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, January 30, 2009

Twilight Race 4/09

Perfect weather, a wonderful sea breeze and a sunny cool evening gave us the best racing weather yet.  It started a little slowly and we had some difficulty right at the start line in making a great deal of headway in the crush of boats and the fouled air at the line.  But once we captured enough wind we had a really good sail.  A couple of minor glitches with the jib sheets jamming on the winch caused us to loose ground on the rest of the fleet but we were able to make up a lot of ground at the finish. There were 12 yachts in the race and we were 8th which was not bad considering our sheeting problems.  Running with the wind was certainly a major improvement however we still have difficulty pointing to windward. More homework on sail setting is needed and perhaps getting one of our two coaches to have a look at the sail setup might not be a bad idea. We also need to look at job sheet handling and maybe some adjustments are needed on the blocks through which they run. 
Regardless of the sail handling issues one must admit that the relaxed relationship between us girls on board helped to make the whole event a pleasure. 'Til next time...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Twilight Race 3/09

Tonight we had the pleasure of sailing with a new crew member.  Wendy usually sails with her husband on their lovely old wooden yacht Jezebel, but I traded them my 'significant other' in exchange.  Wendy is a very able sailor with years of experience so we have gained a great deal. It was a baptism of fire however with very squally gusts of wind up to 25 knots which you could hear coming through the trees on the shore like a steam train and then flattening all in its wake.  Many of the yachts reefed sails or put on a smaller jib. Being cautious we started the race very well with only the mainsail and a tiny bit of the jib and even then we had to let the mainsail out at times just to stop being knocked down by the gusts.  We were the first across the start line but soon lost ground to the more competent and confident men.  Each leg saw us get further behind even though, as the winds settled a bit, we were able to use the full jib.  We did make up a great deal of ground on the last leg but still came in 12th out of 12 yachts.  We learnt a lot and we were proud of the fact that we completed the course in some of the roughest conditions any of us had sailed in.  We now have  full women crew so the pink shirted Pathfinder girls are now a compete team.  We all got on well and the jokes started to flow.  It was a scary night but also a satisfying one.  The men give us their respect - we earned it - and were very happy to talk tactics and give us their support.  With luck next week will have better conditions and we can really improve. 'Til then... fair winds and good sailing to all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday sailing - the highs and lows again!

Today's race was a pursuit event where each yacht starts at a staggered time according to handicap.  Each yacht tries hard to run down the earlier starters.  What should happen is a massed finish at the end with all yachts finishing together.  I had hoped that  Skipper Jim would be at the club and willing to take Pathfinder out.  We have the slowest handicap and would have started first.  Unfortunately he was late and the 'significant other' was being a little obstructionist today so I gave up hope of taking her out and tagged along for the ride with the Cap'n on Wyvern. 
It always amazes me the fickle nature of the wind in the bay.  Starting first across the line we were soon rundown by the lighter weight Bianco in the gentle breezes that were blowing.  The two yachts only started a minute apart and continued to be well in front until the end of the first triangle when Gallivant overtook us followed by Aotea.  The breezes were at times quite fresh and helped us make up lost ground but they did not hold and unfortunately we were not able to make up enough time to be in the placings.  We were seventh out of 10 yachts.  I had the opportunity to helm for part of the race and was delighted to feel so much more confident.  We also had to goose wing the jib so I had some sheet handling work also. The 'significant other's"  petulance also made for a bit of a frosty atmosphere at times which did not make the sailing as enjoyable as usual.  It never fails, however, to make me feel exhilarated and healthy this sailing thing so regardless of missing out on taking my own yacht I still really appreciate the opportunity.  After the race I had a promise from the Skipper to come out with us on the next race and also a tentative agreement to sail in the Kettering to Cygnet race at the regatta so there is much to look forward to.  'Til next time... Buena vela!

