Archive for April 2021

The Covid 19 restricted RANSA presentation night went off well despite the reduced attendance. Also present was John Conroy from Div 2 and Don Young from Krakatoa who took off the prize for our division.
We were rewarded for last year’s efforts with second place which is the engraved mug and laser cut plaque.
More surprising was to receive a second plaque for Passion X from our first year in Division 1 s when except for when the fleet went the wrong way we finished last in every race. The prize we received must have been a specially minted Race Committee trophy for persistence in the face of insurmountable odds. It may also have reflected our consistent appearance in a division which has had some inconsistent appearances due the the disparity in the performance of the yachts ranging from TP52’s to custom harbour racers to stock Sydney 38’s. We possibly stole the award from Blue Chip who was also a very consistent starter but whatever the circumstances it was a pleasant surprise.

Our haul from 2017 and 2020

After last years cancellation due to Covid 19 it was great to see a fleet of over 100 yachts, crews and supporters descend on Port Stephens for the regatta. As if to make up for last years cancellation the weather was kind although we would have liked more consistent breeze in several races where the dying breeze favoured the faster front runners while the tail struggled home.

Rare occasion Passion X ahead of Wangi based JAB

In the lead up to the week of racing we raced in the Newcastle to Port Stephens race and were pleased to finish 12th fastest in a fleet of 43 entries. Most of our placings were gained in the final stages of the race when the breeze filled in and we could sail out from under the fleet which had come down with new breeze from offshore. The breeze took a long time to fill in over the course and in that time the yachts to seaward made good grounds on the ones inshore while we were more or less on the rhumb line in the middle. The 31st place on handicap was not unexpected given we had done well two years ago and the handicaps were based on the performance in that one race.

For the Commodores cup we were in Division 2 and had 9th, 10th and 14th fastest placings in a pretty hot fleet. To be fair the first race was a lottery with the back markers from the non spinnaker division starting 15 minutes after our fleet catching the division 1 leaders. In such circumstances one can be grateful for any finish. Such was the conditions that handicaps were not adjusted for the second day which hugely favoured those yacht that had had the good fortune of a great handicap on day 1.

Day 2 had its problems too with the breeze dying on the fleet making our way home. We were happy with the 10th fastest but the time differenced dragged out so our handicap result suffered.

Day 3 had some good breeze which called for the No 3 jib. After the first work, and two reaches we were right up with the front of the fleet but on the hard beat into Corlette we dropped back to 14th fastest while the heavier yachts did better. nevertheless we enjoyed the day and the moments of optimism.

After the lay day we had three races in division 2 of the Performance Cruising event. For the first race there was solid breeze out in the ocean and we were very pleased with out windward performance. We were still pleased on the spinnaker reach back to Tomaree Head. At the Heads we could see the fleet becalmed in the wind shadow and opted to go wide. That did not work out as we were left low on the fleet for the work back and were passed by four yachts in the process. Despite this set back we were buoyed by our windward performance and ready for race 2.

Race 2 was the highlight of our regatta where we started on the marina wall on port gybe and sailed out from under the fleet. We retained our lead out to Yacaaba head where a line of breeze just to windward allowed Jab to sail around. It did not help that we were blanketed by Division 1 yachts we had caught and Jab made the better decisions on skirting the fleet.

The breeze died on the way home allowing another yacht to pass but we held on for a third fastest.

From the height of race 2 we sank into the depths of race 3. It did not help our optimism when the handicappers took an axe to our rating and set an insurmountable hurdle to a good series result. Jab was treated even more harshly so it was no surprise that we were the two last places on handicap.

We did make it easier on Jab by catching our spinnaker in the rigging and taking minutes to retrieve it but how we got to that stage is a longer story.

Trying to emulate our port gybe start from the day before we hung around on the rock wall only to be charged by a fellow club member who decided their best interest was served by aiming right at us and calling “starboard.”

