Yacht Swagman

26 May 2017
29 April 2017
17 April 2017
13 March 2017 | Altea
08 March 2017
06 March 2017
27 February 2017 | La Vila Joyosa
28 January 2017 | Moraira, Spain
19 January 2017
18 January 2017
16 January 2017
11 December 2016 | Altea, Spain
07 December 2016 | Moraira, Spain

Skagen Race

26 May 2017
Capraia - Sweden 46

Lucky enough to be on a long weekend in sunny Scandinavia having flown up to Oslo in Norway to join some Viking pals for this race on Wednesday.

Hallsteins boat Capraia ll wasn't built for racing, but it's a pretty but heavy luxy cruiser. Its a Sweden 45 complete with dishwasher, plumbed in expresso machine, and more toys and gagets than I've ever seen on one craft.

But when the wind builds and she's pointed in the right direction, Capraia lifts her skirts and moves out at pace.

We had a fab 120 mile race. Started 2000 on Thursday in a fleet of 250+ yachts. Five up, Hallstein skipper, Hakkon and Tjertil up front, Leif and self in cockpit.

Got a sweet start under Code 0 to get her right up the front of the pack close reaching in medium breeze as we exited Norway heading south towards the finish in Skagen, Denmark.

Lovely warm weather. Temperature dropped at night on the water but we were all rugged up nicely. It's still 'white nights' this far north so barely saw any darkening of the sky as we gently coaxed the boat through a long soft patch around midnight (that saw us move closer to the back of the pack), then went up through the offwind sails as the wind went round to the north and built to 15/20 knots.

That helped us storm along working our way back up the fleet. Capraia kind of ploughs through the seas rather than skips over the top, but her powerful rig kept her up in high 9's and topped 10.8 at one point under kite.

Got get back with the leading group by the time we reached a rounding mark off the Swedish coast, where we hung a right and crossed the last 40 miles to Denmark. All straight line sailing except the early soft patch, but we got a bit of everything. Nice to have such a challenging set of conditions and nicer still to meet them.

Blasted that last leg across to Skagen under Code 0, but with a rating from hell and the boat fully loaded for this years soon planned Nordic cruis is we didn't expect a top result - and we got that prediction right!

But we had a real laugh, were somewhere in the first 10% to make it into Skagen, and that in turn gave us more time than most to prepare for the evenings entertainment ashore.....

With 250 crews this quiet little town heaves. It's my third time doing this, and truly, I don't come for the racing!

On. On.

Spring Series 5 Clubs - Calpe

22 May 2017
Good view of our new carbon wheel as we slope around pre start

Light winds dominated over the weekend as our home club, Reale Club Nautico Calpe, hosted the last race in this Spring Series.

The club overlaid the weekend with its own Rumbo Solidario Regatta, planning four windward / leeward races on Saturday and Sunday. The first of those four was chosen as the last 5 Clubs event.

Approximately 35 yachts competed, several coming from as far afield as Alicante, divided into four divisions. It all got a bit confusing as the divisions set by ratings were not the same as those normally set in the 5 Clubs, so once again we found ourselves racing for line honours against larger yachts.

But we only had eyes for our two main sparring partners, Dale Andar (Dufour 36P) and Pajuelin (Salona 37).

Race 1 we got a good start. The boat end opened up and we were away on the gun, free to tack over and work the right hand side offshore where it looked a little fresher. Did well upwind and found ourselves right on the tail of Dale Andar at the first windward mark. Rounding smoothly, they gybed and worked the right side of the course whilst we went left along with Pajuelin who wasn't far behind. Dale Andar got it right, and opened up an unclosable gap and Paguelin was hard to shake off and finished less than a minute behind. With handicaps applied it meant three visiting boats (Farr 40.7, Dufour 40S, and Grand Soleil 37) took top places, Dale Andar 4th, Pajuelin 5th, Jumbuck 6th.

So the Spring Series ends with the same order retained. Dale Andar 1, Pajuelin 2, Jumbuck 3. Satisfactory for our first season and we know we can only improve in the autumn 5 Clubs Series which starts in September.

Race 2 of the Rumbo Solidario saw us starting in even lighter winds but we got another good clear start and this time led both Dale and Andar and Pajuelin at the top mark. Again we worked the left side (why you are asking?vit was to avoid adverse current) and maintained our lead, but had a right battle with our two rivals on the remaining legs. Tacks and gybes all crossing close. Sadly Dale Andar snuck ahead and led us over the finish - but by less than a boat length, Pajuelin well behind. Top two spots again to the Grand Soleil 37 and Farr 40.7, but we got the 3rd, Dale Andar 4th, Pajuelin 6th.

