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, July 28, 2012

Winter Pointscore Race 9

Ducked out to RW late Friday arvo and messed about fixing a few things that I had been putting off. The traveller controls and mainsheet routing being the two most important things. A couple of shackles were bent from the recent rough passages RW has undertaken both offshore in 45 knots and inshore up to 34 knots. All is now sorted and she is back ready to race.

Saturday was beautiful and sunny, however the breeze was gusty with half metre swells for the dinghy ride to Rogue Wave. Forecast winds WSW 20-30 knots scared many off the water. All my crew were MIA today so it was a good opportunity to brush up on my solo skills in a stiff breeze. Speaking of was blowing a good 25 knot westerly, so a single reefed main and a double reefed genoa was the order of the day. Had plenty of time to sort out the best settings and did a couple of runs at the line to find the best spot at the fastest speed. Only five boats braved the crappy conditions which was a little disappointing. Our rivals Exalte (5 crew) and Goodlife2 (3 crew) were out to play so it was going to be fun! The other two were Solanda (Hood 23) and Hanni Bay (Carter 33).

The course today was west to Garden Is, south to Mallabulla, around Middle Is to port, back to Garden Is, Mallabulla to the finish. RW started conservatively  at the back of the fleet, but at speed( the wind shadow moved a bit!). By the first mark we were all over the back of Goodlife2 and Exalte were only 50m ahead. After rounding, RW climbed to windward over Goodlife2 as Ross tried to squeeze me up hoping to luff me out of my passing manoeuvre. Fortunately RW was on song and we sped on past quickly opening a good gap on Goodlife2 as we made for the second mark.

Being shorthanded and with a new tactic under consideration, I opted not to pole the headsail. No spinnakers were flying as it was not worth the risk in the conditions. Exalte took off with their headsail poled out, while I tried my alternative tactic. Rather than follow Exalte, I sailed deep and then gybed hoping for a better run to The Narrows Light (TNL) where the course shapes east. No luck and Exalte opened up the lead whilst Goodlife2 made up ground with their poled out headsail. They just managed to sneak ahead of RW at the TNL. We were neck and neck again down past Middle Is until I cut across their stern to shake out the reefed main before the next beat. Took a tad longer than planned as I then needed to dodge a couple of fishing boats, so by the time I was back on the gas, Goodlife2 had opened up a lead of around 500m as we once again beat west.

With full sail, RW was in the groove in 15-20 knots hitting 8.4 knots at times with the tide. Once again in short time we quickly became a shadow on Goodlife2's stern. After rounding GI mark, RW's great windward capability outperformed the Beneteau and we sailed high and fast opening a big lead. On this beat we also made considerable ground on Exalte who were ahead, however as they rounded the Mallabulla mark I saw them set-up for a spinnaker run so things were about to get worse for RW.....the breeze had now dropped to 15 knots and I was in downwind trouble space!

As it was only a short run, I opted to pole out the headsail as I looked behind and watched Goodlife2 hoist their small asymmetrical. RW managed to keep good speed and actually made ground, so I will definitely be poling out the genoa in future. Even though Exalte had their spinnaker flying, we had maintained the gap. RW held off Goodlife2 in the final reach to the finish to be 2nd over the line and 4th on handicap. Fantastic day of racing and at times only 2-3 m apart.........shame there were so few yachts racing. Overall in the Winter Pointscore Series we are certainly holding our own and today's result will certainly keep us in the hunt.

Results for race 9 were
1st: Solanda (Hood 23)
2nd: Hannini Bay (Carter 33)
3rd: Goodlife2 (Beneteau 39)
4th Rogue Wave
5th Exalte (X-332)

Monday, July 23, 2012

FORGACS DEFENCE Inner Spring Regatta 07-09 Sep 12

I think its time for Rogue Wave and her dedicated crew to step up a gear and have a crack at their first IRC event.........the Forgacs Defence Inner Spring Regatta to be held off Newcastle over the weekend 07-09 Sep 12.  I would also anticipate some good PR in the RAAF News showing the RAAF Base Williamtown personnel supporting the event....all great exposure to assist in our goals of competing in the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour (Jan 2013) and the Rolex Sydney to Hobart (Dec 2013).

There will also be the opportunity to sail down to Newcastle on either the 02 or 07 of Sep and back to the Bay either the 10 or 14 Sep.......perfect time for some whale spotting.

RW rates very well and since we have a yacht that is not known or raced in Australia, crewed by a pack of unknowns doing who knows all sounds like a Masterchef recipe for a winning team!!! Or.....we can just be a happy bunch of sailors rounding some marks enjoying a beer and each others company!

The courses run offshore from Newcastle round existing navigation marks and a few buoys laid by the race committee. Three (3) offshore races are scheduled for Saturday and one passage race of around 30M for Sunday. Apart from the other yachts.......the only other obstacles are the wind, tide, swell and current!

I am looking for more keen hands to crew on both Saturday and Sunday so have posted several new crew recruiting posters at the Base Gym, Frontline and each Mess; so hopefully this will generate interest from some reliable, fit and healthy people with time to spare. Crew costs will be minimal.

