Next Sail: 03 Mar Port Stephens to New Plymouth NZ

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Next Race:
2018 Solo Tasman Challenge 01 Apr 2018
Start: 1300h Port Taranaki New Plymouth NZ
Finish: circa 11 April 2018 - Mooloolaba QLD

Saturday, May 26, 2012

IRC/ORCi stability, weighing and measure

RW has been in Newcastle Yacht Club marina for the week so she could be measured and weighed for IRC and ORCi. John the measurer fronted early on the 24th armed with his tools of the trade. No laptop or high tech gear as the forecast was for rain so he used his tried and trusted manual manometer for the stability test. The test involves inclining the yacht one degree by placing water weights at the end of two spinnaker poles rigged athwartships at amidships. Even the specific gravity of the marina was tested to ensure the salinity was normal. Reason being if the basin has a low salinity due to a lot of rain, then my freeboard would be lower thereby impacting on the data set used to calculate the hull stability index.
After the stability test, the hull and rigging where measured. Daz dropped in around midday so we could get all the lifting slings in place ready for the crane lift at 1230h............we were ready, damn 80T crane was late and then there was a lot of faffing about getting the crane rig setup. A second truck arrived with more weights and I could see the zeros getting tacked onto the bill. Not exactly an organised crew. Once I was happy the crane block wasn't going to take out my masthead gear we lifted in no time flat. John took a few shaft and prop measurements and then back in the water. We now needed to weigh all the lifting gear and deduct that from the total lifted weight......and the final figure was 6253kg for ORCi and 6201 kg for IRC (TBC).

The sail back today was a blast....I mean a BLAST....and most of it was a beam or broad reach. Daz joined me as crew for some extreme sailing as he wanted some offshore footage.....well RW certainly delivered!
We departed NCYC around 0800h with double reefed main and a rag of headsail up until 28-30 knots. RW was overpowered and would round up every now and then so the headsail was quickly dispatched. Really could have used my storm sails today as it was a great day for both the jib and trisail.  The main with double reef (only has 2) was flat as a breadboard. The seas were very short and confused which made for challenging sailing. We surfed along at max speeds in the 10-11s and averaged 7-8 knots. We were a tad over-canvassed on the main so the boom spent all its time sheeted out until just clear of the shrouds. Rounding Port Stephens light at 1200h I knew we would have a difficult slog up the bay. The wind funnelling down the valley hits Tomaree Head and does all sorts of weird things. The surf was up and flowing out of the bay......sort of like a reverse bar entry! Sure enough the wind had whipped up a good 2m swell inside the bay so we made for the protection of Nelson Bay Marina and slotted RW into a berth for the night. Always a worrying time when the wind is howling over 30 knots as you enter a marina filled with million dollar plastics boats! By 1400 h we were safely tied up and drying out. What a great injuries or breakages!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Race 3....3rd in a strong finish

Once again the BOM forecast was looking very ordinary. With a forecast breeze of variable below 10 knots it was going to be a long day.  Fortunately, in reality we did have a light but steady WNW breeze for this weeks Sternchaser. Ross on Goodlife2 took the starters prize for best start. The first yachts started around 1250 h whislt our start time was to be 1322 h. We did a practice run at the start line that paid off when it came to our turn, as RW hit the line just about smack on time. We managed to gain several positions to windward despite the light airs but just couldn't hold off  Craig's  X332 Exhalte with its light weather sails. Thankfully to our relief, course D4 was shortened as the breeze faded away, only returning on the final turn for home.

After rounding Garden Island mark we headed for the northern side of Middle Island. We could clearly see the mirrored water from the wind shadow and after my previous park in the same spot a couple of weeks ago, we opted for a wider track. As we closed Middle Island running under Asymmetrical, we watched as half a dozen front runners come to a screaming halt as they strayed in close to the island. Staying wide allowed us to fly the kite longer as the breeze veered around the eastern end of the island and we were able to come up onto a tight reach before dropping the kite and storming home in 3rd place....our first podium!

Daz, Dani and Ruth worked extremely well in the light and testing conditions. Thankfully a pod of dolphins helped distract them from the lack of breeze, dispelling any thoughts of mutiny! Once I provide the crew with some new tools to keep them busy and make us competitive in light and medium air, I have an inkling we may see RW hanging around the podium for a little while longer.

Sailing down to Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club in the morning so hopefully there will at least be some early morning land breeze. No racing next Sat 26 May at this stage, but keep an eye on the blog for updates. The pics were taken by my beautiful daughter Danielle from Soldiers Point.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Race 2 - Winter Pointscore 12 May

What a great day to be out on the water! Clear skies 12-18 knots SW breeze and flat water, it just doesn't get much better for sailing.
Twenty two yachts lined up for the start at Soldiers Point. Course C (11.7M) took us to Mallabulla, Middle Island, Wedding Cake and back to the start/finish line.  Unfortunately we hit the line a tad early however we managed to sneak in a quick 360 and get back to the line just after the gun seeing us placed about mid fleet. We had a great beat to windward and passed several yachts of all shapes and sizes. By the time we hit the first windward mark we were in 4th position. RW was performing beautifully following her recent Jenny Craig makeover. With only Daz and myself on board my plan was to goosewing downwind, but with the breeze now swinging between dead astern to abeam, plan A went out the window. So Daz prepped the Assy Spin as I nervously watched the hoards descend on us from behind. After a clean spinnaker set we managed to hold our lead over the Nelson J (J24 same handicap) until the turning mark where we gave them room inside to avoid the rocks. A fantastic spinnaker takedown by Daz saw a nice dry spinnaker wrestled into the cabin and we were quickly back up to speed on a tight reach toward Middle Island.

