Bypassing the snow

I headed south for the first time in a while, Canberra was the first stop at the Yacht Club to see their manager Matt Owen and show him a few things. Matt was joined by a couple of club sailors as well, peeking in the various bins as I showed some of the new products. There’s always plenty of banter with Matt, we get on well and this of course was added to with his fellow members. Whilst only a short stop, it was then off to have a look at a new sportsboat about to hit the water. I’d seen it being finished off at Innovation Composites in Nowra and now with only a week or so prior to launching, there’s always a few last minute items that are required. It’s always good of course to sit down with the owners and think about the choices of products before launching.

Canberra

After a few hours in Canberra, my next stop was to Paynesville, normally a reasonable drive till the road comes down the mountain to the coast. What I’d heard most of the day however was warnings about the crook conditions, wind snow and ice. Given the option, I headed east to the coast at Batemans Bay then the rest of the way down the coast road. This added nearly 4hrs to the overall drive, but it was a little warmer and I had plenty of time.

Just a little cool leaving Canberra

Gippsland Lakes Sailing Club was the plan for the day. They were holding a winter race and a small but keen group assembled for the briefing before heading out on the water. A variety of boats from Minnows through to Flying Fifteens greeted the day but by the time they reached the course area around the corner of Raymond Island the forecast wind had picked up and it was blowing high20/early 30s and the start team called it a day, abandoning the racing.

We had planned a product and maintenance talk at the club after sailing, something that we’d been working on for a while. Most of the sailors hung around and a few went home and returned and a few others who didn’t sail also joined in.  I had a variety of DeckHardware products on display and spoke about a range of topics from rope and plumbing to maintaining spinnaker pole ends and sails. Feedback from those attending was great with some excellent questions that all listened to. Everyone came away having learnt something.

Paynesville

Monday morning was spent seeing a range of DeckHardware customers around Paynesville before a drive in to Melbourne. In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to stay with my old mate Eylsey  and his partner Sharon, however they have decided to move south to Safety Beach so I was fortunate to call on Peter and Leonie Coleman. Pete’s a long time Etchells sailor so plenty to chin wag about.

I spent the rest of the week seeing various customers both old and new anti-clockwise around Port Phillip from Sorrento to Queenscliff showing off the range of DeckHardware products, both old and new. I didn’t have the time to wander around the marinas to see what’s new although one boat I did sail on back in the 70s is still at Paynesville  where I saw her last. Casablanca was designed and built by John Biddlecombe at Mona Vale  and I did my first Montague Island Race on her before the addition of the cabin top. Another found was Sir James Hardys Olympic Tempest Traminer, now fitted with a cabin top and being set up as a sportsboat, interesting.

Traminer

On Saturday I attended the Victorian Club Conference held by Australian Sailing [YA/AYF] but there were slight changes. These talks I found beneficial and it’ll be interesting to see how the Perth talk next week and the Sydney one not long after are attended.

So after a pretty full week it was home on Sunday, up the Hume an uneventful drive under 10hrs door to door and just under 3000kms.

Canberra time

Friday afternoon I headed to Canberra to officiate at the ACT Dinghy Championships held over the weekend. As many would know, the traffic heading out of Sydney on a Friday afternoon is simply the pits for want of a word. I left at 3pm thinking ‘yep should be fine’. Instead I entered the worst traffic snarl ever encountered. The city was experiencing the typical afternoon storm for this time of year, so it was semi expected to be busy – but first gear in the Harbour Tunnel? It’s an 80kph road! The traffic was like this for the next 30kms, taking over double the time getting out of Sydney, so instead of being on the road for 3 1/2hrs it was 6. I’d hate to do this commute daily.

Saturday morning dawned in the nations capital with a little drizzle which thankfully cleared mid morning. More importantly there was wind! Those who have sailed there before will know of the frustrations competing, it’s worse as the Principal Race Officer with two courses and 10 divisions on Lake Burley Griffin. Conditions in Canberra are either blowing or nothing. To have 4-5 knot wind out of the east [well, south east to north east] is fantastic!

Race one got away with 7 divisions on my course, then the wind dropped out for a time. As there was only one common mark with a 50 minute time limit, abandon was the only option and start all over again. We got two races in straight after that and everyone was happy. Well at least those who won the lottery, otherwise known as the shifts.

Sunday morning was the same but a little more wind 5-8 knots in the gusts, same direction but no rain, Hooray. Again we got in two races, however with the time difference between the faster boats and the stragglers, there really wasn’t the time to run another. With a few who had also joined me from Sydney wanting to hit the road home, it was a four race series. As usual, there were plenty who sailed with their head out of the boat and those who didn’t. Canberra is one heck of a fluky place to sail, it certainly benefits those who watch the conditions. It’s not one of those places where you go left or right and one tack on the layline to the top mark.

The NS14 had the largest fleet with many non locals getting some time in on the water where their Championships will be in the coming months. One of the class builders, Mark Thorpe came out on top with two firsts and two seconds. In the last race he was OCS [started early and had to come back]. When I asked him later, he said “he went the opposite way to those on the first leg, might as well do something different”. He won by nearly a leg! Got lucky on that one. Another crew who were recipients of a trophy were DeckHardware ambassadors Michael and Amanda Pfeffer, Good to see them sailing as it’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to watch them. There were others who we saw in the top few the first time around and the second time they were literally out the back door. Just keep sailing, in Canberra you aren’t out of it till you have finished.