Race 3 Sunday morning saw even lighter winds. At one stage we weren't sure the race would start, but eventually it topped 7/8 knots and away we went. Again, Jumbuck got a super start and beat both our rivals (only just) to the top mark. Dale Andar gybed to work the right side offshore on the run, we and Pajuelin worked the left. It was obvious we got that wrong to. So bailled out and struggled to head offshore, but got stuck in a wind hole crated by the high Ifach headland. Could only bob along and watch Dale Andar open out a huge lead. Only consolation was our struggle to get offshore opened up an equally big gap twix us and Pajuelin who stayed inshore and left. End result was again top two spots went to the Grand Soleil and Farr 40.7, 3rd for Dale Andar, a 5th for us, and 9th for Pajuelin.

Sadly Race 4 got started, but was abandoned at 4 pm just as we were about to round the last upwind mark.

Frustrating, as we had pushed Dale Andar on the start, saw them having to restart, and then covered them really well for three legs. Pajuelin was further back. We managed to lead both our rivals at each rounding and as the winds mid arvo got really light, our Genoa gave us more grunt than others around. We had opened up a huge lead on not just our rivals but the visiting Grand Soleil etc - and a real chance of a top podium spot - when the hooter was blasted by a fast race committee rib, and the radio crackled to say they were abandoning that race!

So overall placing in the Rumbo Solidario saw the Grand Soleil 37, the Dufour 40 and Farr 40.7 take top spots.

Dale Andar 4th. Grrrrrrr. Jumbuck a credible 5th, and our mates on
Pajualin 6th.

Lovely weekend. Team sailed really well and Calpe hosted a very casual drinks party on the terrace. Big thanks to Sue, Kevin, Edo, Eric, Laurent, Jenny and Gabriel ( newbie pal of Laurent's who was sadly sick for the last two hours ) for pushing Jumbuck so well in testing conditions.

Our final race before the summer break is the Penon Ifach, also run by RCNC from Calpe over to Formentera - and then a return race - at month end. We look like we are going five or six up as its more likely we will see lighter winds this time of year, and that also gives us all a bit more room to sleep on what's frankly, a small boat, in a hot climate.

On.On.

Palma Vela - Our Weekend Warriors

09 May 2017

Palma Vela - Afraid the crossed fingers didn't work......

09 May 2017
Palma Vela Video Link.

Please click the link above to get a flavour of the event.

We went to Mallorca still with fingers crossed, and certainly had fun participating in a great event. But we were out sailed and out classed in every one of our five races. Our team of 'weekend warriors' weren't at all phased to be mixing it with some of the worlds best sailors from 15 nations, but with only a 7th, an 8th, a 9th and two 10s, we had to accept a 10th overall in a fleet of only 11.

Not making excuses as we made mistakes, but with our ORC rating we were placed in Division 1 and not Division 2, and consequently our competitors were typically 37-40'. Most were Spanish flagged but included others from the UK, Germany, and Antigua.

The outstanding boat was the X37 Airlan Aermec with five bullets, closely followed by Vertigo Dos (Salona 37) and Zas Sailing (Gran Soleil 37), but a couple of Farr 40.7's sailing mid fleet invariably gave us issues. It was tough in our 35 footer mixing it with those well handled larger boats over the 1.5 / 2 mile short windward / leeward legs, and it didn't help that most of our rivals carried symmetric kites which advantaged them on the direct downwind legs, whilst we had no options but to sail angles......

Everyone had a challenge finding clear air in very busy waters. We had six divisions starting in sequence from one of the four start areas, all sailing similar courses. Then from three other start lines close by, we even had even larger yachts like the new Swan 50s and the TP52s at times sailing down through our bit of water.

Lots of ducking and diving even close on the marks, but it provided some awesome sights with some of those big boats fully powered up doing 10+ upwind - and sometimes a lot more down!

In our fleet we were simply out sailed by better sailors who took it all more seriously than we did. With short legs the margin for errors was not great. The fleet was always close and we were never out of touch, just never towards the front. In two of the races we were overlapped on bigger boats at the finish line, but even then the handicap differences were not great enough on such short races to see us get a decent result.

So no prizes for us this time round - but absolutely no complaints. The Palma Vela was a great event,the level of competition really high, and it's something I'd recommend other racers to try next year.

Super company and fun atmosphere both on and off the water, and whilst we didn't make the podium this time round, there were multiple videos of Jumbuck being run and rerun on the big screens (photo taken from one as you can see above).

We all enjoyed the racing and parties put on by RCNP who managed it all very professionally. The Wallys, TP52s and the new Swan 50s are stunning boats increadible well set up, and with 100% professional crews equally well sailed. Had the chance to look over several boats and think we've picked up a couple of new set up tricks to try on Jumbuck (ah ha - yes, even for such an old dog), so all round it was well worth coming over to Mallorca and taking part.

