Farr40s round two

This weekend saw round two for the Farr40 calendar for season 2017-2018 at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. The weather forecast didn’t look good, both ways, too windy and not enough.

Saturday we went offshore to what is referred to as the Manly Circle. We have two known offshore course areas off Sydney, one is off the southern part of the northern beaches known as the Manly Circle.  The other area is south of Sydney Heads and known as the Macquarie Circle due to the proximity of Macquarie Lighthouse. The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron had their turn in running the offshore IRC boats and as it was a southerly breeze they went south. To avoid any confusion in marks, we went north to Manly an area I much prefer, as the water is shallower making it easier to lay and move marks and it’s usually a better seaway. So with a small but keen fleet we were off the northern beaches for the day.

We set up a course in a nice southerly of 15-18knots and this pretty much held for the majority of the time we were out there.  What we did have however was plenty of spectacular broaches, unfortunately a little too far away for any photos. These created all sorts of issues and after several withdrawals in the two races and a few chats via VHF to the remaining competitors, we adjourned to have another race inshore. That was the first AP for the weekend. Whilst not quite the space in a crowded Sydney Harbour, it was good close racing to watch and at least I could go stand on the bow and watch.

Sunday however was a different story and was always going to be looking at the weather models. We got one race away going from the western side of the harbour heading east into Watsons Bay. Then came a range of postponements due to the shifting conditions for the next two. One of the hardest days as an RO and as PhilC my timekeeper said ‘you are out of AP cards!’. We’d go into sequence and Mark one of the other volunteers was monitoring the wind he once again would call a 30-40° shift, AP up – again, with GiffC on the Halyards trying to keep up. The graph showing the shifts was something else, I don’t think I’ve seen it that bad. We got in two more races, certainly not the best but did our best given the options. It was made worse by the afternoon rains arriving during the last leg of race three killing the breeze and adding yet another shift.

Not one of the better weekends on the water, but certainly made easier by having a great team to assist, both on the start boat with me and in the mark laying. I’m looking forward to a breather next weekend in the garden.

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.

The Farr40s

After nine days on the water and with some 34 races started and finished, that’s it for the Farr40s at Middle Harbour for this season. Next up for them is their World Championships also to be held here in Sydney but by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. It’s been a hard but enjoyable couple of months out on the waters of Sydney Harbour. The volunteer race management team have again done a professional job with the Fleet happy with the racing provided.

As is usually the case, the typical weather conditions weren’t there. We had drifters and blows with only a few of the races in a nice summers NorEaster. From our view it was great racing and those who hadn’t watched how the Farrs line up and do their start were impressed, full speed and hiking right on the line as the flag’s dropped. Yes we had the odd individual and general recall but you have that in any fleet. As always there’s a few ‘bombed’ gate mark roundings, too late with the headsail hoist and/or spinnaker drops. We saw spinnakers go under the bow whilst leading, ending up with the boat having to back off in order to get it back on board. It’s always nice though too, to see the polished roundings, pole away and the brace hand held till the drop. The volunteers who come out now and again always pick up and ask ‘why do they do it that way?’. When you watch it week in and out, it’s routine, however those who only watch now and again pick up how the top crews do it. The start team of course are all experts.

Good luck to all the MHYC teams at the upcoming Pre Worlds and Worlds, I’m sure many will be on the podium.

Before the two final weeks of Farr40s, I had a weeks trip to Victoria in the DeckHardware van on another road/sales trip. This time I went via the coast, stopping on Saturday at Lake Wallagoot. It had been around a year since I’d been there running a Yachting Australia Race Officers course, so it was a chance to see what and how they implemented some of the ISAF/WS rules. Like most, for a small club they have a core band of enthusiasts taking it in turns to be the mark layer and starter for the day. Looks like I’ll be down there again in March as they’ve asked me to run their annual regatta.

On Sunday I headed in to Paynesville to drop off an order to Hills Marine. Of course there’s always new product to show.

