Archive for June 2021

After a disappointing result sailing ultra light in Wednesday I loaded Passion X up with at least 400 litres of fresh drinking water to establish a decent bow down trim and provide some low down weight in lieu of a lot of crew on the rail. The aim was to set the full genoa and reef the main if the winds blew up but pre race it blew up to over 20 knots and not a little cowardice crept in. For sure the crew were willing accomplices in this public show of reserve as we hanked on the No 3 genoa for the day.
Pre race the breeze held up so as we started a minute in front of Maxishambles we handled the windward beat well, not losing any ground and claiming our first victim racing with a reefed main at Snapper Island.

Presently the breeze dropped out to seven knots with the very occasional puff up to eleven and the little poled out No 3 genoa was doing her best.
Deliciously we had eight more minutes of the strong breeze than Avalon but suffered from three minutes less wind than Odyssey so Maxishambles and Passion X had a large part of the western harbour all to ourselves.
At this point Maxishambles did a pretty decent change up to a big light air genoa without losing much ground and then proceeded to draw away for a good half minute lead around Goat Island.
We did not negotiate Goat Island well and I put that down to both being under canvassed and under height compared to Maxishambles. Despite these drawbacks we stayed in touch all the way back to Spectacle Island .
The last run home was pretty quiet and so much so that Odyssey and a group of yachts were stationary at the ferry wharf looking like they could be our next victims. Luckily for them the breeze picked up before we arrived and they had a clear finish some four minutes ahead and almost a minute faster around the course.

So we did about three minutes better on Avalon than usual and three minutes worse than usual on Odyssey but what does that prove. Our trial of the extra weight in the water tanks was completely destroyed by the cruel breeze that sprung up pre race and then died mid race. Only Avalon could claim to be more sorely done by and we sympathise with them trailing the fleet for the day.

In response to a fairly large increase in handicap I opted to remove all the surplus sails from Passion X before the Winter Wednesday race at RANSA.

If you ask me “How did that go?” I would have to reply “Not so good.”

I had observed a characteristic of sailing Passion X that she seems to like to have her bow down and her flat, fat stern out of the water in light air but I have yet to work out what is the transition wind strength.

Today we started well in nine knots but dropped off the pace at one stage when the breeze died. That had repercussions as we dropped back into dirty air and never recovered. At the top mark we were a couple of minutes behind our usual pacemakers but not too damaged so we went of in chase of Allegro, Amante, Crosshaven, Monkey Magic, Leeward and Meridian with our genoa poled out. By Steele Point we were right on Allegro’s stern but had Philosopher and all the above mentioned yachts outside. For a brief moment we pulled level and even got ahead but on the approach to Rose Bay Philosopher got her bow inside our stern and Leeward inside Philosopher. We had to go so wide that by the time we had room to gybe Allegro, Crosshaven, Meridian and Amante were well gone and we were in the dirty air of Leeward and Philosopher. We reached away from Philosopher only to have her steam up at the Point Piper mark and get another inside overlap.
The reach home was no less painful as we were in the slipstream of Leeward and Philosopher and despite going low for clear air could not break the cover and Monkey Magic also held us out to the finish.

Apart from Joli and Agrovation, Britannia had a good day beating us on scratch and pulling off second on handicap while Amante also suffering from the handicappers wrath from last week just managed to finish in front of Passion X so we both had a drop.

What made the day even more disappointing was the time gap to Agrovation and Joli who had charmed results. With a 2, 1, 3 out of the last four races Agrovation must be in the handicappers frame for next week.

Fidelis must have been disappointed that the promised reach to the top mark turned into a hard beat and Crackerjack must be wondering where all the winter fresh breezes in which she revels went.

So now all the gear in back on board stuffed under the V berth where it keeps the bow down and I will not be trying that again for a while.

