Race 10 of the Audi Winter Series
jT - sunny and light, light winds
07/08/2012, Sydney Harbor
Crew: (Doug, Dan, Luke, Shane, Guille, Tessa , Jeff)
Sunday dawned just beautiful... sunny, with just a trace of clouds in the sky. We all assembled for our last race of the Audi Winter Series point score. With the race and final drop we are just a point behind catching our nemesis, L'eau Co. We had gathered the day before and stripped all the unneeded gear, sails and ropes off Nemmy. As the crew gathers, barely a ripple of breeze blows thought the fleet at dock. We take the unusual, and for Nemmy, unprecedented step of taking out all the covers and cushions from the boat.
Light as, we take our devised positions and prep the boat as we motor out to the start
Main - (Shane/Guillermo)
Winches - Tailer (Dan)
Winches - Grinder (Luke)
Winches - thrower (Doug)
Bow for start and Running-back stays later (Tessa)
Setting up, we watch a chorus of shouts and hollers of "Starboard" as the fleet starts before us. Somehow by taking 3rd place last week we have been handicapped an extra 2 minutes behind L'eau Co and 4 minutes behind Star Ferry. The biggest threat in the light weather is Lu Lu Belle starting some 11 minutes before us. We watch as the other take off and see many able to hold the tack toward the first mark. I set us up high on the start boat, but some crossing boats on starboard delay us being able to turn into the starting line. We line up high on the starting boat and end up about a minute late for the start in the light winds.
There is actually a bit of breeze on this first leg and we move nicely, catching each lift and looking to make the first mark in one go! The crew is low down, sitting as ballast to help tip the boat and sails in the light wind. I've been there and know it will be a long race with little to do between the tacks. Surprisingly, we near the first mark and see ALL of our competition in the series. Lu Lu Belle has just passed the mark, Star Ferry is approaching it and L'eau Co is still below us approaching the tack to the mark. We get a bit more lift and actually beat L'eau Co, forcing her to duck us as we call "Starboard!" on her! She slips under us and barely beats us to the first mark.
As we start on the first downwind leg, the wind starts to dramatically ease. Downwind is ALL about weight and sail area. We are 10.5 tons and thirty years old, the leader L'eau Co is just seven years old and half our weight at 5.5 tons. We watch as all three competitors slip away from us in the light winds. They round the Bradley Head mark and I start my timer to see how much they have chewed away from us. We drift at barely a knot as we so slowly claw down to the next mark. The only good thing is a huge wind hole is near the mark and boats are just drifting. We see Star Ferry past the cardinal mark and point the wrong way, back towards us! At twenty minutes we finally reach the mark, but thanks to the nearly non-existant wind our friends are all within sight! Poor Lu Lu Belle has drifted to the far side of Shark Island and looks to be near hitting it. We have just enough momentum to clear the mark and tack for the channel and hope to make some gains with the outgoing tide.
Slowly, the wind fills and we finally get back up to speed. We tack down the channel and watch L'eau Co and Star Ferry stay just out of reach. Nearing the next mark we find another in our division, Applejack, under our sail and almost crack into her as we tack. Thanks for the warning crew! I finish the tack for our mark and Applejack hollers over to ask where we are going? The mark I holler, and then inform them they just rounded the wrong mark! We'll take a whiskey at the bar, I tell them as they scramble to follow us to the correct mark.
We are finally around the mark and both L'eau Co and Star Ferry are far in front of us. We run our own race and try to claw back as much time as we can, but fear the race will be shortened and we are just out of race course in this light wind. Just past the mark the funniest thing happened. Good ole HubcapII is behind us and suddenly comes rushing up with a bow wake! What the @$%$#%?!? She is a much lighter and newer boat but this just feels weird! She passes us with a few other boats in company and we just assume it's breeze we are not in. Slowly, we claw back our lead. Just as we near Neilson's Point, here she comes again, but this time the other boat around her don't seem to have the same wind?!? Another bow wake in just a hint of breeze, to the point I'm trying to see if her motor is on... Baffled I hold my course to the line as she comes under us and pulls even. Then just like that the "breeze" stops for her and she resumes a similar speed to us. I fight for our line and position and am able to squeeze her out from over taking us. Finally, we finish the race following some very clean tacks and are able to beat Hubcap over the line. The light wind has crushed our race, but being a heavy boat we did all we could and return back to CYCA under sail.
