Wednesday was windy and pretty well as forecast on Seabreeze. For the first time this season we set the No 3 jib and a full main. We were cautious at the start not wanting to arrive at the line too early in strong winds and with the full main but took too long to wind in the sails and were late to the start. At first we went low with Hitchhike but had Agrovation right in front and the fleet to windward. Once we gained a bit of free air on the windward yachts we nose ahead of Izzi and went high to keep clear air and have first use of the gusts.
Crackerjack had made a cracker of a start and the big 40 footer was leading the fleet downwind. We were catching her and had we obtained an overlap might have had a better day but we failed went around with Hitchhike below and getting their sails on quicker. With our sails still flogging Hithchike came up from below and forced the tack. Once on port tack heading back to Steel Point we appeared to be making time on Crackerjack and holding Hitchhike but when a starboard tacking Div 2 boat came across I did not want to try to bear away in the breeze. We were now on Starboard but did not have the sails trimmed well and were dropping below the line of Joli who then held us up from tacking back to port for far too long. We were now the most windward of the fleet and too close to the influence of the land so we had a very difficult work for the rest of the way to Steel Point. Allegro had tacked in front of us on the way to Steel Point and her dirty air made matters worse. Despite these problems we still had a small lead on Amante which we held around Shark Island until the work back to Rose Bay. Again we did not maintain our height and had to wait for Amante to tack. The last leg back to the finish was enough off a beat to let us make up ground on Amante but she played well and did not let us get an overlap. Amante finished 6 seconds in front and will do better when she has a clean bottom.
We were two and a half minutes behind Hitchike and Allegro. This was Allego’s widest margin on Passion X for the season and shows how well they sailed to be second on handicap and first on point score for the season. Crackerjack hung on to beat us by half a minute and for their best result of the year and a first on handicap.
Joli was two minutes in front and just in front on handicap but they are third on point score while carrying a DNS so have been doing remarkably well.
Our minor adjustments for the coming weeks will be to crank the backstay on even tighter in the windy conditions. I have eased the lower D1s a turn to help the bottom of the mast bend. It is sleeved for the first 5 metres and is very stiff below the lower spreaders. We need to tighten up our mark roundings and will practice going wider so that we do not drop below the following fleet.
On the bright side we kept well clear of any other yachts and enjoyed a very quick race. It was good to be near the top of the fleet on the first run and with a better start we might have been first to the mark. Our Achilles heel is still the windward working in the breeze but we are improving.

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