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The first race of the season is most often a disappointment. Things that worked last year doesn’t work the first time out. We are unorganized and slow. However, the Seilmakeren 2008 is the worst start ever.
We choose to go out into the ocean. We lost more or less 4 hours by this move. So we decided to go inside north and Back to Bergen. Both tracks where the wrong decision. Going North there was no wind at all. In periods we went backwards. In periods we moved by the current, we where swirled around, we sailed into wind-less areas while we could se boats passing us outside.
In short a rather frustrating race. But it started well:
We had a wonderful sail to Bergen in incredible spring weather. Sun for a week is not common at the West Coast of Norway in May. But alas, no wind.
As a painted ship upon a painted ocean we sat from Wednesday until Saturday morning. Then we just gave in.
We started well and choose to go with the new asymmetric spinnaker. A good choice the first few miles. Further up the road we should have changed to a symmetrical, but then it was to late. When we finally changed we got back the lost but shot into a windless spot and stayed there while the others passed us at good speed.
The same story happened over and over again.
It was all in all a wonderful trip, but a rotten race.
It’s time to start spring planning. The rubber bumper Keelpro is soon to arrive from Sweden, the spinnaker is finished at Westaway Sails and all details have been varnished 5 or 6 times in the basement.
Furthermore, I am going to participate in both the Seilmakeren race and the Simrad Onestar. The first is a double handed race from Bergen to Stavanger and back. The Simrad Onstar is a single hande race in the triangle Hankø, Risør and Vä derø erna on the Swedish west coast.
Both races are pretty pretentious for an old man in an old boat. But, what the heck? What can I lose?
In a good day, all I can win is a race. On a bad day, all I lose is a race.
If the weather turns rough, we might do a great race. Quite a few of my competitors, both at Seilmakeren and the Simrad Onestar are rather flimsy yachts. As soon as the wind start blowing a few of them will be very hard to master alone or short handed. Most of the yachts are made for having the crew hiking out, while ”Salt” is sturdy and doesn’t make a big deal of having ballast on the outer edge or not.
So, it might turn out well. Besides, racing is most for the competition and the fun, not for the winning. Right?
I have to admit it – this has been a good spring-season. And summer has started fine…
Salt became number two in our handicap-group regarding the weekly Wednesday round the can races. Second is not bad when you take into account that we did not attend 3 races. If anyone had taken Salt out one of the missing Wednesdays, we would have won the series.
The two-handed race to Shetland – the Visit Shetland Bergen Races – did not go as planned, but worked out fine. On my way to Bergen, the other two-hands (Odd) called in sick. Salt is a lucky ship. New hands turned up in Bergen. Geir-Olav abandoned a Wasa 36 and changed to the Kaskelot. However, Geir-Olav needed to be back in Bergen Sunday to tend to his new career as a non-student. Which meant we had to leave Shetland early.
Anyway, we did well and came in fourth. I am rather proud of that. All the contestants in front of us are far more experienced in short hand ocean racing and just beat us by minutes. The two of us raced the boat well. Just a little bit more will to win, and we would have done even better. I had a low-energy period – listening to the radio and enjoying the sun at the Oseberg platform, instead of trimming and changing sails – and Geir-Olav did not know the capabilities of Salt going hard on a spinnaker-reach.
Practice make good
I don’t know the Cape Horn well enough to use it during racing yet. That is – it’s fast to get it work incredibly well on a hard upwind leg. But it takes to long to set it for a reach or downwind conditions. More correct – to get it to work is fast, but to get it to work properly and fairly accurate one has to trim the boat as neutral as possible – and that takes some time.
However, Cape Horn took the helm at Bressay – just outside Lerwick, Shetland – and kept us going due East with minimal adjustments for 200 miles to Marsteinen, the lighthouse at the inlet to Hardanger and Bergen. Very impressive boat handling and very relaxing – going fast at 6-7 knots in a nice breeze, waves, but non really heavy, with Genoa 2 a few points off hard on the wind.
AIS for free
Finishing fourth is fine – and next year we will do better! Besides – today I received a gift from the race sponsors. I won an AIS-transponder to the tune of 12.000 kroner (2000 Dlrs). Isn’t that something! Just out of the blue I received equipment I never ever would have gotten money to buy as there is always something speed enhancing equipment more necessary than an AIS-transponder.
