Category Archives: Racing

When 2nd Last is a Good Result

When is 2nd last a good result? When you win a 2 boat race!

We have written before about the Blues Point Yacht Club, it’s a great little inclusive club that is based in the Blues Point Hotel, we have been doing a few of their races over the last couple of years, however this year we decided to do the entire series, made easier (for us) by being, with only a couple of exceptions, on Sundays. We hope that this works out for the club as today there were only 2 starters, Ourselves and a Seaway 25 Megisti. Although Chris the Club’s Commodore has been saying for the last week that he was expecting a very small entry.

These race are handicap starts, which without the stress of start line crowding make for a relaxed race. Ann steered today and must have wondered if we were ever going to finish after being completely stranded for about 15 minutes as we sat there watching and waiting for the south easterly coming out of Rose Bay to reach us. The wind did eventually fill in to a fairly constant 5 to 8 knots which was enough to get around a course starting at Clarke Island, down to Manly and back via a little loop around Shark Island.

We were able to make up the 30 minutes we gave Megisti on the work from Manly to Steele Point, and finish the race in first place, as usual it was great to catch up with our competitors back at the Blue Point Hotel where Hugh, Megisti’s skipper was mentally trying to rationalise if he was last or second.

Hope there are more starters next race, these are really enjoyable events.



G-whizz Protest Appeal Upheld

Back in February this year we had one of those moments that we all would like never to happen, In race 2 of the Twilight Autumn series we had a coming together with Paul William’s Jeanneau 36i “Takana”, while I believed that we were in the right, we ran into a boat that should have stayed clear of us, we tried to avoid them but circumstances were against us. At the time I noted “Subject to Protest – We should be OK – But you never know.” The protest result was that both boats were in the wrong and were to be disqualified.

We appealed that decision with Sailing Australia and I am extremely relived that our appeal has been up held. Unfortunately this still does not take the bad taste away that we did have an incident with another boat and that incident left both boats with some damage. I was never comfortable with the Protest Panel process on this occasion and while I respect that all involved are volunteers giving their time freely I suspect that a better result with far less acrimony could have been reached, interesting that the appeal decision included the sentence “The format of the hearing decision mixed the facts and conclusions.”.

A copy of Sailing Australia’s Appeal Decision is displayed below, it is two pages the pages can be scrolled by clicking on the image and using the up/down arrows at the bottom. The full PDF can be down loaded from G-whizz-vs-Takana-Protest-Appeal.pdf

Also a special thanks to the guys at Sailing Australia who give their time to process these appeals, time that could be better spent in other more productive pursuits if the original protest panels were more considered in their decisions, not to mention we the competitors that should be able to keep out of each other’s way.

G-whizz protest appeal upheld!

elan 340 G-whizz vs Takana Protest Appeal

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.

Elan 340 | G-whizz West Harbour Winter Series a Start

The combined Clubs West Harbour Winter Series commenced on Sunday 5th of May with G-whizz sitting forlornly on her mooring. There were some conflicting events that meant we were unable to race. An upside was that I was able to fill in on the start boat for the first race, with 4 divisions to start and just the 2 of us on the boat life got a bit hectic for a while. This experience did bring home to me the great work the volunteers in our sport do (probably true in most sports come to think of it). These people give their time to enable the rest of us to  participate in our sport.

Race 2 was never going to be a great result, G-whizz’s bottom had not been cleaned since the end of the Twilight series and she looked like she was hosting a whole ecosystem underneath. Boat speed was way down and we were consistently 1 to 2 knots below our target speeds. While we did not bother the time keepers to much and watched some of our target boats (Those that we tend to measure ourselves against) disappear into the distance it was a very pleasant day on the water, and great to catch up with the crew whom we hadn’t seen for a little while, good news is that they enjoyed the day out and have committed to returning and are looking forward to getting the big coloured sails out in the coming races.

Elan 340 | G-whizz. Race One in Pictures

Elan 340 G-whizz behind at the start
Elan 340 G-whizz After misjudging our run for the line we are behind at the start.

Sixty five yachts fronted up to the starter  for the first race in the Autumn Series, thirteen of them in Blue division.  The winds were a little above the comfort zone for Wes the light weight number 1,  requiring Graham on the main to be on alert, he really earned his beer after the race. Our start was less than perfect as we were unable to pick our way through some starboard tackers to get to our desired position.

We were able to make up ground on most of the field with the exception of Agrovation, Worlds Apart and Aetos, still a fourth fastest was not a bad result, pretty close to our objective of finishing the the top three.