Inside the club the results are in. L'eau Co took the race and the series. Funny thing is we could have beat them today and still not won the series, as they would have had to place third to our first to surpass them in the point score. With Star Ferry placing second today, we just scrape into third. Within the point score we actually TIE Star Ferry in second place but have more wins in the season so that puts us in second place for the season!
Well done to the crew for a great series! The final reward came after all the day's prizes were handed out (we got a shirt for third place). The sponsor makes an Audi available for a weekend test drive and guess who won! Jeff and Kirsty will be taking a long weekend somewhere in the next few months in an Audi!
Race 9 of the Audi Winter Series
Doug - Sun, wind, clouds - spring?
07/02/2012, Sydney Harbor
The weekend started with a work day on Nemesis Saturday. A handful of jobs were needing to get Nemmy into first class fighting form.
Top of the list was to remove all additional weight below decks that might be slowing us down. A number of sails, anchor chain and ropes were piled into three trolleys to be carted off to storage. The new hydraulic housing was next to be installed and lines bled to have our vang and backstay adjustable and no longer static. Followed by a little cosmetic cleaning below and above deck she was ship shape.
Big thank you to the volunteers: Dan, Luke, Guillermo, Manuel, Oliver Junior and Doug.
Sunday was to be a competitive session with S/V L'eau Co on the top of the leader board with Nemesis following two points behind. The forecast was set for a 15kts start, building into the afternoon to the low 20s. A star line up and the return of lost celebrities formed a spectacular crew.
- Guilermo - returning from setting fire to Madrid to fill the big void created by Chris's absence on the main sail
- Tessa - globetrotting Europe and USA - then collecting a new sponsorship visa
- Shane - MIA for a month with working taking a priority in his life!!? Huh?
- Dan - Back breaking work - walking wounded after Sunday's showing
- Luke - prepared with ant-acids, chocolate bars and sustenance drinks for tack after tack after tack of grinding.
- Aga - running-backs and crew moral leader (more comments below)
- Kirsty - fighting flew and working in the Pit (more aptly called the trenches)
- Jeff - not even a lost voice can stop him shouting with a hunger for victory.
- Doug - Mr Consistency.
Bob Marley set the tone on the dock as the crew gathered. In a flash we were off and motoring towards the point.... Did we leave the dock without Manuel? Unsure if he was to come and without any missed calls from the Spaniard we assume he had a bigger or more successfully night then planned.
The race kicked off with the usual Sydney 38 division starting towards the city sky line. The Harbour Bridge was veiled by a huge dark rolling front steaming towards us.
Full Main and No.1 Jib was holding very well and not over powering until the front came through with 28knts putting us on our side 15min ahead of our start. A hasty first reef was put in the Main sail and control was back on our side.
Jeff took control of the helm in the lead up to crossing the line with near perfect timing we were in the game. As we progressed towards the first rounding marker the front had passed and more calm wind followed.
The reefed main sail had us under performing our potential and falling behind L'eau Co who rounded the marker first. We hastily shook out the reef and were back in business, sailing Wing-and-wing on the downward trot to the Shark Island Marker.
We slowly clawed back the boat after boat as we continued around the course. L'eau was never far behind and at one stage were cutting the shoreline so close we had doubts and thoughts this might be their last race for the season.
Lap 2, Aga produced another culinary surprise with deluxe chocolates.....will be missing her treats for the remaining races.
While S/V Lulu Belle dropped a large number of places in the previous week, she gained a large handicap advantage in Sunday's race. We had a lot of time to catch up on her and Nemesis closed the time gap to 2 and half min ....but we needed more... S/V Star Ferry's had a spectacular run around the course with the fastest Elapsed Time for the entire fleet.
