Keeping "This Way Up" before the Sydney to Hobart


The Cruising Yacht Club’s Bluewater Point Score consists of five Category 2 offshore races, finishing with the Cat 1 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. “This Way Up” hit Sydney in time for the 180nm Cabbage Tree Island Race (a S2H qualifier) and the 60nm Lion Island – Botany Bay Race.

Cabbage Tree Island Race

Cabbage Tree race started Friday evening with a huge fleet from the 100’ Wild Oats XI, down to little Sydney 36’s.  The start was light & shifty with showers.  TWU picked a huge gap in the centre and got a great start in clear air.  By the time we left the harbour in darkness, there was an impressive line up of go-fast boats still behind us. The SE’er came howling in, giving everyone a flying broad reach up the coast.  We hammered through crazy electrical storms, with lightning flashing at the big boats all around usOnly one close encounter with a bulk carrier, “Gee that’s a funny big land mass in front… Ohhhh!”  Go behind.  Dawn had us rounding Port Stephens in good position on approach to Cabbage Tree Island.

The bash back south was a shy reach, into a steady 15-18kt breeze with big, sharp seas on the nose.  We left the other fancy Sydney 36 behind us, as we hung on the tail of the larger 40’ crowd.  We were on the pace!

And then the rudder snapped off..

And we just kept racing, only slightly faster. 

TWU had only 200mm of rudder left, and managed to balance the boat with good sail trim.  The teeny steerage & reduce drag kept us flying along from Newcastle all the way back to Pittwater.  Then the breeze dropped & we needed to power up. But you can’t run a code 0 with no rudder.  TWU elected to retire & motor home the last 30 miles, rather than wallow for another day.

A very disappointing outcome given how well we were doing.  The next big challenge was getting a new rudder designed, built, installed & approved in 10 days.  No small task but we did it.

Video below is of TWU's snapped rudder!

Lion Island Race

TWU rocked up for Lion Island – Botany Bay race with confidence.  What more trials and tribulations could we possibly have to endure?  Another good start, we were one of the first boats out of the harbour, with some very well credentialed yachts getting to know our transom.

The coast rewarded local knowledge, as the light NE’er fought the land breeze.  TWU worked the coast in and out, avoiding most of the holes.  The entrance to Pittwater was a nightmare, with strong cross currents as well as a large fleet from Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club crossing our line on starboard and finally an invisible breeze hole up to ½ a mile out from the cliffs.  We stayed focused, and got around the mark about mid fleet, not bad for a boat lacking that local knowledge.

The trip back south was frustrating, with a light shifty northerly constantly coming and going.  TWU heard some intel on 72 as they shortened the course for the short ocean race outside Sydney.  Go east!  We went many miles offshore and sailed around the fleet.  Many yachts called it quits & turned back home at Sydney.  We kept working south, even picking up a brief 30knot squall as we approached Botany Bay. It nearly had us on the bricks!  Cool and controlled, we sorted things out, turned the mark inside the bay and again we put our foot down and left the 40’ crowd behind. TWU loves going upwind in a fresh breeze!

The big boys managed to finish late evening, just before the breeze shut down.  We kept moving forward, always ready to change trim, try a cooler sail, or just shift weight.  It took us two hours to finish from Sydney Heads to Rushcutters Bay.  Again we passed another First40 on the way. 

7th on IRC, 5th on ORC, it was a “who’s who” of Sydney big boat racing that finished above us in breeze.  Not a bad result for a Sydney 36.

After eight months or preparation, training, hard work, not to mention a long list of trials and ordeals, “This Way Up” is almost ready for the big one on Boxing Day!

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