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.

On the road south

The  Australian Wooden Boat Festival held Bi-Annually in Hobart is a must for any boat owner. Sounds like a big call but it is. Whilst the modern composite racers may think otherwise, here’s evidence as to how boat building and the sport of Sailing has evolved. The Festival had everything, marinas full of classics both power and sail, halls and marquees of products on display and for sale. Then there were the Tall Ships to go aboard, HMS Tenacious, the James Craig and at least a half dozen more. More than anything else this is the place to go and look at boats and boating stuff mixed in with a little history, simple.

Everyone who also travelled from the mainland that I saw agreed and there was plenty of us. Hobart does this well, there was even a park off Salamanca Place that was purely for entertaining the younger children as well as a school boat building competition. Like all major events, there’s road closures and parking hassles, but this event is free to wander around. So who else will be in Hobart in February 2019?

Last weekend was the final round of the Flying Eleven State titles at Manly and there was a great fleet of over 80 entrants from around NSW and some even coming down from Brisbane for the weekend. Saturday started off with a great southerly that then went East and soft before the forecast afternoon storm arrived. They got in two races before the hail and rain put a dampener on things. The storm also created issues for the classes 50th Anniversary Saturday evening function, luckily the organisers were able to move inside Manly Yacht Club and the majority stayed reasonably dry. There were of course the smattering of former Flying Eleven sailors who had gone on to greater successes at National, World and Olympic events. Those who couldn’t make the evening sent their apologies and a few memories of what the class meant to them growing up. Two former national champions in Nicky Souter and Malcolm Page even caught up in Austin Texas and sent a selfie. Melissa did some live footage so they were able to stay in touch with proceedings on the night. An evening enjoyed by all who attended, well done to those who helped arrange.

This coming weekend is the first of many in a row back out on the water watching some close racing. First up is the Snowy Mountains Regatta at Jindabyne, a fresh water event that’s only cold if you capsize. The last few years have been blessed with great conditions, this year may be a little cooler and damp according to the initial forecasts. I hope not!

After that it’s the Sydney38s as part of the MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta, more great racing to watch, this time over three days and the Farr40s joining for the weekend.

Classic

Really there is only one way to describe some of the boats that I saw the other day at Darling Harbour, Classic. The Wooden Boat Show held in conjunction with the Maritime Museum had a range of Classic boats, both power and sail and whilst mostly timber, there were a few fibreglass production yachts from the 1960s and 70s.

There was a range of the old Halvorsen cruisers and it was interesting to note that whilst they were pretty much production, none are the same. Something I didn’t know. It was good to see some of the older yachts as well, from a timber 30′ Daydream through to the rebuilt 12m Gretel2 in immaculate condition. There was also a few fibreglass production yachts, Compass28 and Contessa25. I grew up racing with my father on his little JOG boat and the Peter Cole designed  Contessa when it came out really put the ‘cat amongst the pidgeons’ with it’s speed and manoeuvrability. Most of the others at the time were still long keeled designed in the 50 and 60s, the exception being Dads Temeraire and a couple of Primaat ply boats.

Wandering about some of the older racing yachts, it’s interesting to see how far they’ve come. Yachts such as Caprice Of Huon, for years one of Australia’s top Offshore yachts, Fidelis, which came across from New Zealand and won Line Honours in the Hobart Race and then there was Ruthless a Peterson One Tonner whose freeboard struck me as being quite high. I don’t remember other One Tonners I’ve sailed being so high wooded. And there was plenty more, each with a memory or thought of a time or race.

On the new side, there was SjoRo a new 8m fitted with Liros Classic rope, keeping the style classic. Rather than having the colourful ropes of today, she has the modern rope construction with the Liros Hemp colour, it all fitted the style.

I also went to see Lyn Pardey in the museum theatre doing a talk on her decades on the water with husband Larry. The pair are well known in cruising and timber boat circles and I remember going to a previous talk of theirs last century. It was a bit of history with the boats they owned and also built or repaired. Lyn had quite a range of photos on the screen whilst she talked and it was great to hear snippets about each. I had the chance to mention to her later that I may have been one of the few who saw the Pardeys earlier visit to Sydney. She appreciated that.

Wandering around talking boats, doesn’t get any better.

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More of the same, sort of

It was back out on the water at Middle Harbour Yacht Club with the State titles for both the 420s and the Cadets on the same track. This time I did something a little different with the courses.

Both classes like a triangle with the windward and return, so rather than put the Start boat in the middle of the course for the windward returns [as is the norm], I kept the bottom gate above the start line with the wing/gybe outside on the extension of the start line. The last mark was to leeward of the start finish line. This gave the boats some short laps with a couple of ‘hoon’ reaches with a work to the finish. The thing is the sailors enjoyed it too, nothing better than keeping the customers happy. They had almost a couple of sprints to start off with before stretching their legs. I was also able to keep track of all of them easily.

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Crossover at the bottom

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Clear Start

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Where else would you be?

Next up was the Sydney Sailboat Expo held at the ICMS grounds at Manly’s North Head. Spectacular location, the home of the Great Gatsby in the most recent movie. Built in the 1880s and standing proud on the hillside, all the visitors commented on the historical building. The Expo showed of a range of businesses in the marine industry including of course DeckHardware. As part of this we also sponsored the Liros rope splicing with two of the best showing the skills required. Cameron and Ben for the second year had people viewing and learning the art of rope work. I was told after closing that one of our Rio2016 Olympians spent quite some time there without being recognised. Good stuff.

