Better than the Scoreboard Indicates

The fifth Down Harbour Race for the season was held yesterday, with not a lot of wind forecast in the period of the race a relatively short race was set. Starting outside of the GFS club house on the Lane Cove River under the bridge to a turning mark (a Sailing Australia permanent mark – better known as YA mark) just off Shark Beach at Nielson Park Vaucluse, then returning to the finish outside of the Club house.

We race in Division 1 in these races and somewhat unusually we were the second largest boat in the fleet, substantially smaller than the Young 40 “Flashback” but about the same size as the other 4 competitors, a Jeanneau 32, Elan 320, Dehler 32 and a Robinson 950. We were a crew of three with Ann and Robert working in front of the traveler and your’s truly doing the easy stuff behind it. We were not in a position to fly a spinnaker so our objective was win the work to Nielson Park (Well at least be the 2nd boat there after “Flashback” the Young 40).

There are some aspects of the Down Harbour races that I am not too enamoured with:
Racing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with it’s fluky winds, washing machine water conditions and the ever present ferries that have absolute right of way entering and exiting Circular Quay.
Crossing a number of other race fleets east of the bridge; mixing it with other fleets is not normally an issue but crossing some of the one design fleets of Historic 18 footers (I try to give these guys some latitude as they always seem to be on the edge), modern 18 footers and foiling months does require a lot of concentration and forethought to minimise the effect on either of our races.
We also mix it with mixed keel boat fleets from among others the CYC, Royal Sydney and Middle Harbour, while the rules are clear on who has right of way I always feel that a boat working to windward on its own is a lot more maneuverable than a boat under spinnaker in company with its other competitors, so I tend to try to give these guys some consideration as well, especially if I can do it without costing us too much time or distance.
Finally the same YA mark could be used by a number of different fleets, Sailing Australia has a rule that these marks must always be taken to starboard (Thank Goodness) but it can be interesting when a few boats racing from different direction enter the zone and leave the mark on courses potentially up 180 degrees difference, again the rules are clear but it does take a bit of planning and tolerance from all concerned.

G-whizz Elan 340
Southern Cloud on Start Line in the Lane Cove River. Photo Johnny East.

Yesterday we also had another situation that required some forethought, Southern Cloud a 40 meter triple masted super yacht anchored almost exactly in the middle of or start line. Down Harbour races are started and finished between two permanent marks, one located at the Club the other on the Hunters Hill Sea Scout Building on the opposite shore of the Lane Cove River.

After what was out of necessity a pretty conservative start we were able to quickly run down and get well ahead of the fleet, with the exception of “Flashback”, by the time we got to the Harbour Bridge, we were  joined by a few of the Etchells that started 5 minutes behind us, It was interesting that while they were able to easily catch us we were able to match their speed until we diverted off onto our own differing course, they went around Shark Island, we had to continue to Neilson Park. It could be that as the winds were a bit lighter west of the Bridge, Etchells friendly conditions, the somewhat brisker winds east of the bridge may have favoured us.

The return back to the finish was pretty much a square run so it was to be expected that the guys flying spinnakers would run us down, it was not until Fort Denison that the first of them, “Tana” the Jeanneau 32 and “Hasta La Vista” the Dehler 32 finally caught us, we tried everything, including Gull winging and running angles, but just could not generate the VMGs of the spinnaker flyers.

The results do not look that good on paper, but given the circumstances we are very happy with the way G-whizz went and the way we sailed her. Given the conditions, both forecast and actual we could have used the light weight #1 (Wes) instead of the heavy #1 (Reg)  which would have given us a bit more speed, especially in he light winds west of the bridge. Ann and Robert did a sterling job and our plan to try and minimise the number of tacks meant that we went a little closer to some shores and further into some bays than we would normally. One of the best tacks we did was about a boat length off Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, right in front of the tourists. We wonder how many holiday albums we will appear in next week.

An Interesting Sail Choice

Last evening’s GFS Twilight race was always going to be bit of challenge with 15 knots from the north east in the forecast, the race started as usual outside of the Club, through Humbug, a lap of Cockatoo Island then around Goat Island and back to the finish via Schnapper and Spectacle Islands (See area map here).  Not long before the start we did a quick reconnoiter of the course and confirmed the obvious, brisk winds up to 20 knots at the eastern end of the course, and gentler winds, down to 8 – 12 knots in the west. As usual the best sail choice would have been two sails, with a couple of changes during the race, but as this was not really practical we came up with a creative solution.

