The start was in sou-soueast breeze around 15kts with FGO timing it better than perfectly, XWP not so as was slightly over and had to come back, RBO behind both due to the naviguesser and everyone else missing the start signals, followed by AFB and WFs. The breeze virtually immediately dropped and backed to the east as the ASC was approached, and RBO up a bit higher somehow (luckily?…) managed to slip through to windward of FGO and by Searles was just in front then worked up to Drummoyne and Pulpit, with FGO hanging on doggedly and AFB, WF and XWP in hot pursuit.
Got to Longnose ok but the breeze went totally patchy and everyone got bothered by the other club fleet going up harbour – RBO unplannedly had to tack to clear Balls Head (see tracker path attached) and then had our normal Goat Island horror movie as the breeze went worse than stupid, up and down like a honeymoon evening and changing direction more than the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd govt – FGO closing the gap menacingly by scraping past Balls Heads (probably cleaned the keel stub….) and hanging on well. The tallships threatened and conquered, Huey was all over the place like a rabid dog, and we finally cleared the bridge and headed up past Fort Denison to port, but again had to tack twice to clear it after seeming to be well over the layline off Farm Cove – again FGO takes time out of us. Off to Bradleys when it was a nightmare to choose what kite to set on the way back.
So for the kite - let’s make a plan which is not based on trial and terror - the breeze looks like it is finally going more east than south, and also dropping – got around Bradleys and in to TB lazily then out again, just made the danger reef mark but not Bradleys itself had to tack out 50m see the tracker, then stone the lizards the breeze goes south and pipes in – not cricket Huey, not happy…….. – from being all set for a nice port pole kite set broad reach sleigh ride home we end up 2 sail reaching to the Fort hotly pursued by FGO who had cunningly changed up to no1 genoa for the course home. At the Fort we got the flat ex J24 blue kite up which proved the correct choice overall but was too much when shy in the river – even with festive season crew extra weight on the rail. As per the tracker plot we just made Kirribilli with some bullets out of FarmC, it was a bit easier to BallsH but some moments, nearly ran up onto Clarkes Pt with a few kite eases surely useful entries into the years “blow out your kite” competition, across Woolwich it was as tight as a politicians wallet………..then the wind funnelling down between Cockatoo and Spectacle created apoplexy on the foredeck frontier land and the fantasy land cockpit lads were most politely requested to trip the halyard. Phew, let’s get around pulpit with the mast still in the boat then try for another conscious plan with a better than 50% chance of working. All the while FGO would not go away, and gained when the course was too shy for the kite. AFB, WFs and XWP were coming home strongly with top sailing also – this was going to be one close hcap race.
The first tallship comes through just before BallsH on the return, 2 sail reaching totally relaxed like it was aSunday picnic sail, probably preparing the 5th course and ports by then – was asked “where’s the kite…” – answer “in the bag and you’d be going faster if your’s was too…” Cripes won’t try that sledge again, what were we thinking, let’s get back to getting around BallsH without landing, great idea. The 2nd tallship comes through after Pulpit, with a superb effort holding the kite all the way in fact to the very finish – top shelf sailing / steering / kite trimming – maybe also assisted with the extra festive season crew weight?
So we kite hoisted again down the Drummoyne channel square running at very good speed to the corner, rounded it and shy kited for a bit then dropped it to get to Searles unscathed – hoisted again and finished. FGO came in well with no1 genoa reaching and poled out as needed, also AFB sliding past Searles nicely with the kite, then WFs in total control past Five Dock Bay and then XWP who set a kite and were unfortunately assaulted by one of the many mongrel gusts of the day and had to trip the halyard but still finished strongly.
That was a top sail by all Div3 boats - with the closest results yet?
On scratch it was RBO over FGO, then the fast finishing AFB, Windfalls and XWP.
The hcap margin was very tight as expected – 35secs between the first 3 with RBO just winning then FGO in 2nd and WFs 3rd. For the series (and 3 totally enjoyable sails to Taylors Bay despite Goat Island!!) it was RBO, FGO, AFB.