Touring Sydney & Racing the Harbour

Touring Sydney & Racing the Harbour

Surprises keep being a constant on our tours through Sydney. Apart from latest architecture, the obvious icons of the scenery, all the well made coffees there are plenty of smaller and bigger discoveries. Yesterday we were sucked away from the city into a remote bush covered valley. It felt like being out there in a national park but we actually just wandered a city bushwalk. While seeing a few houses up on the crest at the beginning, it turned virtual outback along the way. And led us straight to the head and bay where we had parked Jade Akka.

With all of the neighbourhoods close to the CBD visited, we now have a good impression of the very wealthy as well as not so wealth type of urban communities. While Newtown reminded us of busy, lively Langstrasse we can not come up with a comparison for the fancy curated Double Bay - maybe Sprüngli turned into a whole row of shopping mansions? We learned that some areas are more family oriented, others more double-income-no-kids or single and all of them feature parks and distractions for the hours and days off work. There are always some rows of businesses for the locals, so no need to venture far for daily needs. We will have a broad choice where to put our feet on land.

Sailing will most likely accomany us for longer, as we raced several times now in Sydney Harbour. Jade Akka stays at anchor at these times, though. While exploring Pittwater we had met Adrian, who was surprising us with his Swiss-German. Though many years back, he had made his way from the Netherlands to Australia with a stop in Switzerland and now is a very enthusiastic racer-cruiser and active in the sailing communities around Sydney Harbour. He invited us for races west and east of the bridge while we learned the difference between race-sailing and cruising. To put it short for the racing: keep the sail in optimal trim at every second. Also when you approach shore quickly and are about to tack just a few meters before hitting the rocks, docks or whatever is in your way.

Racing and cruising feel like two very different worlds. Both require well maintained boats, both require knowledge of sailing, both require good planning and sound team work. But racing does not give you a break while cruising may mean patiently waiting for the next tack or gybe. In the races with Adrian we got as close as half a meter (or even less) to other boats, trimmed the sails seconds before tacking, shifted (body-)weight from one to the other side: on Jade Akka we trimmed sails after setting the new course or a wind shift, shifting weight not to think of. Sailing in the harbour sees little constant wind, due to topography, whereas off shore the wind is turning relatively slow. Of course Adrian's J-boat is a complete opposite of Jade Akka, with light displacement, narrow keel, latest leightweight sails etc. On Jade Akka it's about durability, so our sails feel more like heavy, rough tent fabric and the keel is long and thus manoeverability limited.

Twilight races, basically short after office hours, took us thus to the Greenwich Flying Squadron several times. Adrian's wive and crew became friends very quickly and the club's familiar atmosphere made us feel very much at home from the first evening. So we became part of the christmas sailing wearing famous Santa hats and red Wild Oats t-shirts. Sailing is defininitely big here!