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.

2018-10-14 13.02.57

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.

2018-09-22 21.26.02

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.

2018-09-23 12.59.57

 

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.

2018-09-29 09.43.04

 

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.

2018-09-29 09.58.52

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.

2018-09-29 10.32.34

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.

2018-02-04 14.40.24

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.

2018-01-27 15.05.18

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.

2018-02-04 14.40.41

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.

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.