Yacht Swagman

28 January 2017 | Moraira, Spain
19 January 2017
18 January 2017
16 January 2017
11 December 2016 | Altea, Spain
07 December 2016 | Moraira, Spain
05 December 2016 | Campomanes
03 December 2016 | Campomanes, Spain
02 December 2016 | Campomanes, Spain
20 November 2016 | Calpe, Spain
16 October 2016 | Altea, Costa Blanca
03 October 2016 | Ibiza
02 August 2016 | Calpe, Spain
19 July 2016 | Portugal Peniche
22 August 2015
14 August 2015

Spring Series 5 Clubs - Moraira

28 January 2017 | Moraira, Spain
Great shot of Jumbuck power reaching into the finish

The forecast for today's race predicted fresh (20/25 knots) from the NW but under a sunny sky. They got it right.

With the traditional course from just off Moraira's Marina to head SE and pass the Ifach headland off Calpe, that would mean a 90 degree wind angle on the boat to power reach 5 miles across the bay, then harden up once past the Ifach to beat a couple of miles S towards the shoreside of the Calpe Fish Farm, round all that leaving it to port, then a reachy / run back to the Ifach, and finally a repeat power reach back NE to Moraira.

A quick 14 mile series of straight line sprints, on flat water due to the NW offshore breeze.

Didn't sound ideal for Jumbuck as most of our competition is bigger and without the chance to pick a smarter course than our rivals or a chance to surf offwind, we didn't believe we would be in with a chance.

But we were all keen, had a cold fridge full of beer and with 8 up, enough weight to keep us upright. We set up our jib sheets so Kev could trim from windward, timed a great reaching start with full main and No 1 partially furled and hit the line flat out on time in clear air. With Edo working the main and Kevin trimming the headsail like a demon, we maintained a good straight SE line through the 25+ knot gusts to reach out south east across Morairas bay - in very close company with all the bigger boys.

The guys worked hard keeping us flat and fast but as said earlier, with no capability to surf, we were always going to be limited to a speed fixed by our boat length. But we didn't carry any excessive weather helm or round up once as the big gusts came through the fleet - unlike many others close around. With 20 yachts in close company reaching for the same headland, there wasn't much room for error. I'm glad we didn't try to fly the Code 0 but unwound the remained of the Genoa and the boat handled it ok, gaining another 1/2 knot of boat speed. A few Code 0s were deployed by others, but without exception they all succumbed to wild broaches in the gusts. We just ploughed onward.

Another Div B boat caught us at the end of the reach SE. Dale Andar the Dufour 36 P snuck in front of us as we all closed together at the Ifach, and got a little further ahead at the fish farm. They carried a smaller headsail better sized to beat up to the fish farm in apparent winds that topped 25 knots, whilst we struggled just a tad with our full No 1 😬.

But our crew work up front was impressive at the rounding and the Code 0 hoist and set was slick as anything as we whooshed of in pursuit back towards the Ifach headland.

The wind after the rounding was 120 onto the boat still squirting through at 20 knots but the Code 0 was really comfortable and gave us good height. Dale Andar had a fuller Code 0's than ours so they sailed lower and accordingly were heading further off the Ifach headland as we drew level. Thought then that we had the upwind advantage.......

Very slick Code 0 drop under the headland just before we hit the open waters and fresher winds back up across the bay could have seen us overtake our offshore rivals.

But it didn't.

Think on reflection they going further out gave them some of the north going current that flows here from headland to headland, whilst we were sailing more directly and I believe into the south flowing back eddies you tend to get in most of the bay's along this coast. Stupid really as I already knew of this counter flow. Grrrrrrr. Need to remind my brain to get in gear race days....

Had we stayed further out I've no doubts our bigger headsail area would have allowed us to close the gap on the reach to the line, so we learnt another hard lesson today.

The Meds not tidal but these currents flowing up from the Atlantic have an impact. If they got 1 knot more slightly offshore, and we lost half a knot in the back eddy, the combined 1.5 difference probably accounted for why we couldn't catch them.

We felt (and were) fast. Exceeding 8.5 knots in some stronger puffs, but always sinking back to our max hull speed. But overall they were faster. And lighter. And slightly longer. And went the right way. And crossed nearly 4 minutes before us. Had it been 50 seconds we might have won. The rest of the Div B fleet were quite literally miles behind, but included Chrono a Farr 34.7 with a low bandit type rating.

So after our own high fives, sail takedown and tidy, a few cleansing ales in the cockpit, we sat down to dinner on CN Moraira sunny terrace suspecting we may well be lucky enough get another 3rd place - an acceptable result for today's conditions and course.

So super duper chuffed when results were announced to learn we'd got a 2nd place trophy! On handicap Dale Andar won, and Chrono who came in 15 minutes after us, got the 3rd.

Club Nautico Moraira only host one of the 5 Club events each season, but they are certainly high up on the party ratings. Superb almost silver service meal on a lovely terrace table, copious decent vinos, and all enjoyed basking in a few hours of glorious winter sunshine and nice company as all the crews ladies helped fill our table. What's not to like, eh?

