I was apprehensive about the strong wind forecast for our first West Harbour Winter Series race. For several days the predicted wind on the harbour was above 25 knots and for the Woolwich area the BOM Meteye forecast was around 14 knots. The choices for the rig were the No 3 jib with a full main or the No 1 heavy genoa with a reef in the main. We chose the No 3 Jib which is very easy to tack but the full main is harder to gybe because of the running backstays. We started a minute late due to a very short preparation time and will reschedule our affairs so we have more preparation time for the next race. Nevertheless we did well to arrive at the start line with most of the spinnaker sheets run and ready to take off on starboard tack. Being a minute late was a blessing in a way as we had a clear lane and no interference. Before long we were overtaking the tail of the fleet and with careful adjustment of the halyards and foot tension were making best use of the sail area we had deployed. While we had the code zero set up we elected not to deploy it due to the tight angles, short legs and forecast strong wind.
It was an enjoyable and uneventful sail until the second reach along the Hunters Hill shore. We had been having a close race with the Pogo 36 which also has a fat head mainsail but it is 600 mm wider than Passion X which gives it great stability Also they were flying a code Zero or asymmetric spinnaker, I am not sure which, and that gave them an edges on the broader legs. The Flying Tiger was also just in front and we are happy to be in company with FT’s any day. The peaceful sail was interrupted when the yachts just in front flying spinnakers were hit with a freshening header causing a lot of chaos. The Fareast 28 in particular was giving a demonstration of how to lay a boat sideways while more cautious ones were dousing their spinnakers.
With just the main and jib we were making up good time until overtaken to leeward by a yacht that had a curious interpretation of “Proper course”. We were both under just main and jib where the proper course would have been to run to Clarke Point but we were driven well above the point and eventually at right angles to the course to the mark in near Woolwich. This enormous detour required two gybes to get back to the mark and a lot of lost time. Instead of a safe and cautious day we had a few moments of mayhem. Fortunately we had just the work to the finish to manage which we did as carefully as we could under the circumstances losing as little as a minute and two fastest times places in the process.
The handicap result was more generous where we finished on fourth place just a second shy of third and two seconds in front of fifth. A clear start on time might have seen us reach second place on handicap but I much prefer a string of fourth places and less damage to the handicap for the next outing. http://www.topyacht.net.au/results/balmainsc/2018/kb/whws/01RGrp19.htm

As we sailed back to our mooring in Greenwich the forecast wind arrived together with a rain squall so we were thankful the sailing for the day had finished. For the Greenwich yacht that had ventured under the bridge for the winter series on the harbour proper they saw gusts of up to 34 knots.

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