Headed South and a few other places too.

So just for something a little different at this time of the year, two weeks ago I headed down to Melbourne. First up was a three day seminar hosted by ISAF for race officials to update their knowledge and the latest ISAF race management policies. This was run by Rob Lamb from England who designed the new course. All I can say is that it was totally different to what I was expecting. There is so much new stuff going to appear in the next edition of the ISAF Rules.

With a full program of three days [0830-1830 each day], there was plenty to learn. A lot of what I do in race management will be updated in the coming seasons. I learnt plenty and like a lot of things about the current state of the sport of sailing at present, changes are afoot. A lot of the course is angled towards those who aspire to help out at a big fleet nationals [50+] or the Olympics. Many there are hoping to get to that level. Travel overseas is a given, there were people who had flown in for the three days from England, USA, France, Hong Kong and Singapore and from all parts of Australia.

How did I go? Not confident in the methods now used to lay Trapezoid courses. The new sheets should look easier to use, however as I don’t use them week in week out like many of the clubs in Melbourne for example, you tend to lose the ability. The big thing here is that you need a lot of resources, something that many clubs don’t have. I will say that, yes I learnt a lot.

The following day it was down to Sandringham Yacht Club for the ISAF Sailing World Cup in conjunction with Sail Melbourne for the invited classes. This event is huge, I’ve been before, both out on the water laying marks and ashore looking after the competitors with the DeckHardware van. This year there were 400 competitors and around 200 volunteers both on the water and ashore. They do look after you well too. There’s the event T shirt, food and water for out on the boats and then drinks in a set aside area just for the course teams to de brief. It is hard work though, there’s two race briefings daily and when you have to be there around 0800 to make sure of a parking spot and then off the water around 1800, it’s a long day.

This year I was on the Alpha Course start boat with a team led by Garry Hosie from Mordialloc Sailing Club. All of the clubs around Port Phillip help resource the event, a huge effort. On our course we had the Start boat, Pin end boat, two course laying boats and two rescue boats. Then whilst we were running the NACRAs, Finns and 470s there were also 3 Jury boats. Quite a team of around 25 people on our course. My role was that as Deputy Race Officer, should the Course Race Officer [CRO] be unable to continue, I’d step in. What I ended up doing was monitoring the breeze and the competitors on the course and passing on my observations to Garry [ITO] and John Allen [NRO Canadian version]. A non stop job with the breeze all over the place. I was also the back up line sighter viewing from upstairs whilst John called it down stairs. Garry was on the OCS flags.

It was great watching the NACRAS especially, I hadn’t had the chance before to be part of their race management, so this was a new outing. As a supporter of the Australian Sailing Team, at DeckHardware we know pretty much all the crews when they come in for updates to their boats. Watching the three female crews, Lisa, Nina and Lucinda in action brings a new focus. These ladies are brilliant! It was a joy to watch from the startboat what each team goes through in the pre start and then how they all interact with their skippers as well. Yes, I learnt a lot from watching them and I’m sure there’s more to come too.

As for the conditions during Sail Melbourne? We had good breezes and then we had none. The Gold medal race day for example, we had a nice 18knots for the NACRAs and 470s and then the Finns were on the last down hill and the breeze dropped out. This was in the space of only a couple of hours. Like many places, ‘you should have been here yesterday’. Well the day before was similar although we had to postpone the start as there was too much! We ran the ‘morning fleet’ with out issue and then at 1500 the breeze dropped out altogether! AP up over A and send ’em home.

It was a very draining week physically and mentally, good to meet and work on the water with some new people learning other techniques for the same application.

Now for Boxing Day and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start, for the eighth year I’ll have a team from Middle Harbour Yacht Club running one of the start lines on behalf of the CYCA. Over one hundred boats, how many helicopters? With Five 100’ers will there be more than 20? With the current forecast of a Spinnaker start, maybe.Wind reading

Jason and Lisa just pipping Bundy and Nina

Jason and Lisa just pipping Bundy and Nina

Back on the 'bike'.

Back on the ‘bike’.

No Wind No wind

All the Alpha course boats went and hid at Black Rock whilst the start boat stayed out monitoring the conditions

All the Alpha course boats went and hid at Black Rock whilst the start boat stayed out monitoring the conditions, bit nasty that day out of the South West.

First in goes to being last out later.

First in goes to being last out later.

Down South and 3605kms later

Following on from the interstate trips to Western Australia and Southern Queensland, this time I was off down south to Victoria via the ACT. Friday morning was an early start to try and beat the Sydney peak hour and the dreaded M5 to Canberra. Four hours later, not too bad I suppose, Driving in to Canberra Yacht Club to meet up with Matt Owen the CEO. Like many who I ring, Matt took advantage of the DeckHardware van calling through and pre ordered, then came out to see what’s new. Unfortunately time was against him due to another appointment so we didn’t have the chance to spend as much time as we had liked. After dropping off a Sydney Sailboat Expo poster and going through a few items and I was off to Victoria.