More information on the regatta can be found on the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) website and the link to the Notice of Race if your keen let me know.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Winter Pointscore Race 8

The forecast was a tad ominous....a 25-30 knot southerly with showers so no spinnakers were required for this race!
I was glad to see I hadn't completely traumatised Ruth in her first offshore race last week when we experienced gooseneck failure at 25 knots. My dedicated crew returned yet again for more ... racing this week.
I repaired the gooseneck with a longer bolt that is welded to the reefing horns, secured with a locknut and split pin making it good for another 30 years.

RW headed over to the starting area under reefed main with Ruth on the helm. About 11 yachts milled around the start line in the gusty weather. Being a southerly, we  positioned ourselves mid-line so as not to be in the lee of Soldiers Point at the start but high enough to windward so we could lay the first mark without pinching. With just a #1 reefed main we could easily hit 6.5 knots, so we didn't unfurl the headsail to a #3 headsail until about 30 secs before the start.  Once racing we quickly picked up several places to be 5th shortly after clearing the line for the beat to the first mark at Salamander. Anneliese (Northshore 33), Exalte (X-332), Goodlife2 (Beneteau 39) and Thief of Time (S80) led the way, however we were to windward with good balance and speed. Once RW was in the groove we switched positions with Kev back on the helm and Ruth providing the muscle!

By the first mark we had picked off Goodlife2 and Thief of Time and Exalte had knocked off Anneliese, and we were now all over her like a rash. Rounding the mark in 3rd we unfurled all the genoa and goosewinged the sails in the blustery 20-25 winds. Constantly touching 7-7.2 knots we maintained the gap to just a few metres. The crew of Anneliese were looking nervously over their shoulder as they worked hard to stay in front of an intimidating RW. With more crew onboard, they like Exalte had poled out the jib to keep it full. One lucky crew had been 'volunteered' as pole ballast....Ruth kindly informed me she had no desire to undertake that position (see pic)!! I had intended to run the pole (with downhaul), but with a building, gusty breeze I opted to keep it simple as there were only the two of us. Approaching the second mark we ducked behind and to windward of Anneliese to setup for the port rounding. They maintained course as we sailed deeper and then gybed. With the headsail once again furled to a #3, Ruth trimmed hard for the new beat. We started our approach and hardened up with a wide entry to the mark at speed, with the plan to exit close and pop out to windward of Anneliese and overtake her as they would need to exit wide.

Well we didn't need to worry......unfortunately Anneliese took themselves out with a beautiful round-up broach right in front of us leaving just enough room for RW to speed on past.....wish I had the camera out for that one as I had a great view of her keel as she laid over on her ear! This not only allowed us to make great distance on them, but by the time they had sorted themselves out Goodlife2 had also slipped past! So now we were second and chasing down Exalte to windward.

Ruth was delighted with the 'fresh' breeze evidenced by the grin on her dial....slanderous comments about her being the 'wind jinx' can no longer be accepted! Having opted out of the upper body session at the gym this morning, Ruth was getting a great workout trimming both the main and headsail. I'm sure Ruth will agree it will be great to get Daz back for that extra horsepower!

The chase on Exalte was a good one for the remainder of the race, however we could not match the speed of the lighter yacht. Exhalte is about 900mm shorter than RW however our waterline lengths are the same (same hull speed). The X-332 is 2 tonnes lighter than a Sigma 36 so we really need to get it all together to beat her. We eventually finished only several minutes behind her to take 2nd over the line and 5th on handicap. More importantly on handicap they came ninth so I was again very happy with our consistent performance. Top speed for the day 8.3 knots with a pleasant 34 knots max wind speed!

We are currently running 4th in the Winter Pointscore series and Saturdays effort may see RW again tnear the lead as all our rivals finished behind us. In Daz's absence Ruth has really stepped up to the plate and getting a handle on the boat and racing.  I have great confidence in my two crew and once Daz is back on board RW will really be humming!

Handicap results for Race 8:
1st: Hanini Bay (Carter Passage 33)
2nd: Solanda (Santana 30)
3rd: Somerset of Oz (Hanse 342)
5th: Rogue Wave

Monday, July 16, 2012

Swings, roundabouts and goosenecks

RW entered the second of the Offshore Iceberg races last Saturday with Ruth on the helm and Kev in the pit. The forecast looked favourable with a WNW 10-15 inshore and 15-20 offshore breeze. What we experienced was 5-10 W inshore and 10-25 SW offshore! We started near the back of the fleet for the spinnaker start as we stepped through the first hoist of the new  Asymmetric Power Cruiser (APC) Spinnaker fitted with ATN Sock and flying off the spinnaker pole. By the time I finished setting up we had slipped back, but we still managed to keep our nose abreast with Escapade (Nolex 30) and ahead of Goodlife2 (Beneteau 39). The APC looked flash with her black on blue stripes and was certainly easy on the eye compared to the brighter colours.

