Back on the bike

Back on the bike as they say, or back out on the water.

Over the Easter weekend I spent a little time up at Bayview Yacht Racing Association, BYRA with the NS14s State titles. Having grown up over the road it was amazing the changes to the area and to Pittwater itself. I spent a day out on the start boat assisting the Race Officer and the changes were immense. What was really noticed having not been on Pittwater for a while is the amount of moorings that have encroached on to the sailing area, areas where we used to race are now covered by moored boats. BYRA for example used to have a channel that they could sail in and out through the moorings, nope, now filled with more moorings. It was enjoyable however to be out on ‘old waters’ again and just spectating.

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The white roof in the middle of the photo is where I spent my teenage years growing up, my parents built this house in the mid 70s.

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Last weekend I drove down to Batemans Bay for their annual regatta. It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the water running a few races and here was the classic example of why I’ve enjoyed doing yacht racing race management. Whilst BBSC is predominantly a yacht club, this regatta which has been running for several decades is catering for trailerables and off the beach classes. As a result the yacht owners and crews man the support and race management boats with a little extra RIB support from Canberra, so there’s plenty of experience and enthusiasm.

This year there were nine divisions with 57 entries across two courses, Divisions 1-6 ‘outside’ and the smaller including Sailablity, 7,8 & 9 inside Snapper Island. I had multiple divisions outside with classes like Flying Dutchmans, 505 and Lightweight Sharpies. With others like Lasers and Spirals and several multihull types like Hobies, Prindles and Wetas. Unfortunately the trailer yachts/sports boats were missing this year, pity as they missed some great sailing conditions.

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On Saturday the breeze was mainly out of the south as was the 2m swell giving plenty of volunteers issues bobbing around. The odd shower didn’t help but we managed to avoid the greater majority of precipitation. However the breeze was between 5-10knots so we got two races finished, although I shortened both by a lap. Sunday was far better, the swell had gone down and the breeze was up just a little to around 12knots. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions with the Sun out and I know many had fun on the reaching legs. Capsizes were very few, I only saw a couple and even those were of the Oops variety.

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 The forecast rain even held off till it was time to go home and then did it come down! There was plenty of localised roadside flooding. I don’t think I’ve driven in conditions like that for a while, the last time was coming south near Taree several years ago. The lightning show was pretty spectacular and as I drove north I was happy to leave it behind.

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 As always in these country events, the odd well known sailor will ‘pop up’ in a borrowed something or other. Tasar sailors like Rob Douglass and Rick Longbottom sailed a FD and a Laser respectively, well known skiff crew Cam McDonald was on a multihull this time and Nowra sailmaker Adrian Mills sailed his Hobie 14 to a division win.

The regatta is held around the ANZAC holiday weekend and it should be on everyone’s must do list. The years that I have been involved have had great sailing in great conditions and there’s pretty much a division for everyone. See you next year?

Already planning for next season has started with one club being in touch for their annual regatta in next February. Gosh, that’ll be 2019! Next up though is the 50th Keepit Kool Regatta in June and that is one that should be on the list of entering, I know I’ll be there. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of water like in the photo below.

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Wallagoot Lake

Last weekend I drove down to Wallagoot Lake for their annual five race regatta and to act as the Principal Race Officer. As in past visits, there’s an array of classes and divisions and this year the NSW Sabre Dinghy sailors joined to have their State Championships run as part of the event. Each year sailors come from a range of places and this year was no exception, there were Maricat sailors from Wagga Wagga and Sabre sailors from Sydney and Newcastle. There were of course the usual travellers from Jindabyne, Canberra and Batemans Bay, the event attracts a wide spread.

 

2018-03-09 19.50.48Evenings at Wallagoot Lake

In consultation with the club officials, we decided on the following starting order, Sabres, Catamarans, Lasers and then a mixed fleet that included a Lightweight Sharpie, a Finn, a Waszp, RS Dinghies and a larger group of NS14s. Missing this year were the trailer-sailers, they were probably away at the overnight Marlay Point Race in North Eastern Victoria which had a huge fleet this year.

2018-03-10 06.31.15Mornings at Wallagoot Lake

Saturday greeted us in the usual Wallagoot way, a nice land breeze of about 8knots and clear skies. Having been there plenty of times before I knew what to expect later, Seabreezes. When the wind came in from the Noreast, it really came in, we had gusts to 18knots and the afternoon average was around 14-15knots. Great for sailing and everyone enjoyed the reaches, except for those unexpected capsizes. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day and it was finished off with a candlelight dinner at the clubhouse. Being in a National Park, there’s no mains power, so the only generated light powers a couple of spots in the kitchen. It makes for a great atmosphere for sailors talking about their day on the water.

