2000 here, 2000 there

A couple of weeks ago I headed south again, down through the Snowy Mountains and out to the coast to Wallagoot Lake. This road is quicker than going via the coast road.  It’s all pretty good road until you have to come down Browns Mountain  with all of its hairpin bends and slow corners.

Wallagoot Lake Boat Club is situated in a National Park and as such there’s no power. Dinner on Saturday night at the club is under candle light and torches, but a typical country club where everyone jumps in and helps including myself on the end of a tea towel drying up!   It was good to see 4 of the Jindabyne guys come down from the mountain too, having been there only two weeks earlier.

Out on the water I learnt something new with their local weather conditions. When a sea breeze is forecast, wait as in hurry up and wait. I tried to get some racing in on the last of the overnight land breeze, nope, too hard. Once the Nor  Easter kicked in it was great, settling in at a nice 10-12knots and reasonably steady. The locals here have GPS marked courses for the typical conditions, so setting courses was easy. NorEast course please. We had the usual mixed fleet from Sabres and Lasers with NS14s being the larger, through a  mix of trailer yachts. Unfortunately the Multi’s were non-existent this time around with only Tim bringing his Hobie17 down from Jindabyne.

The host club had arranged for me to stay with one of their members for the couple of nights at Pambula Beach just south of Merimbula and this was greatly appreciated, especially waking up in the morning and looking out over the river mouth and towards the open ocean. One thing that you have to look out for there is the locals standing in the middle of the road seemingly without a care in the world or of a car coming towards them. They just take over the road and the verges and slowly hop out of the way as you come down the road.

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The next trip was up to Queensland, going in the other direction for a change. This time I made sure that I saw a few out of the way DeckHardware customers. It’s always good to catch up with these and they always take the time to make sure that they are fully up to date with all of our product range, it’s nothing to spend an hour or more with them. I thank them for their time, showing the new products as well as many of the others available.

For the first time in my driving life I had to drive through a section of a flooded highway. Northern NSW had coped the states maximum rainfall for the previous couple of days and the section at New Italy just south of Woodburn was in trouble. We all take it for granted that we’ll get somewhere at a certain time, no problems. At my second attempt, I followed a four wheel drive and got through the knee deep water over the road. Those heading south weren’t so lucky, there would have been 30-40 cars stuck in the deep water. When the authorities say don’t drive through flooded roads, don’t. Larger vehicles like the van and four wheel drives had no issues, but some of those stuck heading south, just shouldn’t have tried. On the return south there was little sign of what had happened days before.

I dropped into the Boat Show at Coomera on Saturday. On Sunday, I spent some time at a couple of the local sailing clubs, seeing how they do things and there is always someone there that I know!

I usually stay with my Aunt and Uncle on the Goldie and Geoff especially likes it when I come as the Sunday night takeaway variety increases, I always have a chuckle with this one. Monday morning however I woke up feeling quite ill, it wasn’t the food as the other two were fine. The pain didn’t decrease and after talking with Robyn and seeing a local GP, I headed south having only seen a few on Monday morning.  Hopefully my next trip will be less eventful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the road south

The  Australian Wooden Boat Festival held Bi-Annually in Hobart is a must for any boat owner. Sounds like a big call but it is. Whilst the modern composite racers may think otherwise, here’s evidence as to how boat building and the sport of Sailing has evolved. The Festival had everything, marinas full of classics both power and sail, halls and marquees of products on display and for sale. Then there were the Tall Ships to go aboard, HMS Tenacious, the James Craig and at least a half dozen more. More than anything else this is the place to go and look at boats and boating stuff mixed in with a little history, simple.

Everyone who also travelled from the mainland that I saw agreed and there was plenty of us. Hobart does this well, there was even a park off Salamanca Place that was purely for entertaining the younger children as well as a school boat building competition. Like all major events, there’s road closures and parking hassles, but this event is free to wander around. So who else will be in Hobart in February 2019?

Last weekend was the final round of the Flying Eleven State titles at Manly and there was a great fleet of over 80 entrants from around NSW and some even coming down from Brisbane for the weekend. Saturday started off with a great southerly that then went East and soft before the forecast afternoon storm arrived. They got in two races before the hail and rain put a dampener on things. The storm also created issues for the classes 50th Anniversary Saturday evening function, luckily the organisers were able to move inside Manly Yacht Club and the majority stayed reasonably dry. There were of course the smattering of former Flying Eleven sailors who had gone on to greater successes at National, World and Olympic events. Those who couldn’t make the evening sent their apologies and a few memories of what the class meant to them growing up. Two former national champions in Nicky Souter and Malcolm Page even caught up in Austin Texas and sent a selfie. Melissa did some live footage so they were able to stay in touch with proceedings on the night. An evening enjoyed by all who attended, well done to those who helped arrange.

