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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out on the water

It’s been a couple of full on weeks. A fortnight ago I was in Jindabyne running the annual Snowy Mountains regatta on a freshwater man made dam built for the Snowy Mountains Scheme after World War 2. The dam is huge with more than enough area to run a decent size course. There is only one obstacle however when laying marks, the flooded original township below! Luckily there’s an area that’s marked as a no go zone for anchoring.

Saturdays racing was marred by the distinct lack of wind, something that does happen from time to time at any event.

After waiting ashore for most of the day, the start team went out and had a look when there was the makings of something on the lake. I came up with the idea of a short fun race.   Amazingly it was a course that they hadn’t thought of in the past in Jindabyne. An all-in start, out around both islands and the ‘no go markers’ and back to the start /finish line. Easy eh? Except that you could go either way, clockwise or anti. Certainly made a few think, course length was the same either way, so which option? Most went anti, however it was the ones who went clockwise who made the most of the breeze. Everyone finished quite tight and all enjoyed the change.

 

Sunday was a little different, we had wind! So two quick races were held and what was to be a longer third was shortened back to the same as the others as the wind dropped. So we had results, everyone had a good time and once again the country hospitality shone, not to mention the benefits of sailing in freshwater.

 

Last weekend was the annual Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s Sydney Harbour Regatta over two days. Usually I run the Adams10s and another One Design class, this time however we hosted the Sydney38 Championships with three overseas crews and several more from both north and south of the border. We then added the Farr40 class for the weekend as well. Racing was planned for Offshore on the Manly Circle. Friday we went out and in some very challenging conditions ran 3 races for the 38s. The breeze swung all over the place depending on the clouds coming through, over 100 degrees during the day making things quite difficult.

 

Saturday was totally different. Due to an East Coast Low pressure system, both seas and wind were up. I took the start boat out to the heads and it was far too dangerous to send any one offshore. There was also no way that I could anchor the boat, or course marks, let alone see them! Seas through the heads were as big as I’ve seen in a while. So inshore with all the other courses, somehow managing to get a 1nm beat. More races completed. I would have loved to have a photographer on board as some of the finishes were spectacular, let alone some of the broaches.  The Farr40 Estate Master came through the line surfing at nearly 20knots, the major issue of course was dropping it in time on a lee shore.

 

Sunday, things had calmed down somewhat due to the overnight westerly which knocked the head off the seas. So back out to the Manly Circle and a nice south wester averaging 16-18knots, perfect. I made the one bad call that I haven’t done in a while, I thought the breeze would swing left which is the norm. Instead it stayed in the south west and went even further right. My mistake was not giving the mark boat room to lay a course as I had laid the bottom mark too close in. Unfortunately the second race became a bit of a one way track, lesson learnt. I had to apologise to the competitors over the VHF.

 

It was probably the hardest three days on the water as a race official, the East Coast Low really put paid to that. Previous years have been just nice NorEasters and one can only hope for that next year.

 

Now it’s off to Wallagoot Lake Boat Club for their annual regatta. Wallagoot is another lovely little country club, situated just north of Merimbula  on the far south coast of NSW. A small volunteer run club with 2 or 3 of each class using the yardstick for handicaps. At Jindabyne we use a common wing mark on the triangle, at Wallagoot the multihulls like their reaches so there’s a wider gybe mark for them. More mark laying but the monos and multihulls are separated making it easier on them. One of the things that does happen at these country events, is showing off the new products from our suppliers. These guys don’t have a chance to touch and feel much of the products now available, this is their chance to ‘tart up’ their boats with new lines from LIROS and boat and sail repair kits from DrSails.

 

Next week it’s back on the road in the van, north to Queensland for 10 days or so. Plenty of new products in the DeckHardware range to show  around. Forespar have a range of new lubrication products and Allen Brothers also have some new fittings. It’ll be pretty busy.

On the road south

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

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

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

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

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

Off and running in 2017

Last weekend I was back out on the water for the first time this year. For over ten years I’ve been running the Adams10 Nationals when they’ve been held on the harbour. As Middle Harbour Yacht Club Principal Race Officer and a former longtime A10 sailor, these events have always been enjoyable to do. However on this occasion I was asked by Lake Macquarie Yacht Club to come up and be the events Race Officer. I’ve been going to the lake now to sail for 45 years with a fair bit of it on Belmont Bay on an Adams10, so no issues. The other change was the inclusion of the VXOnes for their Nationals to the course area. This wasn’t a problem as I’d previously run both classes together on Sydney Harbour.

 

I’d gone up to LMYC a couple of weeks ago to just go over their start boat and make sure all was fine. So day one on Thursday brought an overcast day and a nice #1 Southerly and a course was set at 1.2nm to shake out a few cobwebs. There were plenty of shifts, but the one constant in the first race for the A10s was the performance of Matt Watts Gogo who lead the entire race. From memory this was a first for the crew, but that was to be their only claim to fame this time around. Race two was won by last year’s winner, Powderhulk with Pat Delaney on the helm. The VX’s were shown around the course by Andrew Yorks Speedwagon.

 

Friday we woke up to nothing, as in nothing on the lake, no wind at all. ‘Hurry up and wait’ is the usual RO call. Finally a nice easterly came in and we got in three races for each class, with the best breeze of the day in the last one.  Gezzabelle from Pittwater and Eat My Shorts from the host club were the leaders on the day with a 1&2 each but with their drops for the other. It was more follow the Speedwagon on the other track. With the wind finally coming in late in the day it was great to get in three races.

 

Saturday morning was the same, nothing blowing from anywhere but a lot hotter indicating a NorEaster on the way. Finally it came in and we had some great racing. In the Adams10, Rob Clarkes KickandChase from MHYC worked things out and won both races. In the VXOnes a couple of Laser sailors also worked out what to do, Ash Brunning and Tom Burton won the last couple.

 

One of the highlights of the weekend was keeping an eye on the Wangi Wangi syndicate on Mad Max. They are new owners to the class having recently purchased the Adams10. They sailed the boat full of enthusiasm and made sure the fleet knew they were there. In race six they surprised themselves by finishing in third place having been in second for most of it. Mad Max was easy for me to keep track of especially downwind. The spinnaker used was one Melissa designed – yes, Mad Max W12 is the old Animus MH12. It was a pleasure to present the DeckHardware / Pat Carroll Memorial Trophy for the first placed timber seater to syndicate member Jody Shiels who was forward hand for this event. I hope to see more of them in upcoming Adams10 events, including the Sydney Harbour Regatta in March. On behalf of DeckHardware and as Pat’s mainsheet hand for a number of years it was great to see the timber seaters in action.

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Presenting the DeckHardware Pat Carroll Memorial Trophy to Jody Shiels from Mad Max.

 

Overall it was Eat my Shorts and Speedwagon who cleaned up, both boats too consistent. Once again it was great racing to watch in the A10s with second and third equal on points as were fourth and fifth. No one really knew where they finished till it was tallied up. I have to give due credit to the start team at LMYC, the two Ians and Wayne and Lindsay Rose from MHYC, great backing up when a lot was on and full focus on giving the sailors the best regatta possible.

 

My thanks especially go also to Lindsay as at the end of each day on the water he was first to provide refreshments ashore. Next up is back to MHYC, then I’m back on the road and headed to Tasmania next week with a fair bit on in the coming months.