Dump Truck had an extraordinary race last night to claim first and fastest by a margin of four minutes over Utoia and almost five minutes over near sister ship Much Ado V. It was an impressive performance and the only consolation for the rest of the fleet is the punishment the handicap system will dish out to her. Hopefully the fastest time result is a good omen for Christian as he takes Infotrack south for the Hobart and we wish him good fortune in that event.
Fireball was second on handicap which seems pretty fair given the many light nights they have endured waiting for a windy race. Our only consolation was that we did the course a minute faster when on many windy occassions we have been behind on time.
Utopia was third having turned the fastest times table on sister ship Agrovation by three minutes. Admittedly some of that was when Agrovation found her personal wind hole on the way back into Humbug and that is likely to be a once in a lifetime event such was the strangeness of the wind on the evening.
Joli was next having beaten sister ship Meridian around the course by three minutes. it was an interesting competiton in rig settings for the night with allegedly Joli with a N0 3 jib and full main and Meridian with a No 2 jib and a reef. In the unexpected light conditions early in the race the greater sail area of Joli would have been an advantage while in the last beat up Humbug Meridian blasted past Passion X and Agrovation in nice control while Passion X struggled with a full main.
We never saw Sweet Chariot or Fireball on the course due to their relatively better performance in a breeze but we did have an interesting tustle with Lisdillon making up four minutes in the early stages of the race when the wind was lighter but giving back two of those later in the race when the breeze was stronger and on the nose. Most of that was in the work up Humbug where we could not settle into a fast mode.
The tustle with Joli was also engrosing as we started together and sailed almost side by side around Cockatoo Island, around Goat Island and back to Cockatoo. At the second rounding of Cockatoo we were too close the the lee shore of the island and the wider yachts or which Joli and Dump Truck were the most prominent, stormed around for a clear lead after which Joli pulled our a five minute lead. Joli sailed the last lap to Goat Island particularly well with the stronger wind performance compared to Passion X adding to our woes.
We did have a couple of encouraging spells, the first when the fleet went in too close to Balls Head and became becalmed but they received the returning wind first and made up a lot of their losses very quickly. The second was when we went high on the last reach to Cockatoo but then we threw that away by going in too close and literally dawdled around the island.
For the night our tacking angles all look good so we need to find the right mode for those gusty conditions. One of our issues on the night was getting the main out as the gusts hit and we experienced more round ups during the race than possibly we usually experience in a year. Perhaps it is a system issue with the mainsheet. Perhaps the backwind from the jib is just too much and perhaps it is just practice. The comforting thing is that for cruising I would just put in two reefs in the main.
Best wished to all for Christmas and the New Year and after a short time in Pittwater we will be back on the track at the next club race.

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