From the points boats the order of finish was Star Ferry, Lulu Belle, Nemesis then L'Eau Co.
The outcome of today's races sees all 4 boats (Nemesis, L'eau, Star Ferry and Lulu Belle) getting a lot tighter on the points score and the outcome of season will come down to the performance of one last race.
Thanks to everyone for your efforts.
Race 8 of the Audi Winter Series
jT - sunny and moderate winds
06/24/2012, Sydney Harbor
Crew: (Doug, Chris, Dan , Manuel, Haiyen, Aga, Jeff)
What a day for racing! The sun is out... just a light jacket over long sleeves... The shortest day of the year has just occurred so it's all uphill towards spring! We get out in the light winds and stage up to start. Full main and the big, gold, Kevlar #1 has us ready to go. With last week's race our friends L'eau Co is starting with us at 34 minutes handicap. We line up just in front of them four minutes before the start. They are keeping us covered, but I'm on the helm and sense they aren't tacking up to normal snuff... They also seem to have a ton of people on board compared to normal. Hmmmm.. I gybe away from them and the maneuver gets us behind them.
Now I shadow L'eau Co with just a minute thirty until our start. I keep right on his ass as we both depower the sails and approach the start. I've now pushed him to the lower part of the starting line and with him where I wanted him quickly gybe again and claw up towards the top of the starting line, right by the start boat. We are only 15 seconds late for the start, but with the gybe we are high up and able to push straight for the first mark. L'eau Co seems to be struggling down low and has multiple tacks to clear land, islands and finally make the first mark. We pull several minutes ahead of her in the first leg!
Our luck holds and we crush the first leg with just one tack at the end heading straight for the mark, my helming is distracted with all the tactics churning through my mind so I hand the helm to Doug and take over headie trim with Dan and Aga. We have a few boats in our sight and head back down the harbor. We know we have good speed on, as Assassin (a Farr 40) is barely able to pass us. Assassin was docked with us at Woodley's, so we know the crew quite well and I raced with them the first season in Sydney. I harass them that they are barely pulling away from a 10 ton cruising boat , as the pull away from us. Love it!
In the middle of the third leg, we pull up even with three other boats in our division! HubcapII, Lu Lu Belle and Star Ferry all in a row! This NEVER happens! We have speed and momentum and slide right between the lot! Now in front we proceed down the harbor. I'm calling for Manuel to find the mark as I'm trimming and Doug is doing that steering thing. Somehow we get pointed to the wrong mark and start to separate from the three boats chasing us. It wasn't much but now we have to turn and reach back for the mark! BUGGER! Both Hubcap and Star Ferry beat us to the mark and now we have an uphill slog back to the start, having to try to re-pass our competitors! ARRGGHH!
We pull it off and are able to catch up with all our competitors. We reel in everyone in our division and are on the last three legs when we see a boat on it's second to last leg flying our division K flag?!? Who the hell is Shorething? They have a red duck on the mainsail and we push hard for the mark so we can turn upwind and try to chase them down. It is a VERY slow process, almost feeling like slow motion as we slowly reel them in. Down to the last leg and we just don't have enough race course left to catch them. Funny thing is they pass the finish line and don't get the horn? Someone in our division must have been in front of them, so we are in third place? Confused, we also get headed and have to put in two tacks to cross the finish line. Another boat is passing with us and a division winning horn sounds as we both pass. I holler over to them if they think they won?!? Nope... we kinda celebrate but aren't sure how/if we really won.
Back at the club, we stock up on rum and coke. The results come in and we are surprised with a 1st place on points, but a 'visitor', Shorething, has pipped us at the line for line honors! Looking at the elapsed time we SMOKED the division with a time of 01:55:22. The "winner" Shorething had an elapsed time of 02:03:14 and a handicap start of only 23 minutes! Our main competition in our division, L'eau Co and Star Ferry both are in the 02:04:00 timeframe. It seems that this Shorething has a PRINCESS handicap given to her, as she was seven minutes slower on the course over barely two hours but had a 11 minute head start. The joys of racing and the handicap system! L'eau Co crew sit with us at our table so we have a great chat and drain those pesky rum jugs. Our second place (over the line) prize is a Musto Navigator Bag... I'm miffed for missing out on the 1st place jacket, but what can you do?
