The Twilight race on the 21st of November could be described as a bit weird, it started in relatively normal conditions, well about as normal as the conditions can be when there is a Nor’ wester blowing on Sydney Harbour. A brief explanation, North westerly winds are common in spring in Sydney, they generally do not act as forecast and in our sailing area can create some unpredictable topographically induced shifts. On this evening the wind was behaving itself, 12 boats started and made their way through Humbug, then almost as if choreographed in the vicinity of Greenwich Point most of the starters lined up like a social raft up, and stayed that way on the run down to Goat Island. A crew member could have literally hopped from boat to boat across the whole fleet, this was broken a little when the line of yachts came up to a tall ship on a party cruise, we were fortunately the leeward boat and decided to pass the obstruction to leeward. we couldn’t see it but we could hear on-water rule discussions coming from the other side the tall ship, unfortunately we could also hear some fibreglass to fibreglass contacts. I think we chose the better strategy.
The rounding of the Goat Island Buoy was an experience with about six yachts all trying to get into a space that would normally only be large enough for one. Again there was much discussion about the rules and unfortunately again some contact, one of which generated a protest, this was right beside us and we took the safe option of getting clear of the ensuing melee as quickly and safely as possible. This was most fortuitous as about 5 minutes later the fleet was hit with a rain squall, we eased sheets to completely de-power the sails but not allow them to flog uncontrollably and we had the room to let the boat go where she wanted to go, after the worst had passed we pulled on the main and started sailing again. in hind sight I made a bad call, we should have trimmed the main to keep sailing, albeit with as little power as possible allowing us to continue sailing our own course and probably getting a far better result, right or wrong strategy it did mean that we didn’t suffer any damage, the boat basically stayed vertical and the worst that happened to the crew was a severe rendering. At one stage there was a call on board from a crew member asking if anyone wanted there wet weather jackets, but by the time answers were received it was too late. We later heard that there were some yachts that finished in water too shallow to navigate and also against the Balmain sea wall, there apparently were a also number of damaged sails an some rigging damage, fortunately no damage to humans. While no one was concentrating on the instruments we did see over 31 knots (good fun with a yacht rigged for 10 – 15 knots, as most yachts were). There were some reports of wind speeds in the mid 40’s. The adjacent photo is a still from a go pro camera on David Edmiston’s “Passion X”.
After the squall passed there was, as is usual after such events in Sydney, beautiful weather, very light breezes and we were stone motherless last, but no damage and happy to have got away “Scott Free”.
Elan 340 | G-whizz