CANT’ WAIT FOR SAILING SEASON!!
Having not raced the boat, in fact not even been sailing since the Nationals in May, we are really looking forward to the commencement of the new sailing season. There are 28 races scheduled combining – 10 Championship Races, 10 Short Course Races, and 8 Pointscore races. In addition there are 17 twilight races, a couple of night cruises, coastal cruises and a half dozen away regattas to choose from! All starting on Sunday 11 September.
RACE 1 – Pointscore 1
11 SEP 16
Good start to the season, 42 boats on the water, with light winds varying between 0 and 14 knots. First hit-out for the crew, with all of us a bit rusty! The outboard is still not perfect but much better than it has been.There were a few spinnaker moments – however nobody was hurt and nothing on the boat broken. All in all pretty happy with boat speed on the upwind legs, however much more work is needed downwind and on the starts which is where we will make the big gains. We need to rethink downwind sail handling and I think that we will switch from cabin drops/launch in favour of launch/retrieve the spinnaker from a bag on the bow. This should will be quicker for launching, but will be slower on the retrieval and will keep the bowman up forward for longer. The downwind legs were also steered too close to the wind direction, almost dead down wind – slow and low is not our friend! Next time we will try tacking downwind more aggressively aiming for 140° – the extra distance travelled should be made up by higher boat speed.
Sean (pit/mast man) was photographer today so is unfortunately missing from the photos!
RACE 2 – Championship 1
18 SEP 16
What can I say? Wet, windless and miserable. We were on the water an hour before the race to work out the new genoa and practice spinnaker drills. Overcast, temperature about 12 degrees and light variable winds about 5 knots NW thru E. Then it started to rain, the wind dropped to nothing and the temperature dropped another 2 degrees. We floated around doing about ½ a knot for half an hour before the race committee abandoned the race. It was good to see Div 3 (Trailerable Yachts) the most represented class with a half dozen boats on the water hoping for a start (Helms Deep, Blue & Me, Rosie Red, Once Bitten and Big Deal). Back to Club for hot chocolate / coffees. Everything wet – us, the boat and every sail!
RACE 3 & 4- Short Course 1 & 2
25 SEP 16
For these two short course races the skipper was overseas with his family and Bill (genoa/spinnaker trimmer) was also away, so Brendan (bow man) and Sean (mast / pit) stepped up to launch, race and retrieve the boat themselves. There was absolutely no trepidation by the skipper about this – and no he didn’t pay an exorbitant amount of money on global phone roaming and data so he could find out how they went!! Sean has kindly penned the following and as usual provided the pictures….
“With much trepidation the Quo Vadis back up crew was called up for Race 3 & 4 of the season. In kind weather the team set out with very specific instructions on Rules of the Road and sail shape. The back up team began Race 3 behind the pack. Making good speed into the wind Quo Vadis rounded the first mark in touch with the fleet. The downwind sailing under jib and mail sail was not as fast as the remainder of the fleet so Quo Vadis began to lose ground. Sailing through the 2nd and 3rd marks the crew found themselves in a race with the other back marker, a Farr 6000. This neck and neck sailing continued for the next five marks with Quo Vadis making best of the upwind and the Farr 6000 making up ground with its spinnaker on the downwind legs. In the end the Farr won the sailing finishing three minutes in front of Quo Vadis on the final downwind leg.
Race 4 was a slightly different story with Captain Brendan changing tact and “ sailing the boats rather than sailing the boat”. Starting slightly behind the good crews Captain B followed these gun crews to the first mark, making up some distance after a slightly late start. By the first mark Quo Vadis was well in touch with the fleet and rounding this mark with the trimaran, Tekoa. Like race 3 Quo vadis lost touch with the fleet downwind but the crew was happy with the downwind cruise under jib and main sail making 5 knots at times. Having learnt from the earlier race the team tacked strongly upwind making 6 knots regularly and sailing away from the Farr 6000. The Farr caught up a little during the downwind legs but not enough to head the Quo Vadis team. The crew’s strong sailing continued through to the finish with Quo Vadis crossing the line a few minutes ahead of the Farr 6000.
