Elan 340 | G-whizz Kept Our Best for Last

As is usual the West Harbour Winter Series has been an enjoyable series, we get to race against non GFS boats on some interesting courses around the West Harbour Islands and various marks.

Last year we won Division 3 on PHS and were 4th on scratch (Interestingly the same scratch result as this year) this years PHS result was not quite as flattering. For most of the series we were achieving reasonable results, but seemed to be missing that little something, not only were we unable to keep pace with John Veale’s Dehler 32 “Hasta La Vista” a boat of similar proportions and performance to G-whizz but were on many occasions behind boats that we know that we can beat. We can make excuses, but in the main we were just out-sailed.

Elan 340 G-whizz and Star Elan
Elan 340 G-whizz and Star Elan passing Cockatoo Island on their way home after a close race

In race 6 (the second last race) we had a great race long tussle with Jefferson Smith’s Elan 320 “Star Elan”, it was a bit weird though as the Elan 320 has the current fashion wide stern design, making her very good at reaching and running, especially under spinnaker, G-whizz is more of a classic design and generally a faster boat to windward, all race we would fall behind her on the works but catch up and sometimes pass her under spinnaker, the opposite  of what previous performances would suggest and also opposite what the respective design’s polar charts would suggest. Later that afternoon Ann and I went to the Longueville Sporting Club to have a drink with Jefferson to personally congratulate him on his performance. It was then that Jefferson suggested it was time that the Elan’s showed what they were capable of and show the other boats what our sterns look like, especially the other GFS boats in the division.

We started Race 7 with a hull that had been cleaned only days before and with sufficient crew to fly spinnakers, after a conservative start we were up with the leaders on the work from Woolwich and down to the Schnapper Island mark, just after this mark we called Starboard on Pam Joy’s “Tana”, this allowed us to get over to the side of the channel that appeared to have the best wind but unfortunately it started a little chain of events behind us that dramatically hampered a few boats’s race position, Star Elan included.  The move worked out well as the wind held in and we were able to make ground on Hasta La Vista and clear the field behind. We decided on using the asymmetric spinnaker on the broad reach back to the Woolwich mark and managed to perform some a than perfect Spinnaker raise and a few less than perfect gybes, so less than perfect we let a few boats past. We decided to leave it up for the very shy run down to Mann’s point, this was bit of a master stroke as we did a good gybe and with a true wind angle of around 100 degrees (an angle that G-whizz and her Assy uniquely thrive in with lightish winds) we managed to re-pass the boats that had caught us and nearly caught up with Hasta La Vista. Only to give it all back with a slow headsail raise and a less than perfect drop, it was about 100 meters passt the mark before we could  head back into the wind on the work back to Cockatoo Island.  On this work we were able to take advantage of a huge wind shift to pass every body and get to the mark nearly 50 meters in the lead. At this point I am not going to say it was luck, Graham, on the main and I had quite a discussion about what the wind was doing, we decided to take the chance and it worked out.

The next lap was just a matter of not doing anything wrong and cover the boats behind us, we even left the spinnaker in the bag (the crew did suggest that we had had enough spinnaker practice for one day) and opted for a poled out headsail on the final run. A fastest time for the day was a great way to finish the series.