Wind, Wary, Work, Whoops, Wet then Wow

The forecast for today’s race was for winds in the low 20 knots, the first order of the day was to pick up the crew, go back to the mooring and prepare the boat for the expected wind. The mooring is in a fairly protected area that is only open the westerlies, and while there we had quite a discussion about sail choice, sitting in about 10 knots the choice was leaning towards “Reg” the heavy weight number 1, we were hit with a couple of gusts around 18 to 20 knots, which made the decision to use “Bas” the number 3. That only left fitting the first reef lines, as it appeared that this would also be needed (as it turned out it wasn’t). In light air we normally remove the reef lines to improve wind flow on the Main.

After earlier announcing over the radio course 2 (Laps of Snapper, Spectacle and Goat Island) the race committee changed their mind and decided to  send us on course 4 (Down Harbour, under the Bridge to Clarke island the back again with a little detour around Goat Island thrown in before finishing off the South Eastern Corner of Cockatoo Island). This meant a down hill start with a run to Clarke Island then a work back. After witnessing what could be described as some spinnaker carnage at the start of division 1 we decided to be a bit wary and let the fleet sort itself out and hopefully start a bit behind, unless as we all knew a hole opened up then we would take it, as it happened we were about 20 seconds late, however we were at the leeward end of the line and were able to make a lot of leeward ground which gave us some room the come up a bit in the (not too frequent) lulls.

John had Hasta la Vista going really well and we followed them most of the way to Clark Island. To win the series we really had to beat Hasta la Vista across the line. On the work back up the harbour we were able to slowly pull in all but one of the boats ahead of us and just to confirm my dislike of racing under the Harbour Bridge, with it swirling winds and washing machine water conditions, we had a couple of close port/starboard’s that slowed us down a bit, we did call protest on one, but decided against going through with it as the conditions were a major influencing factor and the other crew were most apologetic.

After finishing second place across the line we sailed back towards the mooring, dropping the sails along the way, normally I would drop the crew off at the club then put the boat on the mooring by myself before returning to club for a drink. Today we put G-whizz on the mooring with the whole crew on board, while that made putting her to bed easy and quick it did mean that we would have to relay the crew back in the dinghy, the first trip with 2 on board and all the bags, the waves were were breaking over the bow and we were taking on a bit of water, when I leaned forward to get the bailer from under all the bags my weight dipped the snub nose into the water, then it was instant submarine, although the gunnels were a few inches under the water, with me in the water hanging on Mark was still able to steer the Torqeedo to a position where we could extricate ourselves onto the Bay Street public wharf. Withe the help of the crew of Hasts la Vista the rest of our crew were able to get back to the club a bit safer and a lot drier than Mark and myself.

A pleasant drink with compatriots on the deck of knowledge, a BBQed sausage and the news that our fifth on handicap was enough to win the series. Wow!

Big thanks to the crew Rob, Graham, Mark and Joely for a great result. (I know I’ve missed a couple – my apologies.