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.

Bit more of a bit on.

The last few weeks has been a little hectic. In my last post I noted that I’d just run the McConaghy38 Nationals.

The Setup of the DeckHardware Van

Following that weekend was a trip up to Yamba for the Big River regatta at Harwood. This event was held over a weekend and Weather wise we had it all, Saturday was a great days sailing with plenty of action, especially when an old school mate Ian Mitchie wrapped the start boat anchor line around the keel of his Spider550 sports boat.

With plenty of breeze, world ranked A Class cat sailor Andrew Landenberger lead a mixed fleet of Tornado, Hobies and Nacras around the course. Whilst enjoying the end of day back in the club house, the heavens opened up and we had a huge downpour of rain and hail which had those with tents in the lower areas rescuing their accommodation.

Racing Action

On the Sunday morning a pleasant seabreeze finally came in allowing everyone out on the water.attracted entries from Queensland as well as northern NSW.

With over 50 entries and a variety of catamarans, dinghies, sportsboats and trailerable yachts across 7 divisions, there was plenty of action on the river. The competitors all enjoyed the hospitality of the Big River Sailing Club, who allowed everyone to pitch tents and camp on the site.

Live Racing

I went up to catch up with a few of the locals and as usual the DeckHardware van and the contents was welcomed by those chasing bits and pieces.

The largest fleet were the Sabre dinghies with quite a few travelling down to Harwood from southern Queensland.

It was a surprise to check my Facebook page to see a comment from one of the sailors – “Are you here?” ‘Yes -at the end of the grassed area”. Again it was great to catch up with some of our customers and supporters and show off some of the DeckHardware range of products.

Farr 40's RacingFollowing on from the weekend at Harwood, I was officiating at one of the rounds of the Australian Farr40 fleet events. The 40s had had their previous regatta in Brisbane and this was the first of a few to be held in Sydney before some of them travel to Hobart for the conclusion.

With sailors and tacticians of the calibre of Malcolm Page, Nathan Wilmot, Tom Slingsby and the return of the winning Tasmanian team from the McConaghy38s a couple of weeks prior, this certainly attracted plenty of attention in the media and out on the water. It was again interesting watching the prestart tactics of the fleet and many club sailors should watch and learn from these world class sailors.

Farr 40's racingThere was some great racing on both days and it was nothing to make one simple mistake and drop to the tail of the fleet. In the end the Tasmanian team from Voodoo Chile this time skippered by co-owner Lloyd Clarke and their Sydney based tactician David Chapman who won on a count back from former World Champion Team Transfusion.

As soon as the Farr40s were finished I was off to the ISAF World Sailing Cup at Sail Melbourne. I spent 3 1/2 days at Sandringham Yacht Club assisting members of the Australian Sailing Team who DeckHardware sponsor with the assistance of Liros Ropes. The first couple of days were quite pleasant for Melbourne at this time of year, then it hit again with Wednesday being wet and windy and Thursdays racing cancelled completely. For the second time Robyn and Melissa were back in the DeckHardware office when a pallet of Liros Rope arrived whilst I was interstate. They were able to ship off a box of new rope that we had hoped to have in time for the sailors.

The event is quite large with alternating fleets in the mornings and afternoons in order to get in all the racing. Last year I assisted RO Mark Taylor in running the Alpha course, this year it was a nice change to stay dry ashore. In the photo the sailboarders are in close with two fleets of Lasers further out. Not shown in this photo is the fleet of Nacras to the north and the Skud18s, Libertys to the south.

It’s some effort to run this event and their are volunteers for pretty much all of the Port Phillip sailing clubs, with many coming from interstate as well.

On Thursday I left Sail Melbourne for the return trip to Sydney. On Saturday after some 18hours drive time from Melbourne I was at the Port of Yamba Sailing Club to run a club race officers course for their local sailors. Again it’s fantastic to get around to some of the smaller clubs and see the enthusiasm for the sport of Sailing. With a mixed fleet of mono and multihulls, they seem to have their handicaps worked out. I had to love the local system of starting, one person on a small power boat with a VHF radio in one hand and a horn in the other. They take it in turns to run the days sailing, with the starter of the day giving course and timing instructions over the radio, nothing in print! I would like to think that some of the accepted ISAF practices may flow on when their fleet expands.

