Back on the water

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been out on the water, all due to the world-wide effects of the Coronavirus. I haven’t been driving any great distance either.  In fact, I think I’ve driven to the  local council tip more than any other place besides going to the office at DeckHardware.

 

It’s been interesting talking to some of our suppliers overseas and how they are coping.  I think we Aussies have had it quite good till the last couple of weeks.  Unfortunately due to the actions of only a few, the rest of the country is in lock down. No one can go interstate with out doing a fortnight in quarantine and Victorians can’t go any further than about 5km  from home, not even to work for many as retail and manufacturing shuts down.

 

I’ve been busy doing all sorts of jobs around the house, including some big clean ups, cutting down  a tree or two and having the odd lazy day of doing almost nothing.

Middle Harbour in Winter

Looking towards the heads

Last weekend however was the first time out on the harbour in several months.  As some may know , DeckHardware has for several seasons been supporting the 16′ Skiff class and  as there was some winter racing/training happening at Middle Harbour and it was a non winters day with a NorEaster, we went out to watch and take some photos. And what a great day it was too,  clear skies and 10knot  ‘summer seabreeze’ in Winter?  As the boat driver for the day and having two photographers taking care of that side, I just had time to watch whilst driving the DeckHardware RIB.

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Spit Bridge east

The only really cold feature was coming back in to the boat ramp to pull Cadence out of the water,  wee bit chilly on the ankles hooking up the retrieving  trailer winch wire.

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As we come into what used to be a busy time heading out on the road seeing customers, life has changed for us all. We just have to accept a different way of life till this virus has cleared up world-wide. Hopefully those of us who enjoy heading out on the water, have the opportunity to do so.

 

I certainly look forward to seeing everyone once we are able to do so. In the meantime, stay safe , stay home and stay Covid19 free.

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.

A new boat, regattas and more

A new boat, regattas and more

So the 19/20 Summer season started off for me officiating with a Farr40 regatta, since then we’ve had another. I’ve always enjoyed officiating for the Farr40s, they have a group of enthusiastic owners who enjoy their sailing, added to this they are very social as well and their dock parties at MHYC after days sailing reflect this. Their association secretary, Jen Hughes rounds them all up and tries to keep them all sorted both on and off the water taking photos and arranging the pizzas and beers.

Farr40s offshore

Off the beaches of Freshwater and Curl Curl, wind and flat water

My next weekend on the water was down at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. Something a little different this time but I had done a few years back, running the ACT Dinghy Championships with some 70 boats across 8 divisions. A mix of Sharpies, Flying Fifteens, Lasers, Sabres with a few solo entries like an Impulse and RS100. Terry Peak ably looked after the Sailability and Optimists on another section of the lake.

Sailing in Canberra

Weather was like this for the two days whilst on the water.

The Wind Gods looked after us and we are able to get in two days of racing on a trapezoid course in 10-15knots of westerly with the odd bullet coming through causing a capsize or three [dozen]. I was assisted by the Canberra start team and one even called me the ‘wind whisperer’ as he hadn’t had such an easy regatta wind wise on the lake before. The wind came in on both days just prior to heading out and cut off not long after the last finisher. We had minimal delays and everyone knows that on LBG it’s not uncommon to have boats working and running on the same leg of the course, the joys of inland waterways.

A the end of the day

It was like this on both days once racing had finished.

In amongst all of this, there’s a new boat in the family. For sometime Melissa has thought about having a RIB enabling her to go to various clubs and regattas to take some photos and support DeckHardware ambassadors. We started looking at second hand 5m and ended up with a brand new 6.5m RIB with all the extras required. I’ll also be able to use it at the various country regattas I attend. In order to tow it around, it’s necessitated two new vehicles, a van for me and a larger car for towing. This has been paid for out of Robyn’s inheritance and the sale of her family home.

On the RIB, on the harbour

I can’t remember a time going under the bridge by powerboat, I’ve always sailed.

Last weekend, I spent some time in the new RIB watching the 16’er States up the harbour, something a little different. They had a great NorEaster for two races on Saturday and a Southerly came through for the single race on Sunday. Good racing for the 40 odd boats in an otherwise very crowded area, although after a leg or so most were spread out, especially with a few capsizes.

Rounding Cockatoo Island

Hazards of racing on the upper harbour, the race 3, 1st mark  leader TED cutting it fine. Eventual winner with Orange spinnaker, IMEI.

16's sailing up the harbour

Some of the 16s fleet on Sunday

Having not had a trailerable boat since the early 80s when Mel was a baby, it’s all about getting in the queue at the ramp both in and out. I’m getting better at organising at home first so it’s not mucking about wasting time prior to launching. The facilities are far better now with floating pontoons to tie up to once launched and whilst the car and trailer are parked. So far so good, the electric winch works a treat too, no winding!