To an extent that tactic worked as we were delayed in deploying the spinnaker and lost the small amount that would have put us ahead of the fleet at the bottom mark. Instead of a clear run to the mark we had a group of starboard tackers come across and force a gybe to starboard. That would have been ok but for the decision of one of them to continue well below the mark making a gybe back with spinnaker difficult.

With hind sight we should have hoisted the genoa early in anticipation of this but it was only a matter of a couple of boat lengths and we would have been clear.

It took 6 minutes to get the spinnaker untangled and the genoa hoisted but by this time we were so far below the mark that we had at least eight minutes to make up and were now deep down in the division 3 fleet with plenty of traffic. We followed the fleet out to the relative shelter from the tide on the edge of the sand banks and made good progress to the deep water mark. About that time the wind and tide conspired to put us about and about and about without making a lot of progress. We had plenty of company from the division 3 yacht who were all enjoying the same challenges.

We had no idea that Koko had made a good passage through this section and was on the way to a 4th fastest and their best result of the regatta. Still we were pleased to catch up to 14th fastest after such a long interruption to our race.

The other nice outcome from our problems was that Jab finished in front of Passion X on handicap with just enough points to beat Koko on a countback. Now Jab’s owner is a long time friend from Laser Sailing and they sail their First 40.7 spectacularly well and we are pleased with their success.

With a daughter and two grandsons on board Elaine and I blitzed the fleet for the first race of the Balmain Winter Friday series. It was their first race on board Passion X and they performed admirably in the light and tricky conditions. Of particular note was the tacking to windward up the narrow channel behind Snapper and Spectacle Island when there was a little breeze and the drift around Goat Island when there was none.

As background I had been disappointed with our light air performance in recent weeks and attributed some of that to having moved the anchor from the bow to the stern locker and inducing more stern down trim. The idea had been to keep the weight low but the improvement in righting moment may have been more than offset by the increase in wetted surface at the stern. In preparation for a light series at Port Stephens I returned the anchor to the bow locker and also installed the second Cat 4 anchor in the locker inducing a lot more bow down trim. Again in preparation for the transit to Port Stephens I added 200 litres of water for hot showers en route. The water tanks are generally forward of the centre of buoyancy of the yacht and add to the bow down trim. Judging by today’s performance the extra bow down trim more than offset the increase in weight.

While the skill of the novice crew and the extreme bow down trim may be credited with some of today’s performance there must have been an element of starting at the right time.

When Krakatini started she was on a tight work and seemed unlikely to clear the moored yachts along the shore. Shortly after Moonbeam took off and was pointing well above the islands. When Odyssey and Passion X started side be side we had a loose work to Snapper island and a nice lift after passing the shallow water of the western end. We were lucky to be inside Odyssey so that as we tacked away from the moored yachts on the Birkenhead shore we left Odyssey clear astern and dealing with our dirty air.

By luck or good management we were on a lifting tack all the way up the shore allowing us to make gains on the fleet.

The long broad reach to Long Nose was a painful affair where we struggled to go to leeward of Kelly2N. It was only post the corner of Cockatoo Island that we could get far enough to leeward to break through their cover.

From Long Nose the leg was square to the Goat Island navigation mark with insufficient air to blow the top batten through. I did not seem to matter that the main looked terrible. It was out there and the genoa was poled out to windward and most of the crew were camped on the very nose of Passion X in which fashion we drifted down on the fleet.

Our big move was around Goat where we went wide and eventually lifted up to round the island. Guwara went wider and sailed through our lee but we dropped down to their wind and eventually pointed up to their stern. A couple of tack later we came out from the gap to the island a nose ahead and there we started to pull away.

As we were sailing back into breeze and were first to get to it we extended our lead by a large margin and finished with our largest margin since launching Passion X four years ago.

A big thank you to the family for entering into the spirit of the race with such enthusiasm. The skills learnt at the Richmond River Sailing Club were put to good use with good calls of the telltales and proactive trimming. They were quick to the leeward side in the calm and quick to the bow for the downwind drifts all contributing to a good result.

Reuben rowing home after the race

Two grandsons enjoying the afternoon. Winners are grinners