Either through relief or pride (the verdict is still out) the back up crew packed up the sails, dropped the motor and punted back to the wharf to recover Quo Vadis. With some haste to beat the coming rain the crew dragged Quo Vadis from the water and packed it up neatly for the day, ensuring not to bend the boat. With a straight boat packed away in the yard the crew checked in at the Club. In the club the race 3 results were posted with Quo Vadis finishing 12 from 12 for line honours but 10 from 12 on handicap. Not last was a pleasing result. Race 4 results were not posted when the crew left but there was some confidence the result might have been better given the boat finished 11 from 12. We now await the handicap results and the Captain’s approval of the back up crew’s efforts.”
Thanks to Brendan and Sean the boat was able to compete with the lads coming 10th and 11th. This avoided for us a thirty point penalty – which the other Noelex 25 received (15 for each race) for not competing.
RACE 5 – Pointscore 5 & Championship 1
9 OCT 16
The sailing committee decided to have Race 5 also count as the first championship race to make up for the race that was not run on 18 Sep due to a lack of wind. Willyweather and the Bureau of Meteorology both predicted winds at 2.pm of 14+ knots building to 20 knots. Well they were dead wrong – max mind was probably 8 knots and it eased throughout the race. The Race Officer set a long course, expecting the build, which ended up being long race. We discussed the merits of using the new genoa or sticking with a jib. The former is great in light winds but max’s out in 10 knots, while the latter points really well. We decided to set the sails for the current conditions – so up went the genoa. The bowman could always do a sail change underway on one of the downwind legs!
Yet again we were not in a stellar position for the start. We were upwind and with 9 minutes to the start were becalmed. A quick spinnaker hoist to get back, then into the mix. We couldn’t see the Division start flag so worked on the premise that Div 2 and Div 3 (us) were starting together. We were across mid fleet. Course A – triangle, sausage, triangle, triangle. Winds very light and from the northwest.
Our upwind legs improved as we got better at trimming the genoa and weight distribution in the boat. There was great crew communication – bowman calling relative performance versus the fleet and directing to the mark, genoa trimmer calling target speed for the upwind legs helping the helmsman stop the temptation to pinch up.
Downwind legs also improved – spinnaker gybes were good, as was the first spinnaker gybe we did with the genoa up. The light winds also gave us the opportunity to retrieve the pole first while leaving the kite up, allowing the boat to gybe around the bottom mark quickly, leaving the spinnaker up as long as possible.
The light winds were frustrating however it was a positive race. We just need to work out a way to stop Bill bleeding onto the boat!
Although it was one race, results were calculated for Pointscore – which adjusts time and ranking using a performance handicap system based on skipper and crew performance against the fleet, updated after each race; and Championship – which adjusts time and ranking based on a Class Based Handicap determined by the design and build of the boat. So Pointscore is like a golf handicap that changes based on your past performance while Championship assumes you are sailing your particular boat to its best performance and is a simple time x class rating calculation that allows for mixed fleet competition. More here if you are really interested!
How did we go? On Pointscore we came 7/13 and on Championship we came 11/13. Overall pretty happy with these results – I can see where we lost 5-7 minutes (at the start and with a few helming and sail handling errors) however we’re not a light wind boat and we were over 13 minutes faster than the other Noelex!
Looking forward to the start of twilight racing on Wed 19th Oct, and the return of Sean so we can get the complete crew back together.
RACE 6 – Championship 2
16 OCT 16
Postponed! Brendan, Bill and myself got down to the boat at 1200 to get her ready to sail – unfortunately Sean was away in SE Asia with work. There were lots of boats in the trailer park rigging up but few were moving down to the boat ramp due to very strong NW winds. The Bureau of Meterology forecast 25 – 30 knots (45 – 55 km/hr) from 1 pm, easing after 3 pm (the race starts at 2 pm). We rigged the boat with one reef, spinnaker and small self – tacking jib and headed down to the carpark where we used the time practicing shaking out and putting in the 1st reef and talking through how we would do the race.
