Early Bird Series - 2013

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Boat improvements, New Sails, First Win!

What a series! A lot happened in the six races but I think I will start at the beginning. As you can see by the photo below we started poorly :) We had the best handicap which meant we started first and very light winds in the first race really played havoc with our race.

I just couldnt seem to get the boat in the right place and we had to watch the fleet sail right on by as we zig'd when we should have zag'd. The local knowledge advantage was plain to see as the fleet largely followed the leader up the eastern shore and left us behind.

 

race one

Things didnt go much better in Race 2 as thanks to not really knowing all the courses and marks in Pittwater we managed to sail right past the mark and lose around half an hour tacking back to it. So even after handicap we managed to finish last in our division again.

However over the series we learnt alot, largely thanks to Allen, the Rear Commodore of Racing at the RPAYC. In Race 3 his usual ride "Pretty Woman" was out of town and offered to come for a ride with us and help us unlock the mysteries of Pittwater or "Shiftwater" as he called it.

Suffice to say we came second over the line and second in our division in Race 3. 

vini spin

It was really fantastic to be racing at the front of the fleet and gave me and the whole crew a great boost of confidence. All this inshore racing was doing wonders for our sail handling and in particular the spinnaker, which Matt was really starting to get a handle on over the course of the series. 

At the same time Allen was helping us out with his local knowledge and experience, along with giving Morag and a new nickname (Dusty) our freindly shipwright Heath from Northshore marine was doing some running repairs to the boat. A repaired companionway hatch and new rigid Boom Vang, outhaul, and various other repairs. He also kicked off the new prodder. 

NewVang

Race 4 was a big weekend as we had ordered new sails from Toby and Ben from Onesails in Mona Vale and been looking forward to our new Mainsail, Code 1 and Code 2 arriving, along with the Storm Sail and Trysail required by the offshore racing safety regulations. 

So Toby from Onesails arrived at the dock with a vanload of sails for us and to say it was like Christmas was an understatement. You can see some photos with the new sails in the gallery below. We went with the Millenium with Carbon and Technora.

The difference on the helm has been dramatic, its like driving a new boat! We point higher, heel less and generally carry more sail which mkes us faster all around. With Allen calling tactics and Toby helping us sort out the sail trim we were fast....The end result? See for yourself below. 

race4

Race 5 was always going to be the big test as we were back to our usual crew, welcoming Dani on board for her first race and with no rockstar ring-ins, how much had we really learnt? 

I was stoked with equal 4th place in our division as we sailed a pretty good race, the finish was one of the most exciting ones yet as 8 or so Div 1 and Div 2 boats all hit the line at the same time. They were all bearing down on us under spinnaker, we had elected not to hoist one for the short run around the bouy to the finish, what a mistake that was as all the boats under spinnaker caught a big breeze and caught us on the line. 

Heading into Race 6 we were half a point out of a poduim spot in the overall standings and needed a good finish. We had quite the full boat with Dan arriving from queensland, we welcomed Allanna (also answers to Amanda) for her first sail, and Dani was back for another go which meant we had not fightened her off the week before.

We sailed a good race and finished 4th on the day again, but importantly we left some of our main competition behind us. Unfortunatley the boat that won the day made a miraculous leap from down the table to first and clinched the 3rd place overall that was up for grabs.

We were still pretty happy as it was apparent that with Allen's help and the new sails, along with some hard work by all the crew, but particulaly Morag, Matt, Susii, Dave and Vini who had endured some of the longer races only to come last, we were getting better and sailing with the fleet and fighting for places! 

All in all it think the Early Bird series will be one we look back on as a turning point when we started to really improve. We also had the good fortune to start some friendly rivalry and friendships with the guys from some of the other boats like Carl from Windy Passage and Salvatore from Gallieo who are always quick to say good race and have a laugh with us afterward. Below are some of the photos of the series and you can see the new sails.

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