One finishes and another starts

Well that’s the Winter done and dusted for Sydney and Middle Harbour Yacht Club. Tomorrow is the season opener for 2016/2017 Summer season. No radical changes to the format, so more of the same, hopefully with typical summer Nor’easters under clear skies.

We also have Bart’s Bash coming up in a couple of weeks and Mel has borrowed Sirius and rounded up some of her old gang and a few others to give the A10 fleet a run for their money. It’ll be fun to watch. So those at MHYC on the 17th make sure you sign up for Bart’s Bash!

Of course we’ve also seen the Australian Sailing Team again take out the honours at the Rio Olympics, being the most successful team with 7 of the sailors from 11 coming home with either a Gold or Silver Medal. Congratulations to all involved out on the water, it’s a huge effort from all the sailors and their support team. It goes without saying that we like to think we’ve played a little part in their success when they come to visit us in the warehouse at DeckHardware. I’ve watched closely the last few years the NACRA team of Jason and Lisa. First up as a member of the start team at Sail Melbourne/ISAF World Cup at Sandringham, watching how they communicate on and off the water, Jason’s body positioning on board, kneeling first before going out on the wire. Lisa has been a regular visitor working out what they needed where and it’s been great to be a part their program. Another frequent visitor was our Laser Gold Medallist Tom Burton, as I had sailed and built Lasers back in the 1970s it was always another lesson from Tom talking how he went about things. I was also able to watch him up close one day a couple of years ago doing some coaching and I came away impressed with his skills, even I learnt how to Gybe like the top guys. I thought the main issue was always keeping the mainsheet off the corner of the transom, but there’s a lot more to it these days.

As part of the Olympic period, a few of us had an early start at MHYC with the Channel7 Sunrise Weather team. Unfortunately racing that day was abandoned in Rio but we were able to show Sam Mac around our club, even getting him out on the water on a Laser with DeckHardware Ambassador Lauren Gallaway for one live cross to the studio.

Soon we’ll see our Paralympic Sailing Team have their turn in Rio. These 6 sailors and their coaches have also been in and out over the years discussing their boats and requirements, it’s always good to see them and assist their program. Skud18 sailor Leisl Tesch has become a close friend, joining my start team the last couple of years for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Mel and Teschy have got together regularly over the last few years, going through the Racing Rules of Sailing utilising Mel’s knowledge as an umpire, so that she and Dan are fully prepared for anything that may rise. It also helps that at one stage Leisl’s partner Mark was Melissa’s mainsheet hand on Animus.

So one finishes and another starts, both here and in Rio. Again I’ll be watching all competitors closely.

So that was 2015

The Christmas and New Year hectic period has been and gone. Not that the coming weeks are any different.

Christmas always means the Rolex Sydney Hobart race and on Christmas Eve it starts with the mandatory race briefing at the CYCA followed by a shorter Race Management one. My MHYC [middle line] team has been together for a few years now so there’s a settled pattern. The CYCA [front] and RSYS [rear] are also pretty steady so it usually all goes to plan. With the size and number of big boats and the addition of the Clipper boats a 3 line system was the go again. It’s almost becoming a regular over the last few years. Boxing Day gave us a work out of the harbour and there were several incidents that have been well documented. Speaking with Sir Robyn Knox-Johnston after the briefing, he’d advised all of his Clipper crews that the race is not won in the harbour and to just get out clean. We had a clear start on our line and that’s a great feeling and relief as it also gives us a chance to head offshore after the start to watch the fleet head south.

The following day heralded the start of the International Cadet Dinghy National Championships to be held at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. This event had been the effort of quite a few enthusiastic parents and the head of the clubs Junior program, Locky Pryor. They had held a training session prior to Christmas measuring all the local boats. It was great to hear from the National measurer that in his near decade in the class this was the smoothest registration day. Well done to all the MHYC volunteers.

Sailing wise, we had all hoped for a steady Noreaster each day. Unfortunately the weather didn’t quite go to plan, providing only the one typical Sydney Summers day. The rest were held in East to South East sea breezes varying from 10-18knots. The seaway was a challenge for most as was the tidal flow. Some read it right most of the time whilst others struggled with the swell and chop. One thing was was outstanding and that was the effort of the winning crew on the Victorian boat Samaran. In one start, they were boxed in and went the other way to the rest of the fleet in an effort to escape. No one covered and suddenly they were in the top pack at the first mark.

