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.

Nor-West for a day

Now and again I get the opportunity to teach a little about the art of being a Race Officer. Last June when at the Keepit Kool regatta near Gunnedah, I mentioned to some of the members that I was available to provide a session on race management.  Australian Sailing coordinated with the Club and I went up to the Lake on Saturday, about a 5 1/2 hr drive from Sydney to impart some of my knowledge and experiences. It was fantastic to see the effort taken as everyone present had quite a drive to the club, most over an hour from places like Gunnedah, Tamworth and Quirindi. The dam level is still pretty high at 63% but they were talking about those downstream needing water for farming, I hope that when the club hosts the 50th running of the Keepit Kool next June, there’s still plenty there.

 

I had a full room, pretty much every member of Lake Keepit Sailing Club attended and we went through the art of being a race officer. After nearly four hours of me talking, with a tea break in the middle, we finished up with a session on the clubs start boat running through a start sequence. The three members on the boat had an issue when I pointed out that we had a couple on the pontoon that were standing in front of the Orange flag. Hah, they were OCS and the Individual flag was called for, meaning a bit of a scurry to find it with a minute to go. Everyone enjoyed that part of the session especially, pushing each other, making sure it was done correctly.

 

For me the highlight of the day was meeting up with my first Manly Junior skipper. I had crewed for a little while at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club before Dad built my first Manly Junior when I was about 9. It was great to catch up with Keith Garrett after all this time, however he has now confirmed that his sail number was 268 and the name was Dragonfly, not the 245 as I had thought. It was funny answering his questions, ‘Did you or your father sail at RPAYC – Yes’. ‘Did you crew on a MJ – Yes’, ‘My name is…Wow!’. We had only a little time to chat, no doubt, the next time I go to Keepit we’ll talk some more.

 

After nearly all day at Keepit, it was time to head home again. The priority was to be home in time to sit in front of the TV and watch a car race on Sunday. And what a race it was at Mount Panorama, this year had a bit of everything. Rain and wet tyres, no safety car for something like 80 laps then a few, cars diving off at the end of Conrod heading out of the track to Bathurst City and of course the dramas at the end with dry slick tyres and having to conserve fuel. Great to watch and good for the sport to have the ‘little team that could’ win.

Back into boat watching on the water

Two weeks ago was the first day out on the harbour for the 2017-8 Summer sailing season on Sydney Harbour. It commenced with a good southerly for the McConaghy38s regatta. We got in one race out on The Sound, before the conditions got a little too rough. We then moved down the harbour and around the same time the conditions eased to make it a nice day. Four races were run and Leslie Greens Team Ginger came out on top winning three of the four. Good racing.

On Sunday morning and looking to get in another three races, it was the usual ‘Hurry up and wait’ call. There was nothing on the harbour, just millpond. We were in the middle and it was great having a chat with those north at Manly16s and also with the CYCA start team who were running a match racing event down the harbour, talking about when and how much it was going to blow. After nearly two hours postponement a similar breeze to the day before came in, a nice 8-10knot sea breeze. Once again Ginger lead. Not by much, but enough.

So it was a similar track to the day before, Sydney Harbour busy as usual now that the weather is pleasant. All the normal dodgems like other fleets racing, the Manly Ferries. Sydney Harbour, it was great to be out on the water again. It was also great spending the weekend with the Clinton brothers, Phil and Giff and getting the job done.

After a weekend off the water but still talking sailing at the Sydney Clubs Conference, it was out on the water again this past weekend. First up I had to do a couple of safety audits on two Farr40s before they went offshore, not a major issue other than the early start. Saturday’s racing was the usual point score however for only two divisions. The Open’s were racing offshore and the Adams10s were down in Melbourne to defend the Waitangi Cup, the annual interstate class challenge. The other inshore divisions were greeted with a typical building summer Nor’easter, just nice. It was great to be anchored back off Quarantine at the finish line, just watching the boats go by.

 

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Out on the water again on Sunday with the Farr40s this time, a small fleet of five as some crews were off doing other events internationally. Close racing though, with all finishing in around a minute. The old Transfusion is now Outlaw, sailed by the Quick family and came away with the series win after the offshore on Saturday and the three inshore races on Sunday. The Melbourne crew on Double Black ended up second, enjoying their weekend in Sydney as racing was cancelled in Melbourne on Sunday due to extreme conditions.