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Sunday dawned just like usual, nice land breeze again and then nothing till the seabreeze came in around 1100. This time however and thankfully for those licking their wounds from capsizing the day before, it was a nice easterly of around 8knots. Two races finished the regatta off and for those coming for the first time, there was plenty of talk about returning next year. I’ll be back too! So will the Sabres who liked it so much that they’ll have their States there again next year. Maybe a few Victorians might make the trek too.

Of course it couldn’t happen without a few volunteers behind the scenes, those in the kitchen serving great lunches and an all you can eat dinner and Rob Morton who sailed then unrigged before sitting down and entering all the results. The mark laying teams did a great job and my role was made all the easier by the knowledgeable assistance of Bob Harris and Mervyn Dorrough on the start boat. Another great weekend at Wallagoot Lake.

The seasons not over yet, I’ll have the DeckHardware regatta support van at BYRA on Pittwater for the NS14 states. Having grown up over the road, it’s familiar territory. Following that I’ll be back to Batemans Bay, once again acting as the Principal Race Officer. It’ll be good to see my mates from down south again.

Back on the horse

Last weekend was the annual Sydney Harbour Regatta hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club and supported by the other major yacht clubs east of the bridge and RPAYC from Pittwater. As an example, the CYCA ran the Offshore boats, RSYS had Ynglings and Etchells, Manly Yacht Club ran the PHF handicap divisions and RPAYC had a mixture of sportsboat types.

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After being offshore last year with the Sydney 38s and Farr40s, it was back inshore on Hugh George [MHYC start boat]with the Adams10s again, this time alongside the Cavalier28s who were sailing their State titles as a part of this event.

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On Saturday we couldn’t have been given a better day, the sun was out and a NorEaster around 10knots. Just perfect, flat seas made it even better. The only downside for the competitors was the huge runout tide forcing a couple of individual recalls in both fleets. I did however advise them over the radio in the count down, that the start boat was hanging to tide not the wind and to note that it would push them over. All good as they recognised the fact and returned quickly and in one case even to win that race. I gave the Adams10s three laps and the Cavs two and the 10s with masthead spinnakers managed to catch the tail of the Cavs to ensure no hold up in a turnaround. It was a great day and no better had this summer. Three races ran without incident.

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Sunday however was a turnaround, miserable would be the word. A southerly change had come through forcing the Offshore boats inshore and many courses and divisions cancelled for the day. The Cavalier28s made the decision to not sail, so I only had a small but competitive fleet of Adams10s sailing. They of course loved the 20knot Southerly, hounds spinnakers and #3 jibs ruled the day however. In one race the third placegetter didn’t set a spinnaker, just poled out the jib and ran straight downhill faster than those trying to gybe spinnakers. There were a few broaches, the best was from No Friends who photographer Andrea Francolini managed to capture. We set them three short races, two lappers and 15 minutes in between to make it easy for all. Anchoring on the western ferry channel in the Sound is pretty uncomfortable in those conditions so the least time spent out there, the better.

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Having the Offshore boats inshore, including Marcus Blackmores new Hooligan and Paul Clitheroe Hobart winner Balance made for some exciting viewing as they came back to Manly from Shark Island. Hooligan on one run out ran the Manly Ferry, such was her speed, well in to the 20s. Balance gybed right beside us at speed, giving us great insight to the communication on board, no yelling just to the point. Neither boat would have been very dry given the amount of spray!

 

That was pretty much the last weekend at MHYC for the season. This weekend I’ll be down at Wallagoot Lake for their annual regatta including the Sabre States and NS14 traveller series. After that, also coming up is the NS14 States at BYRA on Pittwater at Easter and the Annual Batemans Bay Regatta following that. Then the Sydney Summer sailing season will be over. Time to hit the road again.

It’s been a busy start to 2018

Three weeks ago, I ran a weekend of racing for the Farr40 fleet at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. This was a prelude for the boats to tune up for the NSW States held over the last weekend. In the middle was the Adams10m Nationals over the Australia day holiday weekend. Over the three consecutive weekends we ran about 28 race starts.

For the first weekend of the Farr40s, I asked for and received two days of lovely NorEasters and with just the five boats it was some great racing with Jeff Carters Team Edake on top. This was the second event that Edake has finished on top, following his success at the Newcastle regatta in late 2017. The eight races gave the crews a chance to blow out a few cobwebs and train any new crew prior to the States.

