More of the same

That’ll be back on the water and back on the road interstate.

January wrapped up with the Australia Day long weekend and officiating racing for the Adams 10s at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. It was a reasonable weekend weather wise, with a bit of everything, the best day being Sunday with four short races from Middle Head up to Little Manly. It’s a good track in a NorEaster and especially when the ferries aren’t running for a few hours. I had a call from Phil Barnett who captains one, letting me know that due to the festivities at Circular Quay and under the bridge, they had a break for a few hours. Nice.

Sometimes there's a breakaway leader

Sometimes there’s a breakaway leader, MH118 with a nice lead

Racing wise, it was all about the Lake Macquarie boat Backchat, winning four of the eight races. The minor placings were keenly fought with L2, Dilemma and Powderhulk finishing in that order. It was also great to see Extender/SSV/Animus/Mad Max racing again. Now known as Organised Chaos and sailing on Pittwater, the only timber seater in the fleet gave a few a run for their money even winning one of the races.

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Day one race start

Then it was back on the road, south. Initially a day trip south of Sydney and into the recent bushfire zones. It’s certainly something else going from green bushland to burnt black and tree trunks only. There was however quite a few thank you signs for the Firies. It’ll be many years before life returns to ‘normal’.

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Southern NSW January 2020 and bushfires devastated many.

I then headed south to Melbourne with my first stop at Geelong for the NACRA/49er/FX Worlds, catching up with a few of the Aussies involved and assisting the local chandlery who had a stall at the club. Then it was over to Sandringham for the Laser/ILCA Worlds and catching up again with a few of the Aussies competing. DeckHardware has been supporting the Australian Sailing Team from just after the 2008 Olympic games and a few of the team over the years have become good friends. So I tried to give a little moral support as well as product and technical support. Whilst I cut this trip short and didn’t catch up and see everyone I wanted to, I’m sure that there’ll be another trip south at some stage this year.

Coming up is the Farr40 States at MHYC followed by the SailGP the following weekend. I quietly saw one of the AC45s a while back, so I look forward to seeing the F50s out on the harbour. I hope that they have breeze this time though. Then I’m back to Geelong for their Wooden Boat Show where we’ll have a range of LIROS on display with the Wooden Boatshop. Unfortunately this coincides with the MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta, so no race management that weekend.

Welcome to 2020

2019 finished off for me and many others with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, for over a decade now I’ve been fortunate to head a MHYC team running the second start line. This time , the 75th running of the race south, we had four lines with the CYCA on the front, MHYC on the second, RPAYC on the third and RSYS on the fourth. Each year, my friends know that I try to bring someone who hasn’t experienced the opportunity, to come along and be part of the team. This year I extended an invitation to Peter Tinworth from Middle Harbour 16s who thoroughly enjoyed the day on Sydney Harbour watching the yachts head south, so much so that as he put it -” I can’t watch the start from anywhere else after this, you’ve spoilt me”. I think that means he wants to come back.

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Boxing Day, spectators and officials alike waiting for the Rolex Sydney Hobart start.

It was great to have all four lines with a clear start as we’ve had a few try to start early recently. Getting the anchor up and clearing the way for the entrants behind is always a priority. Our line is not a mark of the course for them and it doubles up to get going and see everyone heading offshore. It’s certainly interesting for those non competing sailors to follow the weather and the tracker to plot a reasonable course, something you couldn’t do last century.

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Pre-start maneuvers within the exclusion zone

Next up was the 16′ Skiffs at Soldiers Point Port Stephens, where DeckHardware was representing Allen Sailing and LIROS Ropes as sponsors. I was only there for the first weekend, whilst Melissa stayed for the week and took out the media on the RIB each day. It certainly was exciting watching up till the last couple of metres of the last race, with overall being decided on a countback. One mistake and you could easily lose up to ten places very quickly, it was hard work to get them back too. Everyone had their own races right through the fleet.

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DeckHardware van and RIB at Port Stephens

Melissa had a 36hr turnaround and is now up at RQYS in Brisbane where again she is representing DeckHardware on behalf of Allen Sailing as the title sponsor of the Flying Elevens. Whilst she’s done the trip a few times now, this was the first towing the RIB all the way, she made good time too. Following the Flying Elevens, she took a detour home via Noosa to see one of her old crew from Animus days.

