Sunday, 21 September 2014

George Law Foundation Race

Hi everyone,
Yesterday we did our first ever offshore race in Zen Again.  The last offshore we did was in our previous boat Degrees of Freedom in 2004.  10 years ago!  This was our first ever double-handed (2 crew) offshore race.

Zen Again track
Zen Again speed
There was plenty of wind for the start, about 20-25 knots from the NE.  We had a few turns in our No 2 yankee headsail and one reef but were severely over-powered.  Should have gone for two reefs and many more turns in the headsail despite the first leg being only a mile or so to windward.  Our start was late and we trailed the other three boats in the double-handed division to the first mark.

From the first mark we had a long beam reach to Kingston Reef (NE of Rottnest Island), during which we unrolled the headsail and shook out the reef in the main.  The wind gradually decreased.  Shortly after Kingston Reef we hoisted our asymetric which helped us keep up with the class 3 boats which had caught up with us during the reach.  The class 2 and 1 boats had passed us about half way to Rottnest.

As we sailed along the north coast of Rottnest the wind decreased to 12-15 knots.  Once around Cape Vlamingh the wind increased back up to 18-20 knots and we overtook one bigger boat.  Then the wind gradually died out to 4-6 knots and they overtook us again.  They were under spinnaker but we didn't hoist ours.  As we approached Challenger Passage a new wind from the WNW came in which had us gybing downwind to and through the passage.  The other boat did a very spectacular broach which was fun to watch.

From there the course was up the Cockburn Sound channel and the wind veered to the NW and died to almost nothing.  By that time all but three boats had finished and we were unlikely to finish for at least another 90 minutes.  We decided to let the finishing team off the hook and retired.  That way the results announcement could happen an hour later.  We'd had a great sail and got back to the bar in time to hear the end of the results.

Overall it was a great day on the water.  Next time we'll reef down more in strong winds to keep the boat manageable.  That's what we do when cruising and clearly it's what we need to do when racing short-handed too!

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