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!
Race 4 of the Audi Winter Series
jT - cool and wet, with light winds
05/20/2012, Sydney Harbor
Crew: (Chris, Dan, Sam - Dan's sister, Luke, Yvette, Ollie, Guillermo, Jeff ) - (last minute weather regrets from Doug and Kirsty when they found out it would be light and raining!)
Race 4 was fairly light winds, off at 35 minutes after the rest of the fleet, and on course "B" that would take us in the opposite direction to what we normally do... We had some new people on board, Dan's sister Sam was visiting from New Zealand, and Luke brought Yvette, his girlfriend.
Everyone settled in to a light air start, and with issues seeing the timer on the start boat we were about a minute off the start. The rain came and went and we started with water cascading down the main sail! Ahhh, Winter sailing in Sydney! Chris was on the main, with Guille, Luke and Dan trimming the big #1 jib. Soon we passed the buoy at Shark Island and started our downwind run. The vang hydraulic was acting up and the main looked like hell without being pulled down as we let out the main. Putting the boom brake on helped to some degree, but will be re-bleeding the hydraulics before the next race!
The first lap found us gaining on most of our division with most of them just in front at the last mark near Garden Island. It was more than frustrating to not be able to close the gap with them during the next few legs.
Around Shark Island again, the wind had shifted just enough to need the headie poled out, so Luke took the helm while I went forward with Dan and Ollie to get everything set. The pole went out with only a few dramas, but the quick release on the beak is too hair trigger and forced us to reset the jib sheet once...
Finally all was out and down the harbor we fly on Starboard. Funny how a few port tacking boats that are coming at us down the harbor try to press for rights that don't have! With a few hollers of "Starboard" we move down for the second turn at the Sow N' Pigs reef. Just before the turn Luke takes the wheel as I move forward to drop the pole. It goes down fairly smoothly, but pole work is definitely on the list of training we need to do with the newer crew members...
We round the mark and not liking the feeling of the boat as I look back... the main hasn't tacked! With the pole down and the foredeck free to tack, I return to the wheel and take her head to wind so we can safely release the boom brake. This kills our forward progress and after we get moving we are heading opposite of the next mark. I figure we burned about five minutes on this mistake, but with the vang out of commission we've had to be creative.
We finish the race without seeing any of our competitors, only beating two of them (our friend Circe being one of them). Back at the club we look at the results, and found ourselves in 5th. We were eight minutes behind the first place boat "L'eau Co." from elapsed time around the course, but with the handicap and offset staggered start we lagged by 11 minutes. If we took off the approximately five minutes we lost at the top mark we would might have moved up 1 or 2 places. Wet and light winds, without a vang were not our friend today! We had a few rums in the bar with spirits and core temperatures quickly rising.
Race 3 - Nemmy and L'eau Co head to head...
Great shot of our new 'Nemesis', L'eau Co. After race three we are tied with her for first place. Cheers to www.SailPix.com.au for a great shot, gunna have to buy that one! I have a feeling this will be a prelude of our battle for the rest of the season with L'eau!