As mentioned in previous posts the fleet we race in are all somewhat larger than we are and can carry larger sail area in the heavier winds and have a decent amount of sail area available in the gentler stuff. Our large # 1’s (Wes and Reg) are about 12 inches shorter in the luff than what they could be, this does not cost a lot in sail area but does allow us to store the sail on the furler at the and of the race. They are deployed with the tack on the deck but at the end of the race they are released from the deck and attached to the furler drum, a quick adjustment to the halyard and then furled, UV protection is taken care of with a covering sock. This allows the boat to be put to bed quickly and allows the crew to get to dinner and wine a lot quicker than would otherwise be possible.

Last evening we decided that we would use Reg, who is pretty happy up to about 15 knots and sort of usable to about 17, but fly him from the furler drum and not from the deck, reasoning that with the foot of the sail being somewhat above deck level it would lose the end plate effect and be a less powerful sail. The only downside of this was that with the clew sitting higher we were not able to achieve the best sheeting angles which probably cost us about 5-10 degrees of pointing ability, it would have been ideal to have the genoa cars back a further 3 to 6 inches on the works, but we were at the aft limit of the genoa car track. This seemed to work well, and with the addition of a reef when to wind got up around 20 knots we were not too over powered.

We held an easy 3rd place for most of the race with only Agrovation and Saoirse (a Dehler 38) ahead, it wasn’t until the final work down between Cockatoo Island and the Hunters Hill shore where we completely misread a huge wind shift was Izzi (A North Shore 38) able to slip by. It was gratifying to later have the Patrick Houlihan the skipper of Saoirse comment on the way G-whizz performed unusually well in the stronger winds.

While somewhat an unconventional sail choice it did mean that we had good control of the boat to windward, albeit losing some pointing ability, and have a decent amount of sail area up for the the reaches and runs. Ideally a racing #2 would be perfect, but as we don’t have one we need to make the best of what we have got and in reality we only have a handful of races each season where the wind exceeds 15 knots, in most of those instances Bas the #3 is the obvious selection, however in a Nor’easter the winds do vary appreciably in strength around the course.

We welcomed Richard from the UK on board last evening whose youthful enthusiasm, physical ability, sailing experience and great personality really assisted Ann and Graham, a crew of 3 would have made the race a lot more demanding.

Results→

An Interesting Night on the Water

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.

 

Not a Bad Result and a Series Round Up.

Last evening’s twilight was race in 2 totally different sets of conditions. The course started as usual outside of the GFS Club House proceeded through Humbug did a lap of Cockatoo Island then around Goat Island back to another loop of Cockatoo then through Humbug to the finish outside of the Club. (See area Map).  The wind in the area from the start to the area off Manns Point averaged about 8 knots, with the occasional gust to 12 knots. The area east of there had wind averaging about 15 knots with gusts to over 20 knots. If we had one more crew member I probably would have done a couple of sail changes, but as it was it was prudent to run with one sail, in this instance we chose “Bas” the #3. This decision meant that for about half the race we were properly rigged, for the other half we were seriously under canvassed. Due to the sheeting angles on Bas G-whizz can point quite a bit higher in most winds, but on anything but close hauled the lack of sail area really hurts.

This was a night for the bigger boats that can carry more canvass in these conditions, so it was pleasing to be able to lead for a substantial part of the race, only to be run down by some bigger heavier boats as the race progressed. There is one boat in the fleet “French Connection” a Jeanneau Sunshine 36 from the 1980s, she is incredibly quick, and well sailed she also seems to be able to carry a lot more sail in bigger winds than G-whizz. French connection just out dragged us on the last run from Long Nose point to Cockatoo Island, putting us back into 4th.

A sail change would have substantially improved our position, but as it was not to be, we finished where we finished, still a great result and a credit to the crew of Ann, Graham and Chris(2), and another great evening’s sail.

This race was also the last of the Summer Twilight season on which I would like to comment on the scoring system. While I do hold to the adage that if you don’t want to do the handicapping, don’t criticize the handicapper. But I am not too sure as to how to take the scoring system. In race 4 we retired due to our in involvement in an incident (To the Rescue). we were given 5 points as redress on the night. Supposedly our average which after the results of the previous three, a 1, a DNC 15 (which would be a drop) and a 5. Including the potential drop the average would be 7, not including the potential drop the average would have been 3. To confuse the matter further the score given to us for that race in the scratch results was 5.8 which is an average of all our results for the series, including the drop, while the drop is not included in the total score. This may sound like bit of a moan, it probably is, but it is to my mind not only a little confusing but also it somehow seems a little unfair to G-whizz and her crew.