One of the things that I do enjoy when running sailing events, is watching the top of any class at the best of their game. Be it the Olympians like Jason and Lisa on the NACRA or young Cadet sailors like Julian and Micha, it’s purely a joy to watch and like most you learn something new from each of them.

Middle Harbour ran a great regatta and we were able to get in two races a day over the 6 days on the water. Huge effort from all of the volunteers, ashore, on ferry watch and of course the mark layers and start team.

Next up? I’m off to Melbourne with the DeckHardware van showing some of the new 2016 releases from our suppliers and immediately following, I’m back on the water officiating at the Farr40 State and National championships. These two events are a prelude to their 2016 World Championships being held later in Sydney.

2016 has only just begun..

Winter’s just about over

It’s nearly that time of year, the Summer sailing season is just about ready to start for me. This Friday evening is the  race briefing where we run through all the plans for the season at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. As the clubs principal race officer, I have a great team of volunteers who help run the club racing and regattas throughout the year. I’m ably assisted by Steve Tucker as the RO when I’m off elsewhere. Along with Steve are Ted and Toby, we tend to just get on with it on a Saturday and where better than being out on Sydney Harbour. As with most race management teams, we are excellent sailors due to the amount of time watching and critiquing the boats out on the water.

I’m currently getting everything together to head to Perth in a couple of weeks time to show off more of the DeckHardware range of products. On previous trips I saw around 35-40 businesses, this time I have a list of 57. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to see the greater majority of the marine industry in Perth and the surrounding areas.

I’ve spent the last few months seeing those in and around Sydney for those who follow my travels. I’ve earmarked interstate business trips North and South over the coming months, in and around the various regattas.

Some may be aware that Sydney Sailboat Expo is coming. DeckHardware are excited to be involved in this event and we look forward to seeing everyone next April, here’s the website for all the details. http://www.sydneysailboatexpo.com

004Now and again we have visitors to the DeckHardware warehouse today was no exception. it was good to catch up with Nathan Outteridge and find out what he’s up to next. What with America’s Cup and the 49er Olympic campaign, he had less than a fortnight sailing the Moth from the previous Championships before winning the recent World title in England. I’ve always said it’s about time on water. Practise, practise, practise.

It’s been a pleasant winter with the temps in the high teens and dry until the last couple of weeks when the rain came. It’s been the wettest August in Sydney for over 15 years. There’s plenty who are hoping to dry out and the sooner the better.

Last weekend was the first mini regatta of the season, a fleet of Optimists and wouldn’t you know it? A break in the weather and a nice 8knot seabreeze – suite. Can we have some more?

It all starts soon, in many ways, I can’t wait.

 

 

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So Season 2013 has started

Well the sailing season on Sydney Harbour is now under way for the summer. Last week we had a small but quality fleet racing at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. We were able to get them away on the SouthEast course with about 10-12knots and a clear sky, just nice. In the Open Division it was a battle between the two DK46s Nine Dragons and Exile with the Farr40 Transfusion leading around all the marks and until the last couple of hundred metres, these three finished with in a minute.  I was told afterwards that Nine Dragons changed headsails for the beat to the finish and that was the difference. Not too far behind them was the Beneteau40  Just a Dash pipping the X 45 ToyBox2 to the line. Good racing, however these leaders were beaten on handicap on the day by the Sydney36 Stormaway.

At this stage the Americas Cup is anyone’s, the New Zealanders haven’t won a race in 6 days and only need one to take the Americas Cup back Downunder. Team USA skippered by Aussie James Spithill has a breath of fresh air and could easily take the next three races and retain the Cup in San Francisco. The racing has been far better than I thought in the final. The teamwork to sail these 72′ wingsailed cats around the course is incredible, my congratulations go to both teams for the great sailing. Of course it’s fantastic to have the on board vision and audio. I do miss the insights of Nathan Outteridge in the last few days, his perspective after each race was fantastic. I can only think of what it takes to sail one of these beasts and I look forward to catching up with those Aussies who have sailed one on their return to Australia.

Nathan and his 49er crew Iain Jensen are now at the 49er Worlds. Having won the last couple and the Gold medal last year, they are the team to beat, however they haven’t competed since London 2012 due to their Americas Cup and Team Artemis comitments. We wish them all the best.

