After the short Christmas break it was good to be back on the water and with a respectable breeze. The forecast was in the fifteen to eighteen knot range which has been a a tricky one for sail genoa selection on Passion X. It is a bit light for our No3 jibs and a bit heavy for our No 1s so we tried the old No 1 from the original Passion. Now the old No 1 from Passion must be at least seven years old and has seen a lot of races. We retrieved it from storage when the Covid 19 virus struck as it is high clewed, slightly smaller in area and we can sail more easily short handed. This is the genoa we have been using for the Balmain Friday afternoon races in most conditions so I thought it worth a try this evening.
One way or another we missed the start. Lets say it was a huge shift in the wind direction than let Ausreo on starboard lift to our line on port. That left us tacking below Ausreo along the line all the way to the inner distance mark off the club and stuck there until Ausreo tacked. That hurt and as a result we were last into and out of Humbug except for Fireball. On the way to Cockatoo we had to take a stern of one of the early fleet and that wasted quite a bit of windward height and cost at the corner where we had to slow pinch around the end. Once away we took off after Sweet Chariot and the rest of the fleet further ahead down the run to Drummoyne.
Sweet Chariot was still ahead at Snapper Island but once we held out the genoa to windward we raced down the alley between the islands and the ever encroaching moored yachts for a handy lead on Sweet Chariot at Spectacle Island. Now there was a long tight reach to Long Nose and then a work to Goat ahead. From behind we could see the gusts lifting and knocking the fleet and from this vantage point we worked well to windward. On the tight reach we were consistently over eight knots of boat speed although we had little time for watching the dials. Most of the time was taken up by working the main vigorously sharing the load between three crew.

To our surprise we managed to do more than hold the fleet along the windward work and by Goat Island we were close to Joli and Ausreo while Meridian was a small gap further ahead. John Ewing has a great photo of the fleet on the way to Goat on the Greenwich Flying Squadron facebook page and the different angles are quite evident. Alas we had to pinch to clear the corner of Goat and that cost a lot of time. Indeed the yachts in the earlier fleet further out from the shore than Passion X were knocked right down to the piles so we were lucky to get through when we did. The next chance for some time recovery was off of Long Nose but here Meridian went well wide and Joli worked some magic to get past Ausreo while we came out about the same distance back as we went in.

The reach around Cockatoo and back to Humbug was uneventful but very enjoyable with over 9 knots of boat speed in the gusts and with the hope that Humbug might have some surprises in store. Alas there was no Christmas present under the Humbug tree for Passion X and while we were closer to Ausreo than at any other point since the start it was not close enough.

Ausreo took the handicap honours from Passion X which is a much better result than we have had when we have been first into Humbug. Perhaps Ausreo got us all fired up for the race but whatever it was we did work well to Goat and would like to bottle whatever it was we had tonight to serve up on another evening.

Pasion X on the left on a lean and doing well to windward

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