Saturday was a miserable day in Sydney with winds on the harbour gusting to 40 knots. Even inland at Gosford the conditions were inclement so we pulled the plug on the Saturday racing and hoped for the best for Sunday.
Considering the forecasts we did get the best. The rain mostly cleared and the wind abated so much that we set the No 1 heavy genoa and a full main. Near the start the wind picked up but as no other yacht had a reef we decided to soldier on.
Elaine is away in Perth having just escaped from the latest Covid 19 restrictions and Kevin was off sailing Lasers at the 50th year celebration at Double Bay. For the West Harbour Winter Series I could not afford another drop so we sailed with just four on board with the objective of having a safe sail first, finishing and perhaps getting a little way up the fleet.
On the beat to Snapper Island we chose to go all the way to the Balmain shore to avoid the tacking duels out mid stream but that did not work and they were not about to give an inch. As a result we were forced to tack into the moored yachts and wait for the starboard tackers to tack away. While it cost us a lot of time we did manage to back out of the hole without starting the motor and resume racing even it meant taking more sterns as we had lost so much ground.
Having achieved no 1 objective of having a safe race we set off to see if we could go better than just that.
A gust of wind from behind on the reach past Spectacle Island brought us up to Odyssey but no further and as she unfurled her masthead Code Zero right on the mark we thought it was goodbye. Without a spinnaker we reached down the course until we cleared Clarke Point and squared away. With the genoa held out to windward we did surprisingly well on the short leg and rounded the Woolwich mark heading off to Goat Island.
Ahead we could see Maxishambles suffering light air off of Long Nose so we opted to go even wider and thus passed Odyssey.

To our surprise the speedy MD35 was behind having either had spinnaker troubles of missed a mark but whatever the cause we were pleased for such speedy company and to have a good yardstick to gauge or performance.
The next leg of interest was rounding Long Nose and beating to the mark off of Cockatoo Island. At least that is where the mark was until Balmain Tiger decided it was in the wrong place and relocated it down the course half way to Woolwich. As we had already worked up to the line of the yachts we gained nothing while it was another thing for Another Planet who avoided a tack or two and rounded ahead along with a group of fleet 2 yachts. With superior boat speed, or was it just the wind direction, we passed the lower fleet and rounded the Woolwich mark for a beat into the unknown. We read the course in the sailing instructions while the fleet read the course in the attached map diagram but we opted to follow the fleet around Cockatoo Island to Snapper mark. This was a challenging work with the MD 35 getting a break and clear air while Another Planet picked out a lift along the Cockatoo Island shore and caught and passed us. Now that was disappointing but it gave us a target to get back that lost ground.
All the while Bear Necessity was threatening from behind and as the fleet in front rounded the mark off Spectacle Island for the last run we could see spinnakers popping out everywhere. We did not have the crew or the courage to fly one and were pleased that Another Planet was equally cautious. In a master move we held out the genoa to windward and ran hard to the Hunters Hill shore so that we could come back on a tighter angle and it worked a treat. Getting clear air of Another Planet was a bonus as the breeze shifted around to nullify their blanketing attempts.
From Woolwich it was home to the finish line and here we had Another Planet tucked away so well that they tacked away.
At the finish the Far East 28 with the courage to set spinnakers and the Flying Tiger, not the one that dragged the mark, took first and second from Another Planet 30 seconds of corrected time in front of Passion X. In between was Maxishambles and Magic who both gained considerably from our troubles on the first windward work.

Our sixth place was a very pleasing result for the crew of four on a challenging day and we finished only 3 seconds in front of Bear Necessities so were well rewarded for our efforts.
On the progress scores we are two points behind the leader Ophir and one point behind equal second Another Planet and Magic

Passion X chasing the lower division yacht around the disappearing mark being towed away by Balmain Tiger

The breeze from the North East came in over an hour earlier than forecast so pre race we were enjoying 7 knots. Right on the start the breeze faded and shifted north so that the pin was favoured but so short was the line the pin advantage was marginal. Opting for room to tack we started on the boat end and tacked away as soon as we had room. That was a good move as the fleet was pinching up the line and seemed not to have dropped back to a close haul course on the start gun. On port and with freedom to sail a fast lane we were soom pulling ahead of the fleet. Agrovation tacked over to starboard crossed our bow and went to the windward side from where she eventually worked out ahead. Amanti tried to go over the top but I moved into height mode and managed to sail out from under until they too tacked away on starboard. Once we were headed we too tacked away to be careful to stay with the fleet and stay we did.
Back and forth up the windward work we took our gains and tacked back to cover. Perhaps the one mistake we made was to cross Crosshaven and Amanti at the top mark and then have to reach down to the mark when we could have tacked under and been clear ahead.
Agrovation had stretched her legs well out in front of the fleet while Amanti, Crosshaven, Passion X and Meridian followed in a tight group down the course to Steele Point. Meridian and Amante did best going either side of the course with Amante out wide and Meridian along the shore. We kept taking pressure when we could and managed to round Steele Point alongside Crosshaven. Initially we went low to clear the wind shadow of a bit Div 1s monster and once clear came up a little. Crosshaven in close died a painful death in the wind shadow of the hill while Meridian went even wider than Passion X and reached up from further out to be ahead at Rose Bay. That was possibly pay back from us running past them on the same leg last week so I guess that settles a score.
Over the radio the race officials announced a shortened course at Point Piper and as we crawled along that leg we began to realise why. Crosshaven had fallen further behind as the breeze died and she took the rest of the fleet with her.
Now we were chasing Meridian to keep the gap under our handicap allowance and that we did to the tune of 8 seconds.
So close were the first four yacht on handicap that only 37 seconds separated us but then there was a gap of three minutes to the less fortunate ones who had suffered the dead patch in Rose Bay.

