Cabbage Tree Island Race

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 2 Dec 2023 04:53

Noon Position: 33 00.5 S 151 56.6 E
Course NE Speed 4.0 knots
Wind: SE, F3
Sea: slight Swell: SE 1ml
Weather: overcast, warm
Days Run: 70nm

Chris has rejoined Sylph as co-skipper and we are now competing in the Cabbage Tree Island Race, which started off Clarke Island in Sydney Harbour at 1900 last night. Once again our starting strategy was to remain clear of the go-fast boats and stay in clean air as much as possible. The wind was light from the SSE which gave us a good run at the start line on a broad reach. We crossed about a minute and a half after the starter's gun which worked well, as it meant we weren't being run over by the maxis and other racing machines.

Unlike the Tollgate Island Race, the breeze, while light, held for the evening and most of today, so we got out of the harbour in good time and have made reasonable progress up the coast. Unfortunately once we had cleared North Head all the other boats popped their spinnakers, including Currawong, but despite the sailmaker's best efforts, Sylph's spinnaker was not ready in time for this race so we have had to make do with poling out the headsail. How much difference a spinnaker would make to Sylph I do not really know as I have never had one before and now I am not going to find out until the Sydney to Hobart race.

Nonetheless, while we are trailing the rest of the fleet by a considerable margin, I am happy with Sylph's performance. We have kept moving at a reasonably steady four knots for most of the night, and only now have we dropped down to less than two knots as we approach Port Stevens, with our rounding mark, Cabbage Tree Island, about 14 miles ahead.

The wind is going to back into the NE later today so that means that it will be a beat to windward to get around Cabbage Tree Island, and then, once around the island, the wind is forecast to continue to clock around to the SW ... more headwinds. I suspect this is going to be another long race for old Sylph.

All is well.