Written by Jonathan Stone
At last, a perfect afternoon for sailing - warm but not oppressively, a fresh, steady but not wild north easterly, a (relatively) empty Harbour, though the 18s were out later. And five well-prepared boats, with experienced skippers
The start was prompt on 2.00pm, thanks to the PRO Peter (Collie). There were 5 boats in from 23-34ft in length. At these lengths, a few feet in lengths matter. And when skippers are experienced, stealth and cunning come into play.
In a nor-easter, the pin end of our line (just south of Clarke Is) is heavily favoured, but it is a bit tricky, for this end of the line is only just free of the lee of the Island. Maybe because the smaller boats are more manoeuvrable their skippers find it easier to avoid the lee, avoid being early and start at speed. In the event, Corinna (an Endeavour 24) won the start, just upwind from Umbakumba (a 26ft-er) with T&T (a Hood 23) close behind. G-Force (30 ft) and Sanity (a 34ft Jenneau) both started late, further down the line, though at speed.
Corinna showed good speed close to the wind across Double Bay (indeed right around the course) and was still ahead at the Point Piper mark, with Umbakumba on her transom. G-Force and Sanity used their boat speed well, to sail below T&T and be in position to challenge for the lead, on the leg to Taylor’s Bay. The wind was fresh-to-stiff - it was ideal for the larger boats, and first Sanity and G-Force moved past Corinna. So the order around the top mark, past Taylors Bay and at Sow’n Pigs, was:
Umbakumba (who squeaked past Corinna at the mark)
Downwind was a chance for attacking. Corinna hoisted a spinnaker, then G-Force; but not Umbakumba, who fell back to fourth. On T&T we fought hard to stay in touch, a respectable last. To do that, we goose-winged successfully, and the little boat ran comfortably and fast, but not fast enough to catch the kites. At the Shark Island mark we all had to gybe; only G-Force seemed to struggle, for - though their kites took a while to fill on both G-Force and Corinna, the reset after the gybe was faster on the smaller boat, and she claimed back second place.
Deck work on T&T was good, and we made up good ground on the final leg; but not enough to challenge for a spot. We need to get the spinnaker up!
Over the line:
Sanity - welcome back to Jim Ley, after a break
Corinna - this time with the whole family on board
T&T - who must get their crews spinnaker-ready.
We race next on March 3.