Day-1, Brisbane to Mooloolaba
Early May long weekend Saturday saw the annual Brisbane to Mooloolaba, 52 mile inshore-offshore “Hart Cup”. Forecast was 15 – 20 knot sea-breeze 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 J/122 “Javelin” sailed two-up by husband and wife team James and Sally Crowley. Report below from James and Sally:
Javelin 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 Beneteau 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 unmanageable” we said to each other, just before we were struck with 28 kts. Javelin took off flat-water planing at 15 knots due north but 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 companion-way “Don’t worry, we’ve got 10 miles before we run out of water”! Fortunately, after ~10 minutes, the breeze dropped to a manageable 23 knots and turning dead down-wind we were able to letter-box drop the kite.
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 heady flogging while 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 wind 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 on the starboard quarter. Javelin is at her best point of sail reaching and 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 break-water of the Mooloolah River bar, only to find the larger sets breaking across the entrance. Luckily Javelin only draws 2.2m and the shallowest under the keel was 1.8m. Race results were Javelin 1st on IRC and 1st on AMS.
Day 2: 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 organisers 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 mile leg across the bay to the Mud Island finish was cracked sheets and Javelin extended her lead to 3 miles as the wind faded to a very pleasant 8 knots. Totally exhausted but very happy, with race results a repeat of the Hart Cup.
Congratulations James and Sally.