This was an extra race, sailed because the Harbour was there. Three boats presented, on a lovely afternoon, sunny with a 5 knot north-easterly. But variable, as light winds are.
It was a gate start, which nobody wins, and all three of us headed across Double Bay on port tack, close on the wind. T&T struck trouble straight away; which wasn't easy in light winds on an empty harbour. The clip holding the genoa sheets to the clew slipped, the headsail flapped merrily, and Mat had to scramble to sort it out. So 50m behind on the first bit of the first leg. T&T tagged Corinna and Umbakumba as they tacked out into the harbour, but did not follow as Corinna and then Umbakumba tacked to pick up the easterly sometimes there at Potts Point. T&T went left, ignoring the Point, and did well, turning the PP mark third (Umbakumba was first) but in touch.
The next leg, to Taylor's Bay, was a gentle reach; Umbakumba went low and T&T high, and we sailed over the top of both the competition, to reverse the order - turning first, well clear. We held that lead until the last stages of the work to Sow'n Pigs; T&T overstood the mark by maybe 150m (a significant mistake), allowing Corinna through to round the top mark first.
Still, we all threw up spinnakers to fight out the downwind leg to Shark Island, and T&T closed up on Corinna until, off Steel Point we fell into a deep hole; Corinna' s small lead and some clever sailing took her eventually to a lead of a country mile, while we flapped around. Umbakumba caught a following gust and held it well to sail through us, as we drifted past Shark Island, adding to our frustration.
By the time T&T finally cleared the Shark Island mark Corinna was half a leg ahead, and Umbakumba 100 m; we had taken our spinnaker down to stop it tearing on the rigging as we flapped in no wind, and the cockpit floor was a jumble of ropes. We thought 'what the hell', sorted the cockpit and hoisted another spinnaker (a red and white flat-cut kite, made for strong winds, which I bought for a song too many years ago). It set beautifully and we found a bit of wind. Mat took the helm, I managed the spinnaker, brace in one hand and sheet in the other, and we set out to catch Umbakumba.
Gerry and Brian took Umbakumba high, so we went low. And - trimming the spinnaker as best we could and finding the best of the wind - almost got there, finishing at opposite ends of the line, at most a few seconds behind. It was slow sailing but good fun competition. Mind you, by the time we had finished, Corinna had her headsail packed, and her deck tidy. In fading winds a small mistake (or just bad luck with the puffs) can turn into a loooonnnng loss.
We unrigged uneventfully and enjoyed a cool drink in the last of the afternoon's sun, on the Club deck.
And, when we were sick of talking about the race, we talked about sailing.
Across the line:
Lots of water
We race again on September 7
Addendum from Gerry......
As myself and Brian rigged up the spinnaker sheets whilst drifting calmly on a low tide
and 4 to 6 knots of breeze on a sparkling late winter Sunday on Sydney Harbour just off Clarke
Island,I thought to myself ..... apart from some more wind what could possibly make this
moment any more serene?
And then it happened a sight I have never seen in the harbour before, a Pod of 12 or more
Dolphins popped up and cruised around Umbakumba practically circling the boat barely 5 feet off.
We stood transfixed forgotten sheets and spinnaker bags in hand. Too late darting below for a camera to capture the event.
We tried to hail T&T and Corinna to let them know of the Dolphins presence.
But they were too busy with their pre race preparations.
We then had a magic sail around the course still keeping an eye out for the Pod.
So much so that we neglected to gybe the spinnaker on the last leg to shorten
our line to the finish, almost letting T&T take us on the line, a mistake no doubt
but then you can't have everything.
So keep and eye out on the harbour, it might just be worth dropping a few boat lengths for!