 

We set up the course on Sunday to the prevailing Westerlies and whilst it shifted right during the day and the gusts came and went, it was good racing and entertaining to watch. The start team did a great job assisting me, two had never been out before and two were out helping for only the second time, it all ran pretty smoothly. All also enjoyed the experience and the chance to watch some good racing and tactics.

There’s more Farr40 events to come over the summer, they are a great bunch to work with and I enjoy the rapport at the end of the day back on the dock and in the clubhouse.

I visited the West Coast for the week

This time it was off to Perth and the DeckHardware van stayed home. The nice bit was the hire car company ‘upgrading’ me from the compact booked to a newer Commodore SV6. Robyn has an older model, so it wasn’t an issue to drive. What was nice though, was the newer features now on offer. Things like the lane changing warnings on the side mirrors, the intermittent wiper controls but more so was the number of lights when driving at night. Day one, drive one was from the airport down to Bunbury. Pleasant on the new freeway south and I was out of Perth before the afternoon peak too.

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Bunbury is a few hours drive south and I was able to catch up with a few stockists and show off some of the new DeckHardware products. As is the case a lot of times, they see the updates on products on our website and in emails but it’s not until they touch and feel that they understand what the product is all about.  They also asked me to stay a little longer but the following day I had to be at Royal Perth Yacht Club at 0900 so it wasn’t an option. I’ve often said how great the country sailors are and this was no exception even though I only see them probably once a year.

Saturday morning was an early start at RPYC, this time I was attending my third Australian Sailing Club Conference. Again there was an excellent turn up including some who had travelled from Albany and Walpole down on the south coast. These talks have been an excellent information package and each time I go away with something new about the management of our sport. Sydney’s is in a few weeks’ time, so again that’ll be interesting to see who’s there. On Sunday, I spent the day catching up with a few mates including Justin Kelleher who introduced me to the Lost at See Blind Sailing team as they were about to head off to the USA for their championships. JK as a sighted crew can’t touch anything on the boat, instead relaying what’s happening both on the boat and to the all-female crew. They gave me the honour of drawing their fund raising raffle and I hope that the winners were all happy.

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The next three and a half days were spent between Mandurah down south and Mindarie in the north seeing as many stockists as possible showing off some of the new product range. One of the bigger issues that I had driving around, is that I had to remember where I was. Having been to Southern Queensland and Victoria in the last month or so, a focus on who was next was required. Yes, I do use the GPS but only now and then for just a few off the beaten track. WA like the rest of the country is in a building stage and new roads are opened and older closed especially around the airport which threw me out a bit.

On Wednesday night I held a talk at Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club discussing a few of the maintenance topics that some have with their boats. A good crowd were receptive and we discussed all things on boats and sailing. It was also great to catch up and have dinner with Colin Harrison the Australian Gold medal winning Sonar skipper in Rio. Unfortunately Sailing is no longer a Paralympic sport so we don’t get to see these guys much any more. The Sonar team coach Grant Alderson also joined us and we discussed ‘worldly issues’ over a meal.

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As always, these interstate trip can’t be done without the support of a few people and this time once again, Paul, Sarah, Murray and Grant helped out. Thanks as always especially to my hosts.

 

Bypassing the snow

I headed south for the first time in a while, Canberra was the first stop at the Yacht Club to see their manager Matt Owen and show him a few things. Matt was joined by a couple of club sailors as well, peeking in the various bins as I showed some of the new products. There’s always plenty of banter with Matt, we get on well and this of course was added to with his fellow members. Whilst only a short stop, it was then off to have a look at a new sportsboat about to hit the water. I’d seen it being finished off at Innovation Composites in Nowra and now with only a week or so prior to launching, there’s always a few last minute items that are required. It’s always good of course to sit down with the owners and think about the choices of products before launching.

