed and position until the last dig into Goat Island for the second rounding. As we tacked away from Goat we were knocked badly and should have tacked back in a few boat lengths. Alas we held on sailing at right angles to the rounding mark only to be also knocked on the way back and lost time pinching to clear the red navigation mark.
That indiscretion let Joli slip away at least a minute and put Ausreo right on our tail.

From there Ausreo did their best to blanket us but we held them off all the way back to Cockatoo Island where the wheels fell off. For some inexplicable reason we languished alongside Cockatoo while Ausreo, Fireball, Sweet Chariot and Lisdillon made up ground.
Around the end of Cockatoo we picked up some pressure and charged off towards Humbug and the stern of Joli who was becalmed off of Onion Point. At this stage we were happy that we had recovered almost all of our previous mistake when we too ran into nothing and the big Ausreo sailed through our lee possibly using momentum. While we wallowed in the eddy off of Onion Point Fireball, Sweet Chariot and Lisdillon enjoyed some of the pressure we had earlier and closed the gap.

At the finish Ausreo was the winner by three and a half minutes from Sweet Chariot and Fireball. The came the two Sydney 38’s Agrovation and Utopia followed by Passion X. We would have moved up only one place with a minute less elapsed time so our sixth place was meant to be. Next was Jackpot, Lisdillon and Joli. Bringing up the tail end was the fast end of the fleet Much Ado V, Dump Truck and Infotrack. Still the two Ker 11.3s had a very close tussle with the two Sydney 38’s all finishing within 30 seconds. now that would have been nice to see.

Finally the course was too long for the forecast conditions and it did not get any better as there was plenty of light patches as there always is. Sure we finished before 8 pm but the club was locked and alarmed before half of the Black fleet were back to discharge crew. It takes the edge of an otherwise enjoyable evening to have to unlock and disarm the club alarm to be able to discharge the loyal crew.

The fleet gets into the breeze while we are backwided in the disturbed air
Dump Truck finds her mojo and goes through to leeward
Joli passes is front. We should have followed.
Ausreo glides by to leeward. Joli becalmed at Onion Point
Joli at the finish with Ausreo well in front of Passion X from the inside pass