A couple of old articles from "Ripples" by Derek Sheppard on Logo (Now Emerald IV)

Original copy on the old Wollongong Yacht Club web site (Report I, Report II). Note - the Wollongong Yacht Club web site is now located at

2003 Cavalier State Championships - I

For those that have noticed that Logo is missing from the harbour again, we are currently participating in the Cavalier 28 State Championships.

Our journey started a couple of weeks ago with a sail to Sydney Harbour on gloomy Friday night. Karl, Jason, Scotty and myself left about 6:30-7:00pm in a moderate to fresh south easterly. The wind had a bit too much East in it to let us get the kite up, but it was lovely two sail reaching weather. Unfortunately, the sea was pretty lumpy and a few of us felt a bit queasy at times. Karl took his mind off the sea state by steering for the first few hours while the rest of lounged around drinking and eating!

The sea was pretty dark and lonely and except for two large ships leaving and arriving at Botany Bay, we didn’t see any other vessels. We arrived at Sydney Heads about 1:30am and then had a lovely reach down Sydney Harbour without seeing another moving vessel. This must be a pretty rare event! Unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly sure where we were going, so we got to see a little more of the harbour than originally anticipated! We finally tied up at the wharf at Sydney Amateur Sailing Club at about 2:30am.

The next morning we met a few of the locals and moved over to a pile berth while we worked out what we were going to do. Many thanks to the kind people off Emma who introduced us to all the right people, arranged a mooring for us and showed us around the club. Also, we must especially thank Robbie who has run us back and forth between our boat and the club in the tender. If your in Sydney it is well worth dropping into SASC, as our experience was absolutely fantastic. They have racing on Friday Nights and Saturday Afternoons, but you have to enter the day before the race. The SASC office contact number is 9953 6597. I am sure you would be made to feel most welcome.

In the afternoon we sailed in the cluSASC b race which had about twelve Cavaliers sailing. It was a very eye opening experience, with a general recall on the first start followed by another close start for the second attempt. Unfortunately, we tore our No1 head sail at the start and this put us on the back foot for the rest of the race. Our crew work was average at times, but far from pathetic. We seemed to be about mid fleet for the first half of the race but then gradually slipped back and lost the last boat on the final work to the finish. The currents and wind patterns around the harbour seem to be of great importance. It was a long race that left us with plenty to think about for the state’s the following weekend.

Again we sailed the club race on the Saturday with Scotty, Keith, Jason, my brother Martin and myself as crew. Presumably because the states were the following day the fleet of Cavaliers was only about five boats. We had to start after the fleet because we were not aware of the requirement to enter the day prior to the race. In spite of this we had a pretty good race staying in touch with the fleet around the course. Again, we lost the last boat through some crew work deficiencies, but we learnt a lot and it was a good preparation for the following day.

The state championships consist of six races sailed over two consecutive Sundays. We have only completed the first three races to date. The course was two laps of a windward leeward course between Clarke Island and up past Shark Island. The course was well suited to the light south easterly breeze. About seventeen boats competed, which is a pretty impressive one design fleet! Again we found out pretty quickly how hot this fleet was as boats started raising their carbon headsails and cracked open crisp new kites. I think we were the only boat with a dacron headsail!

The races had tight starts of which we faired reasonably well, always being in the top half of the fleet as we crossed the line. The works were always interesting with it paying to stay right. We recognised this fairly early, but despite our best efforts we seemed to always get caught out on the left! If you ever ended up on the left side of the fleet it was just about impossible to get back through the line of starboard tackers. You either had to tack back or take a whole line of sterns, either way it always cost a significant number of boats. On the runs we seemed to have quite good boat speed and could hold our ground with most boats despite our rather sad looking spinnaker. Generally, we did quiet well on the runs only picking the wrong side once, getting caught in light air while a gust ran down the other side of the coarse. To give an indication of the closeness of racing after nearly one hours racing there was between three and five minutes between the first and last boat! Certainly not a lot of time for seventeen boats to cross the line. I am glad I am not the finisher.

A conclusion of our learning’s to date are as follows; stay on the same side of the coarse as the gun boats, generally ensure you are to the right of the fleet, make sure you get a good start, and when your holding a reasonable position in the fleet cover pretty tightly to maintain your position, and finally ensure your crew work is impeccable. If you are interested in sailing in this type of racing on frequent basis you need to have good quality sails and you need to strip the boat out of all removable equipment. For us, the weight of the gear we had on board seemed to really show up in the speed we lost in the tacks and in the acceleration out of the tacks. We estimate that we could have pulled about another 250kg out of the boat quite easily, which percentage wise is up around 10% of the weight. Also, some of the guys are just great sailors that have been sailing the same boat, with the same crew for up to seventeen years. Their experience certainly seems to count!

I think we sailed very well considering the quality of the fleet and we have certainly had fun (although I think all of us had some anxious moments at some point during the day!). Given the opportunity again I would certainly make the effort. Both the racing and the people have been great. Our results to date have been on scratch a 10th, 14th and 12th, with 11th overall and on handicap 5th, 5th and 4th, with 2nd overall.

Derek (Logo)

2003 Cavalier State Championships - II

The Cavalier State Championships have now been run and won. After our initiation into the hectic pace of Cavalier Racing and learning to contend with Sydney Harbour traffic on the first weekend, we went home and did a bit of study to better understand the variable winds and currents of Sydney Harbour. This research turned out to be invaluable for our next round of adventures. Of greatest significance is the current caused by tidal flow. The current can be up to half a knot, which in Cavalier terms, with an average speed of about 5 knots, represents a 10% speed advantage, or 10% disadvantage if you get it wrong.

