More of the same

That’ll be back on the water and back on the road interstate.

January wrapped up with the Australia Day long weekend and officiating racing for the Adams 10s at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. It was a reasonable weekend weather wise, with a bit of everything, the best day being Sunday with four short races from Middle Head up to Little Manly. It’s a good track in a NorEaster and especially when the ferries aren’t running for a few hours. I had a call from Phil Barnett who captains one, letting me know that due to the festivities at Circular Quay and under the bridge, they had a break for a few hours. Nice.

Sometimes there's a breakaway leader

Sometimes there’s a breakaway leader, MH118 with a nice lead

Racing wise, it was all about the Lake Macquarie boat Backchat, winning four of the eight races. The minor placings were keenly fought with L2, Dilemma and Powderhulk finishing in that order. It was also great to see Extender/SSV/Animus/Mad Max racing again. Now known as Organised Chaos and sailing on Pittwater, the only timber seater in the fleet gave a few a run for their money even winning one of the races.

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Day one race start

Then it was back on the road, south. Initially a day trip south of Sydney and into the recent bushfire zones. It’s certainly something else going from green bushland to burnt black and tree trunks only. There was however quite a few thank you signs for the Firies. It’ll be many years before life returns to ‘normal’.

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Southern NSW January 2020 and bushfires devastated many.

I then headed south to Melbourne with my first stop at Geelong for the NACRA/49er/FX Worlds, catching up with a few of the Aussies involved and assisting the local chandlery who had a stall at the club. Then it was over to Sandringham for the Laser/ILCA Worlds and catching up again with a few of the Aussies competing. DeckHardware has been supporting the Australian Sailing Team from just after the 2008 Olympic games and a few of the team over the years have become good friends. So I tried to give a little moral support as well as product and technical support. Whilst I cut this trip short and didn’t catch up and see everyone I wanted to, I’m sure that there’ll be another trip south at some stage this year.

Coming up is the Farr40 States at MHYC followed by the SailGP the following weekend. I quietly saw one of the AC45s a while back, so I look forward to seeing the F50s out on the harbour. I hope that they have breeze this time though. Then I’m back to Geelong for their Wooden Boat Show where we’ll have a range of LIROS on display with the Wooden Boatshop. Unfortunately this coincides with the MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta, so no race management that weekend.

A new boat, regattas and more

A new boat, regattas and more

So the 19/20 Summer season started off for me officiating with a Farr40 regatta, since then we’ve had another. I’ve always enjoyed officiating for the Farr40s, they have a group of enthusiastic owners who enjoy their sailing, added to this they are very social as well and their dock parties at MHYC after days sailing reflect this. Their association secretary, Jen Hughes rounds them all up and tries to keep them all sorted both on and off the water taking photos and arranging the pizzas and beers.

Farr40s offshore

Off the beaches of Freshwater and Curl Curl, wind and flat water

My next weekend on the water was down at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. Something a little different this time but I had done a few years back, running the ACT Dinghy Championships with some 70 boats across 8 divisions. A mix of Sharpies, Flying Fifteens, Lasers, Sabres with a few solo entries like an Impulse and RS100. Terry Peak ably looked after the Sailability and Optimists on another section of the lake.

Sailing in Canberra

Weather was like this for the two days whilst on the water.

The Wind Gods looked after us and we are able to get in two days of racing on a trapezoid course in 10-15knots of westerly with the odd bullet coming through causing a capsize or three [dozen]. I was assisted by the Canberra start team and one even called me the ‘wind whisperer’ as he hadn’t had such an easy regatta wind wise on the lake before. The wind came in on both days just prior to heading out and cut off not long after the last finisher. We had minimal delays and everyone knows that on LBG it’s not uncommon to have boats working and running on the same leg of the course, the joys of inland waterways.

A the end of the day

It was like this on both days once racing had finished.

In amongst all of this, there’s a new boat in the family. For sometime Melissa has thought about having a RIB enabling her to go to various clubs and regattas to take some photos and support DeckHardware ambassadors. We started looking at second hand 5m and ended up with a brand new 6.5m RIB with all the extras required. I’ll also be able to use it at the various country regattas I attend. In order to tow it around, it’s necessitated two new vehicles, a van for me and a larger car for towing. This has been paid for out of Robyn’s inheritance and the sale of her family home.

On the RIB, on the harbour

I can’t remember a time going under the bridge by powerboat, I’ve always sailed.

Last weekend, I spent some time in the new RIB watching the 16’er States up the harbour, something a little different. They had a great NorEaster for two races on Saturday and a Southerly came through for the single race on Sunday. Good racing for the 40 odd boats in an otherwise very crowded area, although after a leg or so most were spread out, especially with a few capsizes.

Rounding Cockatoo Island

Hazards of racing on the upper harbour, the race 3, 1st mark  leader TED cutting it fine. Eventual winner with Orange spinnaker, IMEI.

16's sailing up the harbour

Some of the 16s fleet on Sunday

Having not had a trailerable boat since the early 80s when Mel was a baby, it’s all about getting in the queue at the ramp both in and out. I’m getting better at organising at home first so it’s not mucking about wasting time prior to launching. The facilities are far better now with floating pontoons to tie up to once launched and whilst the car and trailer are parked. So far so good, the electric winch works a treat too, no winding!

 

Mel’s gone to METS in Amsterdam this week to meet up with many of our suppliers. Around this time of year they release new products and catalogues and it’s the opportunity to meet in person with the people at the other end of an email or phone line. It’s a busy week for her with scheduled meetings over the three days of the show. I know that when I’ve been, almost the best part is the sleep on the plane home!

