Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Wednesday we returned to the water for the latest in the Puma Twilight series at RCYC. While we were away overseas Ian MacRobert from Southern Spars in Cape Town arranged for the fitment of an external doubler and new vang tang after we noticed some surface cracks on the underside of the boom. They did an excellent job, thanks guys. We also also changed our main sail with the return of our new Quantum Fusion main. We were all chomping at the bit having missed the previous two weeks races.

Racing took place in a Westerly, with a short port tack beat to #2 channel marker, a run down to Milnerton and a beat back to the finish leaving Woodbridge to starboard. Heidi timed the start well, starting at the pin end. We had Majimoto just to weather of us and it took us a little while to find our rhythm and sail through her lee. We slightly over stood the mark as we tended to follow the spinnaker class boats towards the #1 mark. Fortunately we looked behind us to see the competition bow down and heading for #2, so we cracked off and rounded the mark first, ahead of Maestro.

The wind had freshened, gusting 26 knots at the mark so we decided to change our code 2 for the code three jib on the run down to Milnerton. This was a bad move and ultimately cost us the race as we lost time changing sails. With the starboard jib halyard attached to the sail in the port luff groove, we had to sail without a headsail for a minute or two.

Once around Milnerton, we set off towards Woodbridge. As always the mark proved to be notoriously difficult to spot and we sailed too low, leaving it further to starboard than we needed to. This cost us a little more time. Once clear of Woodbridge, we found a bit of rhythm with the helm, main and jib trimmers working well to get us to the line quickly.

The spinnaker and non-spinnaker classes converged on the mark making the race officer's job a nightmare. Initially they scored two of the spinnaker class boats in the non-spinnaker division, giving us a fifth on corrected time. However this was rectified and we finished third on corrected time just 3 seconds behind Rockstar and 1min 20sec behind AL. We were bit rusty on the day and it cost us. The forecast for next week is a more conventional 20 knot SE. Can't wait! On the boat were Elmarie, Charlotte (on debut), Amanda, Laurence, Theo, Bea, Dickie, Werner, Jan, Sean, Heidi and Michael.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Its been a while since we have posted an update to the blog. Much has happened in the last 4 years! Most importantly we have been blessed with a son, Sean Pieter Kavanagh (he is now three years old, has over 12,000 sea miles and 55 flights under his belt already).

Last year we sailed Ray of Light from Turkey to Cape Town, South Africa where we now live. I will try to fill in the blanks in time, however we are now enjoying the club racing at Royal Cape Yacht Club on Ray of Light. The roller furler, overlapping genoa and solar panels are gone. We have a new suit of Quantum Fusion M sails and are learning to race short courses on a big boat.
For this season we have had the bottom professionally finished and faired by Gerry Heggie, Jnr, we have removed as much weight as possible and have updated out IRC handicap with a TCC of 1.105.

Our first event in our new guise was the Intasure Spring Regatta in False Bay. See a separate post for a detailed account of what was an enjoyable, but tough event.

Now we are into Wednesday night sailing. Puma are kindly sponsoring the twilight series this year. We have had a good start to the series with a second and a first in class 1 non-spinnaker. The boat is going well and Heidi is steering excellently. As an added bonus we have been fortunate to gain some insight from Dale Kushner on the trip back from False Bay to Cape Town after the Spring Regatta, from Jan Bol on the last two Wednesday's and Manuel Mendez yesterday.

Last night's race was sailed in a moderate Westerly of 12-17 knots. The course was the usual start between the bridge hut and #10, rounding #2 to starboard, Milnerton to starboard, #4 to port and the finish mark near the bridge hut to port. We considered starting on port tack as the line was difficult to lay on starboard. However we decided that it was prudent to approach the line on starboard. In the end we tacked onto port on the gun, near the pin, but were blanketed by the 50 footers Thunderchild and Picasso, with the fast 42 Maestro going well a little further to weather.

We hung in trying to find clean air on the first leg, eventually rounding #2 mark in 4th. We manged to slip past Maestro shortly after the mark as they lost time trying to goose swing their genoa with their spinnaker pole. Once they got going they crept up on us, creating a little bit of a wind shadow. Heidi made a quick tactical decision to seek out clear air and better pressure and we altered course to starboard smartly. The rest of the run down to Milnerton mark was uneventful, as we gradually slipped past Picasso the Sovereign 54.

Heidi steered an excellent course around the mark. We were now second behind Thunderchild and three boat lengths ahead of Maestro. As we were settling into our rhythm for the beat, our jib halyard slipped, costing us a few boat lengths as we sorted it out. Once we tacked over to port, we had a close port / starboard crossing with Maestro, just clearing ahead of them. Form then on we had good breeze and clear air and we able to concentrate on finding the right balance between height, heel and speed. We seemed to be making good progress, eventually tacking over to starboard on the lay line for #4 mark, now well clear of the other boats in our class.

We had to pinch a little as we closed on the mark, but got a little puff in answer to Heidi's prayer taking us around. From there we had a straight forward reach to the finish to take line honours in our class. Our time of just under an hour was good enough to take a handicap win as well, our first in Wednesday night racing.

Well done to all the crew, Heidi, Jan, Manuel and Dickie, Bea (who looked after Sean), Amanda (on debut), Laurence, Shoaib, Werner, Sophie, Elmarie and Michael.

