An Unexpected Result

A couple of years ago when we race against David and Elaine Edmiston’s “Passion” a Jenneau Sun Odyssey 37 (Since replaced by “Passion X” a Didi 40CR) with both G-whizz and Michael Groves “Agrovation” we’d  joke that the time period between the finish of the race and the publication of the race report on David’s excellent blog was directly related to David’s performance in that race. Well I have to admit we are not that much different on G-whizz, commitments mean that I have little time to update this blog, I would normally wait until Sunday before writing something, but after last evening’s result I just had to make time to write this. Am I happy with last evening’s result? You bet I am!

The forecast was for a southerly that would abate as the afternoon/evening progressed, the strength was forecast (depending on the forecaster) between 13 to 18 knots, generally  in the area where we race the wind will be softer than forecast as the evening progresses. After a bit of discussion we decided on “Bas” our number 3 knowing that we would have good control to windward but would suffer on the reaches an runs, especially if the wind did drop out. If we were racing for sheep stations we would probably set up for “On-the-fly sail changes, but we race for substantial less and while Twilight racing at GFS is exceptionally competitive it is also social and fun for most crews.

After watching the carnage of the Black division start, with almost the entire fleet attacking the pin on the western side of the the start line,  very much the favoured end, I decided to hold back a bit and avoid any potential mess in our start and look for a bit of clear air and water. We started a bit lower to the fleet but with clear air we able to lift above all but two boats before the first tack on the eastern side of Humbug, on the work to the south Eastern corner of Cockatoo Island we consolidated our position by being able to point constantly higher than the fleet, with Agrovation (Jeanneau 379) an Izzi (Northshore 38) well ahead we settled into and interesting battle with Words Apart (Jeanneau 29i) and Saoirse (Dehler 38), making up time on them on the works and in the light air while losing out on the reaches and runs and when the wind picked up.

G-whizz Elan 340 Cockatoo Island
Twilight October 24 2018, looking West towards Cockatoo Island. Photo Mark Palmer

The above pattern of the race continued all the way around Cockatoo Island, around Goat island and back through Humbug, (About the racing area here) the three of us, G-whizz, Worlds Apart and Saorise all entered humbug from slightly different angles, us substantially to leeward, Saorise to windward lose to Greenwich Point and Words Apart somewhere in between. About 300 meters from the finish line the three of us came together, Soarise slightly ahead and to wind ward, then Words Apart then us half a boat length behind and to leeward. Although we were all on starboard tacks and the Windward Leeward terminology fits in reality we were all running pretty square.

Logic (Physics?) says that waterline length is a big advantage when yachts are running, the same logic says that the windward boat should have the advantage, but last evening we broke a few laws of logic and physics and were able to win the “Drag race” to the finish beating Worlds Apart across the line by 2 seconds with Saorise a further 9 seconds back. I hasten to add that Agrovation who crossed the line first followed by Izzi  had crossed the line minutes ahead.

I think I’ve written before that a place in the top 3 on scratch is about where we should be if we get most things right while a 4th is a satisfying result, the 3rd across the line last evening was most unexpected as it was achieved by being faster downwind than a couple of well sailed boats about 5 to 6 feet longer than us. Given that the wind generally was above 15 knots and we carrying a small headsail we had expected to be competative up wind but lose out on the runs and reaches the result was a bit unexpected.

I cannot end this without thanking Dianne, Graham, Chris and Ann our exceptional crew and also Chis Stannard and Patrick Hooligan the skippers of Worlds Apart and Saoirse respectively who made on the run to the finish what could of been a very dangerous racing situation both enjoyable and safe, especially the communication between the boats which meant we could remain extremely competitive but also respect each other and avoid any potential problem, I’ve respected these guys for some time, there are not too many boats that I would feel comfortable with racing against in such close quarters but these two guys again confirmed (for what it is worth) our respect.