From Monday through to Thursday, I went anti clockwise around Port Phillip Bay, seeing a range of customers both old and new showing some of the DeckHardware product lines. Thursday afternoon it was time to head north as there was some yacht racing on the following weekend. Another 2787 kms on the odometer.

In the coming weeks, there’s another lot of regattas. Some I’m officiating at and others where the DeckHardware van will be there in support.

 

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..

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.

Another great weekend on the water

I’ve just spent a classic Sydney weekend out on Sydney Harbour, two days with clear skies and a classic NorEaster to boot. Two days and four races run each day for the Australian Farr40 fleet in Sydney. Whilst it was a small fleet, they were as competitive as ever, one mistake/ bad tack or gybe and you lost fleet position.

Former Farr40 World Champion Team Transfusion were the most consistent across the eight races with Kindergarten and Exile taking up the minor placings. With five different heat winners across the eight races, nothing was certain till the finish and there were some close finishes too. The gate roundings were also keenly contested and I witnessed a few luffing matches downhill. I hope that the photos give some idea of how close the racing was. The start sequence with Transfusion and Kindergarten hitting the line at speed and then taking alternate gates at the bottom. The last photo was taken showing downwind from the startboat at anchor and just what great conditions we had.

I’m off to Perth next  weekend to do the rounds showing off some more of the new DeckHardware range. Then it’s another weekend of closely watching the Farr40s again on the harbour. Hopefully it’s another great weekend weather wise too!

So that was the weekends weather eh?

Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs race management team again backed up to run another regatta  a week after the clubs Sydney Harbour Regatta. This time it was the Melges32 National Championships. My RO offsider at the club, Steve Tucker ran three races for the class on Friday in what appeared to be a nice Noreaster. The decision was made to get in an extra race on both Friday and Saturday after viewing the forecast models for the weekend.

Saturday was yet another great day out on the harbour with the Northerly blowing around 12-14 knots, just nice. The fleet started with the usual general recall, the out going tide was a major factor here, no one had bargained on it even though it took the start boat a while to settle in. One of the things of running a fleet the calibre of the Melges32s, the Farr40s and the McConaghy38s, is the way they go about their start procedures. None of the running up and down the line like most club boats, they all work up to windward to check the shifts, come back check the line and then line up to start – text book fashion. Like the other two classes, they start from well back and are on the pace when the flags dropped. Good to watch, the class has a limit of three professional crew and it’s reflected here.

The racing was close with the Tasmanian Voodoo Chile team again making the trip north, they also did the Farr40s and MC38s. They have purchased an excellent second hand Farr40 in the USA to compete in this years World titles. They’ll be one to watch. Chris Way and his Easy Tiger team and another Tasmanian Greg Prescott with 2Unlimited gave the Voodoo Chile crew a run, these three swapped positions regularly on Saturday.

Sundays forecast almost went to plan with a light and sloppy westerly when we went out to run the final 2 races. The breeze was all over the place, shifting from 190 to 340 degrees and hardly reaching 6 knots. Along with the rest of the start team, I was also monitoring the weather, Toby on his Ipad and I had the phone going. A large storm cell appeared on the BOM radar, so I asked Kim Williams the Melges32 class president to come alongside and have a look for his thoughts. We made the decision to hoist AP over H and adjourned to the club, not knowing what was on offer. As the crews were settling down upstairs, there was a large crack of thunder literally over the marina. Those sitting nearby the start team were thankful for being ashore and inside and dry from the rain!

Following a mini meeting of myself, Kim and the top 3 competitors, it was decided to abandon racing for the day. With a time limit of 1500 for racing, it meant if we went out only one race could be held. The points in the top three wouldn’t change as a result, so I think everyone was happy for the early finish to the regatta.

Once again the core volunteer MHYC race management team of Steve, Toby, Ted, Andy and Philc did an excellent job in their assistance in this event, well done guys. Next up for us?

In a couple of weeks time in the 420 State titles.