Late on Saturday afternoon I drove on to Grafton and the Clarence River Sailing Club regatta. It was a similar event to that of the one at Harwood a couple of weeks prior and many were pleasantly surprised to see the DeckHardware van there when they came off the water. I had a steady flow of locals both that afternoon and again the following morning going through the range of products I had. As I had come straight from Melbourne, I had an increased display and those who stopped by were thankful.

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It was another great event hosted by Andrew Landenberger with his wife assisting in the clubs canteen. The country folk certainly know how to have a good time. Again there was an area for campers and tents, with plenty of tall stories continuing in to the evening. The other highlight of the weekend? No rain! You beauty. Then it was back to Sydney Sunday afternoon, a lazy 7hour drive.

Then there’s this weekend…Middle Harbour Yacht Club with the assistance of the Middle Harbour 16′ Skiff Club next door are running Sail Middle Harbour . This event was organised following the collapse of Sail Sydney. I will be out on the water running the 420s and Finns, with the 9er classes next door. Hopefully the weather will co operate.

Then we have the Rolex Sydney Hobart race where once again I will be the race official for the southern line. This years event will be huge if the SOLAS Big Boat race this week is anything to go by.

Just a bit on.

Race management duties

This past weekend saw me out on the water at Middle Harbour Yacht Club as the Principal Race official for the McConaghy38 Class National Championships. The forecast was rather bleak earlier in the week for the weekend, however Saturday ended up being quite a nice day on in the Sound with the wind out of the East South East and a nice 8-10knots. Sunday almost went true to the forecast with almost non stop rain and drizzle, thankfully the breeze stayed around 12-15knots for the day from the South East.

Whilst the fleet was small, it more than made up for it in talent aboard the boats. Tasmanian Andrew Hunn who I’ve known since our Laser days in the 70s, has been at the front of the Farr40 fleet of late and brought his local tactician David Chapman and chartered a boat. Dual Gold Medalist Malcolm Page sailed with Leslie Green on Ginger, these two ended up equal on points with the Tasmanian team winning on countback. The Hunn sailed away from the fleet on Saturday with 3 wins and a second in the passage race. However on the Sunday they were a little unlucky breaking their outhall in one race and having to carry a fifth in another before bouncing back in the last race. The top four boats in the end were spread by 4 points showing the competitive nature of the class.

Andrew Hunn noted that the size of the spinnaker made it difficult to see where he was going, I guess also there was the change from symmetrical to asymetrical spinnakers for he and his crew. As you can see in the second photo they had a good lead in Race 3 through the bottom gate.

In the coming weeks I will be up North to Yamba, back to Middle Harbour for the Farr40s then down to Melbourne for the ISAF World Cup Sail Melbourne, back to Middle Harbour for Sail Middle Harbour. This is a new event for the 420s, 470s, Finns and 29ers, which will be interesting as some of the new competitors should be out there.

Then there’s the Rolex Sydney Hobart race on Boxing Day, the 50th Sabot Nationals co sponsored by DeckHardware and 2014!

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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.

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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Been a big few days down south

I’ve been in Hobart for a few days now and it’s been pretty much non stop. I’ve been between several regatttas, the International Cadet Worlds and the 420 and Laser Nationals and then there’s the finish of the other race that I started on Boxing Day, the Rolex Sydney Hobart. I’ve helped competitors re rig and rebuild their boats, on one day re splicing three jib halyards.

I’ve seen the Governor of Tasmania preside over 2 prizegivings, someone should however told him not to repeat the same line each time, I’m sure there are a few others who heard the same comments about the Volvo race being a festival as is the feeling in Hobart at this time of year.

I’ve also had the chance to catch up with old friends and made some new ones, one Launceston Hobart competitor made note last night – “you’re that Phil!” I had to remind him that should he come to MHYC, there’s four Phils to choose from. Hobart at this time of year is a festival with the Taste of Tassie food halls on the waterfront a big part of it. I’m yet to have a Scallop pie, one of the local delicacies, but there’s still time. It’s been good catching up with the likes of Ian and David Ross and Andrew Hunn, all of whom I’ve known for over 35 years.

In the coming days there’s the completion of the 420s and Cadets and then the Australian Youth Championships start. Also on this weekend is another round of the Australian Farr40 circuit with several Sydney boats in town including Estate Master and Transfusion. I’ll drop over the other side of the Derwent River to Bellerive to catch up with these guys in the coming days.

I’m in Hobart for another week or so and the way things are, I’ll need it. Normally a trip down here is around 4 days to see all the builders and chandleries, I’ve only had the chance to see two of those.