Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rubber band games

Have been a bit slack on the old blog lately. Lots going on though.

We just had the State Election, billed as the race between Dumb and Dumber. Dumb retained power so expect more public transport problems and decaying public infrastructure. Can't say the alternative looked much better but such is politics.

Took a trip down to Benalla a few weeks ago to see where the National Championships are going to be in July. Had two great flights of about 2 hours each which is great for this time of year. Met one grumpy farmer with locked gates and found more locked gates again on the second flight. It was all bit of a shock as I have not had any of those challenges for some time. Fingers crossed things area bit smoother during the Nationals...It will be a long week with carry outs after every flight.

One of my best mates Pete has become a dad! Well done to Pete and Cath.

I have also started flying a 260 over western Sydney on weekends for a bit of extra fun. Work is also flat out which is always a good thing, and I have nearly reached the end of writing a whole new Flight Manual as well as a Maintenance manual update.

Way too much staring at computer screens with the manual writing which makes finding the following all the sadder.

So, if a the average rubber band diameter is 38mm and has a range of about 5.5m, how far will a 10m rubber band go? Simple, ask some crazy Japanese tv show....

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta

There are some things about Sydney that are hard to beat. Yacht racing on the harbour is one of them.

I have the great pleasure of racing an Elan 40 called Poets Day, with a bunch of guys every now and again. We don't get out as often as we should which is a shame because the crew and the boat seem quite competitive in our class.

Last weekend was the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta. In total some 277 yachts took to the harbour to dodge the ferries and each other while racing for a new Audi A4 from the sponsor. I still have not got to the bottom of how that was going to be given away considering there were 21 different divisions racing on 7 different course areas.

We were in PHS Division 2 which basically means we are in for hard racing with handicaps based on previous performance. While fast, we are not as fast as some but that is the boats fault... By comparison IRC Division 1 is the glory race with all the big, fast and very expensive dedicated race boats that are handicapped based on a set of measurement rules and predicted performance. Well thats the simple version.

In either case, you end up with close racing and the main person to beat is yourself because it is really your handicap you are sailing against. The other boats are just there to get in the way and make it look exciting.

Anyhow, Saturday was perfect. The sun was out, the wind was a nice 12 knot Nor Easter for Race 1 and a good 20knots for the 2nd race.

I got to run the bow as the foredeck monkey which basically means setting, jybing and dropping spinnakers as well as setting and changing head sails. All very energetic stuff and a bit wetter than I am used to. Normally I run the pit and trim headsail (down the back of the boat in a nice dry cockpit). It was a fun change and always good to keep on top of all the different jobs.

Race one was really a warm up for us as we had not all raced together and in the end we were 5th on corrected time. Technically it all went well, we just needed to push a bit harder in the second race.

Race two was more like it for the boat with closer to 20knots of breeze. We made a good change down to the number 3 headsail just before the start which made for perfect trim in the strengthening breeze. The fun thing in strong breezes though are the spinnaker legs. We had two to sail in each race and they ran half the length of the harbour with a jybe about half of the way down the leg. At the top mark it was a classic bear away set with a port pole and we were off like a shot out of a gun.

I just had time to catch my breath, gulp down some water and move the headsail over to the port side ready for the next windward leg before it was time for the jybe.

Now jybing a spinnaker is where it can get ugly. The whole team has to work in time and the foredeck team needs to get the job done in a few brief moments before tonnes of wind power rip it all out of our hands. When it works to plan it is a sweet thing. When it goes wrong there is a good chance of injury and lots of swearing. Good news was, every jybe we did was good.

Even better, every spinnaker drop was good - another critical moment in a race and a great place to make time if you can drop later than the other guys and still get around the mark clean.

In the end, it was a great race giving us 3rd over the line and 2nd on corrected time. At the end of day 1 we were in 3rd place.

The sad news was that this was a two day event with a total of four races and not every one had leave passes for the two days of racing.

Being a single guy, I was ready for as much racing as was available! So on Sunday I was all depressed knowing that we should have been on the water and kicking some butt and figuring out how to split an Audi A4 8 ways.

As fate would have it, Sunday was also calm. The races had a two hour time limit and all most all races were abandoned with no one likely to get around the course in time.

The end result? A podium finish for us, some good bruises and my first rope burn in many years on the water. Can't wait to do it again.

PS: Sorry no really good action photos - the camera gets put away at the 5 minute gun...The above pictures are all pre-start which is why everyone looks so relaxed.