The afternoon was cool and sunny with a light-to-fresh southeasterly breeze of 10-15 knots. Ideal conditions. Six boats presented for the race.
John Vasey on the RIB Paul Adam gave us a timed start and we headed out to a club mark at Point Piper. The wind veered easterly on this leg and T&T - after a well-timed start from the middle of the line - was forced out into the Harbour, and then to tack back to clear the mark. With her characteristic height upwind, Corinna reached the mark without a tack and was the first to round; then T&T and Chenonceau all close together, crossing each other’s transoms in short last-minute tracks.
The reach to Taylors Bay was broad, with the usual choices. Corinna chose to go low, to the left near Bradley’s Head, while T&T went high, keeping her headsail full but then needing to goose-wing and sail by the lee to come down to the mark. A not-entirely-planned gybe and back kept our speed going and we enjoyed better wind out to the right. This took us to the front of the fleet and we rounded the Taylors Bay YA maybe 50 metres ahead of Corinna, with the heavier boats working hard, and successfully, to stay in touch. Lonny was the only boat to fly a spinnaker - it wasn’t easy in the light conditions, with the Harbour surface disturbed by power craft.
The leg to Sow’n Pigs was a one-tack work, arguable a close reach. We all rounded up onto the wind quickly in Taylors Bay and headed across the Harbour - the wind allowed us to head to somewhere between Vaucluse and and the mark. On T&T we sailed as high as we could until a few hundred metres from the reef, when we felt free to bear away, still in the lead.
As always in a south-easterly we approached the top mark on port tack. We then harden up and more or less immediately tack onto port for the long windward leg to Shark Island. Strictly the first half was a close reach, and we each had to choose how close we went to Steel Point. Closer was shorter, but the risk of poor wind off the point led us all to give it a wide berth. So, even with some easterly shifts in the north part of Rose Bay we all at some point closed on Shark Island and had to tack away and then back for the mark. These short tacks give chasing boats a chance to do it all better, but the lead was still T&T’s as we eased around the mark. Still, the field was close, all 6 boats within a couple of hundred metres.
The final leg goes east to our finish at Clarke Island; in a sou-easter this leg also invited a spinnaker, and Lonny again obliged; it was a variable but approximately square reach, so it was worth the initiative. The wind fell away as passed Point Piper and the chasing boats closed up on T&T; then it freshened as we crossed Double Bay and the leading boats could stretch out a little. Smitten, newly cleaned, showed speed to get past Chenonceau, into third place - a reward for the care taken and some good sailing. But all hulls were clean - they have to be for good racing - and G-Force and Lonnywere close behind. After an hour and a half only a few minutes separated first from last.
Across the line:
- Time & Tide
This was one of the best racing days of the summer - a good fleet, good competition, improved speeds, a competitive start, a close finish.
And, as always, we sat on the Club deck afterwards and chatted, as the 18s flapped home from their race.
We race next on March 4.