Breaking Bad - Sydney Harbour Regatta 2015

Rating: 4.80/5 (5 Votes)

The Sydney Harbour Regatta was good to us last year with a race win and second in our division overall. We were pretty keen to get back there and go one better this year. Unfortunately it was not to be, what we didn’t expect was all the breakages…  read on to find out about the good the bad and the broken at the 2015 edition of Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s fantastic annual regatta.

Last year we had a great time and we were keen to get back to the harbour again. The boat was in good shape, the new “go faster” white HA shirts and dancing shoes were packed. Racing peanuts were selected and work graciously let me take an early day to deliver the boat on Friday afternoon.  

Friday Delivery

Matt volunteered to get some more helming time under his belt and give me a hand on the Friday and we had some Optus volunteers Charlie, Megan and Cris that were keen to see the Sydney coastline from the other side.

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Given I bang on about our weekend sailing every Monday, I think they were also keen to see what all the fuss was about.  Sydney turned on an absolute cracker of a day as we took off from the RPAYC around 1pm.

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There was a pretty decent swell running which enabled Megan to get some great shots of the waves against Barrenjoey headland you see below.

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The guys were great and got stuck into sailing the boat.For those that have been out sailing with us you will know I have a rule, everyone gets a job and everyone has to spend some time steering the boat.

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It brings me great joy to see people steering a sailing yacht for the first time. Generally people are not keen as they are worried they are going to stuff up or break something, I suppose it’s a little like a fear of public speaking, you are not sure what specifically will go wrong, you are just nervous to mess up in front of others.  But before long on the tiller and a little basic instruction the nerves disappear and big smiles appear.

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It never fails to make my day.  Not to mention I get to kick back and enjoy a beer! So kick back we did as we popped a spinnaker and made our way down the coast past the cruise ships and into Sydney. 

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Safely tucked into our berth at MHYC, we met Morag and Susii and had a few beers with the Northshore Marine guys and Rob and the guys from Occasional Course Language. A  bet was confirmed with Heath and his guys as we were sailing in the same division so the lowest place boat had to buy rum for the Saturday afternoon after the racing. For those of you that know Heath, this may seem an overly optimistic bet on my behalf given the capability of the Northshore Marine skipper and his crew. Not to be outdone – I talked up our chances …and boldly raised the stakes to “good rum”!

Secretly I had already asked Morag to just buy the rum on the way to the club the next day as I figured the result was a forgone conclusion and knew the rum would end up shared with those guys anyway!!

Saturday Race 1 & 2  

There is nothing like the buzz of a big regatta on the dock in the morning. We got sorted with coffee and got the boat organised and out the line nice and early. Sydney had turned on another stunning day (albeit it a little light early) and there were quite literally hundreds of boats out on the harbour. We had around 80 boats in 4 divisions on our start line so things were busy!

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We kept out of trouble behinds the start and watched as the first division ended up in a general recall – the first race of the regatta is always a shit fight on the start line. A combination of boats that do not usually race each other and the rush of adrenaline wanting to get a good start to the regatta. They finally got Division one away under a blag flag and the X yachts were next. Lo and behold another general recall as multiple boats broke the start.

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The tension on our boat was starting to build a little as the new to regatta racing guys saw how crowded the boat end of the line was. They finally got the X-boats away and it was our turn. We got right in amongst the fleet and with around a minute to go were sitting 10 boat lengths  to leeward of the start boat . In fact we were not far away from the Northshore boys who were a couple of boat lengths behind us and to windward. 

With around 30 seconds to go we both started powering up and heading for the boat end of the line.  No surprise at all that around 3 boats were barging from above the committee boat but Heath had them high and dry as he picked a perfect line at the stern of the boat and started calling them up. Predictably he was ignored by one boat as two ducked him and we were forced to take evasive manoeuvres to avoid hitting them.  While we were doing that we heard a crunch as one of the boats clipped Northshore and got their spinnaker pole caught on their lifelines. The end of the pole snapped of and I couldn’t see if they ended up hitting the committee boat or not.

Things were super close for us a couple of boats away we tried to close the gap beside Heath but the 2 boats that had sensibly ducked him slotted in as the gun went off and we finally got racing.  

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Other than that the first race was pretty uneventful, the wind angle down the harbour was good for us so the lack of square running helped us cross the line 5th and corrected into 6th on handicap. I must admit I thought we would correct a little better than that but such is sailing!

