Back on the horse

Last weekend was the annual Sydney Harbour Regatta hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club and supported by the other major yacht clubs east of the bridge and RPAYC from Pittwater. As an example, the CYCA ran the Offshore boats, RSYS had Ynglings and Etchells, Manly Yacht Club ran the PHF handicap divisions and RPAYC had a mixture of sportsboat types.

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After being offshore last year with the Sydney 38s and Farr40s, it was back inshore on Hugh George [MHYC start boat]with the Adams10s again, this time alongside the Cavalier28s who were sailing their State titles as a part of this event.

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On Saturday we couldn’t have been given a better day, the sun was out and a NorEaster around 10knots. Just perfect, flat seas made it even better. The only downside for the competitors was the huge runout tide forcing a couple of individual recalls in both fleets. I did however advise them over the radio in the count down, that the start boat was hanging to tide not the wind and to note that it would push them over. All good as they recognised the fact and returned quickly and in one case even to win that race. I gave the Adams10s three laps and the Cavs two and the 10s with masthead spinnakers managed to catch the tail of the Cavs to ensure no hold up in a turnaround. It was a great day and no better had this summer. Three races ran without incident.

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Sunday however was a turnaround, miserable would be the word. A southerly change had come through forcing the Offshore boats inshore and many courses and divisions cancelled for the day. The Cavalier28s made the decision to not sail, so I only had a small but competitive fleet of Adams10s sailing. They of course loved the 20knot Southerly, hounds spinnakers and #3 jibs ruled the day however. In one race the third placegetter didn’t set a spinnaker, just poled out the jib and ran straight downhill faster than those trying to gybe spinnakers. There were a few broaches, the best was from No Friends who photographer Andrea Francolini managed to capture. We set them three short races, two lappers and 15 minutes in between to make it easy for all. Anchoring on the western ferry channel in the Sound is pretty uncomfortable in those conditions so the least time spent out there, the better.

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Having the Offshore boats inshore, including Marcus Blackmores new Hooligan and Paul Clitheroe Hobart winner Balance made for some exciting viewing as they came back to Manly from Shark Island. Hooligan on one run out ran the Manly Ferry, such was her speed, well in to the 20s. Balance gybed right beside us at speed, giving us great insight to the communication on board, no yelling just to the point. Neither boat would have been very dry given the amount of spray!

 

That was pretty much the last weekend at MHYC for the season. This weekend I’ll be down at Wallagoot Lake for their annual regatta including the Sabre States and NS14 traveller series. After that, also coming up is the NS14 States at BYRA on Pittwater at Easter and the Annual Batemans Bay Regatta following that. Then the Sydney Summer sailing season will be over. Time to hit the road again.

It’s been a busy start to 2018

Three weeks ago, I ran a weekend of racing for the Farr40 fleet at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. This was a prelude for the boats to tune up for the NSW States held over the last weekend. In the middle was the Adams10m Nationals over the Australia day holiday weekend. Over the three consecutive weekends we ran about 28 race starts.

For the first weekend of the Farr40s, I asked for and received two days of lovely NorEasters and with just the five boats it was some great racing with Jeff Carters Team Edake on top. This was the second event that Edake has finished on top, following his success at the Newcastle regatta in late 2017. The eight races gave the crews a chance to blow out a few cobwebs and train any new crew prior to the States.

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Having been blessed with NorEasters the previous weekend, again we had hoped for more of the same and more were given for the small but competitive fleet of Adams10s. Clear skies and a great breeze gave the fleet some good racing and the overall leader board changed after each race. Leading in to the last day was new Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany’s Powderhulk, however a couple of inconsistent races on the last day cost them the series win. Fellow MHYC sailor and former Rugby boss Rob Clarkes, Kick and Chase once again pulled a couple of last day keepers, however overall it was 2001 winner Backchat now skippered by Tom Braidwood from Lake Macquarie Yacht Club who won overall in 2018. In a sign of the times, Toms crew included North Sails Australia boss Michael Coxon, one of several sailmakers represented in the fleet.

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Last weekend, whilst we had hoped for more NorEasters, on Saturday we ended up offshore on the Manly Circle with a strong 15-20knot Southerly with a 2m swell. Once again the volunteer start team worked wonders to give the Farr40s some good racing and with plenty of well-known tacticians including Tom Slingsby, Steve McConaghy, David Chapman, Will Ryan and Gary Gietz. As expected, it was pretty tight racing especially downwind with plenty of waves to surf. After three races and in consultation with the class president, it was decided that was enough and racing was adjourned for the day. Sunday’s wind was forecasted to be again out of the south with the course inshore on The Sound. With a few showers around, we went in to sequence for the first race of the day. It was not to be however, the rain killed the breeze and a postponement of ninety minutes was the outcome. We moved the fleet down the harbour and finally a Southeaster of around 8 knots settled in. With a course across the runout tide from Obelisk Bay to Watsons Bay, it was a challenge for all, both upwind and down. Do you go right or left, do you gybe early or late? Many decided that up and down the middle was the way to go, tacking and gybing on the shifts. In the end it was the Martin Hill and Tom Slingsby combination on top. On behalf of the MHYC volunteer start team, it’s a joy to be able to work with the Farr40s. The class administration, especially Jen Hughes looks after the sailors with great dock parties after racing. The competitors give us the opportunity to watch some of the world’s best at work.