By 2pm it was clear that the race was going to be postponed – both the Race Officer and the Duty Committee Member were concerned about putting 60 odd boats on the water in 8 different divisions (many youth sailors in dinghies) and safely managing the event. At 2.30 pm racing was postponed for the day – which will allow us to compete the race again at a later stage. The call by the RO did not please all the sailors – especially some of the dinghy guys however it was a good decision, when at 2.44pm the Club tower instruments recorded 25 knot constant with 33.9 knot gusts (almost 65 km/hr). The wind plot below tells the story – 20 knot ten minute wind average with big gusts! And the lull of 13.9 knots was soon replaced by 20-25 constant again.
Had the race started late it would’ve caused us a few problems – I had to be off the water no later than 4.15pm to get to the airport so that I could get a 5.45 pm flight to Brisbane and onto Townsville (2,500km away) for work. So the boat is away and we’re waiting for the next race!
RACE 7 – Woolahra Plate and Pointscore 7
23 OCT 16
Unusual race format with the combined running of the Woolahra Plate and Pointscore 7. The Woolahra plate format is reminiscent of the first races held on Lake Burley Griffin after the dam was built and the valley flooded. The early courses went around a number of marks in unusual locations with both port and starboard rounding. The course set for this race was trapezoid with four marks, each to be taken in different sequence and rounded in unusual directions, with three laps conducted. The first boat in each division (trailerable yachts, dinghies, sports boats and multi-hulls) is the winner of the Woolahra Plate. Participants then continue on for another two laps which determines the winner of the Pointscore 7 race. The other complicating factor is that all boats start at once, instead of in division groups, which meant we had 60 plus boats on the start line – from 8 metre sports boats down to 2.2 metre Optimist dinghies.
Unfortunately for once the weather forecasting was spot on – light winds below 5 knots predicted by both BOM and Willyweather. The maximum gust we recorded was 6 knots with the 10 minute average a lot less than that – and today we had a full crew of four!
Pre race we did some cross training of crew positions with bowman and pitt swapping. We made the decision to swap back to usual positions for the race – and we need to do more training sessions – we only have one bowman and need a spare!
With a much better start in the top ¼ of the fleet we made our way around the first lap in good order, however declining wind made us fight for gains on laps 2 and 3 – with the crew looking out for catspaws or puffs of wind that we could sail into and try to stay in as long as possible. At one stage we were on the up wind leg to Mark 1, with the boats in front of us close hauled sailing to windward while the boats at the bottom of the course, including us, heading the same direction had spinnakers up – the joys of lake sailing!
Overall it was a long race – almost three hours, however we were really pleased to learn that we came 2nd on Pointscore, which at the seven race mark puts us at 6/18 for the series to date.
RACE 8 – Championship 2 and Pointscore 8
6 NOV 16
Skipper was running late again – and arrived to a boat rigged and ready to be towed to the ramp! What a crew! It was a full complement again – Brendan, Sean, Bill and myself. The forecast was for winds 12+ knots, easing, so the decision was made to go with the jib and full main. In end we had a solid 15+ knots NW gusting well into the mid 20’s – which provided a great experience and was the strongest we have sailed with this crew. The race format was the standard triangle, sausage, triangle, triangle course.
Yet another average start saw us cross about 9th of 12 (I really have to fix this!!). By the end of the first upwind leg we had gained another four positions, which we were able to hold onto for the first lap. Lap 2 saw us gain on another boat, and then for the remainder of the race we swapped places a few times with Helms Deep (Castle 650). Of the four Castle 650s we stayed ahead of three. The first two laps saw us sail conservatively with no spinnaker although we did fly one for the final two downwind legs. Brendan and I are taking bets about whether this sail is going to survive the season!! It’s a bit thin in places – and when it blows I’m sure that it will look spectacular!
Overall it was a great race in relatively demanding conditions – one boat blew out its genoa, and two retired damaged. We were 4th across the line; and came 6th on Class Based Handicap (Championship); and 1st on Adjusted Handicap (Pointscore). As for series scores – after two Championship Races we are 8/17 and after eight Pointscore Races we are 3/19.
We were only 11 seconds behind Helms Deep – and there is certainly potential for us to gain at least 3-5 minutes in the race. We need to continue to work on our starts, downwind performance because this is where we can make up or lose big, and weight distribution on the boat.
Overall it was a great race and we are coming together well as a crew. And as Bill said “I like the windy days over the light ones!”
