So that was 2014

As we came to the end of 2014, my job at this time of the year is to be a Race Officer for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race a role I’ve done since my last race in 2005. This year there were three lines once again. This had only happened twice before, last year with the addition of the Clipper Round the World fleet and in the 50th anniversary race. Whilst there was a modest increase of 20 boats on last year, with five 100’ers on the line, they had to have room to manoeuvre pre start. We had a great team again on board, a couple of International ROs, a National RO, a couple of Club ROs and two National judges. No mistakes were going to be made! What was better was that there were no OCSs, everyone was well behaved. just how we like it.

There’s been plenty in the media about the race, so I’ll leave it at that. Bring on the next one later this year, it’s certainly one of the better days out on Sydney Harbour.

The following day the Manly Junior Nationals started at Middle Harbour 16′ Skiff Club. DeckHardware are a sponsor of the class this season, so I was there for the duration with the van and replacement fittings. What was great to see, a couple of the skippers working and changing layouts on their own boats, something we try to encourage. If you sail the boat you should know how to look after it. I had one junior skipper asking all sorts of questions whilst rigging his boat and I was more than happy to assist.

This past weekend I went up to Lake Macquarie to the 16′ Skiff and Mosquito Catamaran titles at Belmont and Speers Point. Many of the 16s have always been good friends, especially with Melissa growing up with them in their junior days. Needless to say there’s always someone after something. “Phil, have you got the van here? I need a ….”. Simple answer was yes. With many of the 16s using DeckHardware products such as Liros rope, Allen fittings and TBS Speed Grip non-skid, it’s good to see how and why they are using what where. Congratulations go to Lee, Peter and Ricky on Brydens for the win.This team have been the front runner for the last couple of seasons and this year was no exception. It wasn’t the runaway many expected, the races I saw were both very close in the front pack. Fire Stopping and Sutech from Manly also giving them a nudge as well as a couple of the local Belmont boats.

I also went around the corner to have a look at the Mosquitos. This is one class I’m not familiar with, so it was an interesting hour or so talking to the competitors about their boats. Once again there are some ideas that translate from class to class. One skipper had made a modification to an Allen block, so a photo was taken and forwarded to Allen Brothers in England to have a look at. Always a work in progress, fitting out a new boat.

Next up on the start line is the Adams10m titles, a class close to my heart having sailed them for many decades. Will it be the Ben and Tim show again or will someone else throw a blinder?

Where to next? After 2014 where I drove to Victoria 3 times, Queensland twice and Perth by air, not to mention the 10 or so trips around New South Wales, I’m off to Tasmania in February. I haven’t been down there for a couple of years, so it’ll be interesting to see the changes.

Quick drive north

I headed north last weekend to Harwood, the home of the Big River Sailing Club in northern New South Wales. It’s a 7 1/2 hr drive each way and 1300kms return. I left late Friday afternoon and arriving in the wee hours of Saturday morning set up my tent and had a few hours down time. With the sunrise , it was time to get up and set up the DeckHardware marquee, tables and product display.

I had had a few phone calls from one of the regulars up north, Mark Patterson, hoping that I was coming so that he could make sure of finishing his new boat. Some may remember a photo I took of a 20′ Carbon catamaran being built earlier this year. It’s now sailing for only the second time and Mark was making continual improvements to the setup of the boat Saturday before and after Sailing and again on Sunday morning. New Allen blocks and Liros lines solved many issues that Mark had. Whilst the boat isn’t foiling just yet, that’s to come, Mark is pretty happy with how it’s all come together. It’ll certainly be something to watch out for after he settles down with it.

Like many of these away events I take the DeckHardware van to, I had one fellow come up and say ‘I should have bought … last time you were here. Have you got the following?” ” Yes Sir, how many would you like?” This was pretty common for the weekend and needless to say I was quite happy to help the locals out.

There was around 60 competitors this time in three divisions. Multihull, trailerable and dinghy, all competitive on the startline that’s for sure. With a range of mutihulls from a Corsair tri down to an Arrow cat, there was a large spread although the NACRAs appeared to have the numbers. In the trailerables again the Spider550s made up the bulk with an Elliot7 to keep them honest. The HartleyTS16 too was well set up though for racing, I should have taken a couple of pics, but they were in the middle of rigging when I stuck my head in the cockpit. In the monos/dinghy, you had everything from a 49er down. The spread of classes is what makes these country events, everyone has their pride and joy and gets out on the water. That’s what it’s all about. Competitors came from the Gold Coast, Tweed River , Ballina, Grafton and Tamworth, a good spread.