Armed with all this new gained knowledge and the lessons learnt from the previous weekend we lined up for the Saturday Afternoon Club Race. The wind really looked like it was going to kick in, so for a start we were back in familiar territory. We got off to a good start under No1 headsail, staying with the bunch for a while, until the lead boats tacked off. As we came back together we found we were level pegging with the leader if not slightly in front! A great surprise for us. By the time we got to the top mark we were being pressed pretty heavily under the number one, but maintaining good boat speed and we were holding a pretty solid second place. We had a good kite set and held second to the leeward mark. We stayed with the number one whilst the others dropped back to a number two. This worked well for the first half of the beat with us staying on the pace. However, by the time we got to the top mark the main was just a flag and we were seriously over powered. We changed down to a number two on the run, which when we came back on the wind saw us again over powered, should have gone the number three!

Despite being over pressed we maintained our position and things were looking rosy until we got caught in a messy port starboard that left us in a tangle and with no boat speed. This cost us second position. After settling down again we rounded the top mark and set off under kite on the final run, surfing down the harbour at 8-9 knots weaving our way through the traffic. This adrenalin packed run was followed by a close tussle for second up the final beat but, we were unable to break their heavy cover and we crossed the line in a very close third place. A result we were very pleased with. Things were looking up for the next round of state championship races.

As for the previous week, we made a few boat system and people system changes that seemed to improve the ease of using the boats systems and improved the efficiency of our tacking, which in turn enabled us to maintain improved boat speed through the tacks. Vitally important in one design racing.

Sunday dawned a light NE day and we got out on the harbour early and sailed up and down the coarse a few times. This was excellent practice, getting in about twenty tacks and gybes to ensure we all knew what we had to do and to get everything nice and smooth.

The first race was a pretty light nor’ easter with no special features. The wind was reasonably shifty, but the current was probably of greater significance. We got off to a pretty good start only being hindered by somebody running the line. In spite of this we were able to maintain a good position and we got to "collect" on a port/starboard crossing on the next run! Going left seemed to pay and we picked this early and seemed to benefit from staying out there longer than most others. This week we were much more careful about maintaining a good overview of the fleet and always sailed conservatively to make sure we could get into the starboard line up for the top rounding. We also chose to stay wide on the leeward roundings to avoid the inevitable parking lot that occurs in light air. We maintained our position in the top third of the fleet throughout the race and ultimately ended up crossing the line in 5th place. A fine result for us.

Race 2 was pretty similar to the first race, however, we made a couple of minor tactical choices that didn’t pay off. Again, we got a pretty good start, but by this race most people had worked out that the left was paying and there was significantly more traffic to contend with. This and a parking lot at the windward mark saw us round just above mid fleet. On the run we got hurt a little staying to the middle of the course, whilst the rest of the fleet went right costing a few places. Our work was excellent and we picked back a few boats. On the run we followed the fleet out to right but held on a bit too long and this seemed to cost us a couple boats as we crossed the line in eighth. Down wind gybing angles are just another consideration when sailing windward-leeward courses. To keep on the pace you need to chase every knock and also maintain the correct gybing angle for the given wind speed. This is not something many people put much effort into, but it can pay big dividends as was reinforced in this race.

The final race of the day was a beauty, we just seemed to be in the right place all the way around. We got off to a great start and again headed left. We chased a few shifts and ended up in the top few around the top can. Our run was only fair as we missed a wind stream and a couple of boats out wide passed us. We thought we would go for a late starboard drop and see if we could hold them out. This was looking good, but we had trouble getting the jib up in time and the kite down cleanly (our only real crew work failure all day) which let the boats we kept out sneak up inside us. After sorting ourselves out we had ended up out on the right and were considering heading back to the left when we noticed more breeze ahead. We hung on for while and eventually got into the wind stream. Not only was it good pressure but it very quickly started to knock heavily, so when we were sure we were well into the knock we tacked onto starboard. Not long after the wind lifted, and lifted, and lifted, and lifted and then we found ourselves laying just above the mark! We shot into the mark as the rest of the fleet struggled in from the left, rounding the top mark in second place! We had a great rounding, got the kite up and took off for the finish when about 100m later the wind died completely. We sat absolutely becalmed, along with the rest of the fleet, for about 10-15 minutes before we saw the breeze coming in from the North West. Talk about a shifty race! Unfortunately, when the breeze hit it was about 30-35 knots which is not that great with the No1 still up. There was no choice but to go for the line. We battled all the way to the line only to find that the finish boat had swung on its anchor making a line about 4m wide to get through. This was probably the biggest challenge of the race! We crossed in 5th place with a couple of other boats getting the wind either earlier than us or getting it under control quicker than us. All in all a pretty good effort. After crossing the line we headed straight for the lee of Shark Island and dropped the sails, had a beer or three and headed back for the presentation in the rain! Our final results for the regatta were 9th overall (exactly mid fleet) and 1st on handicap (for which I felt a little embarrassed with it being our first series racing with fleet).

I think we sailed very well considering it was the first time we had sailed together as a crew and given the condition of our sails relative to the rest of the fleet. We certainly all had a fantastic time and are already looking forward to next year. We picked up the boat the following Friday and the trip home was a ripper, if not a little damp! It rained absolutely continuously, but this soon paled into insignificance as we surfed down the coast with a top speed of 10.4 knots GPS and VDO+ (maybe 14-15 knots?) on the log. The Coast Guard at Hill 60 recorded gusts of 45 knots from the NE, which must also be a record!? Well worth the pain!

Derek (Logo)