A new boat for a new year of racing

RSYS Member Peter Campbell is the proud new owner of Cuckoo’s Nest, a Sydney 39CR, which replaces his former yacht iSuper.

Peter writes, ‘Six months after becoming aware that Cuckoo’s Nest was for sale in Manly, Queensland, and three months after receiving delivery of her at Woolwich Dock, we finally got to sail her with the Squadron on Saturday 15 January. The last few months were hectic as we re-rigged the boat, replaced the rudder bearings and generally prepared the boat. She is a Sydney 39CR returning to Sydney Harbour as Cuckoo’s Nest after 11 years having been raced in Victoria and Queensland under a number of different names.

It is exciting to be back on the water, and this was our third outing. Our first sail, two weeks previously, had been a disaster as things fell off. Our second outing was considerably better, and this was to be our first real test of all systems.

It was a stunning day on Sydney Harbour as there was very little waterborne traffic, a steady breeze of 12 to 17 kts, and our race was starting near the bottom of the tide, so tidal flow would be irrelevant. We were on the water early, hoping for a practice spinnaker run, but time ran out as we sorted through headsails. Before the start, Committee vessel Mischief was on station, and we sailed past to let them know that we would be racing – only to receive commentary and feedback that we were dragging sheets and the crew looked slack! It felt good to be back among friends.

It was quite lonely on the line and we managed a good start to leeward of Ultreya and set off towards Bradley’s Head. North of Sow and Pigs, we led them by about one minute. Pre-programmed and conditioned over 30+ years always to sail to Manly West for a first mark in a nor’easter, we proceeded beyond Cannai Point mark to sacrifice our lead and, by the time we realised our navigation error, we returned and rounded CP, to be about two minutes behind Ultreya and just in front of Can Can.

We hoisted a light masthead S2 without mishap – only to display a horrible logo for dog food! This became the topic of conversation in the back half of the boat on the run to N3 and it distracted us from working to close the gap. We were pleased to carefully execute a couple of gybes on the course before N3.

Still trailing Ultreya by at least a minute at N3, we were late with the headsail hoist and then botched the drop which cost another minute as we sailed past the mark still retrieving the spinnaker. Returning to CP, we recovered a little, but still trailed Ultreya by a couple of minutes, and by N3 on the return, we closed the gap a little further.  However, after rounding N3 for the reach home to the Club, I lacked enough confidence to carry the kite and, not wanting to pop our only masthead symmetrical by sailing too shy, we dropped the kite early and reached on with headsail to the finish, finishing 71 seconds behind Ultreya.

It was great to be back! It’s nice to be recognised for potential and we appreciate our handicapper’s confidence that we are expected to do so much better as we work out how to sail this new boat. I hope that we can deliver!’

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