The strong wind on the harbour pre race and the forecast for the breeze to freshen all evening was enough for us to set our new No3 jib. It has a little more area than the old No 3 and is fuller off the wire for a more forgiving steering angle but that was not enough to off set the lighter conditions that prevailed through the race.

While the winds were fresh on the work to Goat Island we kept with the pack or rather dropped back less than usual. This was aided by a very well timed start low on the line and a first into Humbug and second out of Humbug. Utopia did a great job with their whisker pole on the short run through Humbug and carried it high around Greenwich point to lead the fleet. Dump Truck and Much Ado V suffered from overly aggressive competition on the line and a clear break from which they were recalled so they were late to the party on the work to Goat.

Eventually Joli and Ausreo went below Passion X and lead us into the mark but the gap was small and I was unconcerned given the forecast. From Goat the breeze faded and the fleet drew away on the long run to Cockatoo and the work back to Goat Island. We were 2 minutes 11 seconds behind Meridian and 1 minute 20 seconds behind Ausreo at the second rounding of Goat Island but after that the breeze faded more and we fell further behind on the run back to Cockatoo.

It was most apparent as we rounded Long Nose that the fleet had drawn well away in the second transit of Goat Island and the reach back through Snails Bay. When the race results are out I will know how far behind but for now it seemed like a very long way. Indeed on the last run Fireball came charging up from behind in close company with Lisdillon so we were more intent on staying in front than worrying about the ones that had got away. Around Cockatoo we held Fireball well but tacked for Humbug too soon. Fireball went further and tacked onto a nice lift to pass Passion X.

Our next move was to be to take the stern of Passion X but the wind had other ideas and a gust prevented us bearing away enough so we tacked back below Fireball to avoid contact and they tacked away. For the next pass I aimed below their stern from a long way out and successfully tacked for Starboard rights. Fireball tacked below aiming to come up from leeward but the wind had other ideas and to make matters worse Lisdillon was getting a nice lift from behind.

At the end we managed to keep in front of Lisdillon and Fireball while Sweet Chariot had the benefit of some late stronger breeze to catch up somewhat through Humbug.

In the tricky conditions we struggled to find a comfortable setting between too much heel and not enough helm to keep high. A larger genoa may well have helped and it would have helped on the downwind legs where we suffered tonight.

Passion off Robinsons Point Birchgrove – Patrick Medley Photo
Joli goes through to leeward and Dump Truck to windward on the work to Goat Island
Much Ado V scoots through while Passion X tacks.
A variety of rigs and reefs out on the course
The fleet getting away after the rounding of Goat Island

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