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Kids big and small

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Early morning looking over Manly

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The weather also behaved for the two days, with glorious sunshine and nice seabreezes on both days treating the over 50 exhibitors kindly.

With that, that’s about it for the 2015/6 Sydney sailing season, there’s only a couple of weeks to go and then the Winter series starts in early May. I’ll be back on the road seeing DeckHardware customers again showing some of our range.

 

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..

So that was 2014

As we came to the end of 2014, my job at this time of the year is to be a Race Officer for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race a role I’ve done since my last race in 2005. This year there were three lines once again. This had only happened twice before, last year with the addition of the Clipper Round the World fleet and in the 50th anniversary race. Whilst there was a modest increase of 20 boats on last year, with five 100’ers on the line, they had to have room to manoeuvre pre start. We had a great team again on board, a couple of International ROs, a National RO, a couple of Club ROs and two National judges. No mistakes were going to be made! What was better was that there were no OCSs, everyone was well behaved. just how we like it.

There’s been plenty in the media about the race, so I’ll leave it at that. Bring on the next one later this year, it’s certainly one of the better days out on Sydney Harbour.

The following day the Manly Junior Nationals started at Middle Harbour 16′ Skiff Club. DeckHardware are a sponsor of the class this season, so I was there for the duration with the van and replacement fittings. What was great to see, a couple of the skippers working and changing layouts on their own boats, something we try to encourage. If you sail the boat you should know how to look after it. I had one junior skipper asking all sorts of questions whilst rigging his boat and I was more than happy to assist.

This past weekend I went up to Lake Macquarie to the 16′ Skiff and Mosquito Catamaran titles at Belmont and Speers Point. Many of the 16s have always been good friends, especially with Melissa growing up with them in their junior days. Needless to say there’s always someone after something. “Phil, have you got the van here? I need a ….”. Simple answer was yes. With many of the 16s using DeckHardware products such as Liros rope, Allen fittings and TBS Speed Grip non-skid, it’s good to see how and why they are using what where. Congratulations go to Lee, Peter and Ricky on Brydens for the win.This team have been the front runner for the last couple of seasons and this year was no exception. It wasn’t the runaway many expected, the races I saw were both very close in the front pack. Fire Stopping and Sutech from Manly also giving them a nudge as well as a couple of the local Belmont boats.

I also went around the corner to have a look at the Mosquitos. This is one class I’m not familiar with, so it was an interesting hour or so talking to the competitors about their boats. Once again there are some ideas that translate from class to class. One skipper had made a modification to an Allen block, so a photo was taken and forwarded to Allen Brothers in England to have a look at. Always a work in progress, fitting out a new boat.

Next up on the start line is the Adams10m titles, a class close to my heart having sailed them for many decades. Will it be the Ben and Tim show again or will someone else throw a blinder?

Where to next? After 2014 where I drove to Victoria 3 times, Queensland twice and Perth by air, not to mention the 10 or so trips around New South Wales, I’m off to Tasmania in February. I haven’t been down there for a couple of years, so it’ll be interesting to see the changes.

Quick drive north

I headed north last weekend to Harwood, the home of the Big River Sailing Club in northern New South Wales. It’s a 7 1/2 hr drive each way and 1300kms return. I left late Friday afternoon and arriving in the wee hours of Saturday morning set up my tent and had a few hours down time. With the sunrise , it was time to get up and set up the DeckHardware marquee, tables and product display.

I had had a few phone calls from one of the regulars up north, Mark Patterson, hoping that I was coming so that he could make sure of finishing his new boat. Some may remember a photo I took of a 20′ Carbon catamaran being built earlier this year. It’s now sailing for only the second time and Mark was making continual improvements to the setup of the boat Saturday before and after Sailing and again on Sunday morning. New Allen blocks and Liros lines solved many issues that Mark had. Whilst the boat isn’t foiling just yet, that’s to come, Mark is pretty happy with how it’s all come together. It’ll certainly be something to watch out for after he settles down with it.

Like many of these away events I take the DeckHardware van to, I had one fellow come up and say ‘I should have bought … last time you were here. Have you got the following?” ” Yes Sir, how many would you like?” This was pretty common for the weekend and needless to say I was quite happy to help the locals out.

There was around 60 competitors this time in three divisions. Multihull, trailerable and dinghy, all competitive on the startline that’s for sure. With a range of mutihulls from a Corsair tri down to an Arrow cat, there was a large spread although the NACRAs appeared to have the numbers. In the trailerables again the Spider550s made up the bulk with an Elliot7 to keep them honest. The HartleyTS16 too was well set up though for racing, I should have taken a couple of pics, but they were in the middle of rigging when I stuck my head in the cockpit. In the monos/dinghy, you had everything from a 49er down. The spread of classes is what makes these country events, everyone has their pride and joy and gets out on the water. That’s what it’s all about. Competitors came from the Gold Coast, Tweed River , Ballina, Grafton and Tamworth, a good spread.

Saturday morning was interesting, waking up to a few of the locals having a look at what was going on before bounding away. Saturday was a great day, good seabreeze. Sunday however started with the AP being hoisted for 30mins or so before the breeze finally settled in for a couple of short course races.

As I had another long drive I headed home once they were on the water Sunday, so the results are here.

I again enjoyed the hospitality shown by Commodore Hariet Woodrow and her team and look forward to returning in the future. If you haven’t experienced a Harwood weekend with the Sticky Date Pudding, please do and I look forward to seeing you there.

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