May 19, 2007-Back into the Southwest Monsoon
Last summer in Singapore we had great sailing winds week after week; during July and August it was the season for the Southwest Monsoon and we had 15 to 20 knots on several occasions. June or July are the normal months when the SW Monsoon starts in this part of Asia but already this year in May we’ve had nice South Westerly winds two weekends in a row. Not twenty knots, but ten and steady.
Perfect winds for practicing and our practices are starting to show some results.
Last week we sailed out past Marambong Island where we had some sea room and we had a great practice. We went up wind for an hour, tack on tack, and got into a good rhythm. People are getting comfortable with their roles. We marked the newly painted deck for the car and halyard positions. Then we moved people around a bit and had some cross training.
When the clock told us our time was half gone we set up the kite and did a sweet bear away set and then fell into a jibe around a parked tanker.
A few jibes and some other foredeck exercises like moving the jib over for a port rounding and then back for a floater takedown later and we were all feeling the luxury of the time to try things without the pressure of a short leg in a real race.
Finally back near Marambong we dropped the kite for good and set sail for Raffles Marina. The cooler came on deck and we had some cold drinks compared notes on what worked and what didn’t, and we relaxed for the sail home. It was good.
This Saturday we went out for a fun race and it was another great day of sailing with eight to twelve knots of wind oscillating out of the SW. Several people on our crew were out of town and we dipped into the list of alternates but even these folks are doing pretty good. We are starting to have some depth in the crew.
Of course the race wasn’t perfect. We had some indecision on the sail selection before the start and then got to the starting area late, and missed the first signal. Then we found our selves on port tack facing a line of starters on starboard. We ducked behind them and tacked at the boat end to start a little late but on the right side for the expected shift.
We had a nice beat, a nice set and we were in good shape down the run vying with one other boat for the lead.
Then the wheels came of a bit. We were late getting the jib ready after having a problem with the luff and we couldn’t set the jib. So we jibed at the mark and tried to carry the kite on the next leg, but it was too high and when the inboard end of the pole went up the mast and we couldn’t level the pole we had to get the chute down still without a jib.
So we rounded the next mark bareheaded and we lost first place but no other boats got by before things were sorted out and we finished a credible second. Not too bad.
Racing is harder than a leisurely practice though and after eight short legs we had a boat load of tired sailors, some didn’t have enough energy left to decide whether they wanted a cold beer or power drink. (I had no problem with that decision).
But there were no complaints about the day and people are starting to think about Phuket in December when King’s Cup rolls around. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be ready.
Fred & Judy, S/V Wings, Singapore
Marina Yacht Services photo