Twilight Race 2/09

The second Twilight race for the year was great fun and we were, until the last leg of the race, very competitive.  A really good start was made and we were well in the mix up the first leg of the race and in fact were well ahead of most of the major competition until the third leg of the triangle when the wind started to die. We struggled to keep up over the final three legs of the race and finished 10th out of 14 boats.  We were definitely not disappointed and were congratulated on the fine race we had sailed.  It was simply a case of running out of wind that meant we finished towards the back of the fleet. We still only had two girls and a male which was fine but I was hoping to get one of the other experiences sailing women to join us.  I have approached a confident and competent woman from one of the other yachts to switch sides and sail with us, offering her my "significant other" as a trade. She is keen so we will see next week. 'Til then - happy sails to you...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Racing again

Today I had the opportunity to sail with the Cap'n and my "significant other " in the race around Huon Island.  This is a long race which today took five hours.  We had a great day battling the usual fickle winds and dicing with a group of five other yachts in a pack.  There were 14 yachts in the race with the fast racing yachts getting out ahead with the cruisers making a pack at the back. Each yacht had its share of luck with yachts within 200 metres of each other having different winds!  The opportunity to raise the spinnaker was taken as we sailed out of the bay and into the Huon River estuary proper and this certainly gave us an opportunity to keep up with the other cruising yachts.  Around the island with a strong sea breeze coming in and back up river under spinnaker - what a run. It was great to be of value aboard apart from having the galley chef task. I am the chief spinnaker hand, handling the sheets, adjusting the pole etc. It was fun and apart from a problem when the wind suddenly spun around and flattened the kite causing us to waste time swapping back to the jib - only to have the wind change back astern! Too late in the race to re-hoist but we still did well. We were second on handicap in the PCSC race and first in the Fred McLaren heat. The race is divided into a club race and an Interclub race - the McLaren. These have different handicaps.  We did really well for a day with light and fickle air,  and had great fun doing it! 'Til next time...enjoy life and good sailing

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Twilight Race 1/09

We had a great start to the Twilight racing season tonight with a 6th place out of 11 yachts competing but with less than 4.5 minutes between the first and last yacht on corrected time it was a very competitive event.  The wind was pretty strong all day and I must admit to being pretty nervous at the start.  At best the wind could be called squally - there were gusts up to 20 knots and then almost nothing.  Getting an all girl crew this season is going to be difficult.  Some girls say they would love to be aboard then change their mind on the day - so we had to take a token male as crew tonight!  As it was my"significant other" we were well crewed.  The 'Skipper'- who originally joined us at the start of last year's races was aboard and full of enthusiasm.  We started out cautiously with much of the large jib furled. This was really an opportunity for the 'Skipper' to get to know the boat once more.  As the race progressed we enlarged the jib sail area as the wind lightened. A couple of times on the last leg of the race we were almost knocked down by the gusts but releasing the traveller and letting the pressure off the mainsail did the trick.  For a cautious start the result was very pleasing. The enthusiasm was still there and the 'Skipper' is delighted with our performance.   Tuesday cannot come round soon enough.  'Til then... "my goal in sailing isn't to be brilliant or flashy in individual races, just to be consistent over the long run" so said Denis Connors - and I agree!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Racing again!

Firstly Happy New Year to you all.   We had a very busy Christmas and even New Year was good with a party at a friend's place.  The weather has at last become fine after quite a lot of rain.  The opportunity to race today came because my 'significant other' was unable to race with the Cap'n who had family commitments.  We brought Pathfinder in to add some snap strap and hooks to the new cover to replace the string which we had been using since the makers devices had popped off.  It worked well and took little time to complete.  My sister is visiting at the moment and she is an enthusiastic beginner so we decided to join the race and had a great time.  The weather was perfect. A 10-15 knot breeze that was a little fickle at times, beautiful sunshine and calm seas - all were just magic. We started really well and were well in the race with all the others. We had a very good first triangle although there was quite a bit of tacking required to make the third mark. We lost a little on the others at this point. A good run back was spoilt as the wind changed direction and pushed us across the bay, making it necessary to tack to the buoy at the apex of the triangle. All was going well and we looked like we would round the mark ahead of two other yachts when one decided to do a very sharp tack across our bows.  To avoid collision we had to pull away and as a result missed the mark and had to do three tacks to finally make the buoy.  That debacle meant the other two yachts got well away from us and with a couple of periods where we were almost becalmed we were soon tailing the fleet.  We still had a wonderful sail and really enjoyed the day. It was a great day for beginners and we were delighted to just be out on the water. 
Twilight racing begins on Tuesday - so now I must ensure that we have a crew. 'Til then... fair winds and good sailing.