Monday, 27 May 2013

CYCA : Four finishers in "float fest" edition of Audi Winter Series

Another light and tricky day on Sydney Harbour. Image copyright

by Di Pearson

It was a long, long, day for all involved in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Winter Series yesterday – a race that is best be described as a ‘float fest’, as very light west-sou-westerly winds later shifted to the west-nor-west, making it agonisingly slow for the fleet with only four finishers recorded.

Only Christian Nick’s Northshore 369, Valkyrie and Kayle-Sailors With Disabilities, a  Lyons 53 skippered by David Leslie, finished in Division J1. Division K also had two finishers; Kevin O’Shea’s veteran S&S design. Stormy Petrel and the Jeanneau 36i, Takana (Paul Williams). None of the other 121 competing yachts finished within the time limit. 

Slow and steady on Sydney Harbour. Image copyright

Race Officer, Denis Thompson, explained: “We started the race in a 10-12 knot westerly. The boats romped down to the first gate in around 8 knots. The four boats from Divisions J1 and K came through the gate, so we continued on.

“But the breeze eventually started to die and then it did and a lot of boats were parked. When the time limited expired, there were still some boats that hadn’t gone through the gate for the first time,” he said.

Thompson said there was breeze at the southern end of the Harbour, but it was dwindling at the northern end by the time most of the fleet got to the first mark the first time.

The race officer’s job can, at times, be difficult – and this was a point in case. Abandon early and the breezes likely to reappear – Murphy’s Law – so to keep going, or not?   

Competitors could not be disappointed with the beautiful 22 degree sunny day on Sydney Harbour as they set sail in Race 5, but many were praying fervently to the wind gods to send them some wind – any wind – to no avail.

Quetzalcoatl crew work hard to keep spinnaker trimmed. Image copyright

The first spinnaker run to the first mark at the other end of the Harbour looked promising, but became hard work for the backmarkers.

Those manning sheets and braces did all they could to keep spinnakers full, while the rest of the crews sat to leeward and tried to keep their boats moving. Foredeck hands were told to tread lightly as they set and dropped kites, as every little movement was painfully felt and could slow the boats down or bring them up dead in their tracks.

It was excruciating, as many were becalmed, went round in circles or moved at snail’s pace. So shifty and light, boat hands did all they could to keep their charges moving.

Just after 3.00pm at Watsons Bay, the wind went west-nor-west, with boats travelling under spinnaker going in opposite directions – just to make an already difficult situation even more so. Some set kites for the ride back towards Point Piper, airless spots causing them to collapse before refilling when puffs arrived.

Well done to the four finishers. Valkyrie’s win has moved her up from third place into the lead in Division J1, while Stormy Petrel’s win moves it up from second into the Division K lead. For all other divisions, the race was abandoned. 

For full CYCA Winter Series results log on to: