Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fast Sailing JAKE Snakes Sydney-Newcastle Race

J/111 speedster- one-design sailboat- sailing off Sydney, Australia (Sydney, Australia)- The longest race of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Ocean Pointscore Series (OPS) from Sydney to Newcastle, nearly 70 miles north of Sydney along the coast, was held on the 18th February 2012 . The J/111 JAKE was the smallest boat in the 26 boat fleet that lined up for the start at 9am Saturday morning. Here's the full-on race report from Ray and Sandra Entwistle from aboard JAKE:

"We certainly felt small during pre-start maneuvers amongst the smorgasbord of bigger boats which included the famous BRINDABELLA (a Jutson 80), MERLIN (the Cookson 50 footer), a Corby 49, Sydney 47, Rodgers 46, Beneteau 45, Sydney GTS43, Kerr40 and a pair of Cookson 12s, to name a few.

A 10 to 15 knot south westerly dictated a spinnaker start in Sydney Harbour and we were delighted when JAKE emerged out of Sydney Harbour Heads in 5th place on the water (e.g. boat-for-boat!). We settled down and concentrated on our race strategy of hugging the coast to keep out of the current and playing the 13 to 18 knots of breeze as it occasionally drifted either side of south. We knew we were doing well with some of the bigger boats still behind us and it wasn’t until Pittwater 25 miles north when one of our main competitors, ST JUDE (the Sydney 47) managed to pass us. After a mistake at the start AFL MIDNIGHT RAMBLER (the new Ker 40) also managed to creep by. There were still a lot of boats behind us that owed us time on IRC and we were having a great sail as the day progressed and miles slid effortlessly by. Thanks to some great asymmetric designs by Ian Short Sails we were going as deep and in some cases deeper and faster than conventional rigged boats.

One of JAKE's crew made a comment how good everything was going and the boat was simply flying as we saw our final headland in the distance-- "Nobby's Head"- now famous due to the grounding of the 76 thousand tonne “Pasha Bulka”  bulk carrier in 2007 when she ran aground during a huge storm. All was going to plan and JAKE's crew were looking forward to finishing in daylight, and few beers with dinner.  We were still ahead of many much larger boats and still crossing gybes with the larger Sydney GTS43 OCCASIONAL COURSE LANGUAGE. About 5 minutes later the breeze dropped to 5 knots, by 6pm it had  had petered out completely and we had a a complete "glass-out", much to our chagrin (we figured we may have been winning overall at the time).

Trying every trick in the book, we could not stop ourselves from slowly going backwards as the tide turned and darkness enveloped the fleet. We started to hear the retirements come through on the VHF an hour later and were surprised to hear how far back some the boats were. Between 7 and 8 pm, a slight whisper of a southwester began to filter through, only a few knots but enough to harness in JAKE's sails and make headway once again. With the spinnaker back up we ghosted past one of the Cookson 12s, as we completed our final gybe to head into Newcastle Harbour, we crossed with the Sydney GTS 43 for the last time and through the finish line at 9.30 pm.

With Newcastle yacht clubs staff and volunteers welcoming the finishing boats with a tot of rum as we tied up and quick calculation we knew we had done ok in the longest race so far in our potent J/111 rocketship.

Before we retired for the evening it was confirmed we were second on IRC to our friend and competitor Julian Farren Price who has sailed a faultless series. We were advised we were second on PHS to the famous Jutson 80 BRINDABELLA but a few boats were still at sea with a building breeze. The next morning we learnt our final position was a fourth in PHS.

The story doesn’t end there, however. With most of the crew having to drive back to Sydney due to family commitments, Sandra and I, just two up, had a fantastic sail back the Sydney the next day-- yet again proving how versatile and easy the J/111 is to sail shorthanded with husband and wife!   For more Sydney-Newcastle Race sailing results