It was a windy forecast for Wednesday afternoon that frightened off all but six of the black fleet. The cooler weather and chance of rain did not set the scene for a comfortable post race BBQ so it was to be expected that numbers would be down. The brave six that did turn up had a good race with the bravest being Adrian with his new J121E who started with full main and jib and was rewarded with a first up fastest time. Flashback and Lisdillon pulled out their reefs next and finished in that order. We left our reef in for the second work to Goat Island and while there were some strong gusts there was also a lot of light air holes. Soundtrack and Fireball started to catch us on this work and Lisdillon and Flashback built up handy leads behind Jodi. A couple of big shifts around the eastern side of Goat Island enabled us to break away from Soundtrack and Fireball and after clearing Goat we pulled out the reef for the run home. We still had the small No3 jib up so we made little impression on the leaders. As the race finished the strong wind we had set sails for arrived but it was too late us.

In an attempt to improve our windward performance in a breezeĀ I changed the bridle system on the mainsheet for two blocks either side of the companionway. It worked fine for allowing the boom to hang to leeward in the gusts but left a lot of spare mainsheet flogging around across the deck. It is a pretty standard arrangement for many of the Hanse yachts but was not to my crew’s liking. Also the spare sheet flicked a winch handle over board and that is expensive. Today I went back to the drawing board researching mainsheet systems and decided to revert to the bridle system. I unashamedly stole the idea from the very successful Jeanneau 439 and since then Jeanneau have used it on the new 440 and 490. I have a lot of respect for the Jeanneau design team and seeing the idea on the latest 490 convinced me to give it another chance. To help with the dumping of the mainsheet in gusts I added another 2:1 purchase to the vang system and then took Passion X for a solo sail to test it. With just the single reefed main up I had couple of pleasant works up to the Balmain shore and back inspecting the flow of the leech tell tales. I had added an upper and lower ribbon yesterday and they had streamed well with the Hanse style mainsheet system so I was interested to see how they went with the beefed up vang. To be honest I think they did not stream quite as well but then I did not have the headsail up so the main was not sailing in the header from the jib.

It was instructive to see how high the boat would point with the boom dropped to leeward like we sail the cat rigged Laser and it is a reminder why we do not have the boom in the Laser on the centreline as we do with a yacht with a large jib or genoa.

What I did lean from my solo sail is how hard it is to dump sheet when the mainsheet is wrapped around the winch. But who is strong enough to hold it by hand and play it in and out. Perhaps we do need a double ended main with a hand held 16:1 ratio for trimming!

Looking at the promo photos from the various manufacturers web sites I did notice a lot of sideways bend in the centre sheeted booms. Now we had to go for a larger section on Passion X when we bent the first one and I have sleeved the larger section around the spread out blocks so I will have to take a few photos under load for comparison.

The up and down breeze at Fort Denison was typical of our breeze on Wednesday night

The up and down breeze at Fort Denison was typical of our breeze on Wednesday night

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