Sat, 12th April 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Well today was much like last week - NO WIND. Although it started out looking promising 2.5hrs into the race we hadnt gotten much further than we did last week, and by the time they had called the race off we had only gotten a little further than last time.
I have checked through the consistency results, and with 2 races remaining we are definitely in the hunt for the overall consistency win, but we will have to see how it all pans out.
Anyway, see my next blog entry about my WHINGE about inconsiderate power boat owners!!!
Sun, 06th April 2008, Inshore Fremantle - Fremantle Sailing Club - Fremantle - Western Australia
Today is our annual SS34 Association Commodores Race at Fremantle Sailing Club. This is where the owners of SS34's volunteer their boat, themselves and their crew to the Fremantle Sailing Club for Commodores of some (mainly metropolitan) yacht clubs to skipper in a friendly Jib & Main race. This year is the 28th running of this event.
Brett and I got down to the boat about 8am, as I need to give the bottom a clean before racing. The water was a little cold after the recent rains that we have had. We left RPYC at about 9am for the 1:45-2hr trip down to Fremantle. There was just myself, Brett and Simon for the day. We went through the bridges without any incident. However, after we got the mast back up and were packing things away before getting outside the Fremantle Harbour heads the backstay went slack very quickly. I called for Brett to bring back a halyard to provide extra protection, just in case the backstay failed completely. What had happened was either the thread, or the gearing in the mechanical backstay adjuster had slipped (due to age and wear), and all that saved us from the mast coming down was the pin at the bottom of the threaded rod in the adjuster (thats what its there for). Before getting outside the harbour we attempted to fix it, but we werent having any luck while the boat was moving, so we put another halyard on the stern for safety while we made the trip between the heads and FSC (about 10-15mins).
Once alongside at FSC, we pulled the adjuster off and tried the get the gearing the catch the thread rod, but obviously the wear & tear on it all was too much and it needs a full refurbishment.
By this time it was about 1130am, and we were expected up at the club for the drawing of Commodores and boats, with lunch followed at midday. Dad was coming down to watch the race from the VIP boat, and he reminded me that we have a couple of backup bits of equipment down below for just such an emergency. We put that on, and got every tensioned back up, and were able to make it up to the club for lunch just in time. The back up equipment doesnt allow the same adjustment as the original, but I set it up for what the winds were going to do today (light stuff).
Anyway, once at the luncheon we found out that we had Rick Rehgenzani from The Cruising Yacht Club of WA as our designated Commodore. Commodore Rick is a yachtie, although not too much sailing since taking on his current office, but he is experienced which is good. Obviously not all yacht club Commodores are yachties, some are power boaties, and dont have much idea or experience skippering yachts. We have been pretty lucky over the years in drawing mostly yachties.
Anyway, Rick brought his daughter Zoe along, who had just come back from delivering the new Marten 49 (Optimus Prime) from Sydney, New South Wales to Rockingham, Western Australia.
We had a delightful lunch provided by FSC while the crews and Commodores got to know each other.
We then headed down to the boats to head out to the start line, and for the Commodore skippers to get a feel for their chargers (and owners to start to worry with somebody else skippering their boat). For me I had full faith in Rick. Dad headed out on the Precision 50 VIP boat to follow the fleet around.
Our main rivals for the day would be Constellation (Mike Finn) with Commodore Mark Fitzhardinge from RPYC (yachtie), and Huckleberry.
We got out there with a bit of time, so Rick was able to get a good feel for the boat, and we headed for the start. We started out 10-15 seconds behind the start gun, but right on the boat end (good position). The winds were perfect for our old sails and the temporary rig settings we had. We powered away windward to all other boats, and started to pull out a bit of a lead, while Brett was topsides looking for the first mark. We made the first mark ahead of everybody with Arwen, Huckleberry & Constellation 45secs to 1min 30secs behind.
