It was a splendid afternoon. lt was the first Sunday of the 18 footers season, and the rigging area was full again of their skiffs, laid on their side, or standing into the wind. A north-easter was in and blew all afternoon, the signature wind of those who race on Sydney Harbour. It is the wind in which the 18 footers evolved last century, from heavy whale boats into the high-tech, quick-to-plane boats of this century; it is of course the local seabreeze, and it has done much to shape the history of high-performance sailing.
John Vasey gave us a start, and a Point Piper buoy, and the wind took us from there into Taylor’s Bay and up the Harbour, our usual course. As we approached Shark Island under spinnaker, the 18 footers swept around us, doing two or three times our speed. For a moment it seemed like bedlam, but we gybed safely for our finish line and it was all over.
Except that a pod of dolphins greeted us in Double Bay, surfacing and even leaping, briefly playing around the boat; for me it was only the second sighting in the Bay, in 30 years of sailing. And, as we relaxed on the clubhouse deck, the 18s came in, swooping and rattling in the wind; a less rare sight but always worth watching.
And the young things heading for an afternoon of loud music somewhere on the Harbour, fluttered on the Double Bay wharf, waiting for transport. Overdressed and underdressed all at the same time. Also now a regular part of the Harbour sights, on a weekend afternoon.
Only two disappointments: Only Corinna and Time & Tide presented (Umbakumba withdrew at the last minute); and the wind faded after we turned downwind, so that it took much patience, even under spinnaker, to complete the race. Corinna led upwind, rounding the top mark at Sow’n Pigs a couple of minutes clear; she was pointing better. But a new-idea-for-a-spinnaker-on-an-old-boat didn’t work - I think Chris tried to rig an asymmetric on a makeshift bow prod. Our spinnaker set well, we went to the lead as Chris struggled, and the fading of the wind exaggerated our lead, which eased out to 10 minutes at the finish.
Over the line:
Time & Tide
We race next on November 1…….. these afternoons should not be missed.
So be there!