We are racing consistently around as one of the fastest elapsed times week on week in our division. We also have the biggest handicap, so we always have a big slog to pass every boat in our division. With this win we slide into second place, now just two points behind L'eau Co. With one drop left and two races to go this series is heating up!
PS - I do more research into who this dark horse, Shorething, is? Turns out the boat has been in division F, spinnakers, and has been at the absolute bottom of the pile. Funny, they are still register in Division F and had a DNC for race 8. Somehow they have been ALSO added to our Division K as a visitor. I called up the racing office to query why they were dropped in this late in the season AND seem to have a totally wrong handicap. Time will tell what happens with this and if it's even allowed in the rules... time to do a little reading up and checking!
Race 7 of the Audi Winter Series
jT - sunny and moderate winds
06/17/2012, Sydney Harbor
Crew: (Kirsty, Doug, Chris, Luke, Dan , Manuel, Jeff)
After a rainy Saturday, and wet puppy smell after they helped deliver the boat to CYCA, Sunday was a sunny cracker! Winds predicted from the West around 18 knots. The crew assembled and it seemed like we got off to a lazy start in leaving CYCA. We still had 45 minutes until our start and we ambled over to the start boat and kinda got our timer adjusted after the second try.
The wind was up enough where I was questioning if we put the big #1 up, but without a good #2 we were forced to choose between our old #2 or being under powered with our #3. Decisions, decisions! Just as I was calling for the #1 to be put downstairs, I decided to run with it and put a reef in the mainsail. We get the main up and then banged down to the first reef. Then with the #1 headie up I decide to shake out the reef. It's quite busy near the start, with a record 134 boats starting the race! We still have ten minutes and on the wind we are feeling a little over powered, so we put the first reef back in the mainsail.
Doug is helming, and he takes us over the line just seconds behind our start time of 12:05pm (a 35 minute offset handicapped from the 11:30am start of the slowest boat). We have a good first beat into the wind to the mark with only a few starboard boats to dodge and weave around. A few boats in our division are within sight and we chase them down the second leg. The wind shifts a bit and we pole out the headie half-way down the leg. Rounding the Bradley Head mark we reach down the harbor, keeping slightly out of the channel to avoid the tide that just turned to flood. If feels like a good, fast leg and we start to reel in HubcapII and L'eau Co by the mark. Turning into the wind again, we struggle to pull them in, with a few small round-ups as we tack up down harbor. The wind is on enough to get most boats moving nicely. As we finish the first lap, we get caught out in strategic, but not tactical thinking. We are forced to tack a few times and with the big headie up, in moderate wind, it kills our speed.
We dig into the second lap, hiking out hard in the gusts to help our pointing ability. We keep flirting with Hubcap, almost catching up at the first mark, then play with her at the second, but always just behind her. We are finally right on her tail by the last mark. She tacks first and takes a dig towards the finish line with us barely clearing her stern before we tack behind, but above her. With a slight wind shift we get lifted and Hubcap either doesn't have the same breeze or is ignoring the lift. Following the wind we cover Hubcap and two exhausting tacks later we cross the finish. I figure we are 4 or so, not having caught L'eau Co and having seen Gusto way ahead on the last lap.
Back at the club, we are surprised with a 3nd place, but with two 'visitors' placing ahead of us we are fifth over the line. Looking over the times, we are just forty seconds behind L'eau Co fastest elapsed time over the course. With the handicapping we miss first by ten minutes, but the winner had a twenty minute head start, too much to make up in moderate breezes! We are racing consistently around the fastest elapsed times week on week, so that is more of our benchmark for the week. The slow tacks and a few bad decisions have built up the forty second lag behind our main competition. With this win we will slip by Star Ferry for 2nd place by one point, but we can't sit on our laurels, as the 2nd drop of worst score happens next week. Fun to see where we end up, and only three races to go!