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For something a little different I’m off to BYRA this Sunday and my old stomping ground on Pittwater. A lot has changed  over the last 45 years since I sailed there in Fireballs and 505s.

And with all of the race management over the last few weeks, something I’ve been thinking about for a while. This week I’ve stepped down as Middle Harbour Principal Race Officer.  I’ll still be available for important regattas at the club, like the Farr40s, Sydney Harbour Regatta and the Rolex Sydney Hobart start. However after thirteen seasons of running Saturday and Winter sailing, it’s time out and time to go back to sailing itself and enjoying the sport I’ve grown up in. A huge thanks go to the other volunteer members of the start team over the years, hard work at times, frustrating too but they are an enjoyable bunch to spend a day or two on the water with and there’s been plenty of laughs along the way.

 

 

That’s the year done

Calendar year for 2017, that is with the last event being the Hobart race. The sailing and regatta season continues at full pace through January 2018.  We’ve all been doing the Rolex Sydney Hobart start for a while now, so it’s pretty much another event albeit with a little more media. Some of the MHYC team do the check in on the pin boat, the rest and a couple of extras are on the start boat. The photo below is of us out early before the start, getting everything in order. Thanks to Michael Hogan for the photo from one of the spectator boats.

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It’s been a fun year, again getting around to a few regattas out in the country and away from Sydney, it’s always good to get away from the ‘local pond’. I’ll be hanging around a few regattas in the coming weeks before stepping back on the start boat towards the end of January. Then, I’ll have a weekend of looking after the Farr40s followed by 3 days of the Adams10s and then followed by yet another weekend of the Farr40s. It’s always good to watch these guys, both are great fleets with good sportsmanship, that is few if any protests.

 

It was sad to hear of the virtual destruction of the Big River Sailing Club clubhouse in a recent weather event on the north coast of NSW. At Maclean nearby the local pub lost its roof along with plenty of other damage. I’ve always enjoyed going to their events and hopefully next season, I’ll have the chance. Knowing the committee will do their best to rebuild, they need competitors support of their regattas, I hope everyone will help by entering.

 

I’ll be sitting down over the coming weeks and planning the year ahead, what’s on when and which regatta to either attend or officiate and planning the work trips, both around New South Wales and interstate. I’m already heading to Wallagoot Lake in March, the weekend after the MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta. Another in the pipeline is the 50th Keepit Kool mid year.

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.

 

Winter regattas

Every now and then, there’s always a few non club events that I run at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. Over the weekend we hosted the McConaghy38s for 6 races and on Sunday the Adams10s for their annual teams event, the Waitangie Cup.

The MC38s had a small but very competitive fleet as it turned out, the first two tied and the next three also tied on overall points. The leading team recently has been Ginger with owner skipper Leslie Green and tactician David Chapman and once again they were at the front. Pushing them was Maserati , with Neville Crichton and new young crew lead by Joe Turner and Mitch White. Maserati won on this occasion, relegating Ginger to second after a lengthy count back.

Saturdays racing started off with a one lap in a light westerly and after the finish the AP went up for around an hours delay whilst the breeze settled. In the end I moved the course south of Sow and Pigs Reef and started them in a one lap southerly. Unfortunately the breeze again dropped out so that race was abandoned. Then the NorEaster came in and we saw some good racing out through the heads, again one lappers whilst the breeze lasted.

Sunday saw the Westerly/NorWester trying to come in. In the end I moved them into a short course from Manly Point to North Harbour as this was pretty much the only breeze on the harbour. We got in a couple of short races in the NorWester for both classes before the CYCA fleet headed north. We then moved the course east of their fleet and got in the last race before the breeze again dropped out.

Whilst all the races over the weekend were all one lap, they were sailed in I think the best conditions available. It’s always fluky at this time of year on the harbour, too much or not enough. Certainly challenging setting courses to please.

