Bypassing the snow

I headed south for the first time in a while, Canberra was the first stop at the Yacht Club to see their manager Matt Owen and show him a few things. Matt was joined by a couple of club sailors as well, peeking in the various bins as I showed some of the new products. There’s always plenty of banter with Matt, we get on well and this of course was added to with his fellow members. Whilst only a short stop, it was then off to have a look at a new sportsboat about to hit the water. I’d seen it being finished off at Innovation Composites in Nowra and now with only a week or so prior to launching, there’s always a few last minute items that are required. It’s always good of course to sit down with the owners and think about the choices of products before launching.

Canberra

After a few hours in Canberra, my next stop was to Paynesville, normally a reasonable drive till the road comes down the mountain to the coast. What I’d heard most of the day however was warnings about the crook conditions, wind snow and ice. Given the option, I headed east to the coast at Batemans Bay then the rest of the way down the coast road. This added nearly 4hrs to the overall drive, but it was a little warmer and I had plenty of time.

Just a little cool leaving Canberra

Gippsland Lakes Sailing Club was the plan for the day. They were holding a winter race and a small but keen group assembled for the briefing before heading out on the water. A variety of boats from Minnows through to Flying Fifteens greeted the day but by the time they reached the course area around the corner of Raymond Island the forecast wind had picked up and it was blowing high20/early 30s and the start team called it a day, abandoning the racing.

We had planned a product and maintenance talk at the club after sailing, something that we’d been working on for a while. Most of the sailors hung around and a few went home and returned and a few others who didn’t sail also joined in.  I had a variety of DeckHardware products on display and spoke about a range of topics from rope and plumbing to maintaining spinnaker pole ends and sails. Feedback from those attending was great with some excellent questions that all listened to. Everyone came away having learnt something.

Paynesville

Monday morning was spent seeing a range of DeckHardware customers around Paynesville before a drive in to Melbourne. In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to stay with my old mate Eylsey  and his partner Sharon, however they have decided to move south to Safety Beach so I was fortunate to call on Peter and Leonie Coleman. Pete’s a long time Etchells sailor so plenty to chin wag about.

I spent the rest of the week seeing various customers both old and new anti-clockwise around Port Phillip from Sorrento to Queenscliff showing off the range of DeckHardware products, both old and new. I didn’t have the time to wander around the marinas to see what’s new although one boat I did sail on back in the 70s is still at Paynesville  where I saw her last. Casablanca was designed and built by John Biddlecombe at Mona Vale  and I did my first Montague Island Race on her before the addition of the cabin top. Another found was Sir James Hardys Olympic Tempest Traminer, now fitted with a cabin top and being set up as a sportsboat, interesting.

Traminer

On Saturday I attended the Victorian Club Conference held by Australian Sailing [YA/AYF] but there were slight changes. These talks I found beneficial and it’ll be interesting to see how the Perth talk next week and the Sydney one not long after are attended.

So after a pretty full week it was home on Sunday, up the Hume an uneventful drive under 10hrs door to door and just under 3000kms.

So that was 2016

It’s always a point of discussion in the office as to which event to attend or when to hit the road and show off new products now available from DeckHardware. This was the case with heading south recently. I was going to go north, but in the end north and south got swapped around as discussion grew about Sail Melbourne.

So off to Melbourne and surrounds for the week, this time driving about 1260kms over the 10 days. I arrived in St Kilda, home of the last Southern Hemisphere World Cup of Sailing and Sail Melbourne for the invited classes on Sunday and as was the outcome for the next week with the exception of one day, spent my time answering questions and assisting DeckHardware ambassadors and members of the Australian Sailing Team. Each afternoon after seeing DeckHardware customers from Sorrento to Geelong it was a return to St Kilda to see how everyone was going. The last few times at Sail Melbourne, I was on either the start boat or mark laying, so it was good to sit back and spectate and comment on what was happening. Naturally I had a few new products to show and everyone loved the new LIROS rope now available, it was very much a case of get in the queue for the Pink.

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As is the case in going to various clubs, there’s always a boat or two that I haven’t seen for a while. In this instant it was at Hastings on the western side of Western Port Bay where I came across a rack of Lasers. The incredible thing was that I’d built seven of the thirteen back in the 70s. I don’t know how many were still used but they must have been built pretty well to still be around.

I’m always grateful for my friends around the country who put me up when I’m around. My Melbourne hosts John Eyles and Sharon Rae again came to the fore with their hospitality. I’d sailed with Eylesie on many of his Indian Pacifics through the 70s and 80s and many stories are told over a glass of wine at dinner. Sharon has always been an excellent host but this time it was John stepping up with his efforts in the kitchen. I’d return to be told “we are having so&so for dinner and I hope it’s ok”. His apple pie was to die for, unfortunately leftovers for the following night were spoilt by Howie their little black four legged pie snatcher. Howie had obviously been watching John all day and wanted his share. I was informed that under no circumstances to pay him any attention as he was in the bad books. No evening walk up the street and back that night for the two of us.

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I finished up in Melbourne by watching the medal races for the Olympic classes on the weekend. What was good however, was having the big screen showing the on water footage and commentary by Malcolm Page. Most of the time you listened and turned around to watch if something was happening on the course. Plenty of spectators, as well as those who’d finished racing like the 49ers and NACRA crews.

Then it was time for the Hume Highway and a little drive home to Sydney.

