2015 Sydney Bluewater

Rating: 4.86/5 (7 Votes)

Well we have not covered ourselves in glory or troubled  the top boats thus far in the Bluewater series.  All that changed in the recent Sydney race.....

The weather was not looking great as we took off for Barrenjoey head the water was full of yachts as the 12 strong Bluewater fleet and around 15 Sydney 38’s were heading up Pittwater and out Into Broken Bay. The Sydney 38’s made for a spectacular backdrop out offshore from Palm Beach for their National Championships.

It was really good for us as it gave us something to look at as the rain held off and we set off for Sydney harbour in around 5 – 7 knots of wind.

The Sydney Harbour Race is a down and back race inside South Head, we round a mark and head back to Barrenjoey, it is really just a long version of a SOPS race as you start at 10am and should be back by sunset.  

The race itself was quite grey and uneventful, In the light wind we stuck as close to shore as we dared to avoid the wind shadows the you sometimes get off the headlands. But not wanting to bash into the swell and chop to head out to sea in the SE wind.   

We ended up in quite a slow motion battle with the 38 footer “Sticky” who we overtook as they headed out to sea and then got us back when we had to tack out. I think we swapped places 4 times as we tacked around Long Reef.

We were finally able to hoist a spinnaker as we approached North Head and carried it into Sydney Harbour.

It’s always fun heading into the Harbour, other sailing boats, Ferries and commercial traffic means there is always something to look at. But we were more focussed on the boats we had been chasing down the cost as we waved to Carl on Windy Too and the boys on Harlequin and Pretty Woman.

Realising that we were not that far away from them in relative terms we started to get a little more serious and got right up and personal with North Head.  

We were heading for what looked like breaking water on the inside of South Head too when the usually unflappable Dave even asked Matt to get on the plotter and get a bead on the water depth.

We followed “Reverie” closely around the mark and were in front of Sticky as we left Sydney behind and took off back to Pittwater in the still very light breeze.  

Given the easterly we debated for about 5 seconds if we could carry a spinnaker and decided it was a good plan so we found the biggest we had and overtook Reverie and extended our lead on Sticky.

The only minor problem was as the wind shifted around to the SE, we started heading off the coast a little too far and the other two boats we were racing elected to run very square close to the coast and take advantage of the tide.

We knew that was the best tactic and it became very obvious that running the angles, whilst keeping us moving was slower than the square running the bigger boats were doing.

Eventually, around Avalon Beach,  we decided to gybe and head back into the coast.

However we decided to fly our Asymmetrical spinnaker off a pole like a traditional spinnaker and run square into Palm beach.

This worked out quite well and we may employ this tactic again when the breeze is light – at least until we can upsize the running kite.

Unfortunately we left our run a little late and Sticky and Reverie crossed in front of us just at the north end of Palm Beach.

There was not much in it as twilight set in and promptly the wind died to virtually nothing. 

It was extremely frustrating to be literally a few hundred meters from the finish line and doing circles in the tide. 

Sticky did a great job in the last of the dying breeze to ghost over the line, whilst both us and Reverie got stuck floating no faster than the tide would carry us.

We adopted different tactics as we went close into Barrenjoey and they chose the middle of the estuary, but neither of us it seemed could find any breeze to fill the sails.

Eventually around 15 minutes after Sticky dropped their sails we saw Reverie do the same, so it was just us inching toward the line on the tide, every now and again with surges from the waves breaking against the headland.

It took us another 4 or 5 minutes to get the compass bearing to the lighthouse and finally we could drop the sails and head for the club.

I thought we did ok but it was a nice surprise to see we had finally had a decent result in the Bluewater series.

I was left rueing our decision to stay offshore so long as Sticky took out the top prize with a gap of around the same on corrected as elapsed time as you can see below. Ahh well – there is always next year.