The following photos have been lifted from the GFS Facebook page, were taken by Kathryn and posted by Simon Elliott.

G-Whizz Elan 340



Elan 340 | G-whizz. Summer Series Twighlight Racing.

Our postings here have been a little scant of late, however some recent results have motivated us to say something. It may be bragging and/or narcissistic  (or are the same?) to point out how well G-whizz performed in the GFS summer twilight season.

G-whizz competes in the blue division in twilight races at GFS, there are six divisions grouped by perceived performance potential G-whizz competes in Blue Division (Div  5). A link to entries in the summer series – all divisions here:

Elan 340 Vs Hanse 400e
Elan 340 G-whizz dwarfed by Aurora a Hanse 400e. Photp Christian Charalambous

G-whizz competes against various Jeanneaus (36i, 39i, 379),  Northshore 38, Hanse 40 and Dehler 38 amongst others. G-whizz is very much the smallest boat in the division, about 1.2 meters shorter than the division’s average length. The picture to the left visually illustrates the size variance between G-whizz and one of her competitors, in this case Aurora a Delher 38.

If you are reading this you will probably already know that G-whizz is an Elan 340, she has a long water line compared to her overall length and was designed by Rob Humphries to perform well in light air. This works in our favour as most twighlight races at GFS are held in winds below 12 knots reducing as the evening temperature cools, while not being an super lightweight, she is lighter than most of her competitors and accelerates quicker than her competitors in the fickle winds that we race in.  Visitors to her can be somewhat amazed when they go below, expecting to see a gutted out race boat, they are surprised to see a performance cruiser that is kept in full cruising mode. We only need to put food and drink on board to be ready her for an cruise.

I have digressed a little from the subject which is about the 2018-2019 GFS Summer Twighlight racing season, the  majority of competitors in these twilight races compete in good spirits balancing the social aspect of these events with the competative aspect, we all like to do well while having fun doing well. Well we did well in the summer series, winning it on both scratch and on handicap. I have mentioned before that we judge our performance on scratch results, while it is the PHS result that awards the bottles of wine and on which most results are determined at GFS, it is the scratch result on which we judge our performance, a finish in the top 3 or 4 on scratch is an indication of a good performance.

In this series we won on both scratch (ahead of  Words Apart on a count back) and handicap. The last race of the series was the GFS Australia Day Regatta event, our win on handicap in this race means that we get to go to the Sydney Town Hall to receive our trophy. All in all a pretty good result.

This is by far the best result we have achieved and we have been trying to work out how we performed so well. There are a few obvious reasons. Most of the races have been held in wind strengths in the 5 to 12 knot range, right in G-whizz’s sweet spot. We have changed G-whizz’s bottom maintenance regime, while this should not make a difference, she does feel very slippery through the water. We had a consistent and competent crew through the season. As a crew we are learning more about reading the wind, by no means are we experts but we are now getting it right more than wrong.  One thing that comes to mind, although  counter intuitive is that because of Christmas/Boxing day, New Years Eve and day and Australia day cruising we have kept the water tanks full, we have done the majority of the season with full or near to full water tanks, on thinking back we can recall that a number of our better results have come with full water tanks. There are two 100 litre tanks located on either side of the keel at or just below the water line, this is probably telling us something, just what I’m not too sure but we will be leaving the tanks full until we work it out.

Some pictures from the 2018-2019 Summer Season

Elan 340 | -whizz

Last Across the Line, but Safe.

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”.

A wet and windy 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

Where did the Wind Go?

G-whizz Elan 340 - KoKo
KoKo struggling in very little wind. Photo John Mackay.

The forecast was for a pretty fresh southerly wind that was to be increasing through the evening, but what happened was something quite different.  Given the forecast it was incredible that the race committee were at about 5:00 pm considering abandoning due to a lack of wind, further complicated with an incoming tide that could make it difficult to get out of Humbug. We decided to hoist “Reg“, the heavy number 1 up the forestay, while the light weight number 1 “Wes” was the first choice there was still a chance that the wind might fill in and Reg can handle light winds without loosing too much and pretty fresh winds while still giving a pretty good degree of control. but the wind just got lighter as the race progressed, contrary to the forecast, but I guess that’s Sydney in spring.

G-whizz Elan 340 - Aetos
G-.whizz and Aetos fighting it out at about one and a half knots. Photo John Mackay.