RACE 9 & 10 – Short Course 3 & 4
Yet again the Skipper was away for a race so Brendan and Sean gamely took the boat out. It is becoming a habit that I am away for each of the short course races! The following was written by Sean:
Despite some race planning the night before over a cheeky little curry, it was a tough day in the office – Quo Vadis’ cockpit. Under the trusted hands of skipper Brendan the crew set out with hopes of big things — not coming last. After a few quick pre race speed trials up wind and downwind, the crew headed back to the awkward start position. After some sharp early manoeuvring Quo Vadis got off in Race 9 in touch with the fleet. This did not last as long as we would have hoped but our pace was good upwind. Downwind was slow without the spinnaker but we made the best of a great genoa set in light downwind winds. This was status quo for the remainder of the race with all the ground achieved upwind lost going downwind. But you get that. We finished a quite a few minutes behind the fleet but with handicap we finished Race 9 a respectable 11 out of 13. Yay not last and helped recalibrate the boats handicap after some recent successes.Race 10 was a completely different story. After some clever manoeuvring at the start Quo Vadis did not break the start like several other vessels in the fleet. All started looking up as we only needed to finish to secure a 7th or 8th in line honours category as the others were disqualified. However Mother Nature progressively played her part in the race. Matt O helped where he could but we just did not have enough wind. Upwind got slower as the breeze fell away and downwind was near impossible. Skipper tried everything short of sending Gilligan over to tow the boat to buoy 3. In fact throwing Gilligan over would have been a welcome relief from the stifling still hot air. However in the end time and the absence of wind prevented the team from finishing. Even the Yacht Club race boats couldn’t wait for us as they packed up before we could get around the last two buoys. We were not the last yachts to concede defeat but unfortunately we had to concede defeat and miss out a good result. It would have been a well earned tactical result having watched the start boat and the gun skippers so that we did not breach the start.It was a therapeutic day. Although we did not secure a positive result in Race 10 we still had great day.
RACE 11 – Championship 3 & Pointscore 11
Well what a shocker. Predicted light winds were exactly as forecast with the wind shifting from the northwest through to the east. It’s the first race this season where the upwind mark has been placed between Commonwealth Ave Bridge and the club house, rather than at the foot of Black Mountain! If there was a hole for us to sail into today then I found it, including sailing into another boat (Laser – ran into him from behind while doing 0.5 of a knot – just couldn’t see him through the genoa and spinnaker – my bad!).
What really made matters worse was that the mast head wind indicator (windex) was broken and consistently pointed to rear of the boat irrespective of which way the wind was blowing. The best I can think of is that a bird decided to nest on it and has bent it. It made a difficult day sailing in difficult conditions incredibly frustrating as we couldn’t pick the wind direction.
Great effort by the crew but a day best put behind us! We crossed the finish line second last, just ahead of the Farr 6000, but even it beat us on class based handicap 😦
Current standing for the Championship series 7/19 and Pointscore 7/19.
RACE 12 – Championship 4 & Pointscore 12
Much better race this week. Light wind conditions to start but then a gradual build up to around 12-14 knots! Once of those difficult decisions – do you go with the jib in case it builds or go with the genoa and sail to the conditions at the start? We went with the former, however we were well and truly over powered heading upwind and rounded up a couple of times. The genoa is an excellent sail, however trying to tension it is really hard – seriously thinking of getting cockpit winches to help – they will also pay dividends for the spinnaker.
Speaking of spinnaker – foredeckie was blissfully unaware as we had a stella broach when the wind shifted and we could get the spinnaker released quick enough. Interesting how we went from a broad reach to dragging everything in the water very quickly!
We knew we had done well on handicap but we weren’t sure where we placed. 1st on handicap for pointscore and 6th for championship. Great effort by the crew – as always we need to do some work with spinnaker so we can get it up quicker, leave it up longer and get it down at the very last safe moment.
RACE 13 – Championship 5 & Pointscore 13
Well it finally happened! I broke one of the crew. Brendan and Sean were away this weekend, so it was just Bill and I. Light winds again so we rigged the boat for everything – genoa, spinnaker. Part way through rigging Bill sliced his finger open on the thin edge of the stainless steel wear pads – the adhesive backing had come loose in the summer heat and the corner had raised up for a pretty significant cut. After wiping the blood off the deck we went below to see if we could staunch his arterial bleed! Blood everywhere through the sink – and we discovered that the first aid kit had no steri-strips. So up to the Yacht Club to use their first aid box – no steri-strips either! Big absorbent pad and elastoplast – and it still kept bleeding! Very impressive.
