Passion X doing well shortly after the start.

Passion X doing well shortly after the start.

The 157 photos posted by Simon Elliott HERE provided a different interpretation of the race than what I recollected so in the interest of accuracy I have updated the post. There are some pretty special photos of the Black fleet so have a look.  In the fresh 10 to 15 knots tonight the head of the mainsail looked very full and not twisted off enough. Last time it blew this strength was back in race 1 of the Summer series when we finished 5th fastest and three and a half minutes behind Avalon. Our stay tension was the same on the V1′s tonight but the D2′s were one turn tighter. It is hard to imagine that one turn on the D2′s would make all that difference but I will go up the mast tomorrow and loosen them off a turn ready for next week. (We did this on Thursday morning and to our surprise the D2′s were very tight so it will be interesting to see how much of an impact one turn makes on the fullness of the head of the mainsail.)

Tonight we were 5 minutes behind Avalon and the minute and a half difference would have brought us back to 6th fastest and a mid fleet finish. It would not have changed our handicap place but there is a fastest times pecking order which we all try to achieve. To be fair it was not the only change as I have had the battens out and may have over tightened them making the head fuller. Two other changes were the largest genoa and the main sheet traveller system. Our second genoa is 5 m2 smaller and is much easier to skirt. had we  had that up we would not have punctured the foot of the big 45 m2 genoa and had all the subsequent problems with it catching on the stanchion. ( The stanchion penetrated only the cross ply base laminate and no damage was done to any of the carbon fibre tapes so a couple of layers of taffeta on both sides has fixed the small hole.)

The traveller system was supposed to make it easier to drop the boom in the event of a gust but in practice it is hanging down to leeward and reducing the leech twist. While it is good on the runs and reaches the consensus among the crew is that we are giving away too much height and leech twist. (The centre sheeting has been reinstated and we will be back to dumping lots of sheet in the puffs.)

Not everything is down to rig tuning. We were down one of our young strong crew for the night and had very little weight on the rail. Where last week we had a perfect passage through Humbug on the way home this week we could not find a favorable phase and took an extra two tacks compared to our close competitors. (On reviewing the tracks back through Humbug they were not a bad as I had recollected so I would love to see the tracks from Jackpot, Irukanji and Lisdillon for comparison.)

At the beginning however it was all roses as we took sterns right on the pin mark and started well to leeward of the chaos further up the line. Only the mighty Ausreo reached Humbug ahead of us and from the post race photos Lisdillon can be seen to windward of Ausreo so they must have had a good run from the line too.  We were overlapped inside and could not go up above them had we wanted. Also it was low tide and as we had started well to leeward we were very close in to Onion Point and had no where to go. Fortunately Ausreo went up trying to maintain clear air on the charging light brigade and that left us alone to leeward with wind coming over our stern quarter giving us clear air and a clean run albeit a longer one. When we did come up we had Much Ado V in front and Dump Truck alongside. We had a cordial exchange with Dump Truck along the Cockatoo shore on who had rights but it mattered not as eventually they took off to leeward chasing the brother in the sister ship in front. Initially we had some favorable shifts that kept us in touch with Dump Truck but Utopia came through pretty quickly followed by Avalon, Ausreo, Irukandji, Jackpot and Lisdillon.  Around Goat Island the large genoa helped and we emerged chasing the fleet back to the Long Nose corner hoping to make up ground. The square run with the genoa poled out down to Cockatoo Island was also a good run for us as we overtook Lisdillon and Irukandji and were on the tail of Jackpot and Ausreo. Initially we pointed up around Cockatoo Island to be clear ahead of Irukandji but once clear of the corner they were lifted well above our line. I think their difference in tacking angle was too much to be accounted for by our traveller being down 150 mm but whatever the cause it put us immediately on the back foot. Apart from being out of phase on the way back in the stanchion puncturing the foot of the genoa was not quick. First priority is to loosen the D2′s and reinstate the original cabin top centre sheeting. If these do not reestablish our correct mainsail camber and twist the battens will be loosened off.

Congratulations to Much Ado V on a fastest times result and to Dump Truck and Utopia for the rare dead heat for second across the line. For the handicap results the heavy air specialist Ausreo took the prize from Utopia, Irukandji and Avalon. The transition back to the Spring handicaps caused a few problems but Harvey has that all sorted and yes we did dead heat for last on handicap with Jackpot and Avalon was catapulted from last to fourth place.

Our tracks back through Humbug were not so bad. The others must have been spectacular.

Our tracks back through Humbug were not so bad. The others must have been spectacular.

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