This coming weekend is the first of many in a row back out on the water watching some close racing. First up is the Snowy Mountains Regatta at Jindabyne, a fresh water event that’s only cold if you capsize. The last few years have been blessed with great conditions, this year may be a little cooler and damp according to the initial forecasts. I hope not!

After that it’s the Sydney38s as part of the MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta, more great racing to watch, this time over three days and the Farr40s joining for the weekend.

Classic

Really there is only one way to describe some of the boats that I saw the other day at Darling Harbour, Classic. The Wooden Boat Show held in conjunction with the Maritime Museum had a range of Classic boats, both power and sail and whilst mostly timber, there were a few fibreglass production yachts from the 1960s and 70s.

There was a range of the old Halvorsen cruisers and it was interesting to note that whilst they were pretty much production, none are the same. Something I didn’t know. It was good to see some of the older yachts as well, from a timber 30′ Daydream through to the rebuilt 12m Gretel2 in immaculate condition. There was also a few fibreglass production yachts, Compass28 and Contessa25. I grew up racing with my father on his little JOG boat and the Peter Cole designed  Contessa when it came out really put the ‘cat amongst the pidgeons’ with it’s speed and manoeuvrability. Most of the others at the time were still long keeled designed in the 50 and 60s, the exception being Dads Temeraire and a couple of Primaat ply boats.

Wandering about some of the older racing yachts, it’s interesting to see how far they’ve come. Yachts such as Caprice Of Huon, for years one of Australia’s top Offshore yachts, Fidelis, which came across from New Zealand and won Line Honours in the Hobart Race and then there was Ruthless a Peterson One Tonner whose freeboard struck me as being quite high. I don’t remember other One Tonners I’ve sailed being so high wooded. And there was plenty more, each with a memory or thought of a time or race.

On the new side, there was SjoRo a new 8m fitted with Liros Classic rope, keeping the style classic. Rather than having the colourful ropes of today, she has the modern rope construction with the Liros Hemp colour, it all fitted the style.

I also went to see Lyn Pardey in the museum theatre doing a talk on her decades on the water with husband Larry. The pair are well known in cruising and timber boat circles and I remember going to a previous talk of theirs last century. It was a bit of history with the boats they owned and also built or repaired. Lyn had quite a range of photos on the screen whilst she talked and it was great to hear snippets about each. I had the chance to mention to her later that I may have been one of the few who saw the Pardeys earlier visit to Sydney. She appreciated that.

Wandering around talking boats, doesn’t get any better.

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More of the same, sort of

It was back out on the water at Middle Harbour Yacht Club with the State titles for both the 420s and the Cadets on the same track. This time I did something a little different with the courses.

Both classes like a triangle with the windward and return, so rather than put the Start boat in the middle of the course for the windward returns [as is the norm], I kept the bottom gate above the start line with the wing/gybe outside on the extension of the start line. The last mark was to leeward of the start finish line. This gave the boats some short laps with a couple of ‘hoon’ reaches with a work to the finish. The thing is the sailors enjoyed it too, nothing better than keeping the customers happy. They had almost a couple of sprints to start off with before stretching their legs. I was also able to keep track of all of them easily.

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Crossover at the bottom

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Clear Start

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Where else would you be?

Next up was the Sydney Sailboat Expo held at the ICMS grounds at Manly’s North Head. Spectacular location, the home of the Great Gatsby in the most recent movie. Built in the 1880s and standing proud on the hillside, all the visitors commented on the historical building. The Expo showed of a range of businesses in the marine industry including of course DeckHardware. As part of this we also sponsored the Liros rope splicing with two of the best showing the skills required. Cameron and Ben for the second year had people viewing and learning the art of rope work. I was told after closing that one of our Rio2016 Olympians spent quite some time there without being recognised. Good stuff.

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Kids big and small

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Early morning looking over Manly

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The weather also behaved for the two days, with glorious sunshine and nice seabreezes on both days treating the over 50 exhibitors kindly.

With that, that’s about it for the 2015/6 Sydney sailing season, there’s only a couple of weeks to go and then the Winter series starts in early May. I’ll be back on the road seeing DeckHardware customers again showing some of our range.

 

Another summer over

Yes, that’s another Australian Summer over and with it another season of sailing and race management for me. In the last nine months or so I’ve been to every state either as a race management volunteer or driving the DeckHardware van to regattas for support or to visit the various outlets Australia wide.  I’ve seen some great racing, from Dinghies and Multihulls through to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race and the spectacle of the five 100’ers on Sydney Harbour.