It was a tight reach across to the next mark and we maintained our lead. The next leg was a run downwind, and as we have banned spinnakers for these races to make it more competitive, the SS34 is pretty slow. But, again we maintained our lead at the 3rd mark, with Huckleberry and Constellation closing in on us. We headed to the 4th mark, which was a small beat to windward, and still maintained our lead, and to windward of our pursuers. Rick was doing a great job of skippering, and was getting a real feel for Swagman under our guidance. That was the 1st lap of the course, and there was supposed to be another the same, but time was getting on and the Race Committee decided to call a shortened course for the next mark after a traditional beat to windward.
We were able to maintain a lead over the faster Constellation all the way up, except for the last 10-15 boat lengths, where there superior performance & better sails beat us across the finish line by about 2 boat lengths and 4sec's.
But, we were extremely happy with our performance, and Rick was thrilled. It meant we were in line for a reasonable placing on handicap. We headed back to FSC for drinks and results.
FSC put on afternoon tea, and drinks, and results were announced. Because of the half seriousness/half fun type of race this is they award the 'Two Knot' Trophy to the last place getting Commodore. They then announce the remaining places upto 1st place. Each Commodore and owner receives a special bottle of FSC wine for competing. Anyway we were the last to be announced, which meant we won on handicap. We were absolutely thrilled, and Rick was ecstatic, considering our difficulties with the backstay adjuster and almost not being able to race. So we picked up the Perpetual Commodores Race Trophy that goes back to the winning Commodores yacht club, and the winning owner gets the boats name on the David & Kathleen Walters Memorial Trophy (introduced in the 25th year which we inaugurally won).
This is the 4th time (equal top with Delphis) Swagman was won the Commodores race (2 with Dad running the boat & 2 for me), and now the 2nd time we have won the Walter trophy.
We then had the normal celebrations, and a few more drinks before hopping back on the boat for the trip back up the river to RPYC. We go back just before 8pm, so its a long day, and then headed home.
Sat, 05th April 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Today started out looking as though it was going to be a very wet day. It was raining heavily all morning, with no wind. So, on the way down to the club I went via Work Clobber to get some white trousers for the kids, and Ranger Camping to get some cheap wet weather pants, also for the kids.
We got down to the boat a little late, and rig the boat while it was still raining, but it was clearing. Some wind started to come in from the NW, but by the time we got to the start line the clouds had cleared and the wind had dropped to virtually nothing.
The SS34 doesnt like this sort of weather, and the trick is to just keep it moving, and it's weight will get it there. We had a reasonable start, for this type of day, and covered Kungari (another SS34) for a few hundred metres until they snuck past us, basically with better sails. We tacked away looking for wind, and found some, and then tacked back along the rhumb line. We then tacked again looking for more wind, and Kungari continued on towards the first mark. We found a bit of wind, but a petered our really quickly and we ended up being left in absolutely nothing for a long time. Kungari round the Foam Bouy well in front of us, whil we drifted along in absolutely no wind. We finally made it, and got the spinnaker up, but this small, heavy spinnaker doesnt do much for us in these conditions.
We kept the boat moving up towards Freshwater Bay, which everybody had entered a good 20-60 minutes earlier and nobody had come out yet. So, I guessed that there was no wind in there. Which once we got to Point Resolution we realised that was the case, and obviously they had entered the extremely slow move transition zone between the NE'er & NW'er. We got through the transition zone very quickly and continued on upto Middle Spit. This whole time we were making better speed through Freshwater Bay than all of the others.
We rounded Middle spit and put the spinnaker up again, but the wind dropped out again. By this time it was closing in on 4pm, and I saw the Committee boat coming round signalling Abandoned Race. So, we go the sails down, started the engine and went back to the club.
We were actually hoping for a result today, as our main competition for Consistency didnt sail, and a result today would have been some better point over them. But thats life.
Sat, 29th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Well we had everybody aboard except Vera.
Brett did the foredeck by himself again today, and did a great job, and we only had one twist in the last spinnaker set, because we didnt pull the sheet on quick enough.
We had a great start on the pin end which was favoured, and were lucky there we didnt end up being covered by one of the BW8's, as he broke the line, and had to go back and re-start.
We ended up being 4th to the 1st mark, and popped the spinnaker for the long leg upto Middle Spit in Claremont Bay. On the following windward beat back up the course we had a nice dual with Kungari, finally edging them out at Dee Road with a nice cover, and then a shy spinnaker across to Dolphin East, and then another beat upto Como Buoy.