Just a quick trip south

Last week I spent a few days south. First up on Saturday morning, was a quick stop in Canberra then across to the coast where I stopped by Wallagoot Lake Boat Club. They were just finishing their days racing and a few of them were pleasantly surprised to see me. One thought I was an apparition! It was good to see them again as many have become good friends in my time officiating their annual regatta. They were quite pleased to show me their new start/rescue/mark laying boat, a new alloy runabout with more room in the bow for buoys. They were yet to set it up fully and were keen on my input. I’ll be back again for their annual regatta later in the season which again incorporates the NSW State Sabre titles.

Wallagoot Lake

Heading further south down the coast, the next stop was Paynesville, where again I surprised a few at the club by turning up. It was the first race of the season for them and I enjoyed wandering around chatting with those who remembered my DeckHardware product talk last season. After a couple of hours break, it was back on the road and heading to Port Phillip Bay.

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I spent the next couple of days driving anti-clockwise around Port Phillip, starting at Sorrento and finishing off at Geelong and Queenscliff before heading home. It’s always good to catch up and have dinner with friends and in this case it was Marty and Sue Sly, legends for their boatwork in Melbourne. It’s nice to catch up on all the gossip around the traps after hours when you have a bit more time on your hands. Whilst I didn’t have the time to see every one this time around, hopefully I’ll make it up on the next trip.

Again it was nice to see Vicroads updating the rest areas and the facilities on the Hume, however like NSW Roads and Maritime, there’s a great expanse of new tar and concrete but no shelter from the Sun or rain. Like the Pacific Highway in northern NSW, all the trees that provided some sort of relief in the past have been removed. I guess those that those who design these rest areas don’t use them.

Clear start

This weekend past, I spent another couple of days officiating the local Farr40 fleet for their monthly regatta, only six boats this time but again the racing was close. Tom Quick’s Outlaw was the eventual winner with tactician David Chapman bringing his father Richard and uncle Bob Wilmot out of hiding to assist. It’s always enjoyable working with the Farr40s, they are a great bunch of very keen and experienced sailors and those who volunteer to assist me on the start boat always go away having learnt something.  We had a great day offshore on Saturday with a 10-12knot NorEaster and a reasonably flat sea and on Sunday in the harbour despite the forecasts, we had another great 12-14knots from the South East. Sunday was the shiftiest breeze inshore I’ve seen for a while, there was no pattern to it, but the shifts were all over the place from 150* to 200*, those that worked them made the most. Very testing.

 

Had another sail and another drive.

Following on from my first offshore sail in a decade, I had another sail, this time a Middle Harbour Yacht Club point score race on an Adams10, funny that given the decades sailing them. It was another day with Garth and his crew on Sirius, however this time it was a blustery westerly. The line was a little biased to the pin and Garth did an excellent job in timing the starboard run down the line. Those who tried to port tack start were confronted by us hollering, so there was a little bit of ‘ducking’ our transom.

It was a pretty uneventful race except for the last spinnaker reach, this was one of those beauties, over 14knots on the dial before dropping the kite and coming back to course. Then on the last tack to the finish, I slipped and extended my knee, the good one. Needless to say I’ve had a few visits to the physio since. But what about that ride – made the day.

 

Then it was back on the MHYC Start boat and race officialdom. It was the first of the monthly Farr40 regattas for the season and whilst it was a non point score, six boats turned up for three races in a nice southerly on Sunday. This followed on from an offshore race the day before and a rather late night for some at the Farr40 20th anniversary function on Saturday night. The Association awarded five previous owners for their successes and support of Australian yachting in general. It was fantastic to be in attendance to see Marcus, Richard, Martin, Lang and Guido presented with a brilliant red jacket with their results embroidered on the pockets.

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Out on the water Sunday and it was good racing between Outlaw and Exile with only seconds between them for the days honours. Race 1 saw Exile win their first Farr40 race, giving guest helmsman Chris Way some bragging rights. In race 2 it was the Victorian team on Double Black,  it was great to see these two boats especially get amongst it at the front. The Farr40s will be back next later in October for another round and it’s always a pleasure to watch them, albeit very closely.

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This weekend past saw me at a club that I hadn’t been to for 40 years! A long time ago the Sydney Laser sailors used to head to Wallis Lake for a regatta once a year. Great Lakes Sailing Club certainly hasn’t changed all that much, the main change is an upgrade recently on more grassed rigging and camping space. One of our DeckHardware ambassadors was competing in the Wildcat Regatta, a 3 day event that has been held for quite some time. So it was an opportunity to drop by and aside from dropping off a ‘goody’ package for Lily, it was a chance to see what the event was about.

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Interesting was the number of well-known sailors looking for a fun weekend. Jason Waterhouse was sailing his father’s Hobie16 with his sister Bridget. His NACRA17 coach Darren Bundock decided to sail a foiling A Class as was Steve Brewin. There were plenty of other high profile sailors too, such as Brett Goodall coming from Victoria and Warren Guinea driving from Brisbane.

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Jason Waterhouse and Lily Smith at GLSC

 

It was great to return to GLSC, I guess I shouldn’t leave it as long till the next time either. It was also good to catch up with a few of those wandering around the boat park, with 80 or so entries there wasn’t much space left.

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Not much space left after 80 odd catamarans and trailers.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Hugh George RSHYR2017

 

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.

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.