After reviewing it 10 min later we made the decision that Bill shouldn’t race – every time he would go to use his hand it would end up bleeding again! So we rang Mrs Bill (who can be very scary!) to come collect him – she was far less sympathetic than I was!!
Bill and wife stayed behind to help me launch the boat – we quickly changed out the genoa for the self taking jib, and stowed the spinnaker, and away I went solo. All going well except for their being no wind, again. After loosing a lot a ground on the upwind leg, as soon as I rounded the mark and headed for Mark 2 I lashed the tiller and did a quick sail change – rigging genoa sheets, dropping jib, hanking on genoa and then away I went just in time to round Mark 2! Really fickle winds and the lead changed many times. In the end the wind, or lack of, got the better of the fleet with only 7 of the 15 boats finishing. So after all the blood spilled to get us on the water Quo Vadis was DNF (Did Not Finish). We were in good company with Billie, Pathfinder, Camelot, Helms Deep, Ramelau 2, Rosie Red and On a Mission.
Rankings now for the Championship 9th and Pointscore 6th. Interestingly the crew today didn’t talk back and were very well behaved!!
Spent a few hours after the race trying to get onto Bill to see how he was tracking – to find out that he went off to Christmas drinks and was feeling no pain!!
End of Season Review
Well I been very slack in not updating this page as we have progressed throughout the season. Firstly my thanks must go to the crew – Brendan, Sean and Bill for their stella work throughout the season – turning up in the good weather and the bad, and between them making sure that the boat was able to compete in each of the 27 races of the season, irrespective of whether the skipper was out of town or not! We’ve really developed as a crew and the boat is moving much faster than before. And were still having fun!
It was a nice surprise to find out that we ranked third in the Pointscore regatta – first was Once Bitten (Spider 22 – Rod/Trevor) on 49 points, second Helms Deep (Castle 650) on 60, and then ourselves on 62. And got a gong!
In the Championship regatta we ranked 9th – so we have plenty of room for improvement there. The aim next season is for a top 3 finish again in the Pointscore and a top 5 for Championship.
As usual we have progressively updated the boat since the season ended and have invested in keeping it looking and performing well. Invested – I will continue to use this term in spite of the crews’ resident tight arse insisting that no money spent on boat can be counted as an investment!
At the end of the season the boat was taken down to Boatworks in Melbourne to have the keel and rudder faired. The hull, with its multiple coats of rolled on high build epoxy has now been sanded smooth. Although it doesn’t look pretty it is a vast improvement on last year. The jury is out on if I will paint it or not. There is no reason other than cosmetic. Another alternative I am toying with is putting a hard “racing” antifoul on the bottom – which gives better protection when we take the boat cruising. The rudder was also reshaped, with new bushes made to make it stiffer and take out any lateral movement.
A new engine well plug has been manufactured with a better well seal, and the side aluminium brackets holding the engine up have been modified to prevent breaking the locking pins when the engine is raised/lowered. The jib has been converted to a 2:1 sheet setup which allows for much better control. A jib barber hauler has also been rigged. We have rigged the genoa for 2:1 sheeting as well – and although it does mean that there is a lot more sheet to handle, when we do need to tighten the sail it makes a world of difference for the trimmer. After a season of racing I am convinced that there is no need for cockpit combing winches – which saves money and leaves the cockpit less cluttered for cruising.
And of course we now have a new North spinnaker which we tried out for the first time at the Nationals in Geelong – and it’s excellent! A mast head wind instrument has been procured (more investment!) – and I’ll be wiring that into the boat when I have time. This will allow us to start to develop a set of polars that will let us know what target boat speeds we should aim for, for a given point of sail, wind direction and wind speed.
No winter season this year, with the boat absent in Melbourne getting work done, and the other three crew heading off on weekends to the snow. To the crew, again, thank you for a great season and I really look forward to sailing with you all in September 2017.
Final results below! Click to enlarge.