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.

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.

 

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.