Race 6 of the Audi Winter Series
jT - cool rain and very light winds
06/03/2012, Sydney Harbor
Crew: (Doug, Chris, Luke, Yvette, Dan , Damian Jeff )
It was a wet weekend and a wet start to the six race of the winter series. The wind was predicted to be very light, so with more crew wanting to race than we could take the last to respond had to be axed. We have a guest start on board, welcoming back Damian for his first race since the Hobart. Good to catch up and enjoy the cold drizzle.
Lining up at the start, it was a gentle drift under sail. We approached the start boat on port and just passed behind four boats jockeying for position. Ghosting along at 2 knots we were set for a good start, when over my should a huge shadow appeared. Brindabella floats over us, a moving wind shadow! We virtually stop as she glides by. With forward motion almost stopped, and a real threat of drifting into the start boat, we have to tack just before the line. The poor boat besides us, Wallop get's caught out with us on Starboard and has to tack alongside us as we scream by them at ½ a knot. Plenty of time for a chat, finding out they are 30 minutes late for the start with the light winds (Etchells don't have motors!) With a chat done, we tack away and both find some wind to start us down the course to the first mark.
As we near the first mark, beyond Clark Island, a pod of Dolphins breach off the bow! This is the first time I've seen dolphins in the harbor, luck charm as they say. We see a few of our division at the mark and pull right behind HubcapII just after the mark. They turn straight for the next mark, but I've seen the boat's further along parking just beyond Clark Island. We head out into the channel a bit and then turn down to the mark. Four boats have just stopped nearer the island and we barely keep moving in the light air. Circe is just in front of us and we have a bit of a chat about the weather, wind and what's for dinner as we barely pass them.
At the Bradley Head mark, we chase between Inkonkoni (a different division) and Hubcap. Hubcap had caught some breeze and came up to the mark just before us for the second time. We set our pole and slowly pull between and ahead of the two boats. The breeze seems to shift and we start to tack, but fall behind Hubcap and have to return to our original tack. Hubcap stays just in front of us, but tends out into the channel, with the tide just coming in, I keep us closer in and we end of taking them by the mark. It seemed to have taken forever for this downwind leg, but with a quick drop of the pole we harden up around the mark and start back up the harbor.
This leg is a princess run. We catch every wind shift and lift to sail a fairly straight path up the harbor compared to our competition. We take several minutes out of Hubcap, now too far behind to track. We catch Star Ferry as she is coming for the last mark, with us on Starboard we force her to tack and take our line. Holding her off just until we line up for the Shark Island mark, we take directly for it and Star Ferry drops a bit more behind. We are in good company (fast boats in other divisions when we push for the finish line) but still haven't seen two of our competitors, yet! Over the line with no horn I figure we are around third. Not bad for a very light air day!
Back at the club, we are surprised with a 2nd place! Amazing how good the rum and coke tastes! Looking over the times, L'eau Co. took first by three minutes, but just completed the course 9 seconds faster than us. With her losing a minute for taking first we should be well sorted to vie for line honors when we resume racing in two weeks. Kirsty and I will be off for the long weekend, taking the dogs with us to the Hunter for some wine and good food.
Funny PS to this day, as Doug is helping me cast off for the trip back to Lavender Bay, I notice a sharp, black Burberry jacket in the cabin. I assume it's Yvette's and Doug takes it with him to return to it's owner. After mooring the boat, I get a text from Doug... the owner of the sexy little number is found... but not Yvette, it belongs to Chris! Guess I'll have to take a better look at the fashion's left on board and stop assuming ...
Nemmy had a few quotes in this week's CYCA write-up: http://www.cyca.com.au/newsDetail.asp?key=5690
Race 5 of the Audi Winter Series
jT - sunny and moderate winds
05/27/2012, Sydney Harbor
Crew: (Doug, Chris, Luke, Yvette, Manuel , Jeff )
(Guillermo have a great trip to Spain and see you on your return!)
