Archive for August 2017

It was another very pleasant day on Sydney Harbour with winds from the South averaging 15 knots with a maximum wind speed on our instruments of 22 knots. In anticipation of a freshening breeze we set the No 3 genoa and full main which we carried for the day.
We rounded the downwind mark at Cannai Point level with Marloo and just in front of Sorcerer with Blue Chip a couple of minutes ahead of our group of three. With the wind freshest at the rounding mark the big Sorcerer quickly climbed over us or more correctly we dropped below their line. Expecting the breeze to quieten in Rose Bay we kept the full main although at times it seemed to be doing very little work.
We had good breeze in Rose Bay where the course had us reaching and here we seemed to gain a bit on Sorcerer and Marloo who had a quiet patch off Point Piper. The reach home was a very comfortable angle and the race was one of the quicker ones of the season.
Our time difference to our competitors was instructive. Sorcerer was clearly quicker than usual and that showed in the results with their second place but showing what a mixed bag the handicaps were we had our best time relative to Ichi Ban but they won the race on handicap.
Against Blue Chip our time difference was exactly our average right down to the last second but considering the wind it was our best result in those conditions. Against Marloo our results were even better with an elapsed time 2 minutes 49 seconds better than average for the season but on handicap we could only beat them by 47 seconds.
Against Kookaburra we also had our best result for the season by some three minutes and at least that one showed in the handicaps.
Duende is on average 16 minutes 30 seconds faster than us and today they were only 14:53 in front so it was disappointing to see the finish 1:15 in front on handicap.
On balance I thought we did remarkably well and deserved a result near the top of the fleet behind Sorcerer. It is the best we have done in those conditions except for when our competitors have had mishaps on the water.

We do appear to be paying for the one first place on handicap in the third race of the season in light winds with no offsetting correction for the second last place the next time it was light. Also our string of last places when there was only three or four starters do not appear to have improved our handicap. And while a better deal on handicaps would look better in the results what we need is a few minutes faster boat speed so we can have some company on the beat home.

With Elaine away for the whole day I used the time to visit the club early and swap equipment audits for a fellow club member and then sail the regular Balmain Friday Afternoon pursuit series. It is a very pleasant dash around the islands west of the bridge and with a fresh 16 knots of breeze it was all over in less than 60 minutes.
Some of the time in the past two days was spent setting up a new data page for the Raymarine cockpit plotter to show VMG to windward in big bold numbers and we did hit a full 6.0 knots in a couple of gusts when we were feathering into the breeze so I am hopeful that the full main and No 4 jib will be a useful combination in these fresher conditions. The drawback is that if the breeze dies we become under powered so there was a lot of discussion on board of how quickly we could change the headsail up.
Everyone agreed we had the appropriate rig up for the day and with the short footed jib tacking was very civilized. There was a few stronger gusts up to 18 and possibly 20 knots and we saw 9 knots of boat speed on the broad reach along the Hunters Hill foreshore. To help in the gusty conditions we kept the vang loose and the leech of the mainsail well twisted. Upwind we cranked on the backstay but eased it on  the downwind legs a la Etchell style.

At the end we caught all but the one yacht so we must have been doing most things right.

By contrast on Wednesday when we had the larger No 3 jib up the winds were a couple of knots stronger today and that seemed to make a lot of difference. Also today there was more reaching while Wednesday was dead into the wind one way and dead square the other way and that is not our sweet spot.

And while Elaine was away for the day she would have wanted to thank all the crew for keeping me occupied and happy for the day.

The weather was perfect for a sail on the harbour and we were given our first true beat to the top mark for the season.
The breeze had already kicked on to fifteen knots by the time we were selecting sails so we opted for the No 3 genoa and full mainsail. With this rig we had a comfortable beat to windward regularly hitting 7.3 knots but occasionally slipping back to six and taking time to rebuild up to 7 knots. Blue Chip demoralized me by blasting away to windward as would be expected of a yacht with a 200 mm deeper bulb keel that weighs an extra 100 kgs. Their extra hull width possibly help them with more form stability too and I struggle to understand why the ORCi gives us similar ratings.
The top yachts in the Division 1 that started 5 minutes behind had I believe gained about a minute or two on us by the time we were abeam of their top mark so I am disappointed we are not in that division.
By our top mark at Cannai Point we were a couple of minutes behind Marloo and Sorcerer and hoping for some gain on the downwind leg. It was not to be as the wind was too light for our small headsail compared to the big overlapping ones on Marloo and Sorcerer. The breeze did lighten on the run home and that was not helpful with the small headsail.
We sailed pretty well to our speed targets hitting 8.5 knots on a beam reach on the way back to the finish line but our competition kept their distance ahead and we finished last by 3 minutes 57 seconds. Our handicap did bring us home 12 seconds in front of Duende who seemed to get on the wrong side of a couple of shifts.
Our tracks to windward look pretty impressive in terms of angle to the wind in a slack tide but the reality is that we were well beat. We were 4 minutes slower than our average result to date against Blue Chip and 2 minutes 13 seconds slower on average against Sorcerer. Against Duende and Marloo we were 15 seconds better than average but even being better than average against Marloo left us over a minute shy on handicap.
We could not have carried any more sail to windward although we could have carried a reef in the main and the full genoa and then taken the reef out at the top mark. A couple of knots lighter and we would have carried the No 1 all day and a couple of knots stronger and the No 3 would have been fine down wind. On the square run home the extra two knots of wind would have added 0.8 knots of boat speed.
We have just three races left before some of us travel to Croatia for the World Laser Masters championships and it would be good to have at least one race with the breeze in our sweet spot before we finish for the season.

