The forecast, depending where you sourced from, was either 5-10knots building then fading or 15-20knots fading late. The rigging lawn was experiencing 20knots all the weather observation points were inconsistent; 20 at spitfire, 14 at inner beacon, 25 at bananas, the morning coaches had all seen 30+ knots and rescued their learner fleets off the rocks. The only consistency was the direction, a magnetic 000 northerly.
This direction is pretty much parallel with the incoming tide, a rare occurrence when racing inside waterloo bay. And the tide played havoc.
Race one started on a course set at 356 degrees in about 18 knots, with enough rain to hide the wind ripples. It looked lighter, but the boat speed suggested there was plenty of breeze. After getting away from the fleet very quickly, the breeze began to fade. With the top mark set close to the Norman J Wright (MBE) Memorial Beacon we had no option but to be in the tidal flow. What should have been 14knots felt like 11 knots and the third rig was struggling. One on the wire with crew on the front deck was the programme. Around the top mark and with the tide now working for us the downwind was lovely, two on the wire fast apparent wind sailing. The wind direction had obviously swung to the west. Rounded the bottom mark and the wind had dropped more and was now about 8 knots. The direction was not enough to get the foils up the tide so we head off on port tack to the shore of Green Island. Once it looked like we were about to run aground on the sand spit, we tacked and sailed past the Norman J Wright (MBE) Memorial Beacon and over to the windward mark. By this stage we were still one on the wire, just. Around the top mark up goes the kite and the wind drops and we are both on the gunnel. Now the tide was dragging the boat away from the wind and we could not power-up the kite, even though it was setting. And so we drifted across the line.
Race management were sharp and the next race countdown was underway within in 10minutes of the previous finish. With two minutes to go, port tack at the pin was on the cards. With only five boats on the line, management let us go. All at the pin end, all on port, almost bumping gunwales. We obviously had weed on the centreboard as hull speed was way down, so a few deliberate bad tacks to clear the weed and the boat felt better; but not great. Less than 10knots wind, against tide, 3rd rig. We had a conference on the foredeck of the boat and decided that we would round the top mark, pop the kite, sail past the committee boat and advise that we were drifting home. But the downwind felt good… like the wind was building… alright then we will do the final lap just in case there is a good ride to the finish. Round the bottom mark, don’t tell the committee boat. Two wire’ to the top mark, breeze is still a little patchy with not enough consistency to warrant pulling on the cunningham, although when the breeze was on there was a lot of main sheet eased. Round the top mark and ka-bamm, in came the wind 20 knots, flat water, fast. Two gybes and we were through the finish line while airborne. A quick conference at the back of the outrigger and it was decided that we keep sending her. Skip, fly, skip, fly, skip, fly, skip; count them only four and it took about 8 minutes to get from the top mark to the Aquatic paradise leads. Around 2.5 naut-mile if a straight line. Dropped the kite pointed up and sailed through all the southern course fleets. We made it to the outside end of Jock Robbie Leads marking the entrance to Manly Harbour and then the wind swung to the west and died.
Gee whizz the rum was good once we made it ashore. All the forecasts had been somewhat accurate at some stage.
See you all on the start line next week.