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Heavy weather start

This weekend I spent the weekend again with the Farr40s, their prelude event prior to the States in February. Saturday was hard, there’s no other way of putting it. With a 20-25knot Southerly with rain at times and a good southerly swell it made for some good rides and wipe outs as well. We started with 8 of the 10 entries for race one and at the finish of race 3 had 3 1/2 finish. The fourth finished under mainsail only although not that far behind the others. Jeff Carters team Edake won all three races showing some great boat handling.

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Towing in the second gate mark on Saturday

Sundays racing however was a lot better, we got in two races in a nice southerly with a little shift left before the last two in a nice soueaster, both in a nice 8-10knots and flat seas south of Sow & Pigs Reef. Father and Son, Tom and Allan Quicks team Outlaw duelled with Edake for the honours overall. Edake winning by virtue of winning the last race, taking the regatta win. Double Black from Sandringham Yacht Club in Victoria were third for the weekend.

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Good Form from Newcastle nailing the pin end start

This coming weekend will see me out on the water with the Adams10s again at Middle Harbour Yacht Club for the three days of the Australia Day festivities. More of the same as Sunday hopefully, may be a NorEaster?

Farr40 Jan 2020 Clear start

Good Form, right on the pin

Been a while but.. [part two]

Shortly after returning from driving down south, I was in the air for a couple of days in Perth.  I’d planned on just three rather full days seeing as many DeckHardware customers as I could. I started off heading down to Australind and Bunbury a couple of hours drive south of Perth and then working my way back to where I was staying in Fremantle. It was a busy day driving several hundred kilometers, having arrived the previous night, but it was good to see some of the customers there and to show some of the new product range.

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Fremantle Bridges over the Swan River at night

 

That evening however changed everything. I’d gone to bed early to catch up on some sleep to be awoken by a call from the Fremantle Police. A couple of local youths had gone on a rampage in the area and I was one of the victims. They’d smashed the passenger window of the hire car and stolen my little red lunchbox containing my business cards. These were found in the backpack of one of the youth cornered by the dog squad. Evidence! Unfortunately, I had to wait till lunchtime for the Forensic fellow to do his job, then it was in to Perth CBD to swap over for another vehicle. So I lost a full day’s work.

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Broken side mirror and window

 

Friday in Western Australia was pretty full on and naturally I didn’t get to see as many as I normally would have. Saturday morning however, I was given the opportunity to go out on the Fremantle Sailing Club start boat for the first Offshore race start of the season. As a National race officer, it’s always good to see how others do it, you always pick up on something. Yes I did pick up a treat and those who report in to my start team this season may have a little surprise. The conditions however were not to anyone’s liking with barely a ripple on the water at start time. It did slowly build and the leaders were able to be finished before sunset. I had one more stop before heading to the airport mid afternoon and returning home for a day on the water Sunday. Thanks must go again go to Paul and Sarah for providing the home to come back to each evening, they’ve been wonderful hosts over the years.

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Freo pin boat heading out with the start boat

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Slow start, some of the boats ahead started 15 minutes earlier!

Normally I get the bus in to Mascot, however this time I’d driven in due to the late evening arrival. Downer number 2 for the trip – a flat battery and a wait for the NRMA who unfortunately for me had a busy evening.

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Farr40 offshore start Sunday

 

So after a few hours sleep it was back to Middle Harbour Yacht Club and a day of racing with the Farr40s. They’d raced with the offshore boats the day before and the schedule was for a few races inshore on Sunday. Unfortunately the lack of breeze followed me from the day before. Hanging around the heads looking for something, we noticed some wind offshore, so a course was set. Again the conditions were not to our liking and the first race was abandoned. Moving back inshore looking for something we were able to run a couple of quick races to round out their weekend. Perhaps, we should have stayed inshore, but at least we gave it a go.

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Back in the harbour with wind on Sunday

 

 

So that’s now the start of the summer of sailing 2019/2020.

Sometimes a boat returns

Sometimes a boat returns in to your life many years after last being aboard. Many boats I’ve sailed over the years have disappeared only to pop up somewhere along the line when I’m on the road.

In this case it’s Defiance, the original IOR MK3 1/2 tonner built in timber by Doug Brooker back in 1972. After she was sold by Robyn’s father John, I saw her once up at Church Point just a few years later. Then back in May of 2015, there she was on the hard at Scarborough in Queensland looking rather neglected. I tried to source the owner through the yard and local chandlery without success. Then a few years ago, I received a call from a Brisbane yachtie asking about her and a bit of history.  It turned out that Craig had saved her from being broken up as the previous owner hadn’t paid any yard fees. Craig bought her and set about rebuilding with a view of taking Defiance to Tasmania.

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On a following road trip north seeing DeckHardware customers, I had a look at what was being done by the shipwrights at RQYS, cutting out the rot from various additions for example. As she was now accessible, it’s amazing how small these 1/2 tonners were as these days everyone sails something a bit larger especially offshore. Then on another trip north Craig had moved her to another yard for finishing off and respraying. Time for another check-up. He’s certainly taken his time to do the renovation properly, she’ll last another 50 years hopefully.

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So this past week Defiance made an appearance at Middle Harbour Yacht Club enroute to Hobart to live and to be shown at the Wooden Boat Show in February. Plenty came down for a good look, including sons of another previous owner, who also had stories to tell.

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They say that boats like these have custodians, not owners and full credit must go to Craig and the team of shipwrights for bringing her back to new, including the colour scheme. I know I’ve certainly enjoyed watching the progress, hopefully one day I can have another sail.

Just a quick trip south

Last week I spent a few days south. First up on Saturday morning, was a quick stop in Canberra then across to the coast where I stopped by Wallagoot Lake Boat Club. They were just finishing their days racing and a few of them were pleasantly surprised to see me. One thought I was an apparition! It was good to see them again as many have become good friends in my time officiating their annual regatta. They were quite pleased to show me their new start/rescue/mark laying boat, a new alloy runabout with more room in the bow for buoys. They were yet to set it up fully and were keen on my input. I’ll be back again for their annual regatta later in the season which again incorporates the NSW State Sabre titles.

Wallagoot Lake

Heading further south down the coast, the next stop was Paynesville, where again I surprised a few at the club by turning up. It was the first race of the season for them and I enjoyed wandering around chatting with those who remembered my DeckHardware product talk last season. After a couple of hours break, it was back on the road and heading to Port Phillip Bay.

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I spent the next couple of days driving anti-clockwise around Port Phillip, starting at Sorrento and finishing off at Geelong and Queenscliff before heading home. It’s always good to catch up and have dinner with friends and in this case it was Marty and Sue Sly, legends for their boatwork in Melbourne. It’s nice to catch up on all the gossip around the traps after hours when you have a bit more time on your hands. Whilst I didn’t have the time to see every one this time around, hopefully I’ll make it up on the next trip.

Again it was nice to see Vicroads updating the rest areas and the facilities on the Hume, however like NSW Roads and Maritime, there’s a great expanse of new tar and concrete but no shelter from the Sun or rain. Like the Pacific Highway in northern NSW, all the trees that provided some sort of relief in the past have been removed. I guess those that those who design these rest areas don’t use them.

Clear start

This weekend past, I spent another couple of days officiating the local Farr40 fleet for their monthly regatta, only six boats this time but again the racing was close. Tom Quick’s Outlaw was the eventual winner with tactician David Chapman bringing his father Richard and uncle Bob Wilmot out of hiding to assist. It’s always enjoyable working with the Farr40s, they are a great bunch of very keen and experienced sailors and those who volunteer to assist me on the start boat always go away having learnt something.  We had a great day offshore on Saturday with a 10-12knot NorEaster and a reasonably flat sea and on Sunday in the harbour despite the forecasts, we had another great 12-14knots from the South East. Sunday was the shiftiest breeze inshore I’ve seen for a while, there was no pattern to it, but the shifts were all over the place from 150* to 200*, those that worked them made the most. Very testing.

 

Had another sail and another drive.

Following on from my first offshore sail in a decade, I had another sail, this time a Middle Harbour Yacht Club point score race on an Adams10, funny that given the decades sailing them. It was another day with Garth and his crew on Sirius, however this time it was a blustery westerly. The line was a little biased to the pin and Garth did an excellent job in timing the starboard run down the line. Those who tried to port tack start were confronted by us hollering, so there was a little bit of ‘ducking’ our transom.

It was a pretty uneventful race except for the last spinnaker reach, this was one of those beauties, over 14knots on the dial before dropping the kite and coming back to course. Then on the last tack to the finish, I slipped and extended my knee, the good one. Needless to say I’ve had a few visits to the physio since. But what about that ride – made the day.