Canberra

After a few hours in Canberra, my next stop was to Paynesville, normally a reasonable drive till the road comes down the mountain to the coast. What I’d heard most of the day however was warnings about the crook conditions, wind snow and ice. Given the option, I headed east to the coast at Batemans Bay then the rest of the way down the coast road. This added nearly 4hrs to the overall drive, but it was a little warmer and I had plenty of time.

Just a little cool leaving Canberra

Gippsland Lakes Sailing Club was the plan for the day. They were holding a winter race and a small but keen group assembled for the briefing before heading out on the water. A variety of boats from Minnows through to Flying Fifteens greeted the day but by the time they reached the course area around the corner of Raymond Island the forecast wind had picked up and it was blowing high20/early 30s and the start team called it a day, abandoning the racing.

We had planned a product and maintenance talk at the club after sailing, something that we’d been working on for a while. Most of the sailors hung around and a few went home and returned and a few others who didn’t sail also joined in.  I had a variety of DeckHardware products on display and spoke about a range of topics from rope and plumbing to maintaining spinnaker pole ends and sails. Feedback from those attending was great with some excellent questions that all listened to. Everyone came away having learnt something.

Paynesville

Monday morning was spent seeing a range of DeckHardware customers around Paynesville before a drive in to Melbourne. In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to stay with my old mate Eylsey  and his partner Sharon, however they have decided to move south to Safety Beach so I was fortunate to call on Peter and Leonie Coleman. Pete’s a long time Etchells sailor so plenty to chin wag about.

I spent the rest of the week seeing various customers both old and new anti-clockwise around Port Phillip from Sorrento to Queenscliff showing off the range of DeckHardware products, both old and new. I didn’t have the time to wander around the marinas to see what’s new although one boat I did sail on back in the 70s is still at Paynesville  where I saw her last. Casablanca was designed and built by John Biddlecombe at Mona Vale  and I did my first Montague Island Race on her before the addition of the cabin top. Another found was Sir James Hardys Olympic Tempest Traminer, now fitted with a cabin top and being set up as a sportsboat, interesting.

Traminer

On Saturday I attended the Victorian Club Conference held by Australian Sailing [YA/AYF] but there were slight changes. These talks I found beneficial and it’ll be interesting to see how the Perth talk next week and the Sydney one not long after are attended.

So after a pretty full week it was home on Sunday, up the Hume an uneventful drive under 10hrs door to door and just under 3000kms.

Short trip to Brisbane

Last week I spent a bit of time in Brisbane. It was a combination of a few things happening. First up I attended the Queensland Yachting Association Club conference held over two days at Southbank. This was the first of many put on by Australian Sailing in each state.  As an AS sponsor, it was interesting and will be interesting to see what’s happening in each state. I’ll also be attending the Victorian, West Australian and New South Wales events.

Centenary Rd

Grafton locals

In the middle of all of this was of course the final racing for the Americas Cup. I was able to stay with the QYA President Ken Hurling for a few nights. It was ‘great’ to get up at 0300 and watch what was going on in Bermuda with another sailor. Ken was able to keep up to speed with some of it through his daughter Suellen in Auckland as well, a quick call to her to check on the Kiwi feelings. It’ll certainly be interesting to see the format for the next challenge, will it be the TV spectacle of the foiling multihulls or a return to more traditional match racing on monohulls which most active sailors prefer.

Then there was Queensland Youth Week, an annual regatta at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. This event is rather large with over 200 competitors from Qld, NSW, Vic and even from Western Australia sailing in 10 different classes.  It’s always good to come to these events, even when I’m not volunteering for the on water side of things. Catching up with a range of friends, customers, those I haven’t seen for a while and run into as well as keeping a keen eye on what everyone is using where in terms of rope and other equipment.

I also took in a little drive one afternoon, it took nearly 5 hours in a roundabout route, west of Brisbane to see a non-marine customer of DeckHardware. It’s always interesting to see how a manufacturer utilises marine ropes and fittings in a harsh environment on the land. I spent an enjoyable couple of hours with Matt and his team thinking of different ideas and combinations for his business applications. You think you have one solution sorted and then one word or phrase sparks another option, which it did in a few circumstances. Always good to think outside the square.

Next up is Victoria followed by Perth, a drive then a flight and before we know it the Summer sailing season will be upon us.