The volunteer team down there were just great, helping laying and moving marks as required and they looked after the “out of towner” race officer with smiles and words of thanks. It was another great event with over 80 entrants and hopefully all came away happy with the experience. Okay, I know some didn’t but that’s sailing.

With six weeks or so to Christmas, it’s almost Rolex Sydney Hobart time. Following that it’s the International Cadet Championships. That’ll be into 2016. Where has the year gone?

Another huge week

Last Sunday I flew to Western Australia to see how things were going over there in the marine industry. I had a busy 4 days seeing a range of outlets, riggers and sailmakers in particular. It was nice to again meet up with a few mates as many are now and talk about all things in general as well as showing what new products DeckHardware has to offer. First stop was Royal Freshwater Bay Sailing Club where late on Sunday afternoon, I saw the Gilmour family. Peter is well known from his match racing and Americas Cup and now his three sons are all in the 49er class with one each. David and Sam are both on the Match Racing circuit and David is also a member of the 49er Australian Sailing Team, training alongside Nathan and Iain. Lachy has just started in the class after a successful period in the 420s. It was great to see all at the same time. Whilst Sam and Lachy were competing in a series of sprint races, David was doing the commentary with assistance of Peter for the guests and club members watching from the lawn. David was then flying out that evening to South America to compete in the 49er class World titles.

For the next few days I then saw many DeckHardware customers both old and new. It’s great meeting up with some of them after hours as well and I thank Murray and Di, Paul and Sarah and Colin for the hospitality. As you could imagine, there’s always plenty of stories where you are halfway through one and start another. Now where were we?

Friday night after a week away it was the Yachting Australia annual awards, handed out to those who have excelled both as volunteers and as competitors in the sport, congratulations to all. Some of those I saw in Perth were also there, along with many others from interstate. It was great having the opportunity to wander the room and continue conversations with some that were started some months back, as is the case with some!

Saturday morning and it’s back to Middle Harbour Yacht Club for my race management duties, this time it’s the Farr40 fleet. With eight races over the two days, there was plenty on. Saturday was a bit of a hold up whilst one ship exited the harbour and another came in. Luckily the breeze did as expected and we got in four races and the crews were packed up before the afternoon storms arrived.

Sunday and more of the same, another four races. With these guys [and girls] it’s fantastic racing, six boats finishing inside of 35 seconds. Make a mistake and it costs. Team Transfusion were pushed all the way winning two races by only a metre or so. The rest swapped places through out, as I said great watching. Their next event will be at Pittwater in December, with all of these events a lead up to the 2016 Farr40 Worlds in Sydney. I’ll have them back again in January running their States and then Nationals. By then some of the overseas and interstate boats will be here.

This weekend it’s something different, I’m off to Canberra to run the ACT Dinghy Championships on Lake Burley Griffin. With a range of One design classes and mixed fleet they are expecting around 80 entrants. Bit different to the Farr40s.

Before we know it the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race will be upon us. That means Christmas.

Snowy Mountains, it’s been a while

I often make a joke on there being no Palm Trees in Hobart when some one mentions the Rolex Sydney Hobart race.  It’s an old family story that my parents took us to the snow and said ‘there it is, next time you pay for it yourself’.  We did much the same with our children, preferring to spend holidays afloat either on the boat or at regattas.

So it’s been several decades since I’d been to the Snowy Mountains. This one came about following a phone call, ‘would you like to run a race officers course in Jindabyne and then RO the Snowy Mountain two day regatta following?’. Why not?

So the DeckHardware van was loaded up and I headed to the Snowy Mountains for a couple of days. I had eleven students for the course, all were locals, pretty much the whole club bar a couple who were still overseas following the Winter Olympics. Friday morning we did the course and after booking in to the motel, I headed to Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club to check it out. We ran a Friday night twilight course using the laid marks in order to settle in the rest of the visitors as well as me! Lake Jindabyne is as big if not bigger than Belmont Bay or Botany Bay in terms of setting race courses for sailing – and it’s fresh water! I mentioned to the rest of the start team that we should take out some water, ‘we just have a drink when we capsize, the town water comes from here too’. The anchor line was quite visible going down, so yep, it’s clean.

We ran a couple of races starting at midday Saturday in winds of 8-10 knots from 120 degrees  for the 31 competitors, just nice. After an adjournment ashore and a quick briefing on a laid mark course, we had a short sprint starting just before 1700. With rain clouds beckoning, that was the preferred option by many.  Starting in reverse order this time, the small monos, trailerables and the multis starting last, we only just made it to the finish after a fuel issue on the start boat.  Then it rained, but only for 30 minutes or so as the sailors were finishing and unrigging.   All good, race 3 done.

Sunday morning was planned for one longer race, so after a 60 minute postponement, the multis got away in a nice 10-12knot breeze again from 120 degrees on a four lap course. This wasn’t to hold for long and the next two divisions as the breeze slowly dropped.   As most race officials would know, just as you move the start boat to the top mark to finish the race, it’s a race to the bottom again, this time against Hobie 20s !   I decided to shorten the race to just the triangle for all  , some just drifting across the line. AND, as per the norm, as they were sailing back in ‘Hughie’ came back in.   Not to worry, all were happy to have had a sail and whilst the results were all over the place for race 4 everyone enjoyed themselves.

I’d like to thank all involved,the hospitality shown by the  Jindabyne locals, the support of Matt Owen and his Canberra Yacht Club sailors and rescue boat team.  Country clubs are really community run with everyone chipping in.

I think I’ll be back next year – as long as there’s no snow.  Anyone else looking for somewhere different to hold a regatta should get in touch with Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club?