Good angles all the way up the course as we covered the fleet

Monkey Magic held on for a fifth place to protect her position at the top of the leader board while Agrovation with a second and Amante with a third pulled further ahead of Meridian and Passion X tied for fourth. Then there is a break of ten points back to Britannia and the consistent Allegro.

For our part we are pleased to pull off a fourth fastest and third on handicap on a day when it was mostly windward working and a quiet run home.

The title is a synopsis of today’s Winter Wedneday race at RANSA and despite the results everyone should be happy for a fresh breeze on a sunny day with a finish before the storm clouds arrived. Indeed at the finish the black clouds over North Sydney looked threatening so we stowed the sails as quickly as possible only to have big bright white cotton wool clouds appear from the South.

Fidelis won the reaching duel to the top mark followed by the Sydney 38 Agrovation or the First 40 Navy One or Amante. We had started on the boat with a better reaching angle but the wind shadow of the fleet was impenetrable. We ran away for clear air when we could and courtesy of ISuper going high we got a bit of clear air and pulled away from Philosopher and Joli. At the mark we were intent on establishing an inside overlap on Monkey Magic and not running up the backside of Meridian or Foreign Affairs. At the turn we were delighted to have pulled clear of ISuper, Philosopher and Joli who all had a share of our wind shadow. Overtaking lanes on the way back to Steele Point were very rare. We went up to get some clear air on Meridian and to stop Allegro running over the top and we did achieve both of these objectives. Despite the clear air Meridian rounded Steele Point ahead and only our tactic of holding out the genoa to windward and running deep into Rose Bay allowed us to reach back just clear ahead of Meridian.
On the work to Point Piper we had Meridian tucked away below and were chasing Foreign Affairs when our only mishap of the day happened. On the tack back to the Point Piper lay line we caught the genoa sheets around the end of the spinnaker pole and had to mark time until the tangle was untangled.
In the delay Meridian popped out ahead but fortunately the delay was not long enough for anyone else to overtake us.
Now we had to follow Foreign Affairs and Meridian around Shark Island. This time the trick of holding out the genoa to windward was not as effective so we turned for home half a minute behind Meridian.
The leg back to the finish line was tight but with a few lifts available most of the fleet did it on one board. Fidelis was an exception and we could see her tack back on port way past the lay line to the finish.
We pinched a lot on this leg thinking that the yachts in front knew something we did not know and were expecting a big header. A really big header did not come so we might have given away a few seconds but when we headed down to fast mode we saw over 8 knots to windward and a VMG of 5.1.
Despite this good speed Joli was gaining from behind and Meridian was pulling away a little.
At the finish we drew with Meridian on handicap and beat Joli by a few seconds.
The silver lining in the results was the different yachts that did well in the conditions. Amante did exceptionally well on fastest times and won on handicap from Fidelis, Navy One and Leeward.
Passion X was back in equal eighth with Meridian just 20 seconds behind Agrovation. Reve was a further eight seconds in front of Agrovation.
Depending on how much time we lost with the genoa sheets tangle around the spinnaker pole we might have been a few places further up the ladder but I am sure everyone had similar issues on the course.
Overall Monkey magic with their big drop for today are in the lead from Amante, Agrovation, Meridian and Passion X. No feasible result would have had us further up the ladder than one place so we are pleased with our day’s work.

