Last evening was the third time in five races in the Spring Twilight Series at Greenwich Flying Squadron that we finished second on scratch and second on handicap. I must admit I won’t be too concerned if this becomes habit forming. Although after last evening’s result our handicap is starting to get pretty big.
Last week I wanted to start at the windward end of the line (At GFS our twilight races are started on a line that runs directly out in front of the Clubhouse across the Lane Cove river, irrespective of the wind angle), it would have been a great strategy had I not started on the wrong side of the clearance buoy, necessitating a return to start correctly, in about 2 knots of wind and against a tide that was taking us to the course side. Last night I tried the same strategy, except instead of running down the line I ran down a parallel course about 20 meters behind line, to give us a bit more wiggle room and concentrated a lot more on my timing. The result was extremely satisfactory, crossing the line with good speed and in clear air right on the gun.
By starting at the windward end meant that we would have a bit further to travel to get out of Humbug, but it did give us a better wind angle which in the light wind gave us a substantial speed advantage over the rest of the fleet who were close hauled, we were able to accellerate away and had a reasonable lead as we got into the more consistant winds on the Parramatta river. We tried to pick the shifts and make best use of the available tide on the work down to Goat Island, I was also trying to limit the amount of tacking we did to look after the crew, there was only three of us. Worlds Apart and Agovation were slowly eating into our lead.
We were catching and passing a lot of boats that started before us in other divisions, the two bigger Jeanneaus seemed to have better run though these slower yachts with Worlds Apart taking the lead before we got to Goat Island, although I suspect they just sailed better. The run from Goat Island back the finish at the Club was always going to be a challenge, the longer waterlines of the bigger boats and our unwillingness to use the spinnaker pole to pole out the headsail due to our limited crew would limit our ability to maintain a competitive speed. That’s sort of how it played out, Worlds Apart moved further ahead and Agovation passed us at Greenwich Point. Surprisingly the three of us were able to open a substantial lead over the rest of the fleet.
Worlds Apart was able to maintain its lead to the finish, but we were lucky enough to win the wind lottery in Humbug over Agrovation. For the third time in the series we finished second on both scratch an handicap. The conditions last evening were right in G-whizz’s sweet spot, Chris and his crew on Worlds Apart sailed a great race in conditions not best suited to the bigger and heavier Jeanneau 39i, while Michael and his crew on Agrovation just seem to be able to make their Jeanneau 369 go fast in any conditions.
A special thanks to Ann and Graham, the crew last night who worked wonders in what was a pretty intense race.