 

Mel’s gone to METS in Amsterdam this week to meet up with many of our suppliers. Around this time of year they release new products and catalogues and it’s the opportunity to meet in person with the people at the other end of an email or phone line. It’s a busy week for her with scheduled meetings over the three days of the show. I know that when I’ve been, almost the best part is the sleep on the plane home!

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.

Been a while, but [part one]

I hit the road again not long after going to South Australia. This time to south to Victoria for a week or so. First up was a stop to Canberra. I’ll be running the ACT Dinghy Championships in early November, so it was good to see Steve and his team and sort out a few things. Whilst there of course, it was an opportunity to run through some of the new product lines recently added to the DeckHardware range. Being a Saturday morning there were also a few boat owners working on their boats going through pre season checks. They too joined in looking at the DeckHardware range.

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Saturday afternoon sea breeze on Wallagoot

Being a Saturday afternoon and driving south via the coast, I dropped by Wallagoot Lake Boat Club. Whilst there was no one around, someone had thrown a rock through a glass window upstairs. I rang one of the members and let him know, the call was naturally appreciated and a makeshift repair was arranged.

Heading further south on Sunday into Paynesville, again a caught up with a few there and a little gossip. Ironically it was on the highway just north that I crossed paths with a mate towing his fishing runabout, the people you see on the road. Usually when I visit Melbourne, I work my way around Port Phillip Bay anti-clockwise. For something different, I did the rounds clockwise starting in Geelong and Queenscliff.

Seeing a range of DeckHardware customers kept me busy until Wednesday lunchtime when the heavens opened, it bucketed down. I headed to Sandringham Yacht Club to meet up with a few there and it was surprising to see some boats heading out to do the Wednesday race, Chris made the comment that you needed a navigator to sail the course. We had trouble seeing them through the rain! Ironically there were more in the clubhouse than out on the water, dryer too.

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Marina at Westernport Hastings

Working my way around the bay, I again was fortunate to stay with my old skipper John Eyles who’s ‘retired’ to Safety Bay. John of course has got himself involved in the local sailing club at Martha Cove, so it was off to the clubhouse for the Thursday evening after work drinks. There’s a good bunch there at this fledgling club, plenty of miles between them all. As a reminder of what Melbourne weather is like, on Friday morning on leaving John and Sharons, there was ice on my windscreen, not the usual dew! I finished up late Friday afternoon and headed out of Melbourne. A full week with only a few hours lost to the weather. I just wish that some of it had hit those who need it most.

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Timber Dragon in re-build near Hastings

Again I drove the coast road north, heading back to Great Lakes Yacht Club, however there was no one around, so back on the road to Wallagoot. When I spoke to Rob the previous Saturday, he mentioned a club meeting Sunday morning. As I run their annual regatta, it was an opportunity to catch up and have a chat about the upcoming season. At the same time, Carl Webster from Australian Sailing came to present a club race officer course so it was a chance to see how he presented it too. Also the member maintenance team replaced the broken glass pane I had reported the week before. A busy day at a great little club, unfortunately with a good seabreeze for the second weekend, there was no one heading out for a sail. That’ll come soon enough.

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Sunrise over Lake Wellington at Marlay Point.

Took the “High” road for a change

The time came for my interstate trip to South Australia, a nice little two day drive from Sydney. The most common way is via the Hay Plains, an area where the vegetation struggles to grow more than about a metre. The alternate way is the route further north through Cobar, Wilcannia and Broken Hill. As my first destination was Port Lincoln west of Adelaide, the drive time according to the various websites was less than an hour difference, so why not see something different?

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Inland Australia is going through a rather difficult dry period, with rain desperately needed in dams and rivers. I can only support the country towns by passing through purchasing fuel and the odd meal. Admittedly, driving long distances some of it tends a little blurry, same after same view of the road and surrounds. It was however glaringly dry and brown as distinct from the dry and greenish on the Hay road.  I had been keen to see the Darling River where it comes through the town of Wilcannia. I didn’t take a photo even after stopping as there was nothing to see. Upstream of the bridge was dry and downstream just had a puddle you could jump over. When you think of the early settlement days, the paddle steamers were the mode of transport for the region. Not now, you could probably ride a BMX style push bike further than a boat down the Darling River.

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Heading into Port Augusta, the first thing I noticed was the lack of the power station, I’d seen the chimney come down on the news some time back, but it’s like sailing into Sydney Harbour and not seeing the Sow and Pigs. Heading down to Port Lincoln, nothing else had changed other than the odd new house here and there.