And with that new headsail now on order (thanks Sue) it's promising to give us better upwind speed, more height, with an improved rating, as well as easier trimming. ETA August.

Big thanks to Sue, Kevin, Edo, Marian, Eric and Laurent for a great effort on the water, the Club terrace, around the bars and restaurants, and in our crew quarters. You've merged into a super mob since we started racing Jumbuck less than a year ago, and I'm proud of you all. Our small band of pensionistas (average age 65) did good....

Look forward to doing it again with you next year.

On. On.

Cheers
John

Palma - here we come!

29 April 2017
The weathers been a little wet and wild these past few days, but promises to improve from Monday.

Tuesday will see Jumbuck, with all the boys (Edo, Kevin, Eric, Laurent and self) departing Calpe and hopefully completing the 140 mile passage over to Palma in one hit. I suspect the light forecast means we will motor sail, ETA early Wednesday.

Looking forward to enjoying the location. We know Palma quite well, having moored our last cruiser 'Swagman' there through 2005/6. Son Alex who has been working there recently says it hasn't changed much. Happy about that, as it only has good memories for me.

As I've mentioned before, we've rented a trendy old apartment near the City centre for the duration - and the plans to hire bikes to get to and from Real Club Nautico who are hosting the event.

The Palma Vela has multiple classes (Classics, Wallys, IRC, TP52s, J80s and ORC) all racing on courses around Palmas wide bay. We are in ORC Div 2 and have five races. Two short course races on both Friday and Saturday and a longer and I suspect coastal course, on Sunday.

There are parties organised at the regatta village every evening, and with so many competing boats I'm guessing they will be pumping. Should be fun wobbling 'home' on the bikes!

Sue and Marian fly over Wednesday to join with us in what we hope will be a successful event. We are still hunting out first 1st place!

On. On. With fingers crossed.

Ruta de la Sal 2017

17 April 2017
Zero Winds off Ibiza

It was one of those events where you think you've done almost everything right, but somehow you still don't get to pick up the trophy. A shame, but we tried our best.

We'd got away with a top start mid line at 1400 Thursday off Denia. Eric on the bow called it perfectly. On the line on the gun in clear air and up to speed in 8 / 10 knots of SE breeze. With a long line and big mid line sag, we were so well advanced that we only had to duck a single 75 footer as we tacked over to fulfill the plan of working the right side of the 55 mile first leg, as we all heading over towards the southern tip of Formantera.

Great crew trimming and working the correct side saw us one of the two best placed and it enabled us to hoist our Code 0 well before any other boat in the fleet. Apart from a large flyer already a mile ahead we were the most southerly placed boat so when the wind veered further to the south, we got the advantage. We maintained good boat speed all afternoon and took advantage of the easy going to rotate crew below for naps, knowing we needed to be fresh for the normally challenging later legs. We closed on Formenteras low south west cape towards dusk, when the winds eased, backed, then veered, then eased even more. We slowed, but the bigger boats to leeward went slower still. To be in very close company overtaking a Grand Soleil 50 in a 35 footer after 50 miles of racing felt pretty special.....

It seemed a lot of the bigger boats had sailed down with the back in onto the island west shore, and had really slowed up. We traded down from Code 0 to the much patched Genoa and put in a few tacks to stay a mile or so off Formenteras south west cape, and then continued east parallel with Formenteras southern cliffs but possibly one / two miles off. Took advantage of the renewed 4G cover to download the latest gribs so we could review our strategy for the remainer of the race, and at that time had the gribs been right, our ETA was looking to be 0900 Friday. Sadly it was not to be!

Staying off that southern coast worked for us. We were still the most southerly boat in the 87 boat fleet and could see the lights of multiple bigger boats beginning to edge eastward along the shoreline, but further out we were travelling faster. The wind veered 5 degrees maybe half way along, just allowing us to rehoist the Code 0, and our pace increased accordingly.

Beautiful night sail. Full moon illuminating the stunning cliff face, slipping along at 6 knots in 6 knots of breeze. And overtaking bigger boats.....

Maintained our distance off also at the south east cape of La Mola - and continued on to slide around maybe max 2 miles off watching those boat lights close inshore apparently coming to a standstill. We learned later the high cliffs created an absolute windless patch which we missed completely.

Gradually curving NE we traded up to our A2 and finding a building southerly breeze, also deployed the staysail, and were soon hooning along on starboard gybe making almost 10 knots before 17 knots of breeze. Nothing nicer that moving away at pace when others are parked up behind. We set off chasing the three or four leading lights ahead on the northern horizon.

