The weather forecast for last Wednesday’s Twilight race at GFS was bit of a mess, There was a Strong wind warning for Sydney Closed Waters in place for a couple of days before hand and in fact it was still in place at the start of the race. G-whizz has a loose rule that if there is a strong wind warning in place for the race area, she will not sail to protect her crew and herself.
We decided the previous day not to race, but as usual we went to the Club for a meal. Umzimkulu 2 were the duty crew on clean up, but they also had decided not to race. As we were all standing on the Deck of Knowledge about an hour before the start time and the wind was not behaving as predicted we decided to give G-whizz a run with some of the crew of Umzimkulu and Glenda who had also decided not to race her Benetau 27.7 “Vitesse”, we decided to use the #4 Heavy Weather Jib (this sail has not even been honored with a name). This sail has never been used and has only ever been out of its bag for inspection and measurement. Geez its both small an flat.
We also started with a reef, to say we were under canvassed would be and understatement so our result was a bit surprising in that we were not actually last (Results). The wind conditions were at West Sydney Harbour’s best (worst?) with the wind varying between 5 to 25 knots and some gust up to 10 knots higher than the ambient wind. The shifts were some times up to 90 degrees and very sudden. There was about 5 minutes of the race where the wind never got below 25 knots, all the crew reckoned at that time that the #4 is a fabulous sail, and we were quickly making ground on the fleet, most of whom were luffing mains or rounding up, for a brief moment it appeared that we had made an inspired rig choice and may in fact have caught and passed the fleet, not to be. On the final run (which was pretty square) the wind dropped to sub 10s, not even shaking out the reef could give us enough power to match the speed of most of the other boats.
Not surprisingly the race was enjoyed by all on board, the head sail crew were appreciative of the small sail on the tacks, there was very much a social atmosphere on board and a lack of concentration by the driver (yours truly) meant that we missed most of the shifts and most of the time we were successfully able to tack into a knock. But the sail was a bonus, no one ornothing got hurt, and it was interesting to see the #4 up on the forestay, having its maiden fly about 10 years after manufacture.