We had a very good start that was made better by a hole that opened up between the stern of Worlds Apart (Jeanneay 39i) and bow of  Aetos (Northshore 38) that allowed us to be first across the line and lead the fleet out of Humbug  together with Worls Apart went the full distance to the Birchgrove shore to get the reverse eddy that runs counter to the tide along the shore, or at least did until the new Birchgrove Ferry Wharf was

constructed about six months ago, Izzi and Aetos the two Northshire 38’s tacked early and while sailing against the incoming tide stayed in the wind,

G-whizz Elan 340 - Worlds Apart
Worlds Apart powered up in one of the brief moments of anything that resembled wind. Photo Simon Elliot.

the end result was that the four of us while sailing somewhat apart were swapping places when we crossed each other on different tacks, a situation that existed until we had all rounded Goat Island, although it did appear that the other three were getting the better of the shifts. (I felt that we were being out sailed and they were picking the shifts better than us). We were not able to make any gains on the run back to Greenwich Point, it really did highlight that we need to pole out the headsail on these longish runs if we are to stay with the longer boats, but at least we were able to hold off the

G-whizz trailing Aetos rounding Greenwich Point, Photo Simon Elliot.

rest of the fleet. A fourth on scratch (As well as a fourth on handicap)  is up there where we want to be, and a beautiful evening on the water where the expected wind and rain did not eventuate was a real bonus.


Elan 340 | G-whizz

Sometimes it Works

The conditions this evening were not uncommon for the West Harbour sailing area, a South to Sou’Easter of around 10 to 15 knots dropping out to not much around sunset. What was not uncommon though was that David Leslie was giving his new to them Elan 37 KoKo its first outing in twighlight racing, Obviously we had a challenge! No need to read to the end, they beat us.

The start was not our best, we were a bit early on the final run down the line, and while I wanted to start at the windward end we were getting there a little early, in our efforts to correct this we found ourselves in a position where we could not muscle ourselves to the line on the gun. “Agrovation” an “KoKo” along with “French Connection” and a couple of others timed their start to perfection and were well on the way through Humbug while we contended with a situation where 4 or 5 boats wanted to be in exactly the same part on the Lane Cove River, there was “Conquitser” a Farr 36 pinching up along the the line of moored boats towards Onions Point, then us doing our best to keep up speed in the fickle winds and contending with the disturbed air from Worlds Apart (Chris Stannard’s Jeanneau 39i), there was another boat to windward of “Worlds Apart” but I have absolutely no idea of who it was, there may have been more in the line to windward but we were a bit busy to see. “Saoirse” the Dehler 38 found themselves in that horrible situation where they were clear astern of the 3 of us but got a bit of a puff and accelerated towards our stern, somehow we all found the inches to give him some room, however not without the obligatory on water rules discussion, probably led by myself with something along the line of “You are the overtaking boat, you have no rights!” A nasty situation was avoided with  common sense and good seamanship from all involved, we are still all friends but geez it was close!

The course was a Port rounding of Goat Island and back to the finish, for reasons that too ka little while to identify we were unable to find optimum speed or height for quite some time, until a few judicious adjustments to the headsail sheet car position and back stay adjustments gave us the speed that G-whizz is capable of giving, we had some hope of getting near the leaders but when a Sydney Ferry came up behind us we had too pinch up to give him room to pass between us between the “Dolphins” in Snails Bay and us, He also took his time to pass us, travelling quite slowly to ensure the safety of both of us. Unfortunately it did cost us quite a bit of time, but that is one of the “Joys” of racing on a busy working harbour.

We continued aground Goat Island and took off on the run back to the finish in Mid field able to stay ahead of the boats behind but unable to make any ground on those ahead until we rounded Greenwich Point and saw about 25 to 20 boats parked windless in an counter accommodating tide (Now isn’t that a weird way of saying the tide was against them?) they were all towards the western Shore of Humbug, the generally accepted place to be in these conditions. I decided that if we were going to get past them we would need to do something different, that we did, taking a course along the Eastern side of Humbug, reasoning that we would be in less tide and would give us the first use of any wind that existed as it was now tending from the East.

G-whizz Elan 340
Agrovation is the lead boat in this photo (about 100 Meters from the finish), G-whizz is on the far left, we managed to pass and beat all but 3 of the boats in this photograph to the finish Line

It worked, we sailed right around the fleet and finished third on scratch, behind “KoKo” and “Agrovation” who had finished minutes ahead of us. After the race while we were dropping sails, Chris Stannard sailed up to us and said “We could almost hear your motor running” while obviously in jest it must have been frustrating to be stuck going nowhere while a competitor just sails by.


Elan 340 | G-whizz