Driving through the Snowy Mountains at this time of year suits me, I prefer Palm Trees to snow. Those who haven’t done the trip should as it’s a great alternative to the coast road. I arrived in Paynesville in time to drop off a Flying Eleven mainsail and jib for Stuart Loft to have a twilight launching and sail of his new acquisition. Lofty had arranged with Andrew [Dolly] Divola for me to be the go between/courier, timing. I hung around Paynesville and Metung seeing Aaron Hill who operates outlets in both towns, on Saturday morning. Again Aaron was one of those who took the opportunity to have a carton of DeckHardware products delivered. Like many he also took advantage of the van to purchase more. Saturday was also the Opening Day for the Great Lakes Sailing Club, so I took all of that in too, always interesting to see how other clubs do it. Then off to Sandringham, more K’s.

After dropping off another carton locally, I was off to Warrnambool Sunday, pretty much a days drive again. Pleasant though as the road is more and more familiar with each trip. Coming through Colac for example, how much water do they have? Enough to sail? Almost this time, I’ve seen the water well down in the past but they must have had a bit. I know they had more as it rained for much of the time I was there!

Monday morning and a good start with a couple of local customers showing some of the range out of the van. This trip was looking good from a sales view. Off again for the 3 hour tour back to Geelong and updating more customers. Tuesday morning was another good sale with one customer, nice. After seeing 12 different outlets, I finished the day on the other side of Port Phillip Bay, this time at Sorrento. It’s a good hike around the bay, about 100kms I think, there is the ferry of course but I have to see those on the way. Wednesday I started the day locally and worked my way anti-clockwise this time, another 13 seen, a busy but again a productive day. Showing off the new product range and talking about the upcoming Sydney Sailboat Expo is enjoyable but takes time. Those who I left SSE posters will were all receptive on the idea that Melissa and her team have been working on, some talking about making the trip for the show next April.

Thursday  was not quite as busy number wise, however those I saw were excellent. I spent some time with Andrew McDougall and Andrew Morris at KA Sail discussing the upcoming Moth Worlds at Sorrento. Amac also showed me the new Waszp drawings, I’m lucky to be one of only a handful to see his new design. Amac is hoping to be able to sail one at Sorrento this January, hopefully we’ll have a production Waszp at SSE as they plan on having two boats there. Another who I saw Thursday was Martin Sly, one of the better boatbuilder/repairers in Melbourne. Martin has a rather large shed, full of all types of sail and power requiring his attention. Like others, he also came to the van to shop. Friday was down to Western Port to see those there, followed by coming back to Sandringham at Lunchtime. After a couple of hours at the two chandleries and the club, it was in to the city for the last stop of the week.

In previous trips, I had a good run out of the CBD. This time however it took over an hour to hit the Hume Highway. I only got as far as Tarcutta before stopping for the night. 3605kms, 47 different DeckHardware customers and eight days later, home.

I’ll be back to Sandringham in December to help officiate at ISAF Sailing World Cup/Sail Melbourne. In the lead up to the event, I’ll be attending the ISAF International Race Officers conference, hopefully in the New Year I’ll be an IRO. Studying to come.

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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.

Sydneys Winter of late

There’s been plenty in the news on the current weather in Sydney, we’ve had the hottest week in something like 80 years, with five days over 20c. This weekend however things are looking to change with the next cold front coming through.

I dropped down to Middle Harbour Yacht Club to meet up with Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton to discuss his Liros rope requirements and whilst there took this photo. With a little more breeze in the afternoon it was a great day and a little envious of the ISAF number one ranked Laser sailor going out.

This weekend is the last of the MHYC Winter Series with the following weekend the start of the CYCA Gold Coast race. For a change, I’ll be on the pin end of the line watching the start. We’ll have a couple of our regular team on board including Melissa and Phil who are integral to our Hobart start team. With some favourable weather, we wish the competitors a good trip north. Leading the charge will be Hobart record holder Wild OatsXI with the other super maxis Wild Thing and Lahana and the Volvo70s Black Jack and Southern Excellence. The handicap contender is wide open this year with no clear favourites. We’ll have to wait till closer to the 27th for a better idea.

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It’s been a big week

I’ve been down in Sandringham Victoria helping officiate at the ISAF World Cup of Sailing at Sandringham Yacht Club. In order to keep up my accreditation as a National Race Official, I volunteered my time to help out on the water. I was the RO in charge of laying the marks on Alpha Course with the able assistance of Dennis and John from Black Rock Yacht Club, who also have many years of experience. We looked after the 470s, 420s, Finns and later in the week the OKs. On the final day we also had the Libertys, Skuds, Laser 4.7s and 29ers.

The conditions early in the week were quite rough on Port Phillip Bay with strong southerlies, later in the week we had 5-7knots for a couple of days and on the final day a gusty Northerly to 25knots. All courses bar the Kiteboarding lost Tuesday and the 49ers and 29ers also lost Wednesday.016

I hung around Tuesday till 1500, then took the decision to say nothing will happen and dropped down the Sport Phillip Marine at Mornington one of many chandleries I wanted to see whilst in Melbourne.