We had one of our better West Harbour Winter Series races today in a breeze that started at seven knots and faded to nothing. The results always look better when your competition is becalmed after you have crossed the finish line but nevertheless we were in front of most of the fleet with a fifth fastest out of thirteen starters.
Our start was particularly good except for the rampaging First 40 that tried to run down the line on top of a fleet of yachts half her weight and size. It took a while for them to acknowledge their sins and tack away but once we had clear air we picked the breeze better than most and were third to the top mark.
At this point the big spinnakers come out and while we were contemplating our next move the breeze headed too much for the spinnakers that were already hoisted on the yachts behind. The front of the fleet had already charged down the leg with spinnakers up so they pulled away while we with no spinnaker pulled away from those behind struggling to get up to the mark.
The next leg was pretty square where our oversized big yellow spinnaker works well until the same rampaging First 40 with a giant masthead asymmetric decides to reach at right angles to the course direction.
As leeward boat they have a pretty wide range of options for sailing a proper course but any course at right angles to the next mark would be moot. To be fair the breeze had swung behind so to keep their asymmetric filled they had to sail higher and so we were stuck on starboard with the pole out the port side and the spinnaker pulling us over until they bore away.
At this point the breeze was now square behind and pulling Passion X down the course as fast as the First 40 and the Pogo 36. in the photo you can see Passion X appearing to be squeezed between the above two yachts but it was not that close. The First 40 went deep to have good reaching angles for their asymmetric spinnaker while the Pogo 36 reached up to our line.
With weapons (spinnakers) away we proceeded onto the long work back to Spectacle Island in a fickle breeze. As the breeze faded we worked forwards in the light air relatively better than the Pogo 36 and for the leg held our position or worked out further on the fleet. The exception was Avalon who we held out until we reached the turn mark off Spectacle Island. As Avalon rounded the mark behind Passion X they had their spinnaker flying sooner and promptly caught us well before the next mark off Birkenhead.
With another switch in the breeze what on the last lap was a square run now became a tight two sail reach and a follow the leader home.
After the finish we could take time to look back at the fleet becoming progressively more becalmed ensuring we had a good result for the day.

Asymmetric spinnakers on the First 40 and Pogo 36 doing well compared to the big yellow symmetric spinnaker on Passion X.

The forecast fading north west breeze went AWOL well before the start and allowed a sea breeze to settle in at about six knots. The favoured end was switching around in the pre race preparation so we opted for a start on starboard towards the boat but away from the pack. At the start the starboard tack was tending to lift and as we had good boat speed with the rig powered up we held on for as long as possible. Below Philosopher tacked to port and tried to cross where there was insufficient room. The result of us avoiding contact was that we ended in their dirty air needing a bear away to get clear air. Eventually Philosopher tacked away from Bradley Heads so we could follow but on port we drifted down into their dirty air.

Crosshaven went for the Steele Point side and mindful that we had lost out to that side a few weeks ago we followed suite as the shifts allowed. Over on the Vauclause shore we trades places with Philosopher, Meridian, Joli and Crosshaven and on the way passed Monkey Magic, Foreign Affairs and Agrovation who were already running home.

We were the last of our little group to round the top mark and head back to Steele Point. To windward Meridian and Joli had run out of breeze so we stayed square behind Philosopher for the run home. Meridian gybed out to the north and when we took her stern we did wonder how it would work out. Well it did not work out well as the breeze died mid stream and filled in from the Vauclause shore.

Along the run back to Steele Point we kept watching the following fleet for signs of freshening wind. Allegro and Amante were a good guide and we were pleased that they did not make up ground.

Joli rounded Steele Point the first of our group followed by Crosshaven and Philosopher. We went widest of the group and passed Crosshaven but could not get past Philosopher until the mark in Rose Bay. To our good fortune Philosopher stopped just beyond the mark allowing Passion X to pass to windward and from there keep a few metres ahead. Joli pulled out for a small lead amongst our group of four while we had trouble passing a lower division yacht around the Point Piper mark. Learning from past mistakes we kept on heading north from the Point Piper mark to clear the disturbed air as soon as possible. Crosshaven tacked along the shore behind us and allowed us to get a mini break and hold out Philosopher, Crosshaven and Meridian to the finish.

In the dying breeze the front runners took all the silver while the tail enders fell further and further behind in the handicap places.

The first six places went to Monkey Magic, Agrovation, Foreign Affairs, Joli, Passion X and Philosopher while Crackerjack, ISuper, Larrikin and Leeward retired gracefully from the twenty two boat fleet.

At this stage Monkey Magic is blitzing the fleet on points score followed by Britannia, Agrovation and Meridian. Our fifth place brought us up one point behind Meridian into fifth place.

On scratch we are equal sixth with Monkey Magic well behind Agrovation and Foreign Affairs.

For Passion X it was a good race as we concentrated hard all day on keeping moving and at the same time picking the right side of the course. It was a long work from the start to the heads and a shorter run home to the finish line a windward work from Point Piper to the top of Shark Island. While we could not keep up with Agrovation, Monkey Magic and Foreign Affairs in the windward working stakes we did hold our own with the rest of the fleet.

Some good tacks on the way to the heads.