I should have checked the photo before I left the yacht for the evening but if you look hard you will see the tacks in the tracks

I should have checked the photo before I left the yacht for the evening but if you look hard you will see the tacks in the tracks

Today we were the only yacht to have a decent sail on Sydney harbour in winds that peaked at 33 knots. We had the new No 4 jib on board and were waiting for the start of our regular RANSA Winter Wednesday race when we found ourselves alone. We pulled into the RANSA jetty and confirmed the worst that the race had been cancelled. Being all dressed up with nowhere to go we sailed most of the course anyway. Our peak speed broad reaching was 12.3 knots in a 32 knot gust. At this stage we had one reef in the main and the brand new No 4 jib hanked onto the forestay.
For the tight reach back to Steele Point we put in the second reef and also tried beating to windward for a while. The peak wind gust during beating was 33 knots in Rose Bay.
It would have been nice to have had a race as the wind angle would have been to our advantage and we would have gained a better appreciation of our performance. All the same we had a very enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine and wind.
Alas the forecast for Friday is even stronger and Saturdays safety audits may have to be shifted to a less windy day.

What was supposed to be a quiet day ferrying the completed boom over to Passion X and fitting it on the mooring turned into quite an adventure. Joe Walsh decided I should bring Passion X into the public wharf at Margaret Street instead. Now that was after I had paid my $9.00 parking fee and as I had not expected to move the yacht today I had left the battery for the new electric outboard motor home. Rowing to Passion X was downwind so that was OK and the trip across to Margaret Street, tie up at the mooring and loading of the boom all went smoothly. In the short time it took to transfer the boom however, the tide went out leaving Passion X stuck on the bottom. Fortunately the local mooring barge was moving at that exact time so I threw them a line and they pulled us into deep water in a moment.
Message to mind the depth indicator is very accurate. If it says 2.45 metres it means 2.45 metres.
By now the wind had picked up to a full 25 knots and at the very top end of the range for picking up the mooring in Greenwich but that was successful at the second rounding and the depth indicator did not go below 4 metres.
The final task was to row ashore against the 25 knot breeze and the full flow of the tide. Now this is exactly when the electric outboard will be useful but alas the battery and tiller control were far away at home. By skirting the shore and rowing in the lee of the Greenwich ferry wharf I made it back safely. Despite all the dramas of the morning it was a remarkably quick process so I had time to pick up the sails from the loft and spend a couple of hours at the Sydney International Boat show. Now the wind on the pontoons was so strong it was not pleasant so it was a quick visit and a quick trip home before the evening traffic and a well earned snooze in front of the TV.

Proof positive of the breeze when I was rowing back to GFS clubhouse

Proof positive of the breeze when I was rowing back to the GFS clubhouse

After a disappointing result on Wednesday it was good to have the boom replacement project to keep me occupied for a couple of days. Also as the weather turned out it was a good Friday afternoon race to avoid as the breeze was gusting 30 knots as the fleet raced past Joe Walsh’s rigging yard where I was doing the boom replacement.
On Wednesday at RANSA we were eight minutes behind the similarly rated Blue Chip around the course despite having the sails looking very well set. We could not say that if we did this if we did that we would have been quicker and the crew lamented that we are sailing at the back of the fleet alone in Div 1s while the Division 1 fleet we raced in with the old Passion had some very close racing.
What could we have done better? If we had carried the No 1 genoa downwind we might have gained a minute but would certainly have lost it on the way back. We did not need a reef in the main either in practice or by reference to the ORCi speed guide. We did get up to the recommended speed to windward on several occasions but could not keep up to the speed consistently.
Perhaps the breeze at 16 knots is just in our “bitter” spot. That has to the the reverse of “sweet” spot so at lighter wind conditions when we can carry the No 1 genoa all the way we might be more competitive and at stronger breezes we can make up a bit of time downwind.
This week our competitors carried full sail around the course and flogged us on handicap. That is all except Duende who had their own set of special circumstances with a too early pole out of the genoa which cost them a lot of time.
So the boom change project was much needed therapy and all the sails are in for a quick check while we are off the water. The boom change over was not straight forward as I had to drill the old boom bag track off the bent boom and transfer it to the new boom. The new internal guide for the single line reefing system had to be riveted inside the track with five countersunk head 3/16 rivets and then drilled to match the holes in the boom bag track.
The new boom has an internal sleeve fitted around the 3.5 metre mark and that meant the second single line reefing system had to be converted to a single continuous line rather than than the version with the internal slider and purchases. On completion the boom has the first reef with internal purchases and the second and third reef lines as single continuous lines. The third reef line has 45 metres of 10 mm line so it is a pretty long route to get in the third reef.
Joe Walsh was very generous with the use of his premises to do the work and also the advice and help with fasteners and tools. It is nice to have company around when you are working all day.
For a bit more therapy I might take the Laser out on the weekend and try the new carbon fibre top section but Saturday looks a bit fresh.