We do not race for sheep stations, unless Julian Todd of Back Vintage Wines puts that value on his marvelous sparkling wine, one of a number of different prizes awarded, and Twilight racing is more of a social affair. We all do have a competitive component in our make up, most of us give the results some regard. Given the score that we were awarded for redress I still would not have hesitated in assisting our fellow sailors. I do muse however if the stakes were higher and some one else was involved would the outcome have been the same. A final comment; if the penalty should fit the crime, some might say that we got a dud rap. Rant over, don’t abuse me too much – thanks.

To the Rescue

The start of last night’s GFS twilight was a bit chaotic, about 7 boats (us included) seemed to have exactly the same idea as to the best starting procedure. We all wanted the same bit of the start line at the same time! There were at least 3 boats that we could have protested and I suspect about as many that could have protested us, but in the light winds and limited room to manoeuvre it was mutual self survival, there was no shouting just people getting on trying to stay out of other peoples way, fortunately the start remained non contact, a couple of boats were able to stay out of the melee and benefited with big leads through Humbug.

We ended up at the back of the field, the trimmers worked hard to give us a bit more speed on the reach across to Cockatoo Island and by the time we turned down wind to run along the southern shore of the Island we were in a position to get to windward of the fleet. The pressure was a bit stronger a bit further out and we were gathering in the fleet, by the time we rounded the south eastern corner we had climbed to fourth and were make good time on third place.

We had just gybed onto a starboard and as I looked behind to make sure we had room to come up on the boats behind I saw something that I never wish to see again. The crew on one of our competitors boats were changing position, probably in preparation for a gybe when they accidentally gybed, two of their crew were hit by the boom, the noise was astonishingly loud (sickeningly so), one of the victims just slumped to the deck, while the second went over board and hit the water motionless (the splash can be seen off Sirocco’s port side in the incredible photo below). A third noticed the that the crew member in the water was not moving and dived in to assist, fortunately the first in quickly regained consciousness and started a slow swim, but there were now two people in the water, and the crew of the boat were tending the first victim on board. We hailed them asking if they required assistance to which they quickly answered in the affirmative.

L to R Takana, Saoirse and Sirocco at the the moment of MOB from Sirocco , incredible photo by Jeff Lewis.

We quickly dropped the head sail and luffed the main, started the engine and put our selves in a position to retrieve the swimmers. Those familiar with the Elan 340 will know that it has a high transom that makes it extremely difficult to board without assistance, (The picture below does not illustrate that height as it was taken in fairly rough water while we were exceeding 8 knots on a broad reach, in these circumstances  she tends to bury her bum – it’s the only photo I can find of the subject safety gear) the swim ladder is not a permanent fixture and lives in a cockpit lazarette, we have an emergency rope ladder that hangs unobtrusively from the stern pushpit, we deployed that ladder and were able to position the boat so that the suspected injured swimmer could grab and hold on, a lifesling was thrown to the second swimmer. The guy hanging onto the ladder was unable to climb it, made even more difficult by me having to keep the boat moving to avoid colliding with the rock wall of Cockatoo Island. We were able to collect and fit the swim ladder, swing the victim from the rope ladder to the swim ladder and get him on board. Quickly followed by the second swimmer. Even though it was quite a balmy evening, these guys were really cold and I suspect out of embarrassment or a bit of shock were reluctant to accept any form of assistance. Fortunately the girls in our crew were able to at least get wet jackets off them and wrap them in dry towels.

G-whizz Elan 340
The safety gear used to good effect last evening.

The upshot was that the two crew that were hit with the boom were in pretty good shape, at least one of them was taken to hospital as a precaution while the second, the one we picked up was apparently showing no ill effects for his adventure, I hope he got himself checked out though. I am now glad that we always set up the lifesling and emergency ladder whenever we go out, I have often thought why do I do this and maybe in the benign waters in the harbour we can go without these safety bits, never again will I think that. I was also glad to have had a bit of training in Man Over Board, while this was the first time I have had to use it, it did demonstrate to me just how hard it can be to get an exhausted, but conscious person back on board, I hope I never have to deal with an unconscious one.

By the time we got back to the Deck of Knowledge for our meal we were informed that a decision had already been made to award us our average point score as redress.

Nice race, pity more didn’t enjoy it.

