With the advent of daylight saving in NSW a weekend ago the twilight season started at GFS last Wednesday in fresh and gusty conditions.
The forecast had been for 20 knots all evening but as so often happens the breeze died even before we reached the turn around Goat Island. For the conditions we set our No 3 jib and a reef in the main. The reefed main allows us to do the windward work with the fat head of the mainsail passing safetly inside the running backstays and while the wind was strong we travelled reasonably well.
At the start we held back and pinched up to the start line on starboard tack while the early arrivers has to run down the line. Only Jackpot managed to start above us and with their extra 2.3 tonnes of displacement soon worked up above us and eventually the whole fleet. Joli made a spectacular work on port into Onion point and cleared the moored yachts by the smallest of margins to be ahead of Jackpot and Passion X working up Humbug. Dump Truck, while not on the starting list, made a fast entrance onto the scene loaded up with mobile ballast in the form of extra crew. Soon they were to windward of Passion X and as soon as they tacked to go down harbour we followed in their dirty air. Joli had gone a bit wider and lost the lead but were now using that height to sail faster and go over the top of Passion X while we had the dual problems of dirty air from Dump Truck and being a bit too low on the line to clear the moored boats. While we did clear the line we were still low on the navigation mark off Balls Head and a fast catching Utopia was making good progress under a similarly reefed main.
At Balls Head the breeze started to die and only a late gust kept us in contact with the leaders around Goat Island.
On the run back we decided to take the reef out of the main but the leeward backstay was on tight and the only way to get it around the sail was to gybe the main, ease the backstay and gybe back again.
In these manouvers the fleet drew away a little and the breeze died some more. It was now quite calm and the trip around the back of Cockatoo Island was painfully slow.
Humbug was our last chance to make up ground but only the reefed Utopia seemed to suffer by going too wide of Onions Point so we managed to beat her by a minute on handicap for a fifth place in a small fleet of 7 finishers. For a windy start to the season the 5th place is quite a good result as it keeps our handicap intact for the races when the full fleet turns up.
Hopefully Dump Truck and Much Ado will get their entries in for next week and will have to spread the movable ballast over two yachts which might not be such a bad idea given the forecast of light winds for this coming Wednesday.
Across all the fleets there were another 6 yachts that had not finalised their entries so hopefully we will get a larger fleet of starters this week.

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