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Having been blessed with NorEasters the previous weekend, again we had hoped for more of the same and more were given for the small but competitive fleet of Adams10s. Clear skies and a great breeze gave the fleet some good racing and the overall leader board changed after each race. Leading in to the last day was new Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany’s Powderhulk, however a couple of inconsistent races on the last day cost them the series win. Fellow MHYC sailor and former Rugby boss Rob Clarkes, Kick and Chase once again pulled a couple of last day keepers, however overall it was 2001 winner Backchat now skippered by Tom Braidwood from Lake Macquarie Yacht Club who won overall in 2018. In a sign of the times, Toms crew included North Sails Australia boss Michael Coxon, one of several sailmakers represented in the fleet.

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Last weekend, whilst we had hoped for more NorEasters, on Saturday we ended up offshore on the Manly Circle with a strong 15-20knot Southerly with a 2m swell. Once again the volunteer start team worked wonders to give the Farr40s some good racing and with plenty of well-known tacticians including Tom Slingsby, Steve McConaghy, David Chapman, Will Ryan and Gary Gietz. As expected, it was pretty tight racing especially downwind with plenty of waves to surf. After three races and in consultation with the class president, it was decided that was enough and racing was adjourned for the day. Sunday’s wind was forecasted to be again out of the south with the course inshore on The Sound. With a few showers around, we went in to sequence for the first race of the day. It was not to be however, the rain killed the breeze and a postponement of ninety minutes was the outcome. We moved the fleet down the harbour and finally a Southeaster of around 8 knots settled in. With a course across the runout tide from Obelisk Bay to Watsons Bay, it was a challenge for all, both upwind and down. Do you go right or left, do you gybe early or late? Many decided that up and down the middle was the way to go, tacking and gybing on the shifts. In the end it was the Martin Hill and Tom Slingsby combination on top. On behalf of the MHYC volunteer start team, it’s a joy to be able to work with the Farr40s. The class administration, especially Jen Hughes looks after the sailors with great dock parties after racing. The competitors give us the opportunity to watch some of the world’s best at work.

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For something a little different I’m off to BYRA this Sunday and my old stomping ground on Pittwater. A lot has changed  over the last 45 years since I sailed there in Fireballs and 505s.

And with all of the race management over the last few weeks, something I’ve been thinking about for a while. This week I’ve stepped down as Middle Harbour Principal Race Officer.  I’ll still be available for important regattas at the club, like the Farr40s, Sydney Harbour Regatta and the Rolex Sydney Hobart start. However after thirteen seasons of running Saturday and Winter sailing, it’s time out and time to go back to sailing itself and enjoying the sport I’ve grown up in. A huge thanks go to the other volunteer members of the start team over the years, hard work at times, frustrating too but they are an enjoyable bunch to spend a day or two on the water with and there’s been plenty of laughs along the way.

 

 

That’s the year done

Calendar year for 2017, that is with the last event being the Hobart race. The sailing and regatta season continues at full pace through January 2018.  We’ve all been doing the Rolex Sydney Hobart start for a while now, so it’s pretty much another event albeit with a little more media. Some of the MHYC team do the check in on the pin boat, the rest and a couple of extras are on the start boat. The photo below is of us out early before the start, getting everything in order. Thanks to Michael Hogan for the photo from one of the spectator boats.

Hugh George RSHYR2017

 

It’s been a fun year, again getting around to a few regattas out in the country and away from Sydney, it’s always good to get away from the ‘local pond’. I’ll be hanging around a few regattas in the coming weeks before stepping back on the start boat towards the end of January. Then, I’ll have a weekend of looking after the Farr40s followed by 3 days of the Adams10s and then followed by yet another weekend of the Farr40s. It’s always good to watch these guys, both are great fleets with good sportsmanship, that is few if any protests.

 

It was sad to hear of the virtual destruction of the Big River Sailing Club clubhouse in a recent weather event on the north coast of NSW. At Maclean nearby the local pub lost its roof along with plenty of other damage. I’ve always enjoyed going to their events and hopefully next season, I’ll have the chance. Knowing the committee will do their best to rebuild, they need competitors support of their regattas, I hope everyone will help by entering.

 

I’ll be sitting down over the coming weeks and planning the year ahead, what’s on when and which regatta to either attend or officiate and planning the work trips, both around New South Wales and interstate. I’m already heading to Wallagoot Lake in March, the weekend after the MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta. Another in the pipeline is the 50th Keepit Kool mid year.

