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

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