Pre-Race Day 11 – Report

Well today was interesting. It was 35C at 10AM and never got any cooler until a southerly ‘buster’ came through. The nav boys knew it was coming and Brad checked the airport online and they had 30 knots from the south. We were barely moving at 5 knots under sunny skies at the time. But you could see it moving across the inner Harbour towards us. Comanche was practising nearby with a code zero and got it furled just before the breeze hit… would have been a mess. We headed out the Heads with a single reef and the number three, then did a tack change to a smaller number four when we noticed the square top main gaff carbon batten has snapped, likely on the lazy runner. It was blowing 25-30 solid at the time. By time we got back to the dock a series of thunderheads was rolling through with solid rain squall lines attached and major cloud to ground lightning, it was wild. We were a little skittish as Wild Oats 11!had been struck by lightning a few days ago when the last squall lines came through. All their electronics got fried. We decided to hold off on repairing and heading back out.
A quick debrief then a beer then back to the main house with Napoli pizza in the plan. The ladies are off hiking in the Blue Mountains so just the boys for tonight.

From yesterday’s practice. Sam the man keeping us flying!

Sandy setting the trim on the staysail yesterday!
Kent, Jay and Sammy hiking down the back of the bus!
A damp CYCA deck looking west towards the slips.
The Beast… Tame the Beast but respect the Beast!
Triple Lindy brain trust advising Brad on why his prod is drooping a little… These guys would know 😃

A taste of speed…

We spent the morning working through the jobs list, which never seems to get any shorter. Laid out on the the spinnakers in the park to put “V”s on with sticky tape (the V’s” help to see the shape of the sail at its leading edge) – working in the park under shade trees was much more comfortable than on the boat in the heat.

After lashing up the bowsprit, which is no longer drooping, off we set for another training sail. The crew work is slowly coming together – tacking is getting better now, and we started learning the reefing system, which is quite complicated. We’l practice that one every day now until we get it. At the mast it’s quite difficult to work, as there’s nothing to lean on, so until we work out how to secure yourself, jobs are done one handed, which is awkward. Next was trying out sail combinations so the brains trust at the back get a bunch of performance data to analyse in the evening – this helps with selecting the optimum sail combination for the conditions.

We sailed out of the harbour and past the “Heads” and into the blue pacific. Wind of 25 knots meant we had a decent swell, and plenty of water on the decks, spray everywhere. The noise on the boat, which is basically a carbon fibre drum, is loud. Plenty of creaks and groans as tons of pressure is added or removed as sails are trimmed; winches howling away; and the wind and water noise. You car hear the person next to you if they shout, but after that it’s a bit difficult.

As the afternoon drew to a close, we pointed back at the now distant harbour and hoisted the second smallest spinnaker. The boat accelerated and we flew back at up to 21 knots, big grins everywhere, all the crew back at the stern of the 50ft boat to keep the bow up as we overtook waves. Down the harbour at this speed, the shore quickly approached – gybes needed to be prompt, and they were. Sails were all taken down off the Opera House, then back to the yacht club for a debrief, some more jobs, and then at 6:30 time for a quick swim to ease muscles, before a fabulous dinner at Chiswicks.

We’ve now had a taste of the speed of this boat, but just a taste…