In the meantime, I’m getting organised for my next interstate trip, this time to Adelaide and country South Australia then on to Victoria and everyone there. Two weeks on the road, a full on DeckHardware road trip on October.

Season 2013/4 ready to roll

There’s been a bit on over the last few weeks.

A few weeks back I flew over to Perth for 4 days of seeing DeckHardware customers.  Flying out of Sydney, I finally remembered my camera, so took a couple of quick shots, I’m always looking at the differing conditions as well as the view.

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Driving some 800 kms and seeing 37 different outlets both old and new was pretty much nonstop during the day. I saw many outlets from Perth to Bunbury on this trip, with some stops relatively short and others spending what seemed a couple of hours going through many of our product range. With so many now, by the time I get through some of the new products and remind them of the others, it’s easy to see how the time flies. One thing for sure is that I’ll need a fifth day, as I didn’t have the chance to go to Geraldton or Albany as I have had on previous trips. A deal of the time is spent making sure that those on the database we have are still operating, some had closed and some have moved. Even if it’s just down the road, it’s surprising many don’t forward the new information. There are those who had moved and it was a bit of a pattern change seeing them in new premises. It’s surprising that as a sales representative how things fall in to a pattern, driving around many suburbs only to find the person or company is around the corner from someone you already know. The catamaran as shown in the photo is being fitted with a variety of DeckHardware products, including a range of Forespar Marelon plumbing. It’s always good to see progress of some of these new builds.

It was good to catch up with a few old friends, once again I was lucky to be hosted by Rachel Cox in Fremantle. We shared a few good meals and caught up with a bit of good old gossip. It was also great to meet up with Colin and Katie Spence for dinner on one night. I last saw them in Sydney when Katie was several months pregnant with their now 2 year old son Connor. Hopefully it won’t be as long till the next time we catch up. The other side of things is that while going around all of these boatbuilders, riggers, sailmakers and retail outlets, is that some are also at the various clubs around the country. Therefore I have the chance occasionally to have a quick look around and see new and differing ideas used on some of the boats I don’t see on a regular basis.

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With the Sydney sailing season just about on us, I spent a day along with two of the Volunteer MHYC start boat team Steve and Toby, going over the clubs start boat Hugh S George in preparation for the season. It was a day of typical boat owner type things, cleaning and throwing out unwanted rubbish, re-marking the anchor chain each 10m, vacuuming etc. Nothing special, just a spot of housekeeping. As a prelude to the season opening the race officials from around Sydney Harbour had a meeting at Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. Here we had a briefing with the NSW Yachting Association chief David Edwards and had a presentation by a RMS boating officer. He had various videos from both shipping and ferries on the dangers of passing their bows too close and why they have strict regulations as to how close yachties can get. It’s pretty unbelievable what some will do. Luckily none of those shown were from our club. With help once again from Melissa and a few of the parents, I ran a small regatta for Optimists and 420s. Somehow, every event lately for them has been held in light or drifting conditions. It would be nice to have a pleasant day with good wind just once if someone can assist?111

Saturday was the start of the 2013/4 sailing season at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. The club volunteers enjoyed a buffet breakfast, the Juniors put on a few fun races in the Optimist dinghies and once again we had the pleasure of leading the fleet in the annual sailpast. Then many of the fleet took part on the annual Commodores Cup.  Next week is the start of the racing season and there’s plenty eager to get out there again. Hopefully we’ll see some great racing and lots of good weather.

Sunday was the start of the America’s Cup with the New Zealand challenger taking out both opening races. Finally we saw some great racing with the lead in the first race changing several times. With races 3 and 4 now sailed, we have a boat race. I know the races are a lot shorter in a sprint fashion, but it’s great watching match racing at these never seen before speeds. One bad tack, gybe or even a nose dive will hurt. I for one can’t wait to watch the remainder of the 34th America’s Cup. Another positive is the feedback and information coming off the boats. As an active sailor and race official, listening to the afterguard discussing what to do next is fantastic. We also have the expert opinions from the likes of Nathan Outteridge the skipper of Artemis AC72 giving his impressions. Great stuff.

Now for a few more races from San Francisco and from Saturday the regular Sydney season starts.