Heidi, Sean and I are off to Rotterdam for Saskia's graduation next week, so we will miss the next two rounds of Wednesday racing. We look forward to being on the water again on 9 Nov.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Spring regatta was sailed in False Bay from Friday 23 - Sun 25 September 2011. Michael, Heidi and Pieter entered the Beneteau First 44.7, Ray of Light in the IRC division, with the regatta incorporating the IRC nationals with 12 entries. Over the last year the boat has slowly been transformed from an ocean crossing cruiser into an IRC cruiser racer. In August Ray of Light had a 'bottom job' at RCYC. She was sanded smooth, had the through hull fittings and rudder bearing faired in and got a new coat of Chugoku Sea Grand Prix anti-fouling, expertly applied with an airless spray gun by Gerrie Heggie at RCYC. To match the bottom she was given a new set of Quantum carbon technora sails and had her mast professionally tuned by Francesco from Quantum. 
In order to encourage RCYC boats to make the 50 mile trek to false bay, the Pennypinchers Double Cape race was organised over two legs on the weekend before and after the Spring Regatta. Sadly the race to FBYC started off Clifton in less than 2 knots of wind. After drifting for two and a half hours, we unanimously agreed to fire up the yanmar and join all but two boats as retirees. Only the J133, Speed of Yellow and the Archambault 35, Docksafe had the patience to wait for the wind to fill in and complete the race in the middle of Saturday night. We arrived in Simonstown a couple of hours after sunset, after a pleasant day motor sailing. We were treated to spectacular views of Cape Point in the setting sun, rounding within a few hundred meters of the lighthouse in calm conditions. Special thanks to Luke Rademan who made the trip all the way from Langebaan to join us.
Spring Regatta was a different league for Ray of Light. It was the first time we had raced with a full crew of twelve. Although collectively we were a fairly experienced crew, we were lacking in experience racing 40 foot + boats on short courses around the cans. On the first day the wind built from around 15 knots SE, to over 20 with the odd gust in excess of 30 knots. Although we had arranged to meet at the boat early to get in some practice before the 1400 start, all the other pre-regatta odd jobs ate into our time and we arrived at the start line green. With Pieter von Bredow at the helm Ray of Light showed some promising speed upwind, however the lack of practice showed up downwind. On more than one occasion, by the time we had set the 150 m2 mast head S2 we were near the leeward mark and a mad scramble ensued to get the bag down, the jib up and gybe around the mark. At least twice we rounded the leeward mark with main only. Later in the day when the wind strengthened to more than 20 knots, we decided to leave the spinnaker below, a move that paid handsomely as the rockstars ahead entertained with some spectacular broaches, allowing us to sail by.
On day 2 the forecast 8-10 knot SE turned out to be a fantastic 15-20. We sailed better, however we still had our hands full trying to get the bag up, down, wooled and up again in relatively short sausage, sausage, triangle courses. None the less the crew was learning fast and on the day we successfully completed three gybes with the symmetric bag and both an inside and outside gybe with the assymmetric at the wing mark of the triangle.
On day 3 we took off one and a half turns on the fore stay bottle screw and seemed to find a new gear upwind in the 8-12 knot southerly breeze. We found ourselves mixing it up closer to the top of the fleet, and our spinnaker work was taken to new heights, with notable improvement in our sets, gybes and douses. However unfortunately we were forced to withdraw from the second race of the day when we managed to get the symmetrical truly wrapped around the fore stay. We sent a man up the mast to release the head and eventually recovered the bag without any damage. We finished the regatta on a high in the last race that was reminiscent of Saldanha as a light fog rolled in and the wind died.
After 8 races, in the end we finished tie 9th out of 12. Looking at the numbers, on the first two days on average we were of 10 minutes behind the winners on corrected time. On day three our improved crew work saw us narrow the gap to five minutes. Had we been a little better drilled, we may have been able to knock another minute or two off our time, and we would have been competing in the top half of the fleet. This gives us hope for the future. As we gain experience and if we are able to find and retain a committed crew, taking time to practice, we should be more competitive. The top three boats, Robert van Rooyen's modified Farr 38, AL, Phil Gutche's Landmark 43, Windpower and Gordon Kling's Lobelia were all excellently sailed and finished head and shoulders above the rest of the fleet. Congratulations to them. 
The regatta was very well organised and attended, with 66 boats in the various classes. Thanks to Intasure the headline sponsor for the regatta. This is definitely an event not to be missed and we aim to be there next year.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our new mast head spinnaker in the Portugal Day Race in June 2011

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On this trip and subsequently, Oupa has always been happiest at the wheel!
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Special guests on Ray of Light in Turkey in October / November 2007, Pieter and Helga von Bredow, Heidi's parents and at the time my newly acquired in-laws.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A peaceful summers afternoon.
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Aahhhh, a cold Efes for lunch.
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The heavens declare the glory of God.
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One of the biggest dolphins we have seen!
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Dinner for two nights. Yummm.
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A gift from God. We set out with no food. Then along came this beautiful "Akya" or Leervis just off Kemer, 15 miles South of Antalya. The Lord has promised to provide and did! Thank You!
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A welcome reception for a young Turkish couple returning from a circumnavigation. Maybe this will be us one day.
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Thats the way, easy game Johan!
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Three cheers for the cook!!!
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Johan ably assisted by Jenny. Can I breathe out now?
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May 2007 and she is back on the water. It was great to have Johan and Jenny visit us all the way from the RSA. Johan cooking his famous bolognaise. You have got to try this!
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Ray of Light in her winter PJ's.
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The go fast spray!
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The long thin view of Ray of Light.
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Up she comes, now we can see where we lost the half a knot of boat speed.
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Preparing to lift Ray of Light.
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The last day's sailing for 2006. Slightly cool, but still very pleasant sailing in Turkey at the end of November.
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A waterfall coming out of the middle of Antalya. It looks as if the river course is higher than the land to either side. Very weird.
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Christopher heading for home, hi mom.
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Packing up, this was the first time we saw Christopher. A little fresh air can put a man to sleep down below for two days!
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This is how to stow the mainsail at the end of a wonderful trip, Pieter this is your job next time!
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Happy days and happy nights!
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A little beauty from Antalya bay.
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