Boxing Day is of course known for two things in Australia, the Cricket Test at the MCG and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Start. This was to be my 10th as the Race Officer on the second line, taking over from the late John Hurley as the MHYC team leader. With a seasoned team on the Pin End [Steve, Toby and Phil], we tend to just do it when afloat. This years invited guest was Tony Outteridge, who for those who sail on the Lake is usually found as the Wangi Sailing Club Race Officer. This was Tony’s first time on the harbour on Boxing Day for many years and first on a start boat. Something totally different to what he’s used to, with the Super Maxis on the front line and the dozen or so TP52s that we had on the second. This year we didn’t have a clear start with a few boats pushing the limit on the pin end, Individual recall on the centre line! The other lines were clear, lucky them. As was pointed out to the competitors in the race briefing, the Hobart isn’t won in the harbour, there was plenty of room further to windward on the line.

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One competition we have on the day, is to count the number of helicopters above. Last year we had 20, so on the guess sheet everyone was around that number. We were all disappointed to see only 10 for 2016.

So that was 2016 and a little bit of ‘I’ve been [nearly] everywhere’. Where I didn’t go in 2016, I’ll more than likely go in 2017. There’s more regattas and races to run and I might put aside some time to go for a sail a bit more often.

Victoria 2014

The first interstate trip this year is to Victoria. Normally at this time of year for the last 30 years or so, I’ve been involved in the Adams10m Class Championships, either as a competitor or as Principal Race Officer. This year however, for the first time, I’ve been given the opportunity to officiate at Geelong’s Festival of Sail for the Sydney38 Championships. Whilst I go to Geelong several times a year to see the various DeckHardware outlets, this is a part of Port Phillip Bay that I’ve never been out on. I certainly look forward to seeing what it’s like as this event is the Southern equivalent to Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs Sydney Harbour Regatta.

Given the chance to come south also presented itself with the opportunity to do the rounds of many outlets in Victoria. I started off with a trip via Metung and Paynesville and for the first time paid a visit to Marley Point. This is the home of the Marley Point Overnight race that has been run for many decades across Lake Wellington, up a narrow channel and in to the northern reaches of the Gippsland Lakes District. An overnight race which attracted around 500 in the early days, these days they get over 100 plus trailer yachts, sportsboats and multihulls. Many of our friends have done the race and back in the 80’s Robyn and I were on our way down when car issues turned us around. We never had the chance to have another go.

Over the last few days I’ve seen nearly forty DeckHardware customers, both old and new. It’s always interesting to see the reaction to some of the new products from our suppliers.

I’m fortunate to be able to stay with an old sailing friend in Melbourne – John Eyles and his partner Sharon. Many will remember some of John’s yachts called Indian Pacific. We sailed together on the J24, SP30, Farr40 in which he won the ’84 Hobart and the Davidson36 throughout the late 70’s and the 80s. Plenty of stories are told at night.

Last night I had the chance to go for a twilight sail at Royal Brighton Yacht Club on board Clipper a Bavaria36. Somehow once again we managed a win despite some of the usual sailing issues. Over rides, headsail sheet under the pole and then tacking…All sorted though for a 40 second win. Thanks to the owner and crew of Clipper for the opportunity to have a sail.

The coming days will see me out on the water with the Sydney38s at Geelong, I look forward to it.

 

Off to Sail Melbourne

Last time around I noted that I had a bit on.

With the Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs Short Ocean racing Championships last weekend, we had 4 divisions racing with boats such as the new McConaghy38 Ginger and Rob Hannas Shogun TP52 team up form Victoria and a range of Sydney and Pittwater locals. Saturday saw a race up to Lion Island and back in a lovely Noreaster, Shogun did the return in 4 hours 5 mins and 55 seconds. Some of the smaller boats would have been just reaching Broken Bay! Truely amazing given the breeze never really got over 14knots.

Sunday saw a planned 2 races cut to one due to the light conditions. I had to postpone the start as there was no breeze to get them out of the harbour, then 3 of the 4 divisions were too keen on the start line so we had a couple of individual recalls in each, hastened by a runout tide. With the lack of breeze offshore the first race was shortened, we had planned for two but the wind didn’t play nice, so it was called for the weekend at that.

For the next week and a bit, I’ll be in Victoria officating at Sail Melbourne, part of ISAFs World Cup series. Over 300 competitors at Sandringham Yacht Club competing in a range of classes on four courses. Needless to say I have a range of DeckHardware products, should any competitor require assistance.

The van is packed, jam packed as I’m also assisting Krystal Weir, Australia’s London 2012 Laser Radial sailor by taking down her boat and some of her gear. Krystal has only sailed the laser a couple of times since the Olympics in a little break/ respite form competition. This event is the first in an effort to gain selection for Rio 2016.

More next week.

This time it’s Victoria

It seeems like only yesterday that I was over in Western Australia checking out the boating scene including the continuing build of this catamaran south of Fremantle. In this case the supply and fitting of the Forespar Marelon plumbing

Two weeks ago I was up in Southern Queensland , now I’m down in Victoria and about to kick off the week down here. This will be the end of the long trips till after the Sanctuary Cove and Sydney Boat Shows as there’s plenty to do locally as well.

Who knows what I’ll find, either way it’ll be a busy one showing off all the new products.

It may be the end of the sailing  season down here and they all talk AFL, but I have plenty to show too. What I’ve found after Queensland, is that I’m spending far longer at each stop. Being able to show off more keeps us out there.

I’m looking forward to it. Each trip usually brings something new.