Saturday on the harbour, Sunday on the road

Every so often it rains in Sydney, well it is needed to fill the dams and water the gardens.. Saturday a week ago was no different with a light drizzle to kick the day off on Hugh George running the MHYC pointscore races. One of the delights of being out on the harbour is seeing what comes and goes. In this case on Saturday it was the 67m [220′] Super Yacht Hetairos heading out. Driving over the harbour bridge you could see the twin masts sticking above everything else, too big to go under. Racing wise for MHYC it was a standard southerly course, nothing special.

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After sailing I headed down to Lake Illawarra to take in some Flying Eleven sailing on Sunday, camping with many of the parents and competitors. Sunday was the annual Sydney to the ‘Gong’ bike ride, so it made sense to avoid the traffic. Once again it was great to catch up with many of the sailors, talking boats and gear and with their parents reminiscing as you do.

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Last Saturday brought a nice easterly, took a while to come in and there was a fair bit of toing and froing with a couple of course options. Would the breeze keep going left or stay out of the east. Finally we set an east course with the finish line up in Quarantine. In the end the breeze did go left so it was a good work to finish, but the runs were a little one sided. What was great to see was a near full entry turnout on the line, it’s been pretty barren of late, with some owners retiring and others selling and still boatless. Lovely day all the same.

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Yesterday I headed up to Lake Macquarie, stopping by the O’pen Bics at Mannering Park before heading on to South Lake Macquarie Amateur Sailing Club to catch up with a DeckHardware Ambassador.  Jed Fatches has been a long time ambassador from his days in Sabots, then Flying Elevens and now skippering a NACRA15 sailing with Karma deKock. These two are both keen sailors, sailing as much and as often as they can. Jed has made the odd appearance on Mad Max [nee Animus] the Adams10 out of Wangi and Karma I last saw sailing with her father Joe a few weeks back on his Farr40 Good Form. With both sailing a multitude of classes. It’s all about time on water and exposure to different conditions the sport of Sailing can produce. Adam Beashel was running a two day session for the NACRA15s and it was interesting to sit in on his onshore briefing on rig setups for the conditions. I took a note of what was on the board and Adam said he’d better do the same, as we grinned at each other. It was great to spend a little time with him too, talking about his parents and boats.

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Then it was home to spend sometime in the garden and some 4.5hours later, it needed attention. Next week it’s off to yet another club, over the harbour bridge again.

Farr40s round two

This weekend saw round two for the Farr40 calendar for season 2017-2018 at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. The weather forecast didn’t look good, both ways, too windy and not enough.

Saturday we went offshore to what is referred to as the Manly Circle. We have two known offshore course areas off Sydney, one is off the southern part of the northern beaches known as the Manly Circle.  The other area is south of Sydney Heads and known as the Macquarie Circle due to the proximity of Macquarie Lighthouse. The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron had their turn in running the offshore IRC boats and as it was a southerly breeze they went south. To avoid any confusion in marks, we went north to Manly an area I much prefer, as the water is shallower making it easier to lay and move marks and it’s usually a better seaway. So with a small but keen fleet we were off the northern beaches for the day.

We set up a course in a nice southerly of 15-18knots and this pretty much held for the majority of the time we were out there.  What we did have however was plenty of spectacular broaches, unfortunately a little too far away for any photos. These created all sorts of issues and after several withdrawals in the two races and a few chats via VHF to the remaining competitors, we adjourned to have another race inshore. That was the first AP for the weekend. Whilst not quite the space in a crowded Sydney Harbour, it was good close racing to watch and at least I could go stand on the bow and watch.

Sunday however was a different story and was always going to be looking at the weather models. We got one race away going from the western side of the harbour heading east into Watsons Bay. Then came a range of postponements due to the shifting conditions for the next two. One of the hardest days as an RO and as PhilC my timekeeper said ‘you are out of AP cards!’. We’d go into sequence and Mark one of the other volunteers was monitoring the wind he once again would call a 30-40° shift, AP up – again, with GiffC on the Halyards trying to keep up. The graph showing the shifts was something else, I don’t think I’ve seen it that bad. We got in two more races, certainly not the best but did our best given the options. It was made worse by the afternoon rains arriving during the last leg of race three killing the breeze and adding yet another shift.

Not one of the better weekends on the water, but certainly made easier by having a great team to assist, both on the start boat with me and in the mark laying. I’m looking forward to a breather next weekend in the garden.