I’m often asked which are the good events to attend by some of the off the beach sailors we see. There’s a couple that I keep going back to. These are the smaller volunteer run/family run events like the Big River Sailing Club regatta at Harwood in northern New South Wales and the Snowy Mountains Regatta at Jindabyne. Both of these attract a range of entries,monos, multis and trailerables. The conditions for both are completely different to most other venues around the country. At Harwood everyone camps next to the club and their boats, even the locals to save the drive home. Competitors come down from Queensland and up from as far south as Lake Macquarie to sail on the river with all it’s tidal issues.

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On the other hand is the open expanse of the freshwater Lake Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains of southern New South Wales. Here we sail on a lake almost the size of Lake Macquarie, no need to take bottled water out with you. Just lean over the side and gulp, that’s where the town water comes from too. Again the camaraderie between those down from Sydney, Canberra and the locals is fantastic. Each time I’ve been to both clubs, I keep running in to sailors I haven’t seen in a couple of decades and as you could imagine the stories get broader. If you have the chance to go to either next season, I hope to see you there.

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I also had the opportunity to see the Bi-Annual Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. Hobart really knows how to put it on for the visitors, those who are at Constitution Dock for the end of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race will know what I mean. This was no different with all the boats, market places and entertainment. Again, if you have the chance..On the ferry to Devonport from Melbourne I kept running in to all sorts of people heading to the event.

Recently we had the Sydney Sailboat Expo at North Head / Manly. This inaugural  two day event organised by my daughter Melissa with assistance from my wife Robyn was fantastic. The weather co-operated on both days with clear skies for the over 50 exhibitors. There was a range of boating products, not only from DeckHardware, but also names like Harken, Ronstan, Musto and sailmakers Norths and Doyles to compliment the classes on display. I know of one builder who took a deposit for a new boat and there were plenty of other sales as well. There were classes / tutorials also on a range of topics like splicing, tuning, first aid and even media for clubs and I noticed some of the visitors to the Expo from as far as Geelong and Brisbane. Many there said they’ll be back and bringing their friends as well, so hopefully we’ll see it grow even bigger for 2016. As you will see in the photos, the range of boats from the Etchells down and even the all conquering 18′ skiff Gotta Love It 7 , there was something for everyone in the small boat market place.

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The next couple of months will see me heading north to Queensland [I prefer palm trees over snow],  doing the rounds showing off yet more new products available from DeckHardware, before heading west to South Australia and then back east through Victoria. I’ll also be getting out and about locally as well. Then there’s more races to run and more race officer courses as well, hopefully bringing more volunteers to the administration side of the sport of Sailing.

If you want to have the DeckHardware van at your event as support for the sailors or if you need help in running an event, drop me a line. I’m sure there’s more to see and do in the Australian Sailing Scene and if we can assist let us know.

 

A busy month, nearly over for the year.

As the Australian sailing season winds down, I’ve spent four weekends in a row out on the water both days running events.

The first event was the Snowy Mountains Regatta down at Jindabyne, around 6 hours drive south of Sydney. This was the second year at Jindabyne and again the locals looked after me. We had a mixed fleet of dinghies, catamarans and trailer yachts including a good fleet of  19 Lasers, some of whom had driven down from Canberra for the weekend.014 017

Friday evenings twilight race was held in a nice 5-8 North Wester around the laid club marks and everyone finished which was nice after last years evening storm. Saturday we had a good Easterly and ran several races, good stuff. Sunday had the forecast 18-20knots Easterly and brought with it a short sharp chop on the fresh water Lake Jindabyne which made laying marks and holding anchor on the start boat difficult. The lake was made last century for the Snowy Hydro power scheme, drowning the original town so there’s a few no go areas as far as sailing and putting marks go. You may hook something harder than mud.

As the last competitors were finishing the last last, there was one young girl sailing a Laser on the last leg. She’d capsized multiple times and the last set was just short of the finish line. The rescue boat was off attending to a sinking Hobie16, so I asked the markboat to stand by her. Once the time limit expired, we came alongside to assist, she’d had enough and was starting to get cold, so we got her aboard. The only option was to jump in the water and right the Laser myself. The last time I’d sailed a Laser was a looooong time ago. After working out the vang and mainsheet were cleated off and releasing them, I had a pleasant 3 km sail back to the club. at least it was all one leg and no tacking! That’s one thing ticked off for a while, at least the water was fresh!