That third leg was to take us up past the small islet of Tagomago onto the north east tip of Ibiza is about 25 miles, and our gribs suggested we should have gone north east, gybed early and gone left into the 'bay' formed by Formentera and Ibiza, before finally gybing back north up towards Ibiza. But we were moving out so well from the corner that we just kept going out. Possibly a costly mistake.

It was after we gybed onto port 90 minutes on, maybe 15 miles up, the wind and our pace began to disappear. Estimate we were 5 miles short and due south of Tagomago when we finally drifted to a standstill over a moonlit glassy sea. 0 knots wind speed, 0 knots boat speed, and only .5 or 1 knot of northerly flowing current to ease our pain.

Unfortunately, those super light conditions continued to dog us for the following 10 hours.

Dead flat mirror like sea and a SE wind that varied twix 0 and 2 knots all day. We held our own ok, only being passed by two other yachts through the night and next morning, but it was all hard work. Not sure the misshaped Genoa did us too many favours, but a new ones moved right up the priority list!

The earlier leading boats had apparently got around Tagomago and the NE Ibizan cape before it all died. Lucky lucky them.

Friday turned into a hot frustrating day.

Sails up. Sails down. Head shoreward. Head offshore. Code 0. A2. Genoa. Then repeat. Then repeat. Then repeat. But essentially I think it was those who ignored the lack of wind and pointed their boats westward to simply sail the current who did the best.

The boat that eventually won our division passed us doing just that.

We did what we could to grab any whiff of breeze we came across, but it wasn't until Friday afternoon, as we'd just about drifted the whole length of Ibiza heading westward for our finish off San Antonio, that we saw a line of pressure coming up from behind - and carrying along a huge mob of boats! It was like watching a line of charging animals coming straight for us......and we weren't moving!

Fortunately we got the first whiff of breeze before they reached us, and quickly picked up speed to then catch, joust with, and overtake a Division 2 Dufour 44 that had been just ahead all morning. We held them and everyone else off under the A2 kite to zip across the finish at around 15:30 - doing 8+knots before what developed into a continually building breeze..........

It meant those who were at one time simply miles behind, arrived less than one hour after us! And the leading 3 boats all got in three hours ahead!

So just a tad frustrating.

But as we discussed in the bar after, if there were 100 'tasks' we had to do well in that race, I actually think we did 95 of them to perfection.

Simply super crew work. No one ever stopped trying. No one even took a sleep despite being sent below for a nap. A brilliant start. Great sailing first and most of second leg. We just lost it on the third. Or rather it lost us......😐

But we learn. Just maybe had we followed the gribs and gybed inshore up the east of Formentera we might have ended up in more current closer to Ibizas shore, to help us round Tagomago and Ibizas north east cape?

Had we enjoyed 10 minutes more pressure up the east coast then we might have made the top corner and be able to enjoy the breeze that apparently the earlier boat got north of Ibiza?

And again, once we had definitely lost the wind, maybe less chasing of wind patches along that northern shore - and a more direct drifting route just pointing Jumbuck west and sticking with that, could have seen us improve on our result?

But whatever. It was a yacht race. Things happen. Every other boat had the same weather. And some of them managed it better than us.

Our team sailed really well and the boat went just as fast as we could make it go. But we simply didn't go fast enough to carry breeze the whole race, or pick up a trophy.

Upshot was we ended up 5th in Division 3 - and 12th overall. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed all came in behind us.

And a final sucker punch. Had they listed us in Division 1 or 2 (we are nramally Div 2) then our time would have awarded us a 3rd place in either of those Divisions! So double definitely, a very frustrating result.......

But it was a good party in San Antonio.

As expected, this pumpy Ibizan port proved a great place for post race R & R. It was my birthday on the Friday so not 100% clear on when we got back to the boat......obviously a great night out. Word has it I fell asleep over my restaurant meal. 😨

Spent Saturday day tidying up, relaxed salad lunch, PM siesta before hitting the town for the prizegiving. Alcohol-wise, Saturday evening was just as bad as Friday (maybe even worse), but at least I remember. It was 4am as we left the last bar and crashed back onto Jumbuck!

Sad bit was, we had to be up again at 6 to begin the 9 hour flat water slide back home to Calpe. Even that was eventful with a huge pilot whale breaching close alongside to take a peek at us! Wonderful.

So huge thanks to all the team - Rob, Kevin, Eric and Laurent for a brilliant weekend away. You all sailed like heroes - and partied like Vikings. Well done all.

On. On.
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
About:
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. [...]
Extra:
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 - Moret to Migenne
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Added 2 September 2011