Sunday, June 21, 2015

Seawind Whitsunday Rally 2015

Nimrod is grinning like a Cheshire cat! 

We just spent the last week on the Seawind Whitsunday rally with our friends Brian and Meredith. Nimrod did herself proud.

There were seven Seawinds on the rally; two 1250s, three 1160s, and two 1000s. (Nimrod is one of the 1160s, length 11.6 metres). There were five races, and we got line honours (first) for four of them, and second place for the fifth! Unprecedented for us. So we are thrilled, and trying (unsuccessfully) to be bashful and modest about it.

Some will correctly point out that we had nice new sails, a clean hull, and folding props (which some others didn't). Its also true that our secret weapon was to turn up at the start-line on time (which some others didn't). But whatever the objective facts, it was quite a buzz to get the feeling that we must be doing something right.

The fleet met at the Sorrento bar at Abell Point marina, and for a meal and briefing. On the Sunday we raced to Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island. There was a sandcastle competition with Hawaiian dress. It sounds childish, and it was, but it helped a group of people who didn't know each other to get together.

On Monday, after a rainy morning, we had a beat to Shaw Island, in which the wind dropped out and the race was aborted.

On Tuesday we had a lovely sail downwind to Whitehaven Beach. We had an advantage by having a large genoa, which proved decisive. Kites were not allowed. A blindfold dinghy race and cricket on the beach. All good fun. A shared meal with the crew of Amour de la Mer.

On Wednesday the wind was very light so racing was cancelled and we motored round to Butterfly Bay for some snorkelling and a shared meal with the crew of Double Fun.

Thursday, a gentle start around Hayman Island and a beat up to South Molle Island. 

Friday, another beat to Hamilton Island, with drinks at an amazing lookout on One Tree Hill, and a meal in a restaurant in a resort. 

All in all, great fun. We met some lovely people, and felt very affirmed by the racing results.

Amour de la Mer racing to Cid Harbour under a cloudy sky

Trim at the end of a rainbow

Double Fun, a Seawind 1000

Reflection and Eclipse rafted up in the rain

Brian laed back for the Hawaiian night


Sandcastle competition

There's nothing like a breakage problem on a boat to bring a bunch of blokes together for a bit of team-building. Graeme Nolan helping to fix a furler. 

The definition of 'cruising' is 'doing repairs in exotic places'.

Neil from Trim

Ivan from Amour de la Mer.

Lisa Kidd from Multihull Central, one of the organizers

Will supervising the repairs

Chris from Reflection

Therese, from Reflection

Meredith and George

Nimrod in Cid Harbour

Back to the boats after a drink on Shaw Island beach

Dawn at Shaw Island

Brian and Meredith trying not to look smug on the way to Whitehaven. Fleet behind.

Meredith, the blind-fold rower

Slogger Chris on Whitehaven beach

Therese getting down and sandy

Dawn at Butterfly Bay

Close racing around the top of Hayman Island

Amour de la Mer at Tower Point, Hayman Island

Graeme Nolan on the foredeck

South Molle Island jetty

Reflection on the way to Hammo

Cath Austin from Double Fun

Jen and Will from Amour de la Mer

Jo and Ivan St Clair from Amour de la Mer

Lloyd from Eclipse

Meredith and Brian

Steve Austin from Seawindow

Graeme Nolan

Therese and Chris from Reflection

Nimrod's happy co-skippers


So what did we learn?

1) The purchase of a new Hydra-net mainsail, with Spectra-reinforced Dacron, appears to have paid off. A year ago Reflection, a 1250 (i.e. bigger than Nimrod) easily beat us. This year we clearly had the edge on them, with the exception of one race which we led all the way, until we fell in a hole and they got past us. The principle difference was that this year we had a better mainsail.

Reflection storming past us in 2014

2) In an earlier post on this blog I discussed the concept of the 'inhauler' to make it possible to point higher while using a genoa. The standard 22 m² Seawind jib runs off a track in front of the mast. You can sheet it in as far as you like, and point as high as you think you can get away with. But the jib is pretty small, and when you have a big roach on your mainsail, as Nimrod does, the boat is not very well balanced, because the jib is too small for the mainsail.

But if you have the big 38.2 m² Number 1 genoa, the sheets go to a car on a track either side of the cabin, which is quite wide. So, although you have a much bigger foresail, and the boat is better balanced, you can't point as high as boats with the small tracked self-tacking jib.

If you try to 'in-haul' the big genoa, you hit the spreaders and/or the cabin. This is why we bought the 31 m² Number 2 genoa, which avoids these restrictions. It is also stronger, 20,000 denier, whereas the big genoa is 10,000 - 15,000 denier. The small jib is 25,000 denier.

This regatta allowed us to explore this question, boat-on-boat. 

In the first two races we realised we were going to be beating for much of the course. We used the small jib. All good. 

In the third race, we were mostly reaching or going downwind. We used the big old genoa. A major advantage. Others in the fleet didn't have this and we went miles ahead.

In the fourth and fifth races, we predicted mostly upwind work. We made the decision to use the Number 2 genoa. There was a risk that we would point lower than the opposition, even using the tracked jib-sheet as an inhauler.

The big news is that we didn't! We could point as high as our opponents with their small jibs, in particular Reflection, the 1250. Sometimes they would try to outpoint us, but then we easily left them behind.

Number 2 genoa using tracked jib-sheet as inhauler

Nimrod (on the left) with new main and number 2 genoa

I think this has significant implications, especially for people buying and equipping a new Seawind. If you think you can manage to tack by letting off a jib sheet and taking it up on the other side, rather than using a self-tacking jib, then you should consider declining the small jib, and just buying a number 2 genoa, perhaps with a storm jib as well (which fits over the furled genoa when the wind gets too strong.).

3) A few weeks ago Raymarine announced the release of new software, Lighthouse II. I installed it at the beginning of the rally. It was initially a bit confusing, but gradually became useful. It has a start timer, a way to create a start line, and also laylines which are adjusted for tide and true wind angle performance to help you call tacks. In the final race, we managed to recover from an appalling start to pip Double Fun, sailed by the very experienced Tony Austin and Graeme Nolan, at the final mark at the top of Dent Island because our software allowed us to call the tack better than they could. Worth considering getting the upgrade.