 

Then it was back on the MHYC Start boat and race officialdom. It was the first of the monthly Farr40 regattas for the season and whilst it was a non point score, six boats turned up for three races in a nice southerly on Sunday. This followed on from an offshore race the day before and a rather late night for some at the Farr40 20th anniversary function on Saturday night. The Association awarded five previous owners for their successes and support of Australian yachting in general. It was fantastic to be in attendance to see Marcus, Richard, Martin, Lang and Guido presented with a brilliant red jacket with their results embroidered on the pockets.

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Out on the water Sunday and it was good racing between Outlaw and Exile with only seconds between them for the days honours. Race 1 saw Exile win their first Farr40 race, giving guest helmsman Chris Way some bragging rights. In race 2 it was the Victorian team on Double Black,  it was great to see these two boats especially get amongst it at the front. The Farr40s will be back next later in October for another round and it’s always a pleasure to watch them, albeit very closely.

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This weekend past saw me at a club that I hadn’t been to for 40 years! A long time ago the Sydney Laser sailors used to head to Wallis Lake for a regatta once a year. Great Lakes Sailing Club certainly hasn’t changed all that much, the main change is an upgrade recently on more grassed rigging and camping space. One of our DeckHardware ambassadors was competing in the Wildcat Regatta, a 3 day event that has been held for quite some time. So it was an opportunity to drop by and aside from dropping off a ‘goody’ package for Lily, it was a chance to see what the event was about.

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Interesting was the number of well-known sailors looking for a fun weekend. Jason Waterhouse was sailing his father’s Hobie16 with his sister Bridget. His NACRA17 coach Darren Bundock decided to sail a foiling A Class as was Steve Brewin. There were plenty of other high profile sailors too, such as Brett Goodall coming from Victoria and Warren Guinea driving from Brisbane.

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Jason Waterhouse and Lily Smith at GLSC

 

It was great to return to GLSC, I guess I shouldn’t leave it as long till the next time either. It was also good to catch up with a few of those wandering around the boat park, with 80 or so entries there wasn’t much space left.

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Not much space left after 80 odd catamarans and trailers.

 

 

 

 

 

Newcastle

Some time ago I was contacted by Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club to be the Race Officer for the NSW Country Offshore Championships held out of their home base at Newcastle. Whilst I’d sailed past quite a few times, I’d only ever entered the harbour once under sail and that was at night, so I was up for the challenge. Something new and different.

Despite the forecast, it was a lovely northerly seabreeze that greeted us as we went outside and turned left up Stockton Beach for a mile or so. Clear skies and a relatively flat sea also made it pretty easy for race management and the mark layers in their RIBs. The breeze however shifted throughout the day over the course of the three races, especially for the last race  when I decided against another course change.

Nine Dragons leading Kahleesi

Gate rounding at Newcastle

With a fleet of over 25 boats competing in three divisions, many had their opposition panned out. In Division One Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs Bob Cox’s DK46 Nine Dragons took overall honours from club sistership Kahleesi with another MHYC club entrant Cookson12 Philosopher third in PHS whilst NCYC’s Farr40 Good Form was third on IRC. It was a good mixed bag of boats including a TP52, Sydney46,  J122 and  Farr400, gate roundings were always close. In Division Two it was all about the little Farr31, SoFarr skippered by Lake Macquarie’s Mark Long who lead from the start and around every mark of the course, leaving her larger competition struggling in her wake. Division Three was all about the mixed local cruisers who were surprisingly competitive on the startline.

Division One Race One start

Nine Dragons mid line leader

So after getting in the three races, it was back to the club and only just in time for some as the afternoon forecast rain arrived. We missed the hail of Wangi Wangi a little south of Newcastle but the precipitation was well received by all due to the current drought.

Sunday dawned with calm overcast skies. Heading back offshore it was more of the same. There was a nice little land breeze and we set up a course heading in to the beach. However just as we went in to sequence it dropped out and shifted all over the place. Only one thing to do – AP up. Unfortunately that’s the way it stayed for the next two hours! Hurry up and wait as we say. With little sign of any change and many Lake Macquarie and Sydney boats looking to get home, that was it for the day and the results of Saturdays racing stood for the overall. Disappointing for those who came up from Sydney, a big effort and thanks for your patience on Sunday. The highlight on Sunday was the arrival of a coffee run to Joe De Kocks Farr40, everyone else was impressed but wondering on the cost of the delivery boats fuel bill.

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Hopefully I’ll be back next year as it’s a great event for those who don’t venture north to Queensland. A huge thanks to all the rest of the NCYC team on and off the water who made for a well-run regatta.

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