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Man shaped mountains in Outback Australia

 

I spent the following day with a range of DeckHardware customers before heading back clockwise around the gulfs. At various coastal towns, I just did a short stop to see if there was anything new, no, time for a couple of photos and back to more driving. Monday and Tuesday were spent driving with the occasional stop. The latter days in the week, I was able to see more customers due to the higher population densities. The one thing for those that don’t know the size of our country, it’s huge and in some areas very monotonous.

Near One design racing at Copper Cove Wallaroo SA

One thing that doesn’t change is the Aussie love of the water and watching the guys at Copper Cove racing their Radio controlled yachts in the drizzle was an example. As always its’ good to catch up with customers, many who have become familiar voices over the phone and at various regattas. At one business, the owners thanked me for my time showing the DeckHardware product range. We’d spoken on the phone before but never met in person. It’s nice to put a face to the name as they say.

Murray River at Tailem Bend SA. Plenty of water down here which was nice to see.

 

Driving home was via the South Road, good old Hay Plains that I first drove down with my mate John in the mid 70s towing two Lasers to the Australian Championships at Glenelg. Nothings changed there other than having a more comfortable vehicle than the good old HQ Holden. Certainly some of the music was the same, Beatles and Beach Boys and the good music from that era never grows old.

 

 

Keepit at Copeton

There’s two essential things that make for a good regatta, they are water and wind.  There is a distinct lack of water in inland Australia and the 51st Keepit Kool Regatta at Lake Keepit was a victim. I’ve been there when there’s been over 70% and as little as 9 or 10%, however this year its empty or as close as 1% can be.  Certainly not enough to go sailing with anything but a remote controlled yacht.  As a result the Keepit locals decided that to sail they had to take their boats elsewhere and in this case it was to Copeton Dam several hours away. Copeton when full certainly covers a huge area, however with 9.3% there’s just enough to go sailing. Several of us there for the first time are waiting for it to be near full to go back and have a look. There’s a huge amount of space and those not staying in the powered section of the park, preferring to be off the grid, had plenty of room to themselves. The only issue was a lack of phone reception in the area which created the usual technological issues of today’s world. There were those of course who loved not being distracted by emails, text messages and phone calls.

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A few of the Copeton locals in the early morning. That’s the water down there!

Thirty hardy crews arrived for the weekends racing, some from Keepit surrounds, others travelling from Newcastle and Sydney. Understandably the numbers were halved, with a combination of factors. The second element in sailing is the wind and apart from one brief instance whilst the briefing was being held, the flags drooped all weekend, struggling at best to get to 5knots.

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Gust of the weekend, I had to take a photo whilst the briefing was being held.

As is the norm for country events, there’s a mixture of boats, from sportsboats and smaller trailerable yachts, a range of multihulls and the usual fleet of Lasers and mixed monohulls. A rather intrepid young fellow even tried his sailboard, unfortunately having to paddle or get assisted back to shore in the glassouts mid race. Only one race was completed on Saturday, with three on Sunday and a ‘passage’ race on Monday morning. The on water race management team did their best given the conditions.

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Pretty much the weekends conditions.

Keepit is known for it’s evening social life with organised ‘home cooked’ dinners on Saturday and Sunday. The yabby races and the trivia followed. As runners up in the trivia, our table thought we did pretty well, maybe next year we can go one better. Hopefully inland Australia will receive some much needed rain and we can return to Keepit for the 52nd Keepit Kool.

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Mondays passage race. You can see by the opposite side, just how much the water level is down. Where I’m standing would be under water when full.

 

Wallagoot Lake 2019

Last weekend saw my now annual trip south to Wallagoot Lake for their annual regatta. This was my 4th time they’ve asked me to be the Race Officer and this year saw the NSW Sabre class include this event as their State Titles for the second time. The class have indeed made the decision to make this event at Wallagoot a fixture on their calendar. This year also saw an influx of Sabre sailors from Victoria for the first time and the locals are hoping that some of their knowledge will be passed on after the first six placings were held by those who came north.

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Sunset view from the clubhouse of a lone pelican

It’s normally a six hour drive south, however as is the norm these days there’s always someone to stuff the road system getting out of Sydney and it took me nearly ninety minutes longer due to an incident in one of the tunnels heading down the Hume Highway. This backed everything up to the harbour tunnel making it a crawl, something I’d hate to do on a daily basis. Instead I took the coast road and it made the trip just that bit easier once past Botany Bay. I came home via the inland and had a good run especially up Brown Mountain, part of the Great Dividing Range.

