When we first bought Indefatigable, she was quite bare. She didn’t look very welcoming inside, in fact, the cabin looked like one of those house you go in where nothing ad been updated in some time. The outside had a few modifications however. Some quick-release clam-cleats on the rear winches, and two new-ish 130 and 150 genoa sails. This, we soon discovered, was because the gentle man in his mid twenties from who we bought her, sailed for racing almost exclusively. Seeing as how we are in the winter of our ownership of S/V Indefatigable, we ought to see what she could do before we parted ways. We entered the Northern Yacht Club’s Fall Racing Series in North Sydney.
As detailed in earlier posts, Erika and I had raced, as crew, on other boats (Erika mostly on the bow, myself all grinding), but were never at the helm in a full blast race.
There are two Yacht Clubs on Sydney Harbour, the Northern Yacht Club, and The Dobson Yacht Club. The Northern is about a half hour drive from where we live, but host a number racing series and cup races over the run of the season. When you look out over their piers, there is a mast on almost every vessel. As the commodore would later tell us, it’s a club for sailors.
This was going to be a test for the little 1972 Evinrude 6hp outboard. So far, we would leave the pier, putt about 100 feet from the marina and put the sails up. Now we were looking at a 5 Nm motor from Sydney to the Northside before every race, but proudly it always fired up first pull, and got us there no sweat.
Our crew was a ragtag bunch with varying levels of experience, but all enthusiastically volunteered. My cousin Glen started out on the bow, moving the sail and watching for traffic. Erika and my other cousin, Gavin, held things down grinding and tailing in the cockpit. Erika’s co-worker AJ was an all-rounder, and proved himself to be a valuable bowman in the later races.
There were about 8 other boats in the 8 races, give or take a few here and there. Our class, the non-spinnaker class, had 4 boats for most of the series, and one race swelled to 6 boats.
To say race #1 didn’t go well would be a bit of an understatement, and if I can offer any bit of advice to new racers, it’s exactly this:
When you think it’s time to tack, it’s not. If it looks like you can make the mark, you can’t. If you think your boat can point high enough to squeak through, it can’t.
Up until this point we had just been sailing around the harbour with no need for any sort of accuracy. It certainly was an eye-opener as to how difficult it is to hit a good lay line when you miss it not once but twice for the same mark.
So the first race saw us come in dead last, over 10 minutes behind the last boat, even after the handicap calculations were made.
We slowly improved over the course of the series.
Our class was two discernible groups. Avatar, and Down North who would battle for the top spot week after week, every time alternating between first and second place. The other group, in which we were a proud member was with Outrageous, Sea Star, and Wind Rush, which was basically a competition (albeit not a competitive competition, because the other racers were cool like that) not to come in last. Racing against these boats was very fun. Even though we were at the back of the pack, spending almost the entire race what seemed like spitting distance away from Sea Star was very intense!
The cover of Fall Race Series Magazine
The thrill-a-minute action of sail racing
We had some pretty light winds at times
Wind Rush making her way back
I think we’ve officially been bitten by the racing bug, and look forward to perhaps racing our new vessel again next year in North Sydney.