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J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 LEADERBOARD

Husband & Wife winning doublehanded Down Under

by J/Boats 15 Jun 2021 08:06 BST
Doublehanded Down Under © J/Boats

As the "north" is rapidly increasing their sailing schedule to coincide with the short northern hemisphere summer (May to September), our friends Down Under are continuing to enjoy their remarkably long summer offshore (August to June)! Can you imagine? Our short summer is their short winter... not fair!

Recently, taking advantage of their amazing summer in Australia was the husband-wife doublehanded sailing team - James and Sally Crowley, on their J/122 Javelin. While they love sailing with their extended family and friends on weekend regattas and offshore races, they also love the challenge of sailing together in doublehanded offshore events. Here is their most recent report of the Brisbane to Mooloolaba Race (a two-legged 52.0nm race, out and back).

Leg One - Brisbane to Mooloolaba

Early May long weekend Saturday saw the annual Brisbane to Mooloolaba Race take place, the 52.0nm inshore-offshore "Hart Cup". The forecast was for a 15-20 knot seabreeze, but the Moreton Bay start brought a lovely 8-10 kts SW breeze off the land with a strong outgoing tide. Beautiful flat-water for our J/122 Javelin.

We won the start and led the windward leg to the first mark. Rounding Green Island south cardinal and launching the 153 m2 A2 spinnaker Javelin kept up the pace for the long run out of the bay. All was good with Javelin, neck-and-neck with fully crewed J/120 BLUE BAYOU and a First 40 vying for the lead past St Helena and Mud islands, what could possibly go wrong? Two hours into the race, the front of the fleet sailed into a glass-out, while the stragglers rapidly caught up on the late-arriving SE breeze.

"Doesn't look un-manageable," we said to each other, just before we were struck with a 28 kts microburst! Javelin took off flat-water planing at 15 knots due north, too much power to get the kite down two-handed, so we held on for the ride. Javelin was at her usual calm and controlled best, with never a hint of broaching. A quick check on the chart-plotter had Sally shouting up the companionway, "Don't worry honey, we've got 10 miles before we run out of water"! LOL! Not sure if she was being sarcastic or was worried! Fortunately, after about 10 minutes, the breeze dropped to a manageable 23 knots and, turning dead downwind, we were able to letter-box drop the kite (by far the safest maneuver to drop the asymmetric spinnaker- lazy sheet taken through the gap between the mainsail foot and boom and down the companionway).

Having started the race with the No.1 headsail, it was still on deck, and figuring it would hold up on a beam reach, up she went. Great, except that now we were hit with 34 knots and white-out conditions, some of the other yachts saw 40 knots, but we were too busy (LOL).

Fortunately, we had installed single-line reefing; which meant that all we had to do was put in a reef.

Unfortunately, having got the first reef in, a second was definitely needed (we usually reef and go to #3 headsail at 22 knots,). The physical drain of two-up meant this process was exhausting. So, we ended up head-to-wind with the headsail flogging while we were getting the second reef in.

As usual, Brisbane storms pass pretty quickly and 20 minutes later we were back on course looking for the channel markers and dodging ships while heading out of the bay in 20+ knots wind. The A4 heavy weather running spinnaker was going to be unmanageable, so we opted for the Code-0 as a reaching sail, which worked beautifully until the wind rotated to ESE and we had to put it away.

The strong breeze, which had been slow to arrive, had been throwing up a large swell, and by the time we exited the bay, we had 2-3m waves on the starboard quarter (big waves!).

Javelin is at her best point of sail reaching relative to our competitors. That is what we got as we passed the Fairway Beacon at Caloundra and turned north for the final run up to Mooloolaba. Two-sail reaching, we quickly regained some of the time we had lost. This leg was great fun, but without crew weight on the beam, we couldn't fully power-up, and by the time we rounded Point Cartwright to the finish, Javelin was in second place.

You would think the finish would have been a relief! But, when you're two-handed and trying to drop sails headed into 2-3m swell in 22 kts, it's harder than racing!! Having got the sails down and strapped tight, we headed for the breakwater of the Mooloolah River bar, only to find the larger sets breaking across the entrance!! Oh my God, it was crazy conditions! Luckily, Javelin only draws 2.2m and the shallowest under the keel was 1.8m.

In the end, our race results were incredibly rewarding- 1st IRC Division and 1st AMS Division! Who knew!??

Leg Two - return to Brisbane

The return race south on the long weekend Monday is known as the Mooloolaba- Mud Island race and, fortunately, the SE wind had dropped to a manageable 16 knots.

The race organizers had delayed the start to allow some of the bigger boats a safe exit across the river bar.

Well-rested on the lay-day, due to cancellation of the offshore Round Mudjimba Island Race, we hoisted the main with one reef and the #2 headsail. This set-up is unusual for Javelin but two-handed is a different game. Not having tried this sail configuration before, we found the boat very docile with the #2 strongly pulling through the choppy seas.

The conservative set-up paid real dividends and Javelin put a good mile on the fleet tacking down to coast to the Fairway Beacon.

Entering the shipping channel with a weakening breeze, we shook out the reef for the work up the side of Bribie Island, thence across to Moreton Island. The 12.0nm leg across the bay to the Mud Island finish was cracked sheets and Javelin extended her lead to 3.0nm as the wind faded to a very pleasant 8 knots. We were totally exhausted, but very happy with the race results; a repeat of the Hart Cup!

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