Saturday morning was interesting, waking up to a few of the locals having a look at what was going on before bounding away. Saturday was a great day, good seabreeze. Sunday however started with the AP being hoisted for 30mins or so before the breeze finally settled in for a couple of short course races.

As I had another long drive I headed home once they were on the water Sunday, so the results are here.

I again enjoyed the hospitality shown by Commodore Hariet Woodrow and her team and look forward to returning in the future. If you haven’t experienced a Harwood weekend with the Sticky Date Pudding, please do and I look forward to seeing you there.

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Headed North

Last Thursday I left Sydney and headed north, this trip was a combination of a few things. I run a course for Yachting New South Wales teaching country clubs the art of being a race official and on this occasion I was at Kingscliff with members of the Tweed Valley Sailing Club. Like many of the country clubs, their fleet is a broad range of classes and abilities, what doesn’t change is the enthusiasm for the sport of sailing. It was good to catch up again with Commodore Bill who I had met on a previous trip. Also with a former customer Michael, now retired to the Gold Coast and sailing an Impulse dinghy. Amongst the experienced members was one fellow just back from a world cruise, he certainly had some stories. There is also some practical and it was good to see those who don’t usually use compasses and GPSs experimenting.

The following day I attended the Sanctuary Cove Boatshow to see what’s new and a general catch up with those there. For the first time in too many years, their was absolutely no rain. Usually the shows have had a shower and even heavy downpours to put a dampener on things. Those outside rejoiced as it was clear skies, although the clothing companies would ague otherwise. Rain for them brings the customers. It was nice to spend the day wandering around without the need for jackets and umbrellas.

Whilst these were the two primary reasons for the trip, I also had the chance to stop and see a few of DeckHardware’s customers both old and new. It’s always good to see them and show a range of products, especially the builders who stop and think ‘where can I use that?’. One I saw is building a carbon 20′ foiling catamaran, taking the rig off his Tornado to have some fun. I look forward to seeing how the country clubs where he sails handicap him. Spending a couple of hours going through the Allen, Liros, PROtect and TBS range opens a few eyes, especially when they are able to place a few blocks and cleats here and there. Another builder I have to take some parts to show when I next drive past in a couple of weeks time, he’s building a one off carbon race boat and every little weight loss helps the speed gains.

Next trip is to Lake Keepit for the Keepit Kool Regatta in June, one I’ve not been to even though it’s been going for several decades now.First up however, I’m attending a race management course for my own accreditation. As the ISAF rules change each four years, so does one have to re sit and re visit the courses to maintain currency. This is a two day event, the ones I hold go for 4-4.5hours. Hopefully I’ll pass without too many issues.

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Down to the South Coast

I spent the last few days driving down south, seeing DeckHardware customers on the way to running a Club Race Officials course on behalf of Yachting New South Wales at Lake Wallagoot just north of Merimbula. Like many I had no idea of where it was or what they sailed, I came away impressed by the enthusiasm of the members I met.

The lake gives about a kilometre of good race course area with around 5-6m of depth, plenty of room for a dinghy or sportsboat regatta. The club race team headed by Tony Hastings have drawn up a range of triangular courses and plotted them to suit the majority of conditions. With only the one power boat, they drop the marks in pre determined GPS positions and come back to run the race, all very civilised. A range of multi and monohulls race under a local yardstick to give everyone a chance.  Everyone takes a turn to run the racing on the day, your typical little volunteer run club.

Along the way south, I dropped by a few of DeckHardware customers showing off some of the products, there’s always something that someone hasn’t seen. From chandleries to owner builds there’s usually something they have seen in the media or on our website but not held. This was also the case with those at Lake Wallagoot. One of the Wallagoot members is re building a plywood Pacer dinghy, as a retired shipwright, it’s almost a work of art with the timber gunwales sanded back for multiple coats of varnish. I’m sure the local juniors will appreciate the chance to have a club boat to learn to sail on that has been carefully refurbished.

