Welcome to Yachting Girls

Welcome to a blog where the adventures of a team of crazy women who are mad about sailing can be shared.
We are living in the beautiful Huon Valley in Tasmania, surrounded by outstanding sailing waters.  In June 2007 my husband and I purchased a Columbia 27 cruising yacht.  My husband crews in a Top Hat 24 in the races held by the Port Cygnet Sailing Club so our yacht was going to sit idle for most of the sailing season.  A great idea came to us - lets have an all women crew and take on the men!

Follow our adventures...share our laughs...cheer us on...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Final Twilight results

The Twilight Series for the Port Cygnet Sailing Club is a series of 8 races on every Tuesday evening for 8 weeks.  All competing yachts are given points that match their place on handicap at the end of the race.  The two biggest scores are dropped and the places are then totaled.  The yacht and crew with the lowest number of points wins the series.   This years series was won by Bianco.  Pathfinder and us girls placed 9th overall. It is impossible to be disappointed with a top 10 finish in our first season and is only more amazing when one considers that there were 30 yachts that scored points (ie. competed over the period of  8 weeks). So 9th out of 30 - what an achievement! Well done and thank you must go to the girls for their dedication, enthusiasm and for just having a great time!  The skills improved dramatically, the jokes were at times side splitting and the general camaraderie was just the best.  We achieved far more than just the places on the water.  Simply awesome......

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Twilight Race 8

The end of the twilight racing season saw the most exciting and best race yet.  Nineteen boats started the race in a brisk southerly breeze. We did not have the best of starts - we just seemed to loose the wind.  Being in the middle of the fleet did not help with lots of disturbed air.  We made up ground however and were in the middle of the fleet at the first mark. No coach on board tonight which made our ability to move about the cockpit far easier. The reach across to the second mark was true exhilaration with yachts like Shiraz and Bianco left behind us! How exciting to actually be ahead of some of the more noted yachts in the fleet.  Gibing around the second mark saw a slowing of the fleet as again the eastern side of the course had much flukier breezes.  The run back to the apex of the triangle was fair and we were able to maintain a lead on about half the fleet.  With the headsail and mainsail "goose winged" we made steady progress. Having tacked around the third mark we had a fairly stiff beat to windward. A decision to put in an extra tack was prudent but put us on the back foot a little and Shiraz managed to get past us.  The  final mark was rounded brilliantly and we set ourselves up well for a fast run back to the finish line.   We were ahead of about 6 yachts at the last mark including Bianco and the run home went brilliantly.  We pulled away from the yachts behind us and were closing quickly on Shiraz.  Had the run been just a little longer we would have comfortably passed her.   

The improvement this week was outstanding and probably due to the great job of hull cleaning that my husband and Stan did on Sunday morning!  Pathfinder was a different boat this week. She was just so well balanced, responsive and was moving at least 1 knot faster than last week. We all really enjoyed the race and were able to do what we thought was the best yet and the results proved it. We were 3rd out of 19 yachts! The excitement exhibited by both coaches Harry and Phil and the congratulations from so many of the male competitors really made us glow with pride. Not bad from a group of middle aged women with an average age of 54! Girl Power - yah!  The only down side is that there will not be anymore twilight races until January 2009.  I hope that we will get together and do a few of the Sunday races and I am still looking for a crew to do the long distance Regatta race in two weeks time. I will get a few more races in before the season is over,  sailing with Stan and my husband. Anne now goes on to focus on the Tasmanian Laser Dinghy  Championships in two weeks time and Janet will no doubt spend time on her motor cruiser before the winter sees us all keeping warm and comfortable at home. So till next time ... Good sailing!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Twilight Race 7

Frustration was the name of the game last night. As a crew things went smoothly with good sail changes and generally good tactics. The weather was very warm and the wind was light to gusty. A good start saw us well in with the fleet. The usual traffic jam at the first mark saw us close on the heals of the top guns and aiming to overtake Shiraz and others.  A decision by coach Phil to tack up to the north of the bay on the way to the next mark did not pay off however.  Almost all of the fleet went south and made far better use of what wind there was.  It was all down hill from there!  At every turn we seemed to get further behind.  Pathfinder was definitely more sluggish this week and when there were some strong gusts she was heavy on the helm. There was little we could do but watch the rest as they drew away from us.  We were able to still come in 12th out of 18 yachts on handicap but the frustration of making such slow progress was palpable.  A decision was made to take the boat out of the water on Monday of next week and give her bottom a clean.  She has definitely got some growth there and we should have been more rigorous in cleaning her on a regular basis.  We enjoyed the evening sail and the camaraderie was great but we are now getting a more competitive urge - at the end of the season of course - so with only one more race to go we will be going all out to give our best performance yet.  

I am hoping to sail Pathfinder in the big Regatta coming up if I can find women keen enough to come along as crew.  Anne and Janet have other commitments so it means other willing volunteers will be needed.  I can always find a berth on another yacht but the urge to sail my fat lady is strong. Will keep you posted.  'Til next time ....good sailing

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Twilight Race 6

Yacht racing is truly an addictive sport. The predicted weather for last night's race was for rain and winds of 25-30 knots. It started to rain mid afternoon although the fresh winds were not to eventuate.  A text message on the mobile phone, from helmswoman Anne, wondering whether we were still going to race came as a result of Phil of Shiraz deciding it was too cold and wet and canceling Anne's husband's sail. (Stephen crews for Phil). My theory was that cold and wet were not as big an issue as strong winds so suggested that we still went along.  All the crew decided that was the go. What an evening! Coach Phil came along for the ride and we had a great time. It may have been pouring with rain and the wind may have only been a whisper for the bulk of the race but we really enjoyed the experience. We found the delicate winds really trying but for once we really sailed well in such conditions. With Phil giving hints on sail trimming and angles to the wind we made an excellent start and were close to the lead for most of the first leg. This was a down wind leg and with a slight increase in wind from behind, the fleet bunched up at the first mark. It was touch and go there for a while with a yacht trying to cut across our bows however we made it around the mark safely and had a nice reach across the bay, continually jousting with other yachts for position. The lighter yachts made better headway on the run back to the line and we had some good competitive sailing. The race was shortened because of the light winds so the race finished at the end of the final leg of the triangle. It was a pleasant low key race with few high speed sail changes. A more tactical race needing a good understanding of the wind conditions and tides.  

