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.

Back out on the harbour

It’s almost like a homecoming, returning to the start boat at Middle Harbour Yacht Club on Saturdays. We’ve now had two races in to the 2015/2016 season.

The first race of the season got away finally in a nice Nor Nor Easter with windward/leeward courses for all divisions. There was no breeze on most of the harbour, however there was a nice vein from North head to Obelisk Bay. Those who sailed said it was a great first day. Last Saturday’s  racing was split in to two fleets. The larger Open division combined with the Fleet from Sydney Amateur Sailing Club further down the harbour, whilst I ran the rest of the fleet on a similar track to the previous week. The wind however didn’t quite go to plan staying a little right, the course ending up with a slight bias that way. Those I spoke to later said they enjoyed the downhills however with the Adams10s doing up to 15knots at times.

Saturdays racing was a combined event with Barts Bash for the Adams10s. Barts Bash is a world wide event raising funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. Andrew tragically died at the age of 36 in an accident onboard the Artemis AC72 yacht in San Francisco Bay in 2013. With Anthony [Nocka] Nossiter, a prominent A10 sailor and one of Andrew’s closest friends, his friends set up the event in his honour. In return Anthony’s mates from MHYC combined to support the event, donating to the cause.

Sunday I went to Woollahra Sailing Club for their Barts Bash. They held part of their event in Optimist dinghies in two divisions. The first off were the Green fleet Tackers, the second off were the guest skippers. On this occasion champion NACRA17 crew Lisa Darmanin sailing an Opti for the first time lead 49er sailor Harry Price home.

Congratulations to all those who took part. It’s interesting though, looking at the videos from around the world at the various events, all had light conditions. I think my fleet had the best on the day.

Road trip time

This time last week I was finishing up a week of seeing everyone in Southern Queensland. The previous trip at the end of May had a few issues and therefore the trip was a few days shorter, hence a return was required.

I left home on Sunday morning and first stop was the Nabiac Caravan Camping & Boat Show. Just about the middle of the NSW coast but it was a reasonable sized event, certainly plenty of locals. There were plenty of vans with a scattering of everything else around the town exhibition grounds. Monday Morning after a night in Coffs, it was Yamba seeing a few DeckHardware customers there, then Ballina followed by a drive up to the Sunshine Coast. When will the road works be finished on the north coast of NSW? Who knows, but it’ll be great when it is, especially the Ballina north section. It’s pretty peace meal at the moment starting at Nambucca Heads.

I spent a couple of days on the Sunshine Coast seeing everyone and looking at various boats under construction, it’s good to see Aussie boat builders working on new boats. The Schionning Catamaran shown is fitted with Forespar Marelon plumbing. Wednesday and Thursday morning around Brisbane, again showing a range of DeckHardware products. Now that we are distributing all of the Schaefer Marine range, I have to make sure all the riggers and sailmakers are aware of the Tuff Luff range.

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Thursday afternoon and in to Friday, it was down to the Gold Coast with more of the same, doing the rounds and making sure all of the outlets are fully aware of what products DeckHardware has to offer. It’s especially good to have some place orders as well, both for stock in the van as well as from the warehouse.

After nearly a week of non stop drizzle, it was good to head south again. Saturday was the start of the Sydney Gold Coast Race and whilst not involved this year, I took out the MHYC startboat with a couple of others to watch the event. Once again it was a drift out the heads. All except for the 100’er Perpetual Loyal. They got a westerly gust at South Head and just took off, those only boat lengths behind could only watch and listen to the groans as the carbon super maxi took off. Everyone else had breeze from all points, Hero to Zero in these conditions, some doing well and others not so. For those looking up Loyals mast, yes that’s a crew member. His role in not only finding the wind, was to kick the main sail battens across in each gybe, so light were the conditions. On one gybe it too 6 attempts to pop them.

Next up is my long drive down to Port Lincoln in South Australia. From there, I’ll work back anti -clockwise around the coast in to Melbourne. This trip takes two weeks, plenty of road time but plenty to see.

A weekend on the water, for a change.

