A Race East of the Bridge

One of our crew is quite involved with the Blues Point Yacht Club , he suggested that we compete as a casual entry in the last race of their Autumn series. (I think that they may name their series after the season in  which the series commences, not the season the series in run in). For a number of reasons only Graham Dicker was able to join us for this race, G-whizz is easy  to handle 3 up, but with the wind predicted to get up in the high teens a bit of weight on the rail may have been preferable. It also made another decision easy, we were unsure if this was a Spinnaker event (It was) or not, but 3 up meant that the colourful sails would be staying in their bags.

BPYC run their events at the eastern end of the harbour, starting and finishing at the Naval buoys adjacent to Clarke Island, their courses mostly involve Yachting NSW (Is that Sailing NSW?) rounding marks, with the possibility of Fort Denison and Athol No.4 buoy thrown in. It was a pleasure to race in that area again and made a nice change of scenery. Saturday’s race involved a run/broad reach down to Cannae point, then a work back around the Shark Island mark a loop around Fort Denison and back to the finish via the Athol No. 4 buoy.

Another pleasing aspect of these races are that they are pursuit starts, we were given a generous handicap of 21 minutes, although not generous enough for us to achieve a podium finish, which was a bit disappointing as we later found out they have pretty reasonable prizes. A novel approach, and one that I think adds to the race is that they also measure each boats starting performance, actual start time versus allocated start time. We finished mid field at 11 seconds late. I found it difficult to judge our start without the presence of other boats around us. I wanted to hit the line with speed so instead of running down the line and gybing at the start, I attacked it square on (to the line not the wind), we were getting there too quickly so we threw a quick 360, it would have been far better to run down the line and gybe.

The run to Cannae varied continuously between a broad to beam reach, with winds varying between 5 to 15 knots, not too bad on a broad reach but a little concerning for the return work, we were had our No.1 light up that with an un-reefed main gets a bit hard to handle in anything over 12 knots. We lost quite a bit of time trying not to be in the restricted area surrounding a departing oil tanker, I was judging my potential clearance distance by referencing the Braddleys head safe water mark, only to watch the escort boat an the tanker leave the mark to starboard, the net result was that we went quite a distance off our best course for no reason.

Being a pursuit start we spent most of the race by ourselves until we got near Fort Denison, where we caught some of the boats ahead of us and were caught by the back marker. Probably a indication of reasonable handicapping. We got to play with the back marker for a while. We were in a position where we could of held him out for a while by covering his gybes, although it was pretty obvious that he would out drag us on the reach to the finish from the last mark. I decided not to enter into a match racing dual as I thought it inconsiderate especially if they were competing for a series place and had to put up with an interloping casual entry playing silly buggers.

The BPYC web site claims their club to be Sydney’s friendliest and most accessible yacht club. Their club rooms are the front bar of the Blues Point Hotel. After an enjoyable après race drink with some of competitors, I have to admit their claim  could be close to the truth. I think we’ll be back for more of this! Thanks Chris Winston for getting us involved.