What a strange night it was last night. The wind was forecast to be in the mid teens with only a slight reduction as the evening went on. With a number of boats not racing due to skippers/owners still in the Christmas/New Year holiday mode, we picked up a few extra crew. After spending a wonderful New Year’s Eve with friends the eating on the Deck of Knowledge and taking them out on G-whizz for the 9.00 pm Kiddies fire works display and later on the midnight display. The former was next to the exclusion zone just off Cockatoo Island and the later mixing it with the crowd of anchored boats in Snails Bay, this is a great spot to watch from with full view of the bridge.
As Ann and I intended to stay on board after the New Year’s celebrations I filled the water tanks, so with a crew of eight and about 200 kg of water on board and an experienced main sheet hand in Mark off Agrovation I had no problem running “Reg” our heavy number 1, although I did not have the courage to take the first reef out of the sail. What I didn’t expect was for the wind to drop out to an average of about 6 knots, with only the occasional burst up around 12 knots. We were a little too heavy and could have done with a lighter rig.
We were fortunate to get a good start and incredibly we were about 40 meters in front by Onions point (Only about 150 meters from the start) , the wind shifts worked very much in our favour and starting toward the windward end gave us a better sail angle over the rest of the fleet. and that was about the last time the shifts worked in our favour! French connection and Takana made the best of the shifts through Humbug and we trailed them both over to Cockatoo Island. We were able to get past Takana but for the rest of the race French Connection was just a “Bridge too far”.
We haven’t raced for about four weeks and I think we were out of practice, we failed to pick the shifts, and when we thought we had it we got in wrong. Our most competitive part of the race was a square run with a poled out head sail (Thanks Danni), with the wind consistently behind us it was easy not too make too many mistakes. After the last rounding of Cockatoo Island we were run down by Patrick Houlihan on Saoirse a Delher 38, substantially heavier than us and he just ran us down and passed us as we entered the Lane Cove River, in about 6 knots of breeze.
A third on scratch (5th on handicap) was a satisfying result and is where I like to be, we are the smallest boat in the fleet at just under the 33 feet the next smallest is over 36 feet much to the dismay of Mark, our guest main sheet hand who asked the pertinent question “How come we have to give every other boat in the field time on handicap?” That’s PHS racing I guess, which is why we tend to concentrate on scratch results. At least last night’s result won’t do any harm to our handicap.