One long miserable night
Last weekend we took part in the Ryfylke Rundt race. A long miserable night, with heavy rain and rarely any wind. 2007 was the first time for short-hand-racing in this old and traditional race. It’s hard work as we change directions in and out among the islands and the fjords. I am sure I had the spinnaker up at least 7 times and repacked the wet monster as many times. All sorts of sail combinations were tried out until my fingers and hands were all sore and my back broken by all the hoisting. Well – it paid off, we won our class.
In 1945 the double-ender “Rani” finished first and got both the line honour and won the over-all in the very first Sydney-Hobart race. She was the second smallest of the nine participating yachts.
Rani was a short-overhang, double-ended, light-displacement 35-footer (not unlike a well known Kaskelot “Salt”, I’m just mentioned it) – designed by A.C. Barber in Sydney and built by the Steel Brothers of lake Macquarie in New South Wales.
Dear fellow double-ender admirers, if anyone have more knowledge and a more detailed description of Rani – feel free to submit a comment. The photo used here is the only one I can get my hands on.
The following is copied from Knockdown, The Harrowing True Account Of A Yacht Race Turned Deadly
By Martin Dugard, Pocket Books.
The following paragraph ran in an Australian yachting magazine in October 1945: “Yacht race to Tasmania: It is expected that an ocean yacht race may take place from Sydney to Hobart, probably starting on December 26, 1945. Yachtsmen desirous of competing should contact Vice-President Mr. P Luke, 62 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, for information. Entries close December 1, 1945.”
Their boats were heavy cruising yachts with deep keels instead of true ocean racers, but nine skippers sailed that first Syd-Hob. One of the nine starters was a fifty-two-footer named, in a moment of midwar patriotism, the Winston Churchill. Huon-pine planking, copper nails, cloth sails. Hauled up from the water two days before to let the hull dry, then a hull polish of Johnson’s floor wax to help her slip through the water faster. Built in 1942 by Tasman shipwright Percy Coverdale, Winston Churchill was considered the finest yacht in all Australia. Legend has it that her namesake even gave his blessing to her moniker on a postwar trip to Australia.
Overlooked in the prerace hoopla was Rani, a thirty-four-footer skippered by John Illingworth of the Royal Navy. Rani was also made of Huon-pine planks, pounded into the frame with copper nails. Her sails were hand-stitched cotton. All ropes were Indian hemp. The mast was Oregon pine, the rigging was cast iron, and the bilge pump was a pair of sailors clutching a tin bucket and frying pan. The crew wore Royal Australian Navy gear, mostly cotton impregnated with wax.
Illingworth was taking the Syd-Hob challenge seriously, having spent the months beforehand visiting Australia’s south coast and speaking with fishermen about the winds and currents of the Bass Strait. He also developed friendships at Sydney’s local weather bureau to learn more about weather patterns over Eastern Australia and Tasmania.
But all that knowledge went missing. The Bass Strait didn’t take kindly to the event, heaving a gale at the fleet. Boats were scattered. Rani went missing. In an era before radios were aboard racing boats, there was no way to inquire about her location or the condition of the crew. All that was clear was that she had left Sydney with the standard issue of navigational aids: paper charts, coastal guides, a compass fosteering, and a sextant for determining position. The CYCA gave her up as lost. It had been a major blunder allowing such a small boat to race across the Bass Strait.
But five days after the storm began, Rani suddenly sailed up the Derwent River into Hobart. This greatly amazed the CYCA welcoming committee at the dock for two reasons: first, Rani had been given up; and second, no one else had yet finished. Little Rani had won the first Syd-Hob in six days, fourteen hours, and twenty-two minutes. It’s still the slowest winning finish in race history, but henceforth, the first boat across the finish line would receive the Illingworth Trophy. Rani also won on handicap that year, the first of only four boats in Syd-Hob history to do so. Winston Churchill finished third.
The 628 nautical mile course is often described as the most gruelling long ocean race in the world, a challenge to everyone who takes part.
From the start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait, down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the city of Hobart.
It is my plan to continue to make a list of double-enders that either are famous or should be. I am currently researching the Halvorsen brothers who build and sailed a long list of double-enders in Sydney-Hobart races. I want do a story on Suhali, maybe the Tumlare, Colin Archer and so on. Please feel free to give me hints on double-enders I should know about.