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Sabre fleet working to windward

Saturday morning was more of the same that I’ve experienced before at Wallagoot, the land breeze fades out, giving in to the seabreeze, this time with a bit of south in it. We got in the first race an hour late, then a break for lunch and at 1500 got in two more races in a nice 5-8knot seabreeze. A good day on the water for all.

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Saturday afternoon

Sunday morning saw more of the same with a dying land breeze and the seabreeze struggling to come in and even though we only had two races to run, the seabreeze only allowed one for the rest of the divisions.  We just got in the fifth race for the Sabres shortening them after the first triangle.

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Hurry up and wait, we had a bit of this. The Pacific Ocean is just over the hill and you can hear the surf at night.

In checking the weather up and down the coast, it was interesting to note that the Farr40s on Sydney Harbour were also postponed due to lack of wind over the weekend.

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With over fifty entries this was the largest fleet at Wallagoot for quite some time and those coming for the first time all expressed that they’ll be back. With the candlelight dinner on Saturday evening and live music from a local NS14 sailor, why wouldn’t you put this on your calendar.

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.

Jindabyne moved

In previous years the annual Snowy Mountains Regatta was held in late February, however Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club had several clashes at that time of year, so a move was on. Bringing it forward to pre-Christmas was the go, I was able to fit it in then too.  Returning again for another stint as the regatta race officer is always a joy, I thoroughly enjoy the country hospitality too.

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Coming ashore Friday evening

 

Again as in previous years, I’ve left Sydney around lunchtime and headed south, although this time I had a quick stop at Woolwich Dock to drop off some PROtect Tape for the 100’er Infotrack. Luckily once out of the horror metropolitan city traffic it was a good run and whilst I missed the start of the Friday evening race, I was there in time for the team to come and pick me up off the beach for the finish. They had a great evening sail with just enough to make it pleasant. The club locals then put on the usual great spread for dinner, finishing with a couple of rather large pavlovas!

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Whilst we programmed for 4 divisions, Multi’s, trailerable, dinghies and Lasers, we only had the one competitive trailer yacht, an Elliot7 who we put in with the mixed dinghies. I’d been talking about this regatta to a couple of close friends, James and Marita who talked a couple of their friends Steve and Paul in to coming to Jindabyne. I know it’s a long haul from Sydney but it’s a great country regatta and hopefully we can attract more again next year. We’ve had all sort of mixed trailerables from VX1’s to Flying Fifteens in the past.

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Good fleet of Multihulls

 

 

Saturday dawned with a typical local glassout but the forecast looked good and it was, for one race. Again it was good to have boat driver and Sabre sailor Ross and the Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club RO John with me on the start boat, the three of us have done this for a few years now. We shortened up the Multihulls so we could get another race away, however with only Brett White’s 20′ carbon flyer remotely looking like finishing it was time to abandon and go ashore. Hurry up and wait was the order of the day and in the end it was ‘beeroclock’. Given that the temperature was in the 30’s, everyone was quite happy on that call. One thing about sailing in Jindabyne, the water is fresh and drinkable.

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Laser start

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Saturday afternoon glassout

 

Sunday started as a followup to the day before until the breeze arrived out of the east. It was fantastic to get two good races in, around 10-15 knots of wind. Plenty of laughter as the tail finished the second race screaming downhill in a huge squirt. The 14 strong fleet of Lasers especially made it hard work for Ross and John to keep up with the pencilling, luckily I had my tape running and John was able to work off that, forward – rewind – forward – rewind..

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Sundays breeze 

 

 

And then as they say, it all happened. A large nasty black cloud appeared and then dumped some heavy rain on us, the breeze rotated right 90degrees and upped the ante to over 20knots. Many sailors sheltered in a little cove on the side of the lake, smart, better than sailing around. In the end I decided that it was AP over A, too hard for some of the younger sailors to stay upright and the older ones too enjoyed a little relief. Typically as Ross pointed out, the front went through and the wind died completely resulting in us becoming a towboat, towing competitors home.

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The breeze however stayed calm as the Sun came out, so at least it was nice for the regatta presentations. One of the lighter comments that afternoon was from MG/NS14 sailor Tony Hastings from Wallagoot Lake, I asked him why he was taking so long to unrig preferring a beer instead. His reply? “Hey, the boat’s got a good wash, waiting for it to dry!’ Thoughts of a saltwater sailing in fresh, brilliant. Another competitor hadn’t sailed there for a few decades, he said he’d be back next year not leaving it too long. I hopefully will be back too, unlike some dams like Keepit there’s plenty of fresh water for sailing.

And this appeared on the club notice board, courtesy of John Byrne. I’m yet to work out what I have.

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