Then the spinaker run to Armstrong with Kungari right on our stern with a bigger spinnaker compared to our small one, so we played luffing tactics most of the leg, with us pretty much winning out because we could hold our flatter/smaller spinnaker longer. However, once we squared off to run to Armstrong they over took us with the bigger sail area. Upon coming into Armstrong we gybed over to Starboard, giving us right away over Kungari, and got our bow just in front of the stern to be able to call them Port & Starboard, however they didnt give way. I called a penalty but the did nothing. Not really sure what happened on Kungari, whether they decided to ignore us or they didnt hear us. So, they didnt end up doing any penalty turns, and thus I put up the protest flag.
We continued on with them just in front of us at the spinnaker set at Outer Dolphin, and then the leg from Knot Spit to Poplar I thought was too shy, and so wee dropped the spinnaker. Which turned out we called have held, as a couple of other boats held theirs including Kungari and they got away from us. We set another spinnaker from Poplar to Crawley, with a twist, and then the short beat to the finish.
We ended the day 4th on handicap, which gives us a little more space on the top of the consistency table.
I went and spoke to Geoff Connor on Kungari about the protest, and he said he didnt see anything, and said he would retire from the race. I went to put the protest in anyway, and then found out the Kungari had crossed the start line early and was already disqualified.
A good day in all, with me able to concentrate on some tactics and able to rely on the crew during some interesting situations. With Brett gaining experience on the foredeck, thanks to Vera, I am able to worry about one thing less. And, having Grant Cullen on board is of great help too, as I know he is always looking for things that need doing.
Sat, 15th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Today we were just down to myself and 2 crew (my son Brett and Grant). This meant it would be touch-n-go whether we flew a spinnaker or not. But, the winds were perfect for it, and Brett's ever increasing confidence & experience on the foredeck help make it work well. Also, Grant's ability to see things happening and take action was of great assistance too.
We had a good start, and with the wind towards the West again took a similar northerly position on the river like last week. Although I suspect it wont work on the next race day. This meant that we were able maintain a good position towards the front of the fleet.
This time all of the spinnaker work went perfectly, even being so short of crew, and we were able to maintain a good lead over the other SS34's.
We picked most of the wind shifts well, and Brett & Grant worked well on the genoa during tacks.
We ended up about 6th or 7th across the line, with only the faster BW8's in front of us, but with quite a break on the rest of the fleet.
We ended up 2nd on handicap, which was a bit of a surprise considering our handicap.
Overall, it was well done by us all especially Brett & Grant.
A week off for Easter and then back into, hopefully with a full strength crew.
Sat, 08th March 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Back to racing today. On the way down to the boat I picked up some new 12mm Spectra rope to replace the Starboard Genoa halyard, as the old one is just old 14mm double-braid that is too tight to run through the new halyard clutches. However, I didnt get enough time to run it through as I needed to the clean the bottom of the boat.
Anyway we got out there racing with a couple crew shot, so Brett had to do the foredeck by himself. Even though he complained that he couldnt remember what to do, apart from a bad spinnaker set (and having to pull it down), which was partly my fault anyway, he did a fantastic job. He did 3 out of 4 successful spinnaker sets, all drops were great, and 2 gybes by himself, as well as coming back and manning the the genoa winch when he wasnt sorting the foredeck out. He ended up buggered, but I have to take my hat off to him, he took the challenge on and completely succeeded. It has got to be a huge confidence boost to him for working on the foredeck. And, Vera said she has probably done herself out of a job.
Anyway, we had a good start about 5sec's off the gun right on the boat end. Today the wind was in the west, and that normally means you take the Northern shore on the windward beats. The S80's started 10mins before us, and I watched one (Bluebird - Tony Johnston) go to the north and end up well up the fleet at the top of the beat. So, I was pretty sure that was a winning tack, and it was because the BW8's normally would beat us up to the 1st top mark (especially in these conditions), but I crossed the whole fleet 80% of the way up before getting caught in some lighter stuff at the end of the beat and dropping back slightly.
