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Great Winter racing on Sydney Harbour

23 May 2023

Combined Clubs Winter Series race 3 was held on Saturday 20 May.

Glenn Richard, skipper of Ostara writes, ‘It was a day that showed just how good winter sailing can be on the Harbour, with a good breeze, blue skies and the sun shining.

Especially enjoyable was the Combined Clubs Winter Series race.  The harbour is quieter than in summer, but still interesting with action from the Combined Club’s five Divisions as well as the smaller winter fleets of other clubs.

Ostara is a relatively heavy 31 foot Hanse cruising yacht that doesn’t perform well in light conditions, so our spirits lifted when the forecast 8-10 knots turned out to be more like 12-14 knots, with gusts in the higher teens.

However, optimism was short lived as we had a tortured first leg from the Start at Shark Island up to the windward N2 mark at Rushcutters Bay.  Every time we tacked, within 15 seconds or so, we got knocked by an adverse wind shift.  By the time we made it round that first mark the others were running down to Point Piper, poles out, presumably having read the shifts better on the windward leg.

Lesson learned, we paid much more attention to where the wind was for the rest of the race and gradually clawed back some lost time.

The performance of boats in our division ranges quite widely, so the fleet spreads out and final positions are hard to guess until the corrected time results come out.

However, Saturday saw Ostara and RANSA’s Sylvara, with similar handicaps, exchange places several times until the finish off Robertson Point was in prospect.  Having been rudely reminded on the first leg that wind is the primary consideration, we tacked to starboard off Bradleys into a steady breeze while Sylvara stayed closer to the quieter northern shore.

The tactic paid off, managing to finish ahead of our nearest competitor and, to our surprise, having done enough to win on handicap.

As a measure of how close the racing was (as well as indicating the handicap system was working), the difference between first and last place was just 2 min 49 sec on Corrected Time.’

See the results here