It was a smokey ten knots of breeze out on the water tonight with plenty of holes around the islands and through Humbug to keep the handicap race open right to the finish. We made a good start on port for the race to Onion Point where we were pipped to windward by Meridian and to leeward by Jackpot. In Humbug the following wind brought Much Ado V up and over followed closely by Dump Truck who politely went to leeward but just as quickly. At this stage the leading five yachts has a small break over Utopia. By the corner of Cockatoo Island Jackpot had established a small lead but Dump Truck. Much Ado V, Meridian and Passion X were following in a very tight group. Suddenly Utopia drew alongside brought up by the wind freshening with a little shift to south and as the bunch was too tight to go through we opted to work to the outside of the group and get first go of the freshening gusts. This was our best rounding of the south side of Cockatoo Island for the season and it gave us a chance to see how we were travelling alongside the front of the fleet. The work to Goat Island was particularly fresh and with just Elaine on the rail and Don on the windward backstay there was not a lot of righting moment. In turn each of Utopia, Much Ado V, Dump Truck and Meridian passed us on the windward work but it took a little longer than usual. Possibly it was a little lighter than usual and possibly we had the backstay adjusted more appropriately to the wind. In the gusts the mainsail was completely bladed out and backwinding while in the lulls we eased the backstay for more power and height. On reflection we might have been even more active with the backstay to maintain height as in the lulls Meridian pointed out from a safe leeward position and established a minute break. Again we did better than usual around Goat Island and had the front of the fleet well in sight on the reach and run and reach back to Cockatoo Island. While we had the front of the fleet in clear sight the back markers, Fireball, Sweet Chariot and Lisdillon were making inroads with freshening breeze from behind. Now the not so fortunate five percent of the race started to kick in. We had a very quiet rounding of the west end of Cockatoo Island and were disappointed to see how far in front Jackpot and Utopia were once we regained sight of the front of the fleet. Now the breeze was very up and down and left and right. First it would give with a lift and then take away with a knock. Meridian was not far in front having her share of the ups and downs but through Humbug we were left becalmed on Onion Point for a couple of minutes and only the blue fleet yacht Koko had it worse. The wind did return enough for us to limp over the line happy with 95 percent of the race but a bit disappointed with the last 5 percent. As we lowered the sails we had wind coming straight through Humbug from the south bringing  Sweet Chariot home seven minutes behind but fourth on handicap. Up at the front of the fleet Jackpot was eight minutes in front and third on handicap, Utopia was seven minutes in front and first on handicap by 3 seconds from Passion X. While we are grateful to the handicapper for our second place it was still disappointing to see the elapsed time difference. Lisdillon however had it worse than Passion X as with the dying breeze and out going tide she was left to flounder in Humbug. Next week it will all be different as we start our novelty Summer Series with a handicap start where the back markers will get to start earlier than usual and have best use of the breeze for the race.

Comments are closed.