Written by Jonathan Stone
Summer has had a volatile start on the Harbour. Friday and Saturday were heavy wind days - gradient winds blowing hard. Stories abounded of collisions, damage, rescues, lucky escapes. No deaths, no injuries among the sailors, but swampings and sinkings and prangs among their boats. Yesterday a fierce, brief storm cell sought to wreak havoc on the Double Bay Laser fleet; but the sailors managed it well. The race was immediately cancelled, the sailors coped with winds reaching 35-40 knots; and all were able to right their boats and sail home. The Club’s response boats were then free to rescue sailors from other fleets.
Today, by contrast, a north-easterly sea breeze of 10 - 20 knots, under blue skies, gave us ideal conditions. John and Amelia were there in the Paul Adam, to give us a timed start
Six boats presented for the start, and we all needed to do what has to be done for a good start - timing, location along the line, acceleration and a clear plan for the first leg. Mind you, the wind dictated the plan; our start line is fixed and in a north-easterly we start on port tack as near the port end of the line as one can, without falling into the lee of Clarke Island.
Corinna got the best of it, at the pin end of the line, then T&T, a few seconds late, then the bigger boats. Double Bay was clear as we all worked across before taking a starboard dig into the Harbour, to clear Point Piper. Everyone had a chance, if you could point high and sail fast, and on T&T we watched nervously for the larger boats to gather their speed. Chenonceau powered into third, then G-Force, Smitten and Lonny (our newcomer, a Spacesailer 24 - welcome!).
In the event, Corinna cleared the Point Piper mark in the lead, with T&T maybe 30 seconds back. The first three legs were all close works, and the second of the three, to Taylors Bay. was hard work, as the wind built towards 20 knots. T&T fought for the height and speed needed to get past Corinna. At times we made ground against her but small errors - any slowness to pick a lift, less than perfect mark rounding - and Corinna slipped away. Still, after three upwind legs, which together made a long, long work, and the two downwind legs, separated by the gybe at Shark Island, we were within 100m of Corinna. Chenonceau pressed her case throughout - to be a clear third, and within striking distance of second.
So it was Corinna first, with T&T still waiting for an opportunity. The deck was sunny and cool as crews from the boats sat around for a cold drink. Being summer, the afternoon was long and the18s were racing, and came in - in gentle order - as we chatted.
A lovely afternoon. Across the line:
Time & Tide
We race next on January 7 2018. Another year ……….
Thank you all for being part of big boat sailing in 2017.