The river was welcomed us with scattered clouds and a nice ESE breeze at around 10 knots. We were to find out that this nice breeze did have plenty of gusts, lifts and knocks in. Darrell forgot his gloves so he claimed the helm with Barry and I grinding. The foredeck work as assigned to myself because I “need the practice”.
We had three boats in the fleet, Farrago, Xena and Wind Falls. The start was interesting, we were powered up and steaming towards the line only to realise we were early. Easing the sails did not slow us enough and we crossed early. Eagle-eye Anne showed us the White and Blue “X” flag that confirmed our suspicions. Anne informed us later that we were a “full 4 seconds” early. We turned back across the line and restarted. We also saw Xena do the same.
Well, it was then that a large motor catamaran appeared on the scene heading east and closing on Xena, the cat blasting it horn, came to a stop before it cleaned up Carolyn and the crew. The crew from the cat proceeded to scream out abuse to Xena (and us). They claimed that being a commercial vessel gave them f*#k right was way. “F*#king right of way” is not a term that I have come across in the rules so we both tried to correct their understanding of the right of way rule. They were clearly not in the mood for a lesson, with the expletives continuing. I’ve included a picture of the offending vessel below.
We composed ourselves and got away on our second try with Xena behind and Wind Falls sliding through clear of the chaos.
The ESE breeze gave us some nice long tacks. Once around Searles we eased to a reach doing 6 knots towards Gladesville bridge. Our journey up past Cockatoo Island took us through a fleet of Mirror dinghies. I counted at least 15 of the little boats providing a spectacle with their red sails.
From Balls Head we started doing it tough. It seemed that every tack was followed by a knock. Crisscrossing the harbour more time that we deserved we eventually laid Fort Denison.
It was time for the new foredeck hand to show his skills. I think that I was quoted as saying that I have done more foredeck races on dinghies that I’ve had hot dinners (I neglected to add that it’s something like 50 years ago). We hoist the black spinnaker and she is wrapped, the sheet is around the front of the forestay. I tried and tried again to haul it back around without success. Yelling from the cockpit was trying to tell me how to fit it, however it took Barry coming forward to remove the sheet and rerun it on the other side (score one for Barry and none for Paul).
The black spinnaker set nicely and we powered on towards home. Past Goat Island the time comes for Paul to show off his gybing skills. Barry says “get in front of the mast face backwards”. What started well ended up with the boat healing sharply, the pole pointing up in the air and me tripping over the kicker. Hmmm, that could have gone better.
The run home continued and my spinnaker gybes got better. We had an interesting one at Schnapper Island with Darrell trying to hold her square whilst being attacked by Hartley TS’s from all directions. Once we got around Schnapper we set a shy spinnaker and were pulling 7 knots. With what looked like a storm coming were happy to get home ASAP.
My final gybe was doing to be my best. We approached Seales with Festering close behind ready to witness the perfect spinnaker pole work. The gybe went perfectly, except for one small issue, I had missed getting the sheet in the nib. The pole when out easily though!
We crossed the line with the rain threatening and managed to get the genoa down and back to the mooring before it started. By the time we had her in the bag and rowed to shore we were well soaked.
Back at the club my efforts to hide the “X” flag from Anne were noted. The handicap results had Farrago 1st a full 10 minutes ahead of Xena and Wind Falls cruising in 3rd. A most enjoyable race.
Please see our recorded track at (use Chrome or Edge):