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.

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.

 

Keeping Kool

I spent last weekend out at Lake Keepit near Gunnedah with the DeckHardware van. This wasn’t my first time there and hopefully won’t be the last. This year the local sailing club held the 49th Annual Keepit Kool regatta with close to 50 boats across 3 major divisions – dinghies, trailerables and multihulls.

 

On previous occasions, I’ve seen the water level as low as 13% and it was quite a steep drop/walk down to the water’s edge. This year however with a level around 63%, it was just there so to speak, not a hike or even a drive back up to the clubhouse.   Once again the clubs moveable trailer pontoon was used to good effect and I’m a little surprised that other clubs haven’t picked up on the system. It would work wonders at Lake Jindabyne for example where the tide is in at the end of winter and out towards the end of summer. Something that does work at Keepit is the amount of rigging space. Everyone has a spot on the shoreline and some even set up their vans/marquees marking their spot for coming ashore. Naturally it’s non tidal, so even those trailerables who leave their boats on the trailer overnight, drive forward a little so the wheels are out of the water and that’s it. Those who leave their boats in the water overnight put out a bow anchor and tie up the stern to the trailer, not going far! Those dinghy sailors who carry or dolly in would only need a boat length and they are in the water. This photo is from a few years back when ‘the tide’ was out, so you can see how far down the level was then compared to now.

Sailing wise the competitors were greeted with winds up to 8-10knots from the south east with it dropping as the occasional rain cloud appeared and hindered the racing on Saturday and Sunday. Monday was a typical Keepit with a shorter course as everyone struggled in the glass out conditions.

 

 

One of the things that Keepit is known for is the evening’s entertainment, the Yabby Races are a feature I’m yet to see elsewhere. Just another of those fun country events that I like going to. There’s been plenty of wellknown sailors compete over the years, have a look at some of the names on the walls of the clubhouse.

 

See you next year for the 50th?

 

 

North again, then North West

With the close of the Summer sailing season and a slowdown in the on water volunteering, it’s back on the road. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been up in southern Queensland doing the rounds of the marine industry showing off new products.

I spent a few days on the Gold Coast first up doing the rounds, taking in a boat show and attending the opening of an Australian Sailing Team base at Southport. With the range that DeckHardware distributes, there’s always something new and this trip was all about getting the word out there.

Thursday afternoon saw me at Southport Yacht Clubs base at Hollywell, where Mat Belcher has set up a base for the Australian 470 squad. Middle Harbour Yacht Club is the home base for the Australian Sailing Team, however this is a first for a class to have its own home. Southport will give a variety of options with the local tidal flow and the ability to go offshore for race training without the Sydney Harbour ferries impeding. I guess that it will also free up a bit more space on the MHYC deck for the other classes as Tokyo2020 nears. When finished, they will have the ability to house under cover several fully rigged 470s.

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Over the next third of the trip it was up to Brisbane and what seems to be a regular visit to Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to have a look at the rebuild of Defiance. Craig is doing a wonderful job and along the lines of do it once and do it properly. His only time span is to have it ready for summer.   Since I last looked, it would appear to be minimal change, but to the keen eye, one can see the differences. His next step is to remove the engine and V Drive and replace with an updated model, this will make heaps of difference. Robyn and I can only grin when we think of the days of sailing in and out of the old MHYC marina. One thing that did strike me this trip was just how small she is. How did we manage to fit everyone in for a week aboard for the likes of the RSYS annual cruise? Then there are the memories of the Two Handed racing in the early 80s, it was easy because she is small and the gear easy to grab.

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The final third of this trip was up to the Sunshine Coast, not really a bad thought in a Sydney winter. The only difference was waking up to the early morning fog, it did clear up pretty quick though to a few brilliant days. Once again it was nice to catch up with everyone and for those who I didn’t see this time, I’ll be back north again soon.

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This coming weekend is another road trip, this time North West for the 49th annual Keepit Kool regatta at Lake Keepit near Gunnedah.  On previous occasions I’ve been there’s been little water, less than 15%, so with the current level of over 60% it’s hoped that everyone who has been before will return and those who haven’t make the most of the opportunity. Fresh water sailing at a country club on a Lake that is 2/3rds the size of Sydney Harbour in volume. The photo below shows the water in 2014 way down there. At over 60% there’s certainly a lot more room and I’m glad I’m not laying and pulling up the marks as it’ll be a lot deeper!

I’m looking forward again to the clubs hospitality and the evenings yabby racing. Who else is coming?

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That’s it for the season

As the summer sailing season comes to a close, I’ve been a little quiet the last few weeks. Over Easter however, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days at Wangi Sailing Club. DeckHardware has supported the NS14 class for a few years now and it was pleasing to see 45 competitors out on the water each day. The NACRA15s were also there as a selection process for the Australian Youth Team.

As always, whilst I stayed ashore, I keep note on what’s happening afloat and Tony Outteridge did a wonderful job as the  Race Officer getting in all the races. The conditions were generally light and the AP flew on more than one occasion, on Friday he managed to get three races in late in the day with the sailors returning ashore as the Sun went down.

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It’s always enjoyable at these events, catching up with those who I see at others such as the Wallagoot Lake team who made the trek to the lake, some for the first time. Then there are the other sailors who we see quite often as they tinker with whatever class for an event coming up.

This past weekend was my last event of the season, I was at Batemans Bay for their annual event as PRO for the first time. The club had contacted me last year after finding out that I’d been at a lot of the other South Coast events. I really enjoyed this one as it is one of the largest with multiple divisions including smaller dinghies, trailerables, yachts and multihulls. There was also a Sailability division which is great to see them included, I love the enthusiasm and the smiles on their faces when they are out on the water. There were some 50+ boats over 9 divisions on the two course areas with some classes having enough for One Design racing within a division.

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We had some great weather, 8knots on Saturday increasing to 12s on Sunday with flat seas and clear skies. Apparently this was a huge improvement on previous years. I couldn’t complain. The volunteer teams supporting the regatta by acting as safety and mark layers did an excellent job especially with the wind changes on Saturday. Needless to say, this was also one of those events where competitors sail past the start boat and suddenly realise who the PRO is. Unfortunately the rigging area for most is away from the club and not all came to the briefing to find out. Good to see a few of them off the water though.

It’s now that time again where we sit down and plan what’s happening over the coming months and try to fit everything in.