Today’s race was held in conditions that followed the weather forecast to the letter, a building nor’easter with temperatures in the high 20s. About the only thing that didn’t go to plan was the entry list. Four Etchels, John Veale in Hasta la Vista and ourselves. The entries in division 2 were even more disapointing, Phil Hare and Paul Hanly in their South Coast Magnum “Flair” and Beneteau First 27.7 “Paca” respectively. I do hope that some owners and crew get back from the Christmas New Year holiday season before the next race, John is leaving Hasta la Vista on its mooring for a few weeks while he competes in the Heron dinghy National championships on Port Stephens, so it could be a bit lonely.

Setting a course for a nor’easter in the Western Harbour area is a real challenge for the race committee, the best they could do is what we raced today, which really was bit of a soldier’s course (a lot of beam or broad reaching). Spinnakers were a rarity, only 2 or 3 of the Etchells hoisted spinnakers, and not to great effect we somehow managed to pass 2 of them under spinnaker with only our number 3 head sail (Bas),  more to do with the shy angles and gusting winds than our abilities as salors.

It is was good that we were able to mix it with the Etchells and while we were able to get into 3rd position we were out sailed on the last reach to the Lane Cove River by the guys on Forte Forever, one of the Etchells who picked the shifts a lot better than us, so back to 4th on scratch and that’s where we finished. The win on handicap was a bonus, due to us regularly racing without a spinnaker, so in a race where spinnakers were not an advantage to our competitors a handicap win was more a function of arithmetic than performance.

Fortunately it was a balmy evening!

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.

Spectacular non Race

Last week we decided not to race, which was probably a pretty good decision. There was a strong wind warning for Sydney closed waters, we were short crewed and did not have experienced main sheet hand, While the wind was abating a bit there were still some white caps visible on the Parramatta River and in the area that we race in a fresh north easterly can be bit of a mongrel wind with viscous bullets and gusts falling off the land, at times some of these gusts can arrive unannounced without any associated pressure on the water surface. Ann and I sat on the Deck of Knowledge and watched the starts, drank a bit of wine, watched the finishes, listened to the stories of carnage then had dinner congratulating ourselves on a good decision. We weren’t the only ones to make that decision.

Lightening just North of GFS
Lightening just North of GFS Dec 20, 2017. Photo Joanna Copeland

Last night was to be the last Twilight of the year, it is traditionally a big night, we had over 300 people booked for dinner. Unfortunately the weather gods did not play ball, the forecast was for a short sharp Southerly to hit at around 3:00 pm dump a bit of rain then (as is not uncommon in Sydney) abate to a cooler quieter dry evening. At around 5:30 pm the committee had to make a call and were influence by wind observations around the area, 32 knots gusting to 41 knots at Sydney Airport, normally a pretty good indicator of the wind will be in our racing area. There was also very heavy rain coming across in bursts with associated squall activity and some thunderstorms in the area. The incredible photos taken by Joanna Copeland up to the left and Simon Elliot to the lower right, probably illustrates one of the influences the committee’s decision. Almost as a consolation the weather gods were kind enough to put on an impressive light show.

Light show over Ballast Point
Lightening over the Harbour, Ballast Point in the foreground, Dec 20 2017. Photo Simon Elliot

Fortunately for a surprisingly large number of people that still turned up for dinner the weather did calm down to what was quite a balmy evening and a enjoyable Christmas party was had by all.

Thus far in the Summer Twilight series we have won one race, on scratch and handicap, did not compete in another and had the third abandoned, so with a drop of one race from the scores we are leading the series after three scheduled races, a bit of glory that I’m going to bask in until it inevitably ends.

Final Saturday Race of 2017 and a Sail Story

The Last Saturday race before Christmas started in what was forecast to be a building but not too strong Nor’ Easter, we were, as is becoming bit of a pattern on Saturdays short crewed so my initial thought was to go very conservative with the sail selection, especially as we were to be joined by Maria and Scott who are brand new members of GFS and have had very little sailing experience, Chris our hard working Membership Secretary introduced Maria and Scott to us, while describing them as keen but green, after having them on board for a couple of hours I can say that their keenness  will mean they will not be green for long.

As it turned out we sailed with a not too conservative sail plan. I rigged the single line first reef, (in the light winds that we normally experience during the Wednesday twilights, we normally take the reef lines off the sail to get a better air flow across the bottom quarter of the sail) and hoisted “Reg” our heavy weight number one. I’ll digress a bit, there are those that understand our sail identification nomenclature, and those that don’t, the former are definitely in the minority.  Our head sail wardrobe consists of “Wes”, “Reg”, “Bas” and “Tom”, there is also a rules compliant heavy weather sail, he does not have a name but is known simply as the number 4 that apart from inspections and compliance measurement has never been out of the bag, Ann and I hope that he never has to come out in anger.