So big thanks once more to the crew for a brilliant day on the water plus the unexpected bonus of a trophy. Top job Edo on main trim keeping us on our feet and on the pace heading SE. Kevin for brilliant headsail trim all the way round. Eric and Laurent up front for efficient fault free hoists and drops, and Sue, Mick and Nigel doing everything else required to get us the neat modern 2nd place trophy.

A real pleasure to sail with these guys. It normally takes a year or so to build a race winning team so we are all chuffed with the way we are progressing with only four months sailing on Jumbuck under our belts. Bonus is how much we seem to enjoy each other's company, how few cross words get spoken, and an absolute shared commitment to do even better over the coming season.

Look forward to the next 5 Clubs race on 26th February at La Vila.

On. On.

Yes - 300 Milles A3 Cancelled for 2017

19 January 2017
With revised forecasts of 40+ knots due Saturday the race team at Club Nautico Moraira published their decision late this morning.
Weve been down to re-check Jumbucks mooring as there's a fair surge moving all the boats in their marina, but it looks like we've a small window tomorrow midday to motor her back to her safer berth at Calpe.
All things considered, a wise decision for us.
Next race scheduled is a regular coastal '5 Clubs' event on 28th January. Fingers crossed the weather reverts to normal by then.

Weather Update

19 January 2017
It's gale force right now here on the Cape. Huge seas breaking crests and heavy rain too!
There's a big variation between the EU and US forecasts for tomorrow and Saturday.
EU grib files indicate it will be a strong 25 knot run down, then medium 15 knot beat half way back, building to 35 + for the last 30 miles to finish!
US grib files say it will be medium 15 knot reach down, reach back half way, then beat into 20/25 knots to finish.
Both infer ( if we survived 🤔), we would be finishing around 1000 Saturday.
Checking today's current 35 knot winds against today's Gribs it seems the US is closest to reality - which with 60% reaching, would favour the bigger boats 😑.
Will continue to update over next 24 hours but if 35 is on the cards (gale force) then I wouldn't be surprised if they delayed a second time.
They may also consider reducing the distance, but it's a very small predicted window during which one could even consider racing....so I think they will call it off for the weekend.
I've got every limb crossed that's what happens!

Delayed Start Confirmed

18 January 2017
They've delayed the start until midday Friday and reduced the course to a 140 mile sprint from Moraira to Isla Grosas (off Mar de Menor) and back.
Current forecasts indicate that's a fast run down and a medium wind beat back home. Doesn't leave much room for differing course strategies but at least we don't have to withdraw!
On. On.

Oh Oh. Weathers a worry!

16 January 2017
We've taken Jumbuck over to Moraira awaiting race registration during the next 48 hours, but we've made sure she's tied up securely, as some super strong winds are due to hit the coast.
It's currently gusting 20 knots but a weather system promising up to 40 knots out of the NE is due Wednesday / Thursday.
That's a full blown gale.
Not sure what the race officials plan to do as I think thats real boat breaking stuff. For me a delayed start looks like our best option, but guess all will be made clear at tomorrow evenings reception.

Preparing for the 300 Milles A3

29 December 2016
We've had a pretty satisfactory end to our 2016 season with five third places from the last five races whilst carrying a relatively high ORC rating. Now we are all set - complete with corrected rating gaining us a huge 6 seconds per mile advantage - for 2017.

So now beginning our preparation for our first 2017 event which is the 300 Milles A 3, scheduled to start 1200 on Wednesday 18th January - and thought you might be interested in what we are doing.

It's a 3 crew / 300 mile event. The course is typically from Moraira down to an island off Alicante, out to west coast Ibiza, up to an island off Castellon, back down the coast inside some rocks off Gandia, then further south to round Cabo de la Nau and finish back off Moraira. They've been known to reverse that direction, or even cut out Ibiza in very heavy weather, but normally it follow the course shown above. Guess we will know on the day and they'll start us off heading into whatever wind we've got.

I've got good pals Kevin Moss (Javea) and Chris Gibson (Lymington) doing it with me.

We've already decided to follow the same watch system we used on the three handed delivery trip getting Jumbuck from the UK to Spain. It's a 6 hours on / 3 hours off rotation meaning we will have at least two on deck full time over the 300 mile course and hopefully remaining fresh. Typically on medium distance races most crew are wired and full on at the starts and towards the finish. I personally think this creates opportunities in the middle part of the race - so when the others might relax - we aim to maybe break out from our watch system to pile on the pressure.

Well that's the plan today. 😂
My plans usually go to pot once the race gets underway.....

So what works to be done on Jumbuck before we start?

I've already had the wheel off the boat to resew the leather grip and strengthened up a loose spoke. It's alloy, and only held together by compression. If that came apart half way round it would provide a bit of a challenge......

The race is safety Category 4 plus EPIRB and life rafts, so we've also got the task of selecting minimal items to get her back up from her coastal racing lightweight mode. At the least it means refitting the lee cloths, buying new flares, fitting deck lines, Dan buoy, Life Raft and all the associated kit required to compete offshore.