Then, the spinnaker set was a mess because of a confusion provided by me, and Brett second guessing himself. But, we got it down and continued the short downwind league under poled out No1 Genoa, and didnt loose too much time.
I went up a reassured Brett about what happened, and got him straight in his head, and all of the rest of the spinnaker sets, drops & gybes were absolutely perfect.
We finished the race about mid-fleet, and with our heavy handicap were about 11th on handicap.
As I have said before our historic heavy handicap, and deteriorating sails are really hitting us at the moment, but we will soldier on.
All in all we had a great day, and very positive.
Excellent work Brett.....
Mon, 25th February 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Another average day today. It was the Bricklanding Trophy today. Brett was sick and Vera has finally decided to give her shoulder a break for the season, so we were able to pick up an Etchell skipper to crew for us, and he was very good at trimming.
Grant did the foredeck and did it well.
As I have said before the No 1 genoa is definitely getting tired and I cant get the pull out of it that I used to, and that is certainly not helping. Finished across the line behind Kungari, and 5th on handicap.
Now a week off for Labour Day long weekend.
Sat, 16th February 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Well today I was hoping for a better performance than last week, although we did well it was a bit disappointing from the incident point-of-view.
Well Vera was back on board this week, and she called me down to the start very well, and we started about 5 sec's after the gun right on the boat end of the start line. However, we had a BW8 in front of us who could point higher than us so I tacked out onto port to get some clear air.
We then tacked back onto starboard back across towards Applecross to pick up the lift off the point. After we tacked back onto port I had to give way to Kungari by tacking back onto starboard. This was pretty good as we were able to out foot them in speed, although they now have their new genoa working well, and were able to point higher.
We had a couple of twisted spinnaker sets on the downwind runs, which we still need to iron out, and I think after talking to Vera afterwards we have a plan to stop that. Plus, having to use the little 1.5 ounce flat spinnaker doesnt help.
Also, I think the genoa's are starting to get very worn and that is not helping us at all, as I am unable to get the boat doing what it was able to do last year.
Anyway, here and there we had some good battles with the other SS34's. We ended up 6th across the line behind Kungari and in front of Perie Banou III.
All-in-all another average day. I really need to find someway to get some new sails, back there are other more important things first though.
Sat, 09th February 2008, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Today Dad was skippering as Vera (my wife) was unable to sail due, so I needed to do the foredeck with my son (Brett).
We had a reasonable start and made up some time to the first mark rounding at Foam Bouy. As we were putting up the spinnaker our mast collided with another SS34 Perie Banou III. We were in the wrong (Port & Starboard), and although both skippers thought we would miss, Perie Banou III heeled over unexpectedly, and thus their mast made contact with our spinnaker and port side stay. The only damage to them was they last their wind sensors.
We did the obligatory penalty turns to absolve ourselves, and both yacht continued racing.
It just goes to show how tough these boats are when 2 masts collide at 5-6kts each (10-12kts total) without a mast failure or anything else.
Anyway, we both raced on with us having a decent contest with another SS34 Kungari, who just beat us out at the finish.
We ended up getting 6th on handicap at the end of the day, with us all having an enjoyable sail.
Sat, 02nd February 2008, RPYC, Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Back racing today after the long weekend off.
It was supposed to be hot, humid & thunderstorms, but it turned it just to be hot and virtually no wind.
We got out to the start, and there was probably less than 5kts of wind, with the occassional zephyr come through with a wisp.
We started in Melville Water about 5min's behind our start (much like most boats in all divisions) because of being able to make the start line.
It tooks us over an hour to get to the 1st mark of the course (Foam Bouy), and then took us over another hour to get back to approximately where we started on the way to Freshwater Bay (Middle Spit).
I heard the committee boat come around and blow the abandonment whistles, but nobody else on the boat did. So, I called Alysha back to the cockpit, took her sunnies off and threw her in the water. I soon followed, and then Brett. We got back on the boat, stowed the sails and gear while drifting, started the motor and towed 2 boats back to the club.
Then we went upto the bar to cool off.