“Wes”

Wes is a light weight Genoa of around 145% overlap, flaked and tied up in his bag he only weighs about 12 kg. “Wes” is an absolute weapon in under 7 knots but an uncontrollable monster over 11 knots. “Wes” is an acronym of “Wednesday Evening Special”.

“Reg”

Reg (Short for Regular #1) is a little bit smaller and quite a bit heavier, cut a bit flatter and while a very good sail in light air he really tops out at about 15 knots but can also handle wind of up to 20 knots, or more, with the assistance of a reef. although in these pressures he does need a main sheet trimmer and head sail trimmer that are right on their game. “Reg” is getting to the end of his life but like the old soldier he is, he always delivers when called on.

“Bas”

Bas is our #3 jib and his name is an acronym of “Big Air Sail” we normally call on “Bas” in winds over 15 knots, while in lighter wind he is not that much slower to windward than the Genoas, his sheeting angles mean that we can point a bit higher, although in the lighter airs he just suffers from a lack of area when the wind gets much further aft than about 80 degrees.

“Tom”

Tom is our Rolling Furling Genoa he is used exclusively for cruising, while his pointing ability is obviously not as good as the racing sails, he does not suffer too much in performance when shortened on the furler. “Tom” the cruising sail, get it? I thought it witty but I think I am on my own.

G-whizz Elan 340
Waiting for room to tack before the Greenwich point headland. Dec 16, 2017. Photo Louis Wyatt.

Back to yesterday’s race, there were only six starters in our division, three Etchells, a Robinson 950, a Dehler 32 and ourselves. we attacked the committee boat at the start and were able to cross the line right on the gun, I had a nagging feeling that we may have been a bit over but a furtive look back at the starers revealed a thumbs up. Mal. on Blue Chip, the Robinson 950, was trying to push me over but he was about, thank goodness, five seconds too late. Again the words of Michael Groves (The owner and skipper of Agrovation, and champion dinghy sailor) were ringing in my ears, some time ago when he was crewing on G-whizz, in a similar situation he just kept saying “Hold your nerve Grah! Hold your nerve!”

On the work down to the Goat Island Buoy we seemed to be lacking speed in comparisin to the others, the wind was in the 14’s and 15’s with the occasional gust to 20 that convinced me that we were well and truly on the upper edge of the rig, I considered a reef but for some reason decided a against it, we were not in total control some of the time and I found it almost impossible to “get into the groove”. We were fortunate that John (Hasta la Vista) did not fly a spinnaker on the first run back to Clarkes Point, so we were still sort of in the game for the second work, this time around Goat Island. On this work although the wind was much the same we were a little more competative, while still not up to the speed I would expect, we were in better control, it was as if we were as a crew were re-learning how to sail in these conditions.

G-whizz Elan 340
Broad reaching past Schnapper Island Dec 16, 2017. Photo Louis Wyatt.

The next run was from Goat Island to Schnapper Island and while the three Etchells and Blue Chip who had been using Spinnakers were well in front, Hasta la Vista was still in sight, close enough in fact that when they had a “whoopsee” when gybing their spinnaker we were able to take advantage and lead them around Schnapper Island. The broadreach across to Spectacle Island was bit of a game of cat and mouse with us trying to keep Hasta la Vista behind and to leeward.

On the final work back to Goat Island I tried a few different things, running the jib cars a few inches forward meant that “Reg’s” leach was a bit tighter and his foot a bit more open, tightening the main leach by sheeting on a bit harder but with the traveler way down to leeward and easing the back stay a bit. Some of these actions are contrary to normal thinking when you have a bit too much power, but they worked a treat and we were able point about 10 degrees higher and go about a knot faster. I suspect that I out thought myself at the start and sheeted the boat too flat, at moments like this it reminds me that she really does like to be a little “Loose” The result was that we were able to round Goat Island a long way ahead of Hasta la Vista and even though they ran their spinnaker on the long run back to Humbug they were not able to catch us.

G-whizz Elan 340
Part of the Christmas apres sail get together on the Deck of Knowledge.

Ann really worked hard on the head sail winches and was not out of bed long when we  got home after a very convivial Christmas get together with some of the other crews on the”Deck of Knowledge“, Rob is really starting to get the hang of the main sheet, and yesterday’s conditions were pretty trying, Maria and Scott were given a job each and they performed them well, they will I’m sure make pretty good sailors pretty quickly. Our result while not great was very satisfying, and as is normally the case whenever I sail I learn something new or are reminded of something that I may have forgotten.