The first Down Harbour race of the new season, these races start outside the Club house on the Lane Cove river with the course going to Manley, Lady Bay, Neilson Park or one of the islands closer to the Bridge, dependant on wind. The divisions have this year been reorganised into two divisions for yachts and a third for etchells and sports boats, we have been put into division 1.
Ann was unable to race, neither were the rest of the crew who are still off traveling, so it was Michael and Mark from Agrovation, myself and thanks to John we also were able to borrow Jim from Hasta la Vista, the wind was forecast to drop from knots in the mid teens and backing to the south, just perfect for a full rig with the light weight no. 1, also a great oppurtunity for the assymetric spinnaker and that’s the way we set up the boat.
After a good start we were able to get out of Humbug on one tack, I might lay claim to being able to pick the lift along the Hunters Hill shore but in reality we were in the right place at the right time, the wind held at around 12 to 15 knots all the way to Fort Denison, and we were able to get a substantial distance ahead of the fleet, with the exception of the Young 40 “Flashback” which was dissapearing into the distance. The further east we went the more the wind filled in reaching low 20s at times, my concern for the health of the light weight number one was tempered with continual high 8s of boat speed.
We were fortunate that the wind eased and backed a bit which made the work back to Shark Island just about manageable, a reef would probably have given us a bit more speed and control. We rounded the YA mark at Shark Island with a lead of around 1000 to 1500 metres on the rest of the fleet.
Adjacent to Braddleys Head we decided to take advantage of the softening winds and favorable angle to fly the Assy, now I have to say that as a foredeckie I make a pretty good helmsman, being the only one with any assymetric it was obvious to relinquish the wheel to Mick and venture forward of the mast, a pretty slow hoist followed. We pretty well held our lead to just east of the bridge where we fell into on gigantic hole, very little wind up ahead and the rest of the fleet catching up to us quickly on a freshening easterly, racing can really be frustrating at times.
It was about this time that I should have remembered that there was only one person on board with experience with assymetricals, that was me and I was on the foredeck. A couple of not so smooth gybes and we were at the back of a group of boats, then came the first of the subsequent frustrations, we lost a huge lead to the vagaries of the wind, only to accelerate away again when we got the spinnaker sorted and all of us were in the same conditions, those that have raced through Humbug (a stretch of about 500 meters of water at the junction of the Lane Cove an Paramatta rivers so called because of the fickle winds present at most times) will know full well where our last frustration came from.
Any day on the water is a good day, made even better by being part of a fabulous group of sailors at Greewich Flying Squadron, now all we have to do is find out where we pay for a premium subscription to the wind!