As a result the sailing instructions were changed from 2 races per day to 3 on most courses in order to catch up. Most classes were able to sail the full complement with our race track finishing off those who didn’t.

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It was also a great challenge to those employed at Sandringham having to work around the 300 odd competitors. The slipway wotrkers and delivery drivers all had challenges in going about their jobs, it was a credit to all that it seemed to all work seemlessly.

Daily we had several meeting prior to going out on the water, a RO meeting and then just before leaving, a meeting of all those on Alpha with the plans for the day. Whilst at times it seemed to be a bit of overkill, it is a neccessary evil, covering all bases as event organisers. None of this was new, but rather an insight in to the way others work.

I did however have some time early each day to look after the requirements of the competitors by opening the DeckHardware van with those products I brought down. Requests for Liros rope being the prime and others from shackles up, I was able to help all except one competitor who wanted his Laser vang spliced as well. That I didn’t have time for as I was running late for the boat.

It was a great week and I hope that all the competitors we looked after were happy with the decisions we made out on the water. I certainly enjoyed the time working with the guys from Black Rock as daily we agreed on our thoughts on the course as distinct from those made by the startboat. If I have the chance I’d like to work with them again, Dennis and John [who flew down from the Gold Coast] were a joy to spend over 8 hours a day with. We also had Tracey over from Adelaide, Sylvia from Brisbane and Robyn how had last helped me at the NSW Youth Champs helping the locals.

As for the sailing? The fleets were down in size being the first event after the London 2012 Olympics bar the Kiteboards who had the biggest fleet. It was good to see the Sydney guys whose races i have been running, all come down. It was also good to see many others who I catch up with from time to time, some unfortunately, a fleeting quick chat and then off to the next briefing or de-brief.

Next up is the Southern Line for the Rolex Sydney Hobart race on Boxing Day, it’ll be good to be back with my own Middle Harbour Yacht Club team again and on a larger and dryer boat!

 

Summer in Melbourne

Yeah right, try telling that to the 400 odd competitors at Sail Melbourne.020 The temperature when I arrived at Sandringham was 14c! Summer?

Yesterday all but the Kiteboarders were cancelled due to the adverse conditions. At this mornings de-brief even some of the more exerienced Kiters said it was at the top end of what they could sail at.

Today all sailed bar the Libertys, Skuds, 49ers and the 49er FX as again the conditions were not too good. Whilst I’m out on Alpha course I don’t get to see to much if any of the others sailing, but what we had would have been pretty much the same across all fleets. The breeze was in the 20s for the majority of the 3 races held today, one gust we saw 26knots on our JDC Eole. You know it’s windy when you see a 470 going to windward sailing up a wave and going totally airborne. One of those classic shots, that you wish you took rather than watching happen. All I could think of was the landing, but these guys are amongst the best and handled it with ease.

In the first photo it looks pretty good, but…as you can see from the second click, there’s no mark! The seas on Port Phillip Bay are all wind driven and after 48hours they were around the 2m mark. Not really the best for a small runabout carrying the marks for the day. Mind you coming back in was a good ride. 022

 

It’s been a hard few days for us on the mark boat. Monday we had a few issues with water in the fuel and alarms going off. We ended up returning to Sandringham and having the mechanic have a quick look, then heading out again. Tuesday was a hurry up and wait, nothing happenned till the PRO pulled the pin after 1500.

 

Today, it all happenned pretty quick, the start boat went out and checked the conditions and returned to the club. I literally had time to go back to the van, get changed, grab my RO gear and head out. The RO signaled a windward return, hooray, only one mark to lay and retrieve out of the mud. Denis Finn from Black Rock is our driver and did an excellent job trying to keep us dry. Mind you the fore hatch needs some Gaffa tape!

 

Tomorrow? Who knows, but knowing our luck it’ll be left over seas and no wind.

 

Final preparation day

Today was the final preparation day before ISAF World Cup of Sailing at Sail Melbourne both for the officials and for those competing,

I had an early start, down to Sandringham before 0800 in order to get a good parking spot for the DeckHardware van. Hopefully I can jig the same spot each day. The routine for today was  – set up shop, attend briefing, set up shop, attend briefing, set up shop and final briefing. The first meeting was introducing the teams on each course, as this is my first Sail Melbourne aside from the PRO, I know no one. The second meeting was out on the marina seeing the boat I’m on and the equipment provided. The third meeting was the officials welcome drinks with the local mayor followed by the competitors official briefing.

There are plenty of officials with experience from the Olympics down, on each boat I think the minimum is a state race official. the are plenty of nationals like myself just helping out. The guys I’m partnered with from Black Rock have over a decade each in running races on Port Phillip Bay.

I think I’m in good hands, just need the weather to co-operate.