We all staggered on board to a sunny winters day. Brisk temperature with consistent southerly winds from the south, due to be building over the afternoon. The crew prepped the boat while I fussed around with the course in the GPS. Last week the course was trying to start mid-course, so some gentle coaxing and a few choice words later all was fixed.
We motor over past the start line, with course "A" being declared. This is the most common course of the winter series, so we know it quite well. The tide was due to be high around an hour after our start so we shouldn't see too many tidal effects until late in the race.
Hoisting the main and #2 jib in Rose Bay, we heel over in the 18 knot breeze. Full main and #2 is a good balance. The #2 jib is one of the oldest on the boat, and it had to be re-cut quite high in the foot (in a Yankee sail style to get rid of some sun damage from a previous owner rolling it the wrong way with the sun protection furled INSIDE the sail). Our sail maker is rubbing his hands together in glee as we will be replacing this #2 next!
We jockey for position and get the time set within a second of the start boat's display. Off to a good start we chase after L'eau Co. and HubcapII that are off just three minutes in front of us. We get close on the first mark, just past Clark Island, but just can't reel them in on the reach back to Bradley Head. I time the leading boat, L'eau Co., as she rounds the mark and we are still 00:03:20 behind her so on the first two legs she has gained twenty seconds on us. By the first leg of our downwind run, poled out and wing-on-wing on a Starboard tack we quickly eat up the distance to EC2. So much so that we take all that time back from L'eau and beat her to the mark. Sights set on the next few boats in sight we beat back up to Shark Island. We trade tacks with Star Ferry and she is just slightly faster and able to point much higher on this tack (we are missing the weight of Dan, Ollie and Guillermo up on the rail!)
Passing the start boat, with the first lap completed in just under an hour, L'eau and Star Ferry are hot on our heels. We fight the entire leg to hold off L'eau, but just can't with her taking us just before the Garden Island turning mark (L'eau took the mark so close we thought she hit it). Hubcap passes around the mark before us, and the crew hiking on the side are making obscene gestures as the pass us. Pretty rich from a boat and crew we don't even know, but good sportsmanship obviously doesn't click with every crew on the harbor, I personally think a boat's crew tend to mirror the skipper's attitude. Dashed we pursue her for the rest of the race. A few of our tacks were sloppy and too slow, so we change over crew positions and try to squeak the most speed out of Nemmy as we can.
At the Nielsen Point mark we see HubcapII has rounded and is charging down the line on port tack. L'eau is closing and I'm baffled to see Hubcap not give way or tack? She is trying to hold as high to the wind as she can, but L'eau must have called Starboard on her! I watch as L'eau violently swerves and barely missing being ran down by Hubcap, who I don't even see change course! Expecting Hubcap to take her penalty turn, she glides by us with the crew grinning and snickering. Very poor form.
We continue to chase L'eau around the course and end up just seconds behind L'eau and Star Ferry. As we near the finish, I put on our little red protest flag as does L'eau. Pulling up after the finish line we have a quick chat with L'eau and let them know we will support their protest.
After clearing the fleet that was returning to Rushcutter's Bay, we did a few practice tacks to help everyone with the things Doug and I noticed during the race. We also poled out the headie a few times to let everyone get a hand at running the strings for the topping lift and downhaul. We'll do a few more practice items before next week's race as well.
Analyzing the race results, we ended up in sixth place, not even a minute behind L'eau and a minute and a half behind Star Ferry. In looking at elapsed time for the entire race, us and Hubcap completed it in 01:38 with us just six seconds slower than him. The top three boats in our division's cumulative results all finished within three minutes of each other, with the winner nine minutes faster than us. All in all the handicapping is pretty good, with wind patterns and local conditions making for the differences in finishes. Still hard to know our Nemesis, L'eau, was passed by us but we couldn't hold them behind us. ARRGH! Later in the bar I joked with L'eau's owner, Grant Pollock, that he must have emptied his water tanks as we just couldn't match his speed today. Till next week!