Photo problems: This blog works best via Firefox. You can download the browser Firefox free of charge by going here. The Hot Shot Kaskelot Salt blog also works fine on Apple – but for some reason Explorer makes some of the photos move over the text. Only some photos – not all and not in any particular order. Very annoying. I don’t know why Explorer does this – except that Explorer might revenge the fact that I converted to Firefox when they change the Explorer-layout. I have tried to delete the photos and inserting them once more, I have tried to use the code.. everything is OK and looks fine – and then, bang – Explorer mixes it all up one more. In my humble opinion you are better off with Firefox no matter what you use your computer to accomplish.
Comments: Several of you readers out there in blogosphere sends me e-mail comments. It would be much more fun if you used the blog itself to comment. Partly because more readers could participate in the debate, and partly because it will increase my statistics for the blog.
One reason for using e-mail might be language. I have received German, Danish and Norwegian comments on e-mail. Feel free – use your language – but do it on the blog, please.
I write English as a selfish wish to keep my knowledge of English “bright and sharp”. Don’t let it put you off – go ahead and blurp your thing in Norwegian if you prefer.
Pages: On top of this post and to your right, you will find several pages containing more about racing, about particular regattas, about the Kaskelot Salt and equipment – and there is more to come. The pages are meant to be of a longer lasting information value than the posts. I just want you to be aware of the existence the pages.
New shots: I have enclosed more photos from the New Year Regatta (Nyttårsseilasen 2007) in Stavanger. Some of these shots are taken from other racers. It might be a test of your browser – and it might tell you the difference between a pocket camera and the real thing, about keen photographers and amateurs…..
As the title suggest, the double-o -7 New Year Race is not going to be mentioned much in our logbook. We ended up being a hardly decent 24th. However, we where the first of our competitors racing with the same handicap. We could have done better. We had problems with flying the spinnaker, we had two, possible five bad tacks and all in all we never really got Salt into the fast track.
At the bright side of life the above photo (Salt at right) made the local newspapers-website (Aftenbladet.no) look good. And to our defence – the wind was more or less down to zero when we started. We moved hardly forward the first 20 minutes, and very slowly the last 10 minutes.
The New Year Regatta is sporting a hunting start where the handicap is taken out at the time of start. Each individual boat is given a starting time according to handicap. The yachts with the largest handicap starts first. In theory all boats will then be at the finish-line at the same time. Besides it is more fun for the smaller and slower boats to be overrun by the big and fast ones, compared to loose sight of them few minutes after the start. At least it gives you time to admire them.
Lame ducks. However, when there is no or very little wind – the small and slow yachts, can not gain distance during the handicap-time as long as noone are moving. Just to make the race more interesting – the wind came back to give the fastest yachts and latest starters a little breeze to move. And the wind gave its last little puff as soon as the largest and fastest competitors had crossed the finish line.
Anyway – the race gave us a wonderful excuse to be out on the fjord. There was even moments of brilliant sunshine – followed by torrents of rain and rainbows. And we hade a nice fight going with Loffen – I think we passed each other four times.
So what did we do wrong?
– First – we could have hoisted the spinnaker in good time before start and just left it flapping in the next to non-existing wind. This way we could have ensured that we would get no problems when we finally started.
– Second – we could have stuck to the original plan of reaching starboard of Tjuvholmen – thus getting a better spinnaker reach, possible a little more wind, and we would have been out of the incoming flow. However, we had Loffen fighting us in lee pressing us above Tjuvholmen.
– Third – we had some really awful tacks. I guess we are plain rusty and out of touch. But still – we have to learn to give Salt a wide tack, filling her big Genoa and let her pick up new speed before we adjust to the new tack and wind angle.
– Fourth – we where to slow getting the spinnaker down and setting the Genoa twice. First I guess I hoped to keep the spinnaker flying the complete first leg, and that the 6-meter-a-second wind (12 knots) from the weather forecast would finally show up. When we finally got the spinnaker down it was during a squall, not out of control, but less elegantly than we normally do and without the Genoa working properly. The second time around was a little improvement, but far from the best we can do.
I guess the proverb – winning a yacht race is not a question of getting everything right, but to do less faults – is true.
Well – next year we will be back and even more ready! The party was nice thanks to sponsor Subsea 7. Besides hot shot sailor and TV commentator, Christen With, had some nice videoshots of Salt and remarked positively about our spinnaker handling. (Admittingly – he also commented that we were to consentrated on the spinnaker and forgott the main…)