I've got to check out our autopilot as did a lot of work for us on that delivery trip - even handling 40 knots offwind with no worries - but I suspect it's going to take some added load if we push the boat in race mode. Same same with the steering gear and rigging. It's going to mean Kevin and I crawling around the boat, lying back and using binos over the rigging, just making sure everything's tight and right for the event.

But none of that will take too long - and with the corrected ORC GPH rating now at 617.8 - it's well worth taking time so we stay as light as possible and nothing breaks so as to be in with a good chance.

The race officials have asked for all participants to be at the host club, CN Moraira, by Saturday 15th so they can do their own safety checks and also seal the gearboxes. With these more valuable prized local races all competitors are towed out to the start and the seal is checked at race end after you've crossed the finish - to ensure no motoring has been done underway. But guess with €3000, €2000 and €1000 up for grabs, they're not taking any chances of anyone cheating if the fleet hits lighter winds......

We've drawn up a provisions list for the three of us, anticipating we will be back inside 72 hours. Main meals are Curry night one, chilli night two, Frey Bentos steak pies night three.......If the winds get super light then it will probably help us if we have no choice but to crash diet on day four! Worst thing is the decision to carry only one case of beer........

With bottled water for drinking we only need carry wet wipes and enough to rinse things with in the tank, and I'm happy with the half tank of fuel we've got on board right now. Long term forecasts have varied, but continually return to predicting a light wind event, so weights quite critical.

Then we also need to strategise where we are going to go. I've had a look at the last two races on the tracking website, fresh winds in 2015, very light in 2016. In 2015 they did it starting in a northerly direction, last year south about.

It is possible to get long range detailed forecasts via Accuweather, but despite the name they are not exactly precise this far out from race date. But it hasn't stopped me checking projected wind direction / strengths every few days and trying to plan race strategies for each of the forecasts. Trouble is those forecasts have varied from 5 knot drifters up to 40 knot blasts (in the same place on same days) and blown from every direction you can think of...but at least having strategised every one of them we've at least got some fag packet plans on what we could do.

One advantage we've got over lots of others is our Seatrack Race Routing software carried on board and running on a small tablet. Provided the forecasted Grib files (wind maps) we download before the race are correct, once overlaid on the course, it uses Jumbucks performance polars to make suggestions on which way to go and what sails are optimum for us.

It's a great bit of kit as it's connected to the boat instruments and continually collects performance data, updating the boat polars each time. So over a period the polars used become more and more accurate reflecting our sailing style and the sails we've got. Good eh?

The officials do install tracking devices on every boat, so I've added a link on the right hand side bar of this blog page. Right up until race start you can view 2016s race, once we start you can then follow us and the rest of the fleet.

The reason I'm praying it doesn't become a medium or heavy wind / straight line reaching race as under such conditions it will be always be tough for our little 10 metre boat to keep pace with some of the bigger boys, but provided the directions stable over the race duration we should get a bit of everything somewhere around the lozenge shaped course.

To get up with the leaders we need lots of light beating / reaching or lots of heavy running when the boat can lift its skirts and start surfing. And being relatively small our sail handling should be easier for us than the big boys......that (and Seatrack) are just about the only advantages we've got.

Dale Andar - the Dufour 36 Performance - who last year came 5th on corrected time in the light conditions, will again be our 'boat to beat'. If we can do as well on this longer race as we did against her in the Trofe Navidad, I'd be well pleased. In fact our new offshore rating means 'Dale Andar' will owe us 7.5 minutes on this 300 miler. We've just got to keep them behind us...and somehow hold onto the tails of the big boats..🤔

So it's on on.
Fingers crossed for the right conditions.
Can't wait.
Vessel Name: Jumbuck
Vessel Make/Model: J109
Hailing Port: Lymington
Crew: Sue and John (here crossing the line to win the 2007 ARC) on Swagman
Married 46 years and been sailing for 35 of those. Keen racers and cruisers starting in Australia and now based out of the UK. From 2004 to 2009 we cruised most summer months on our yachts exploring UK to West Med, East Med to Caribbean. [...]
In 2010 tried the darker side with a classic 45' motor launch. It opened up the rivers, canals and backwaters of Europe for a year, but that did not hit all buttons, and yacht racing drew us back. Got a Scow dinghy for club racing in 2011 and called her Billy Can, got a J109 for racing 2012 and [...]
Jumbuck's Photos - Montargis to Briare
Photos 1 to 8 of 8 | Main
Leaving the first of the six modern locks at Rogny (pronounced Ronny) - with the ancient seven lock series as seen behind Sue
Parked canal side for lunch - a lock keepers lunch
How the dinghy and scooter co-exist on the transom
Lunchtime canal side mooring
Matilda seen under the church spire at Briare..........this waterway leads down to the Loire river
The Aquaduct at Briare - built by Eiffel and longest metal structre of its kind in Europe - despite being built centuries ago
Evening dinner set alongside our nightime halt at Drammerie
Sue as we leave first of six locks at Rogny - with ancient seven lock series still seen behind her