We soon overtook Nelson J however the whole time we also had the big Beneteau breathing down our necks. We managed to hold him out until the Wedding Cake where he slipped inside and rounded in front of us. The beat back to the finish line saw the big fella pull away slightly but RW managed to claw back some ground near the line. Overall on scratch we finished a very credible 5th from 22 starters behind the big Trimaran, an Etchell, X-332 and the big Beneteau Cyclades Goodlife 2. So how did we do on handicap......5th as well! Click here to see the race results.

I am quietly confident with a one or two more crew and the right spinnaker, we will work our way into the winners circle. So far we have an 8th and 5th place so we can only long as the handicapper leaves us alone! After two races Rogue Racing is second on the leader board.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Racing Sat 12 May

Over the past few weeks RW sought some assistance from Jenny Craig. After following a strict program of diet and exercise, RW has shed more than 300 kgs.......thanks Jenny!

Racing Sat will be an inshore pointscore race starting at 1300h. If a westerly we sail toward Tanilba so a good chance to see some of the Bay. Forecast is in our favour .....but bring a jacket! Looking forward to creeping up the leader board.

Winds .
Southwesterly 15 to 20 knots.
The chance of thunderstorms in the morning.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Race 1 - Winter Pointscore Sat 05 May solo

What a bleak and miserable start to the weekend. From on-board RW at Salamander I couldn't even see Soldiers Point as it was clouded in mist and rain.....perfect sailing weather.  Fully kitted up like I was about to cross the Tasman, we headed off into the rain and cold. The breeze was 15 knots from the souwest so we raced Course C2 (13M), west from Soldiers Point to Mallabulla, Middle Is, Mallabulla and finish.  Actually the only time I have been west of Soldiers Point is to haulout at Oyster Cove, I have never even bothered to shadow the fleet in that direction because its so damn shallow, averaging 2-4m for the most part. My depth sounder shallow alarm kept squawking its head off!

Without my gun crew on-board I wisely positioned RW for a conservative start at the back of the fleet on an ebbing tide under full main. We scooted along at around 5 knots under main alone in 15-20 SW and once clear of the start unfurled the genoa to a #3. Picked off a couple of backmarkers on the first windward leg and a another couple after rounding Mallabulla. No spinnaker today so we goosewinged the full genoa and we lost a couple of places to the spinnaker fliers. After rounding the Cardinal Mark west of Middle Is, RW rocketed along on a beautiful reach topping 8.4 knots and we reeled in the main pack quite quickly. This is where I tactically blundered and was passed by two boats . With my high boatspeed and with the tide around slack water, I figured I could use RWs momentum and weight to clip the edge of the dead water I could clearly see in the lee of Middle Island.......well, I missed by that much! I watched yachts behind alter course as they saw me slow, then they sailed on by. As soon as we cleared the island and back on the breeze we gained  ground.

RW was perfectly balanced as we headed back toward Mallabulla. The wind strengthened as the front moved through with the odd 25 knot gust. I managed to point high and lay the mark, once again passing the two yachts. Unfortunately not using a spinnaker meant giving up the places yet again and we finally scooted over the line for an 8th on H/Cap. I think I must have done about 40 laps of the deck and my old winch muscles had a great workout! Only had a couple of snags during tacks so will address those in the coming weeks. Great day even with the early rain and the sun did eventually pop its head out long enough for me to shed the Arctic gear and crack a beer on the downwind run

Next race is Sat 12 May, followed by an offshore sail to Newcastle on the 20 May.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Racing on the Bay

Sat 28 Apr saw a fleet of around 18 starters for the final and long 17M race of the PSYC Summer Pointscore Series. Only one point seperated the first three yachts on the ladder, so any one of these could take out the series win.
Nelson J (J24) was hot favourite and headed up the leader board. We ran neck and neck with Nelson J for a while and then broke away by quite a stretch, only to lose out as the much lighter boat sped past under spinnaker. I crewed a J24 on steroids back in the 80's called Fat was a J24 with wings so the crew weight could get even further out to windward and the owner even pulled the engine out to reduce weight! We had the log bottoming out and the boat humming at 16 knots off the Gold Coast one weekend...awesome fun!

RW had regular crew Daz onboard and newcomer Bear, an ex-Etchell sailor moving into a slightly more comfortable and drier yacht complete with cocktail cabinet.  RW loitered around the gaggle of start line with a little more intimidation than the previous weeks race.The extra hands certainly reduce the stress around the crowds. The breeze was flukey at 5-10knots making the going a little slow. Luckily the ebb tide was in our favour. We managed to get away mid line and had some good air. We soon accelerated through the fleet and at one stage held 4th on the way to the Wedding Cake mark. We lost some ground and a few places downwind under our dodgy Asymmetrical so we ditched it and returned to whites. By this time we had been passed by a couple of yachts so the crew had their work cut out extracting all the speed we could from our sleek 7500kg missile in very light air!

RW slowly clawed back a lot of ground to windward only to have the race shortened in a fading breeze. We ended the day with a very credible 7th across the line, 5th on handicap and an honourable mention at the presentations at the club after the race. Light air sailing is far more difficult than med air as you really do need to concentrate to get as much boat speed as possible, so a fantastic effort by Daz and Bear. Some good tips from my sailmaker John were also put to good use.

My crew will be taking a break from me and from grinding this weekend, so I will be out getting in some practice flying RW solo again. do I hoist that main..........?

On Sun 20 May I will be taking RW offshore to Newcastle for the week for her IRC/ORCi weigh-in, stability test and hull/sail measure. This is needed to produce my IRC Certificate and ORCi Certificate so I have the same race handicap anywhere in the world.
Sailing home again on either 26/27 May 12.