One owner builder I saw is finishing off his custom 50′ yacht. We had previously supplied Man Ship Marine sliding hatches and ports, now Richard is at the fitout stage and we spent a couple of hours looking over the yacht and going through the product range options. As with many of the owner/builders, it’s a labour of love with the prospect of going to sea driving many to finish their projects. It’s always good to spend sometime with someone who knows the boat inside and out and following the progress to completion.

Fortunately the weather held out and with only drizzle late in the day on Saturday to follow me back up the coast on the drive home.

I’ll be back down that way later in the year as next season starts.

 

 

Victoria October 2013

Following on from the week in South Australia, I spent the Saturday driving to Warrnambool in Victoria in order to start the week there on Monday. I hadn’t driven this particular road before and whilst i have driven past many vineyards and wineries in the country, this day opened up yet more of those comments..’Ohh that’s where that comes from’. Many of the names are common place in the Aussie vernacular and I was able to put the name to the place with a grin as I drove past each sign.

On Monday morning I started off in Warrnambool where on previous visits I’d made contact with a boat builder, Pete Trewartha. Pete’s shed when I first went there had a multitude of yachts, some over 50′. At the moment there is a few yachts, sport boats and a large power boat. Once again I spent several hours going through all of the DeckHardware range of products, one of the reasons why driving and showing the range works. It was then on to Geelong another 3 hour drive and the start of the week in Melbourne and the outer suburbs.

Once again it was a full week of showing the DeckHardware range with new products from Allen Brothers England, Forespar, Liros Ropes and PROtect Tapes. On this trip I was now aware that in the past I was able to do the rounds and see quite a few customers both old and new. With a greater range of new products, it was now taking longer to do the rounds.

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On the last Saturday morning I stayed in Sandringham to catch up with some of the sailors competing in Sail Sandringham, this event had over 150 entries from Optis, Cadets, 420s and 29ers up to SB20s. One of those I ran in to was Ian Brown who was there to race his SB20. Our relationship goes back several decades when he built the first sail for Melissa’s first dinghy in the early 80s. Ian is a multiple champion at state, national and world level with a Bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics. He’d been in to DeckHardware earlier this year with Malcolm Page one day to re fit his boat with a range of Liros Ropes.

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The these two photos show early one morning at Sandringham. These were taken within minutes of each other. First the Moon setting and then the Sun rising, quite spectacular at the time.

 

 

 

 

The shipping photos were taken Monday evening at Port Phillip Heads at the look out over ‘the Rip’. The entrance to the bay is quite small and smaller boats have to time their entry and exit. yacht races are known to start at odd hours to ensure they all get out safely.

Then it was home, total distance covered 5854kms over the previous 15 days. A quite enjoyable trip weather wise apart from the flies and mozzies in Port Lincoln. Whilst I didn’t see as many as I had in the past, those I saw were quite pleased to see the new DeckHardware products.

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Another interstate trip

Last week I made a late trip down to Melbourne, I had hoped to spend the week seeing a majority of customers that I don’t see on my regular trips. Unfortunately due to the ill health of Robyn I could only get away for a couple of days. So instead of driving down Sunday, I left late thursday afternoon and could only spend Friday seeing a few people.

 

Saturday was spent attending a Yachting Australia Racing Rules and race officers meeting at Royal Brighton Yacht Club, before the return 10 hour drive home on Sunday. Why drive? Too often I’m asked do you have this to show me, I haven’t seen that before. having a van full of products enables me to show a range of the nearly 10,000 items in our price list.

 

 

I had the chance to visit the Melbourne Wooden Boat Centre at Docklands. This is a Co-operative of owner builders building a nd repairing a quite differing range of craft. Luke Evans is one of those building his first little sailing dinghy, a 16’er as seen in the front right of the photo. Luke is after a classic style in his finish and Liros do a range of ropes that will hopefully fit his final look. I was able to show him a variety of the DeckHardware range, including the Allen fittings and PROtect Tape. Some of the other boats ranged from a Minnow up to a Dragon class yacht, there were rowing sculls and Dragon paddling canoes, quite a range.

 

Saturday at Brighton was a first also. As my clubs Principal race officer, I try to keep up to date on what’s going on, especially with the new ISAF rules coming in to effect in January. Each state had a nominated person to vote but there were several of us sitting in and able to to comment where neccessary. It will be interesting to see the new rules of Sailing come in to effect as I had not been involved before.