The next week end was the annual MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta, so back to home base and running the Adams10m and the NSW State titles for the J70 Class. Saturday brought clear skies and finally a pleasant seabreeze of around 10knots. The main issue however was the runout tide, it was a big one. With the start boat laying across the tide and beam on the the breeze, it was a nasty day out rolling around all day.  014 015 036 054We had all sorts of issues trying to get a square start line. Sunday was far far better, the SouEaster of around 15knots was fantastic, still with a bit of tide but hey the startboat team were comfortable at least! Adams10s had their usual close racing and the J70s were shown around by my old Laser sparring mate Tony [Sir Arthur] Barnes. Sir Arthur was having his first hitout in the class on the demo boat and certainly hasn’t lost his touch on the helm.

The next Friday was the Annual Property Industry Sailing Event, this huge fund raiser attracted over 90 entries in 6 divisions. With a solid 20knots and drizzle at the start, I sent the boats off on the longer of the two options. Ragamuffin100 sailed around the harbour course in under 2 hours! Unfortunately with the last boats needing to sail from Middle head to Shark Island and back the the finish in 90mins, the wind dropped out completely, nothing, nada, zip. We ended up with only half the fleet finishing, which no one could have predicted. Those I spoke to after, were also surprised at the conditions collapsing. The non sailors however enjoyed the day and that’s one of the main things.

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The following day was a joint club race with the RSYS big boats coming around to MHYC for the day. Whilst it was a nice day weather wise, the only option wind wise was to set a windward leeward course. The smaller boats had it easy, however David Kellett aboard Sydney60 much preferred the longer legs than sprints. We got in two races in a nice seabreeze and I think most were happy with the day. Those who sailed the day before at least had a chance to dry out.038 058

Last of the full on weekends was running the NSW States for the 420s and 470s. With numbers well down due to clashes with other events both locally and overseas, the planned trapezoid courses were substituted for basic windward returns, which made it a lot easier on the volunteer [420 parents] mark laying teams. We got in all the races with time to spare, some made the comment that the races could have been a bit longer, but with only a handfull of each class, they were closer on the shorter courses. Spreading them out on longer courses would have seen a few of them sailing on their own most of the time.

Last Saturday was the last club race for me this 2014/2015 Summer Season at MHYC. With the Combined High Schools sailing at Belmont16s after Easter and then the inaugural Sydney Sailboat Expo following, that’s it for the summer. I’ll be back on the road taking the DeckHardware van to Queensland, South Australia then Victoria in the coming months showing off an ever increasing range of products.

Headed south, far south.

It’s been a while since I last went to Tasmania, last time was for the Australian Youth Sailing Championships. This time however I had the chance to head down to Hobart and take in the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. This is a Bi-Annual event that has grown over the years. In co-operation with Brierley Marine who have outlets in Hobart and Launceston, DeckHardware had a range of products on display in the hall. Teaming up with Ben King who has assisted DeckHardware with a few shows on the mainland and is now at Brierley Launceston, we had a different range on display with a focus on the Wooden Boat market. The show is a massive undertaking and the locals have really put their support behind it. With free entry, there was talk of over 400,000 visitors. many of these were from the mainland, I seemed to be running in to them every couple of minutes! On the ferry over from Melbourne it seemed like everyone was headed that way. The great factor was that the weather was fantastic with clear skies and temperatures in the high 20s each day. Melissa flew down for the Sunday, luckily, as Saturday was the hottest and busiest. A cruise ship arrived early Saturday morning and the comment was – ‘there’s another 5000 visitors!’. The show eclipsed Sydney and certainly Sanctuary Cove, I don’t think I’ve run into so many people that I haven’t seen for a long time. If you have the chance, book accommodation now for the next one in 2017 because I think most will be back and with their friends too. It’s well worth the effort.

The Four

Then I headed north for the last round of the Manly Junior State Titles at Point Wolstoncroft on Lake Macquarie. I think this is just about the only place on the lake I haven’t been to before. Held at the NSW Sport and Recreation Centre, this was a great facility for a kids regatta. Plenty of area to run around ashore, pool, tennis court and cabin and tent accommodation, as well as plenty of rigging area on the foreshore. The sailing area of course being Lake Macquarie is excellent. Having attended three previous Manly Junior events this season as sponsor it was good to catch up with all of them again. It was another great weekend, the Noreaster came in around lunchtime, a little late but consistent when it came. Congratulations to all involved, parents, regatta officials and competitors.

For something different, I’m off again this weekend. South again. I’m running the second edition of the Snowy Mountains Regatta at Jindabyne in southern New South Wales. If it’s like last year with clear skies and 8-10 knot winds we’ll all be happy.