Wind and Handicap Conspired Against Us

Sunday’s Blues Point Yacht Club race was held in beautiful conditions, conditions that were in stark contrast to the preceding week that featured strong winds rain and un-pleasantly cool weather. We will not begrudge the rain as it is needed although it is a little frustrating that it falls along the coast and not west of the Great Dividing Range where our drought stricken farmers could really use it. The conditions on Sunday were almost perfect for us, except that the wind and handicap conspired against us.

BPYC races are pursuit starts, in this race we started off 35 minutes, 3 minutes ahead of a J/109 (“Blue Sky”) and 6 minutes ahead of an IMX 38 (“Martela”) and a whopping 17 minutes behind a Farr 36. The conspiracy between weather and handicap was too much for us, the wind was holding up in the 12 to 15 knot range until we were on our final run down the line when there was wind shift from the south west to the south east accompanied by a speed drop to 5 to 8 knots, the boats that started ahead of us had the benefit of the sou’wester while we together with Blue sky and Martela had to battle the reduced winds from the start.

We finished 5 seconds behind Martela and 36 seconds ahead of Blue Sky although Blue Sky’s missing their start time by about 2 minutes probably made the handicappers efforts look better than it actually was. Our finish was about 23 minute behind the Farr 36.

The race was pretty un eventful being bit of a soldier’s course, although the heart rates did rise a bit as we were approaching the final mark, the Sailing Australia mark just off Shark Island, where we were windward of a fleet of Couta boats heading for the same mark, as they had right of way to the mark as well as having rights around it we decided to give them plenty of room, especially as we did not know where their next mark was and not sure of their manoeuvrability if we got into a tussle. The biggest problem was a large sailing boat (under motor) positioned at the mark with a load of spectators aboard, they were fixated on the couta boats, fortunately one of the spectators was a little moreaware of their surroundings than the helmsman who needed quite a nudge from the alert spectator and respond to our hails and whistles and give us the room to be able to give the couta boats the room they were entitled to.

As it transpired there were 3 finish lines set very close to each other, ours, the couta boats and a dinghy race, all three fleets were hitting the line at the same time ass us, Martela which flew a spinnaker on the short run to the finish, took a very wise decision to douse the kite and finish bare headed to give them more control in the very busy water – a very smart decision. Ann who was on the helm was quickly sedated with a glass of bubbles as soon as possible after the finish, the rest of the crew had a medicinal beer before setting course to the west to return to Greenwich.