June update

Over the June Queens Birthday weekend, I was again out on the water running the Optimist East Coast Championships at MHYC. Whilst we were blessed with nice fine days, the wind gods neglected us. Both days were affected by fickle winds early in the piece. With over 70 competitors in the two Optimist fleets and a couple of Cadets and a few 420s to round out the fleet, there were plenty waiting for a a course to be set, especially on Sunday with a 3 hour delay. Once again I was fortunate to have Melissa  backing me up and Robin Tames and Phil Clinton also aboard the start boat. With a team that starts everything from the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Race down to the aspiring sailors in the Optimists, it’s good to have the experience aboard. Some competitors came up from Victoria to add to those from around Sydney, hopefully they all enjoyed the experience.

With two fleets sailing different courses, we had three teams finishing them. Phil was inside the cabin with a scribe, Mel was outside with a couple of scribes and I was upstairs on the flybridge. With the competitors coming across the finish line down wind, seeing the sail numbers was a little difficult with their booms straight out from us. I was able to have the view from above and a little easier. How Mel kept up I don’t know, let alone the scribes. Some how we were able to collate the results! The tape recorders got a work out too.

What was nice was the number of the junior competitors saying ‘Thank you’ to the start boat as they finished the last race of the event. That’s always appreciated and I hope they continue to thank the volunteers through out their sailing career.

Yesterday I spent the day at DeckHardware with our 16′ Skiff Ambassadors Fire Stopping. Owner James Bury [white cap] has decided to refit the multiple Australian Champion with an all new fitout of Allen Brothers fittings. All of the old cleats, blocks and systems were replaced with new parts. Along with forward hand Rob Napper, James had arranged professional sailor Mitch White to assist. By bringing the skiff to DeckHardware, the three of them were able to swap and change fittings, whilst I tried to keep a record of those used. With the added use of Schaefer Marine Low friction rings and Liros 1.5mm Dyneema, many of the systems have been tidied up hopefully making the boat easier to sail and therefore faster. Time will tell when James and Mitch return to Sydney at the beginning of the season after competing in Team Transfusion at the Farr40 World Championships in New York.  To have a look at the range of DeckHardware products available you can find them on our website www.deckhardware.com.au

Today was back to Middle Harbour Yacht Club, but this time with another hat, that of one of the clubs Safety Auditors. As the Principal Race Officer, it’s also a chance to hop aboard some of the boats and look at their layout. Something not possible when you are out early and back late. Credit to those who I saw, there’s always some thing you pick up on, from not having the current ISAF 3013-16 Rule book aboard to not having the yachts sail number on the stern. These were minor compared when talking to some of the other auditors.

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Easter in Canberra

026On one of my trips down south, I dropped by and saw Matt Owen, the CEO of Canberra Yacht Club. After running through a range of DeckHardware products, some of which Matt took on the day, we got talking about race management. He noted that the upcoming Asia Pacific Access and Skud18 Championships were to be held at the club over Easter. Would I be interested in being the Principal race Officer? Having been involved in the 2012 Access World Championships at my home club Middle Harbour Yacht Club, I had little hesitation in agreeing as they were a great bunch of people to be involved with. Robyn and I drove down for a meeting with Terry Peek the Sunday before Easter to see how the organising was going, 8 hours in the car for 1.5 hours talking, at least it was a nice day.

I drove down again the following Thursday for the regatta, this time in the DeckHardware van with a few ‘bits and pieces’. The day was spent making sure the competitors and those helping out were ready to roll. Friday was a practice race, it was much needed for the team on the water, as much as I had raced on Lake Burley Griffin, I’d never run anything. It was good to get my eye in.

Racing was competed in the Skud18s, Access, Access303s single and double handed and the Libertys. Across the five divisions, they had multiple races each day. Luckily we had good sailing and were able to get in some good racing across the Easter weekend as you can see by the attached photos. The winning Skud18 from London 2012 was sailed by 420 sailor Rob Crawford and his father Peter upfront after the sudden withdrawal of Paralympic Gold Medalist Dan Fitzgibbon due to illness, Peter enjoyed his time crewing for his son and having some time on the water. Other London2012 sailors included Liesl Tesch, Dan’s London2012 crew and Stephen Churm from the Aussie Sonar team.

With competitors from nearly all Australian states, New Zealand and Japan it was a good mix and from what I saw, some great racing for the spectators on the shoreline. Next years event is proposed to be held down in Adelaide, either on the river or even perhaps down at Goolwa on the Murray River.

Results available here: http://www.canberrayachtclub.com.au/results/2012-2013/Access_Class_2013_CHampionships.pdf

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