The run down the bay saw Ruth concentrating hard to maintain course in the deep running conditions as skip bounced around the deck like a 10 year old on raspberry cordial......ok I like to think I moved that quick!  The APC is a 1.5oz cloth and in the light air tended to collapse. As we made our way down toward the heads we gybed toward Nelson Bay. Goodlife2 slipped by and we dropped in directly behind her. Using our APC to block the breeze in Goodlife2 's spinnaker it quickly collapsed and we sailed on by....great slam dunk by the rookie helm!

After checking in with Port Stephens Marine Rescue, we cleared the heads and came up onto the breeze holding around 130 deg, hitting right on our VPP target speed of 7.2 knots. Another gybe and we started our reach north in beautiful conditions, all the while I was experimenting with  different pole heights, positions and tack lengths for the new APC. Gybing with the sock is safer as there is little chance of snagging or ripping, however is a tad slower until I get the technique down pat.

As Ruth headed RW further onto the wind we found she could hold the APC to 50 deg with tack down to the deck. Now came the task of dousing whilst on the wind. We flew the #2 but it didn't provide any blanketing effect really, so I hauled down the sock on the outside of the #2,  Ruth quickly belayed the halyard and I stowed the APC below via the main hatch. The better scenario will be to drop it straight down the forward hatch.  All the while the breeze intensified quickly rising to 20 knots then 25 knots. We started to luff up and I quickly whipped in the mainsail  #1 reef. As I tensioned the main halyard the gooseneck  reefing hook bolt pulled out leaving only 20mm of bolt holding the boom to the gooseneck! We quickly dropped the main and boom to the deck and secured the gooseneck bolt before we damaged the sail or boom or ourselves.

The breeze had increased rapidly as the front moved through gusting 25 knots, so it was motor on, headsail out and beer in hand as Ruth headed RW back home. Unfortunately this was to be our first (hopefully last) DNF. As they say, swings and it was RW's turn.

Besides the breakage, it was a great day on the water and Ruth did an excellent job helming from levaing the mooring, racing all day and back onto the mooring. All the time maintaining her concentration despite never having sailed offshore in her life!

So repairs are underway with a new bolt to be welded to the reefing horns and then RW is back for more next week.........and I think I will get the new Symmetrical out of the bag.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Winter Pointscore Race 7

RW missed Race 6 due to an onboard plague of the dreaded Man-Flu that took out the crew.

Race 6 results were:
1st: Kindred Spirit (Hood 25)
2nd: Nelson J (J24)
3rd: Exalte (X-332)
Race 7 this week saw Jenno and Tess join Kev and Ruth on RW for their first ever race. Who would have thought after 30 years I still get the same kick out of teaching interested crew about nautical stuff as I did on day one!

A nice steady 5-10 knot breeze made for a congested start with some narrow misses as boats fought to stay close to the line without being pushed back by the ebb tide. RW made a reasonable start to windward however we soon found the air behind the big Champagne on Ice (Beneteau 46) shaken and stirred! We tacked away into clean air to climb to windward, once again gaining ground quickly using the Narrows Reef for relief form the tide. We pointed high and kept good speed all the way to the first mark which we rounded in 4th. The beat to second mark was a beautiful sail as the sun finally managed to show itself and we distanced ourselves from the pack behind. By the 2nd mark we had gained ground on the big Beneteau but unfortunately we lost him downwind as his sail area far outweighed our own. I chose to only fly the old Assy and not our new spinnakers until the crew is confident to hoist, gybe and douse without mishap. I think next week the new black and blue spinnakers will fly in anger!

Whilst Daz is off sunning himself in Hawaii with the Hoff,  Ruth stepped up into the foredecky role and gun kite trimmer and did a great job. Growing crew confidence to undertake all crew positions is important to me as it eases my workload and allows me to concentrate on boat speed and tactics.  Happy to say I am thrilled with the dedication, performance and potential of Daz and Ruth.
The breeze once again faded away and the race was shortened. RW crossed the line in 4th behind Knot Working (Etchells), Exalte (X-332) and then Champagne on Ice. As we doused sail a storm front came through strengthening the breeze sufficiently to allow Geoff and Kerry on Kindred Spirit to gain valuable seconds.....97 seconds to be leapfrog them into 2nd place. The handicapper also liked their performance so much he slugged their handicap for the next race!! Down below in the cosy cabin we had a well deserved crew beer in lieu of a few bevies at the clubhouse.

Results were consistent even with two new crew so I am very pleased with the result. We managed to keep Exalte, Annilese and Goodlife2 behind us on handicap. We are now 4th in the series with only 5 points seperating the top four yachts....interesting times yet to be had.

Race 7 results were:
1st: Knot Working (Etchells)
2nd: Kindred Spirits (Hood 25)
3rd: Champagne on Ice (Beneteau 46)
4th: Rogue Wave (Sigma 36)

Rogue Wave sailing in 45 knots

Here is a short clip of RW sailing offshore from Newcastle to Port Stephens in a gusty 35-45 knot SW winter breeze under a double reefed main. Exciting stuff and what a great boat!