The weather forecast overshot the wind strength by 10 knots and undershot the rainfall by lots. Consequently the supposedly quick trip to Goat Island, around Snapper and Spectacle Islands and back to Goat and home took a lot longer than expected and produced a dripping wet crew.
The worst part was the tell tales sticking to the wet sails making steering to the breeze and sail trimming very difficult.
We did get some things right. The most important was choosing a large genoa in spite of the forecast. Without the No 1 genoa we would have struggled around the course as many patches were very light and certainly less than five knots. After a respectable start and work out of Humbug we found some 12 knots of steady breeze for the work up to Goat Island. In this early stage of the race we settled in well and drew away from Lisdillon, Ausreo, Fireball and Sweet Chariot while limiting the lead Utopia was creating out in front.
Some choices are debatable and we did debate it a lot on board. From Goat we were running quite square to Long Nose and could see Utopia in light air off the point. At least the air at the water level was light as there were few ripples to be seen. Out wider there was ripples on the water but the breeze was quite light.
One half of the crew wanted to keep running across the course and try to pick up breeze on the other side out wide while the other half wanted to reach across the light patch and follow Utopia.

Ausreo, Lisdillon and Fireball from quite far behind adopted the cut the corner approach and gained a lot of Passion X who was running quite slowly to the wind on the other side of the point.
At six knots of wind speed our boat speed downwind is at most 3 knots while on a beam reach it is twice that at 6 knots so apart from a shorter distance the speed is twice as high as long as you don’t fall into zero breeze.
At 12 knots of wind strength the difference is less dramatic going from 6 knots running to 8.5 beam reaching. So paradoxically it is more important to take a conservative wide berth in light airs than in heavy.

We did manage to keep our nose in front of Lisdillon and Ausreo for the trip to Snapper Island with some patches quite tight and a rather nasty header going into Snapper which left us quite close to the shallows off the western end.

Around the end of Spectacle Island Ausreo carried her speed through the wind shadow well and tried to pinch up above us but we kept our nose in clear air and started to work out in front again.

Now the wet tell tales were making steering to the breeze and sail trimming close to impossible and that is important on a relatively light boat. Ausreo kept up momentum through the shifts and pulled ahead giving Passion X a good dose of dirty air to boot.

This time being wider of Cockatoo Island paid off as we managed to creep ahead of Ausreo along the Hunters Hill shore only to again be passed and gassed off of Balls Head. Once Ausreo drew away and we had clear air we began to work to windward and that paid dividends as we were able to reach into the mark in lifts and pinch up in the knocks to cross Ausreo and tack for the run home. Fortunately the light air in the lee of Goat was not so light as to kill our boat speed and on the east side of Goat we picked up a nice lift to assist with the overtake.

At some stage in the run home Lisdillon put in a guest appearance or pun intended a gust appearance but once the breeze reached Passion X we pulled ahead again.

At the finish we were 6 minutes behind Utopia which left us 40 seconds shy of their corrected time but the big winner was Sweet Chariot then Utopia followed by Fireball just 6 seconds in front of Passion X and then Lisdillon 7 seconds further adrift and Ausreo just another 7 seconds behind.

Apart from Sweet Chariot it could have been anyone’s race and it is a credit to the handicap system.

Out of interest I recalculated the results based on the handicaps from last week and Sweet Chariot would have still won but Passion X would have been second followed by Fireball, Lisdillon, Utopia and Ausreo. This confirms how well the handicap system is working.

Next week it is back to the Twilight series where we pick up the handicaps from the Spring series where my forecast is we will all be cleaned up by Infotrack.

Wet conditions for the last Summer Series race

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