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.

Comments are closed.