Till everything stopped

Following the Australia Day long weekend on the water with the Adams10s, it was another of the monthly regattas for the Farr40s. Normally the pattern is 4 races offshore on Saturday, followed by another 4 inside Sydney Harbour on Sunday.

This time however the conditions were against us, it wasn’t as if there was too much wind, rather a lack thereof. It was decided that we’d shift inside on Saturday with the hope of something, however that something wasn’t coming too soon. After talking to each boat, the decision was made to head for the bar, having sat around for over 3 hours.

Inshore Sunday

Racked up after a clean start

Sunday the plan was to get in the 4 races and get some results, once again the AP was hoisted and following an hours delay, a nice little NorEaster came in. The first 3 races were just one lappers in order to get them in, the last race was a standard 2 lapper. So we got in 4 races to make a series at least.

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SailGP in a NorEaster on Sydney Harbour

The following weekend was pretty similar, although the boats were something different this time, SailGP held it’s only Act so far this year. Rather than take over the harbour for the weekend, it was on Friday and Saturday. Saturday, we put the RIB in the water and went out to watch the ‘Old Buffers’ at Middle Harbour16s where my old laser foe, Kev Wadham led all the way on Erics. With a quick unrig, Nathan and Harry jumped aboard and it was off down the harbour to watch the ‘Flying Machines’. Needless to say that section of the harbour was cordoned off giving them free reign. These ‘things’ doing 30+ knots and spinning in a tack are something else up close. I’m glad we had the opportunity, although the TV coverage does provide a lot of technical information and closeups.

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Early morning over Corio Bay Geelong. Cruise ship passenger disembarked at the yacht club.

I was then back on the road south to Geelong, this time for the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival where DeckHardware had a range of Allen, Antal, Forespar, Goldspar and LIROS on the Wooden BoatShop stand. Whilst no where near the size of the Hobart version, the enthusiasm for working with wood was highlighted. There was a race bringing some of the boats from Port Arlington on Saturday and they all dispersed Sunday afternoon. Whilst looking around some of the other stands, there was one fellow steaming timber to bend and it brought back memories of my late father building his first yacht on the front lawn at Newport in the ’60s. Steaming the ribs and bending them into shape, a lost art.

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Rowing sculls at Geelong

Dad at one stage picked up a rowing scull similar to this one, although more of a single hander, Mum was still able to sit in the stern and be taken for a row around Pittwater. I’d do the same with my younger brother Sam sitting in the stern. Not light to lift around, but remarkably easy to row. I don’t know what happened to it once the family home was sold at Church Point, if anyone sees it around?

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Another highlight was seeing the 49’er Casablanca again, this time up close. I’d helped John Biddlecombe to build her and on launching in the mid 70’s competing in her first race to Montague Island and return. Somehow as a teenager, she seemed big but compared to say the current 50’ers, she’s small with probably half the beam. The centre cockpit and flush deck was gone, replaced with a coachroof. Unfortunately there was no one aboard so I couldn’t see below, mind you going to Montague, all I can remember below was the bunk! A lot of time was spent on deck trimming, short tacking back up the coast out of the Set.

The World and the Economy has ground to a halt with COVID19 and whilst we are reasonably stocked up at DeckHardware, some of our retail outlets have felt the downturn of isolation effects. Now is surely the time to not only do some of the chores around the house, but also a good time to have any maintenance done on your boat. Supporting your local outlet during the shutdown period will assist us all when we come out the other side and get to spend some enjoyable time back out on the water.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone is safe at home and taking care.

2014 Festival of Sail

So back on the road for 2014, this time down to Victoria. I covered 2560kms over the 9 days and met up with nearly 40 DeckHardware customers both old and new in the first couple of days. The main reason for going down was to help officiate at the Geelong Festival of Sail. This event has over the years attracted the bulk of the Melbourne sailing community as well as an increasing amount of interstate visitors.

Thursday saw me at Geelong, with a quick visit to the local chandleries before going on to Royal Geelong Yacht Club and the Festival of Sail.  I was assisting Ted Anderson in running the Sydney38 National Championships. Dennis Thompson also from Sydney was the Principal Race Officer running a lot of divisions which included the Melges24 Nationals as a prelude to their World championships the following week. With over 300 yachts, multihulls and sportsboats, Corio Bay was pretty crowded at times especially when a ship came down the channel.

The Sydney38s ended up with only 9 boats; however this didn’t diminish the state of the competition. When the fleet rounded the top or the gate marks at the bottom of the course, there was usually less than one minute across all of them, with little more at the finish. We had two good days of 15knot southeasters and then the final day with a lighter 8knot easterly. Challenge2 [Sandringham], Phoenix [Geelong] and Zen [Middle Harbour] topped the podium, but the racing wasn’t over till the last mark of the last race. No one had any idea of who finished where till the results came out. Such was the pressure that both Phoenix and Zen had spinnaker wraps whilst leading, ouch. It was great racing and I certainly learnt a few things from watching the likes of 2012 World Moth Champion Josh McKnight doing bow.

All enjoyed the event, as did I having out been out on the water there. Similar in many ways to Lake Macquarie, shallow water and shifting winds made it interesting. Now that I’ve been, I’ll know more the next time I have the opportunity to go out on Corio Bay.