This race saw our best result yet in the Twilight races. We were in 4th place on handicap out of a fleet of  fifteen yachts. We were loudly cheered in the club house at the announcement and people were complementing us on our good performance. The general support by the club members is great!  So who was cold and wet? The adrenaline rush meant we barely felt the weather. This is addiction.
'Til next time...good saiing

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Twilight Race 5

Chaos and mayhem on the water - not a new experience but tonight a different one. Nineteen boats started the race in a stiff 10-15 knot breeze.  We girls had taken Pathfinder out and around the first mark, before the start of the race, and were congratulating ourselves on the thought that we could make the buoy without having to tack once. We should have known life could not always be so easy. Either the wind had change or our angle of approach to the buoy was different but tack we had to do.  It was chaotic on the water with yachts flying everywhere. We had a good competitive start but slipped back in the field as we finally achieved the first mark. On the reach to the second mark we were hemmed in by a couple of other yachts and as the mark was reached we had to give way to a pushy guy in a concrete hulled yacht who came up from behind and pushed us out. On turning at the buoy we almost ran into the same culprit when we decided to jibe and he didn't. Scary stuff! Unfortunately we lost ground - never to make it up. The run down to the third mark was disappointing as we just could not get the jib to "goose wing" properly. We struggled to get the wind into the foresail and thus again lost ground. We could only watch as the guy in the concrete boat barged through the fleet cutting other yachts off, tacking across their bows and generally generating mayhem. We were a bit stressed  having to cope with such inconsiderate traffic. What was happening was in the rules but certainly showed no gentlemanly manners on behalf of the solo yachtsman! The other culprit was a dilapidated yacht sailed by a group of hippy clones. (You could almost smell the "grass" from our deck!) They were busy having a great time cutting across our bows and we were having to constantly be alert to their whereabouts. Although the run own to the third mark was disappointing we made quite an improvement on the tacking course straight down river to the next mark.  Weaving between the boats on the second to last leg of the race was hair-raising at times and we can only be thankful that Anne really knows the rules. 
We had a good run back to the finishing line gaining on some of the rest of the rest of the fleet. We were not last across the line but were disappointed that we did not perform as well as last week.  
When the results were read out we found ourselves 13th out of 19 - again. What a coincidence - we have now been 13th in three of the five races to date.  The results of Sunday's race were also read out and we got a good cheer from the members for placing 3rd. 

We were pleased with our performance overall - few of our tacks were sloppy and sail handling in general is improving.  "Pathfinder" was probably not pointing as high into the wind as she did  last week and dodging traffic certainly kept us on our toes.   We all enjoyed the race and look forward to next time. 'Til then  good sailing!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Long Distance Racing

It is rare to get the opportunity to race in the regular Sunday races however I had the opportunity to take part in a long race yesterday. My husband usually races with Stan, an elderly gentleman who races a Top Hat class yacht. Stan was unable to race and we were therefore at a loose end. The Club race was a long race from Cygnet, down the bay and into the Huon river and was also an inter-club race - the final race of the McLaren Series. Once in the river the race turns upstream and heads to the rival Port Huon Yacht Club's finishing line. The race is about 12 kilometres long and was expected to take 3-4 hours. I suggested that we make an effort to race however my husband decided that he was  not competent enough to do it with just the two of us. I  contacted the girls but they were both unable to race so coach Harry agreed to come along with his lovely wife Anna. It was overcast and with a steady breeze of about 10 knots blowing predominantly from the east. Although it was fairly varied in direction, the wind maintained its strength for most of the race. After a rather rocky and slow start with the husband on the helm we were  again chasing Shiraz. The goal was to at least overtake Phil and maybe catch up with some of the others. With Harry at the helm we soon made up the difference and were able to almost make it into the river ahead of Shiraz.  

With the change of tack we were on a run before the wind.  Alas Shiraz raised a spinnaker and powered past us. We had never even taken the spinnaker out of the bag let alone raised it but with Harry's enthusiastic efforts we were able to raise it in a fashion after dragging out ropes from the locker and finding that the halliard was wrapped around the Genoa. The spinnaker flew beautifully even if a little lower than it should, and we were able to really make a move on Shiraz. Although we managed to make up much of the gap she had opened up on us unfortunately we were unable to pass her. However over the distance travelled we were very competitive.

After a great sail home back to Cygnet we arrived home to great camaraderie and the news that we did very well. Twelve yachts started the race - six from the Port Huon club and six from the Cygnet club. We were third in the McLaren race on handicap and also in the Club race - our Pathfinders best result as yet and with thanks to coach Harry. Not quite an all girls team but it was a great learning experience, even with the spinnaker issues we were competitive even in light air so confidence is again lifted. I am looking forward to the Twilight race tomorrow night - here's hoping the wind will be kind to us. Till next time...