It was a sparkling afternoon. A big southerly had come through half a week before, late on Wednesday night (as the Management Committee was debating all the things that management committees have to worry about). That wind had blown hard through Thursday and Friday, dropping to 15 knots for Club’s Laser races on the Saturday and, for this Sunday, to 5-10 knots. It was very shifty between east and south, full of puffs and dead patches. But it kept blowing and, with the clouds of the last 3 days lifted, we had the full sun of a summer afternoon.
Five boats presented (I didn’t spot Pleasure II - it would have been great to have them with us). But it was great to have a timed start and a mark set at Point Piper - thanks to Peter Redmond!
The start was close; Corinna started near Clarke Island (‘nearest to the mark’), yet was the only boat to stay sufficiently high to reach the mark without a tack; she led clearly on this leg, from T&T, Chenonceau and Umbakumba, all forced low, hoping for better wind; only Chloe was a bit late across. a mis-identification of the first mark allowed T&T to turn first, bearing away in light breezes for Taylor’s Bay. The wind swung east as we turned and the reach was unexpectedly square - none of us opted for a spinnaker; then, as we closed on the mark a southerly shift had us running square (on T&T we goose-winged), but too close to the end of the leg for a set to be worthwhile. T&T turned first, then Corinna, who had slid past Chenonceau, then Umbakumba and Chloe. We all hardened onto the wind, to get back into the Harbour as high as we could, knowing that easterly shifts would push us away from the next mark, at Sow’n Pigs. Corinna made up some distance on Time & Tide, but easterly puffs coming across Watson’s Bay allowed T&T to lay the mark without tacking, with the best part of a minute’s lead.
That gap closed on the long work to Shark Island; we all had to judge how far to bear away to clear the lee at Steele Point, then we all looked for easterly shifts to bring us back to the mark. Again, only Corinna stayed high enough to avoid the extra tacks, making a strong gain. The last leg was a run and, with a kite set, Corinna would have been in a position to harry any boat close ahead. All depended on the set. Time & Tide’s big yellow and black spinnaker set cleanly; on Corinna, a minor issue - the pole topping lift was twisted around the pole - let T&T slip away clear. We worked to keep the kite full as the wind veered and backed - the basics of spinnaker trim: pole forward as the wind came square, pole back as it swung behind, lots of trimming the sheet, and some dodging to clear the 18 footers, now racing. We were rewarded with a clear margin.
These late summer Sunday afternoons are memorable - as we sat in the Clubhouse, with the predictable cool drink in hand, the 18-footers flopped in like roosting bats, shadows lengthened and we talked of the race. When we were sick of that, we talked about sailing.
Across the line:
- Time & Tide
We race next on March 6.