The Waitangie Cup is an annual state teams event, New South Wales verses Victoria in the Adams10s. I’ve won, lost and run this event over several decades being an A10 sailor. Each home crew also swap boats so there is no advantage, it also gives them a chance to crew on the opposition boats and have a feel for what they are sailing against.Unfortunately the VICs were down a boat coming up so it was 4 against 3, with the last NSW boat dropped off in the scoring. Powderhulk with Patrick Delaney sailing Rob Clark’s Kick&Chase won all 3 races giving the home team the edge in the final points. As always it was an enjoyable event with no protests and I know from experience both state teams enjoy the challenge. Next year it’s off to Victoria to defend, something that’s always hard.

As a volunteer at MHYC a lot of time goes in to running the racing.  Including getting to the club early enough to set up the Start boat prior to a briefing and then a long day on the water in testing conditions for the Race Officer and the tacticians alike. On Saturday I was blessed to have three of my regulars assisting and Phil, Bev and Dennis helping to run a smooth operation. On Sunday I had a mixed crew of non sailing A10 sailors to assist. There were the odd hickups from those who had never been on a startboat before. All learnt immensely from being aboard helping to run the racing.

Next? Planning the coming months and next seasons calendar. There will be the regular events like the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, what else?

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Back out on the harbour

It’s almost like a homecoming, returning to the start boat at Middle Harbour Yacht Club on Saturdays. We’ve now had two races in to the 2015/2016 season.

The first race of the season got away finally in a nice Nor Nor Easter with windward/leeward courses for all divisions. There was no breeze on most of the harbour, however there was a nice vein from North head to Obelisk Bay. Those who sailed said it was a great first day. Last Saturday’s  racing was split in to two fleets. The larger Open division combined with the Fleet from Sydney Amateur Sailing Club further down the harbour, whilst I ran the rest of the fleet on a similar track to the previous week. The wind however didn’t quite go to plan staying a little right, the course ending up with a slight bias that way. Those I spoke to later said they enjoyed the downhills however with the Adams10s doing up to 15knots at times.

Saturdays racing was a combined event with Barts Bash for the Adams10s. Barts Bash is a world wide event raising funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. Andrew tragically died at the age of 36 in an accident onboard the Artemis AC72 yacht in San Francisco Bay in 2013. With Anthony [Nocka] Nossiter, a prominent A10 sailor and one of Andrew’s closest friends, his friends set up the event in his honour. In return Anthony’s mates from MHYC combined to support the event, donating to the cause.

Sunday I went to Woollahra Sailing Club for their Barts Bash. They held part of their event in Optimist dinghies in two divisions. The first off were the Green fleet Tackers, the second off were the guest skippers. On this occasion champion NACRA17 crew Lisa Darmanin sailing an Opti for the first time lead 49er sailor Harry Price home.

Congratulations to all those who took part. It’s interesting though, looking at the videos from around the world at the various events, all had light conditions. I think my fleet had the best on the day.

A weekend on the water, for a change.

This last weekend, before I’m heading north, I spent once again out on MHYCs start boat running a few races. Saturday was race two of the Winter series and the weather was just nice for the small but competitive fleet. We had a nice WSW breeze of about 15 knots maximum. All the boats managed to sail the whole course without shortening, as is the case some weeks when the breeze drops off, but that’s winter in Sydney with the prevailing Westerlies. Nothing too exciting apart from the dolphins herding fish in to Balmoral where we were anchored for the finish, too far away for any photos.005003

Saturday night was the annual Summer season prize giving where all the divisions, Saturdays, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday night fleets are acknowledged and trophies are handed out to those who excelled. Always a good night where everyone catches up. Unfortunately, Ben Nossiter who has regularly featured on the wall for the Adams10s for over 20 years wasn’t able to attend due to ill health and everyone wished him all the best. Jim Nixon, his long time mainsheet hand accepted and spoke on behalf of the crew.

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Sunday and back out on the water for the Annual Waitangi Cup. This is a teams event the Adams10s hold between New South Wales and Victoria, unfortunately this year the Victorians could only field two crews, so it was 2 on 2. Easy for race management and scoring purposes! Again with the Westerly slowly shifting right all day and gusting from 9-20knots, all four boats had to be on the game with headsail choices varying between #2 and #3s. NSW however in the first two races finished with a 1, 2, so the third race was a bit of a dead rubber. It’s always interesting this event, as to make it a little more even, there is a boat draw the day before. No one is allowed to sail their own boat and there’s always plenty who can’t find the halyard or control line where they are used to it. NSW retained the Cup, 11 points to 19. Bring on next year, the Victorians are planning on taking to Cup back, they’ll be holding it down at Blairgowrie on the same waters as the recent Moth Worlds. Shallow water and tidal conditions will make it interesting.

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Next weekend I’m on the road north for a couple of weeks in the DeckHardware van ‘doing the rounds’.