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The second race of the day gave us a little more wind but unfortunately for us also very square running down the harbour. The pole boats took a little bit of advantage as we had a couple of gybes to avoid the reef. All of a sudden we found ourselves with mad wraps around the forestay as a result of being gybed on top of and ending up with no right of way. A crash gybe and 2 recovery gybes later we got it all sorted out but lost a bunch of  time and several positions. Across the line in 9th and correcting 10th was not the ideal way to end the day.

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So the final wash up back at the bar after day 1 was  High anxiety 16, Northshore Marine 4. Lucky Morag bought the rum!

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Race 3 & 4 Sunday

After quite a few beers back at the club the night before a few slightly foggy heads arrived back at the boat and once coffee was dispensed were fired up to do better and catch Northshore Marine. The pep talk went something like….they may have got us yesterday but this thing isn’t over yet!

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Northshore Marine heading out on Day 2 

Little was I to know I would end up eating those words  only an hour or so later.

But first the best bit of the whole regatta was our start in race 3. We decided there was significant bias on the line, enough to go for the pin end and wanted to be on the other side of the harbour. So we figured we would have plenty of time on starboard tack to get room and that we wouldn’t get hung out to dry by the fleet. We timed it to perfection, hit the line at speed, right on the pin! Awesome stuff and we held onto the advantage right over the harbour and crossed the fleet on Port tack – all except one boat – Northshore Marine (who else) they had chosen the other side of the course straight off the line tacked and got some distance up the harbour before tacking across.   

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So we were sitting pretty in second, and then the wind started to build. We had lost a couple of starters on the Sunday with family commitments and sickness – So we had our lightweight crew on board with a mixed crew 5 up. This would have been fine if the wind had have stuck to the forecast! In the end we had nowhere near enough weight on the rail as the wind built to 20 knots. A sail peel would have been too slow on the short leg so we elected to depower the main and try and hold until the spinnaker leg to change headsails.

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So we went from 2nd to 11th in the beat down to Rose Bay, we had a ball though, sailing in view of the Harbour bridge and Opera House, dodging seaplanes and I mean right up close. 

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We took a little longer with the kite and had and awkward set that the guys couldn’t work out what was caught. In the end it looked like it was caught under the forestay and we were running out of harbour so it had to come down. Gareth steered as Matt and I pulled it down, only to realise it had got stuck in the tuff luff – from the top? As a result as Matt and I pulled it down, the masthead halyard and the head of the sail got jammed further and further down the mast track. Winching it to try and get it out just made it worse and the sail going up was no better. It was jammed tight.

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So no luff track, no headsail, and we limped up the course under just the main to finish the race. To add insult to injury we gybed the main over at the last mark and all of a sudden the block let go. I looked down to see the mainsheet block feeder had snapped….hmm that looks expensive.

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It was now retirement time and we motored past heath and the Northshore boys to wish them well and advise the boat would be at the shop waiting for them as the final SOPS race was only a week away!

They say bad things happen in three’s so as if our issues were not enough! So we pull out of the regatta and get an early mark home and  took off for the yacht club to drop the ladies off before heading off for Pittwater.  A quick change of direction was required  to give a wide berth to some dinghy’s doing some pre start manoeuvres. Of course when standing around under motor it is quite natural to use the boom to steady yourself. Given there was no mainsheet attached, Matt wasn’t expecting the boom to let go when he leant on it. He took quite a bad spill off the sitting area onto the floor of the boat and landed on his back. Luckily he was not hurt as the life raft cover broke his fall. Unfortunately he clipped the tiller extension on the way down!  

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Dramatic re-enactment

 

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After this much bad luck we decided to try and fix the luff track only to realise it was beyond repair. As least I got to go up the mast as the boys put the hard yards in to get me up on the main halyard to have a look around. I figured it had better be me as I might need to make a decision to break something to try and fix it. As it turned out that was correct and the old tuff luff came tumbling down.

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So it turned out lady luck was not on our side this weekend but thankfully Heath and the guys at Northshore Marine got the boat all sorted out for the final SOPS race that was in 5 days!

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The trip home was fun as we had a few beers while motoring up the coast. It was a lot earlier than we had planned but gave us time to reflect on another Sydney Harbour Regatta.

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Overall it was still a lot of fun. I could have done without the breakages but the crew got good experience as they needed to do different positions without Dave who was off crook for the weekend. The beers and competition with Heath, Dean and the boys from Northshore was great fun, and I will look forward to doing it all again next year.     

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By the way Heath, I have some bad news about the Rum....

 

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