This last weekend, before I’m heading north, I spent once again out on MHYCs start boat running a few races. Saturday was race two of the Winter series and the weather was just nice for the small but competitive fleet. We had a nice WSW breeze of about 15 knots maximum. All the boats managed to sail the whole course without shortening, as is the case some weeks when the breeze drops off, but that’s winter in Sydney with the prevailing Westerlies. Nothing too exciting apart from the dolphins herding fish in to Balmoral where we were anchored for the finish, too far away for any photos.005003

Saturday night was the annual Summer season prize giving where all the divisions, Saturdays, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday night fleets are acknowledged and trophies are handed out to those who excelled. Always a good night where everyone catches up. Unfortunately, Ben Nossiter who has regularly featured on the wall for the Adams10s for over 20 years wasn’t able to attend due to ill health and everyone wished him all the best. Jim Nixon, his long time mainsheet hand accepted and spoke on behalf of the crew.

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Sunday and back out on the water for the Annual Waitangi Cup. This is a teams event the Adams10s hold between New South Wales and Victoria, unfortunately this year the Victorians could only field two crews, so it was 2 on 2. Easy for race management and scoring purposes! Again with the Westerly slowly shifting right all day and gusting from 9-20knots, all four boats had to be on the game with headsail choices varying between #2 and #3s. NSW however in the first two races finished with a 1, 2, so the third race was a bit of a dead rubber. It’s always interesting this event, as to make it a little more even, there is a boat draw the day before. No one is allowed to sail their own boat and there’s always plenty who can’t find the halyard or control line where they are used to it. NSW retained the Cup, 11 points to 19. Bring on next year, the Victorians are planning on taking to Cup back, they’ll be holding it down at Blairgowrie on the same waters as the recent Moth Worlds. Shallow water and tidal conditions will make it interesting.

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Next weekend I’m on the road north for a couple of weeks in the DeckHardware van ‘doing the rounds’.

Adams10s

I’ve been involved in the Adams10s for over three decades now, as crew, as owner with Melissa and as the Principal Race officer at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. The class is one that’s close to my heart, having sailed on 12 of them over the years. You can sail short handed, do No Extras like Wednesday and Thursdays or race fully crewed on weekends and in various regattas. They are an all round boat. Those that sail them agree.

This past Australia Day weekend saw the class back at MHYC for their annual championships. Unfortunately there were no outsiders, either from Lake Macquarie, Pittwater, up the harbour or interstate. The clubs fleet of ten competitive boats had 7 races to battle it out again. Saturday saw a lovely Noreaster up to 18knots, so I managed to get in 4 races for them. Sundays forecast was for light and variable and that’s what we had. I held them ashore for a while and just as we set the course the breeze changed 40 degrees – typical. So we only had the time to get one race away. Monday brought Southerly winds and a little drizzle for the final two races. As it was Australia Day there was also the added bonus of having to avoid the other fleets racing.

The finish of the first race saw the first four boats all overlapped and the start team all thought, ‘What are we in for?’. As it turned out that was the closest finish for first place. Other races saw individual duals with several competitors asking, ‘Who beat who?’. Pre regatta favourite Another Dilemma sailed a very good event, winning four races, adding a second and a third to the score. Helmsman Tim Gallego, who flies in each year from his new base in England had only one indiscretion – a Black Flag Disqualification in race three. But he was one of three BFD!

Second in the event was Rob Clarke on Kick and Chase, Rob’s a newcomer to the class, having owned several types of yachts at Middle Harbour over the years. He was ecstatic of course with the end result, going in to the event trimmer Shane Guanaria said they would be happy with third or fourth. Class stalwart Ben Nossiter has suffered a few health issues lately and wasn’t as competitive as he has been in the past. Ben and his crew were however happy to have finished third.

As usual, it’s a team effort when running an event, having the assistance of Toby Gurzanscky on the clock and Lindsay Rose laying the marks, made it look good. Those from the various boats who made up the rest of the volunteers to assist, also enjoyed their time on the start boat or mark laying boat. For some it was their first time to see how it was done. Some should make the effort more often going by some of the questions they asked, as they were a little surprised as to the amount of work required to run an event. They are of course more than welcome each Saturday. It was also good to see Matt Carroll, the new CEO of Yachting Australia. Melissa and I sailed for many years with his father Patrick on his Adams10s, The Carpenter. Matt was invited to make the presentations, great to catch up with both he and his brother Terry back at Middle Harbour.

 

Next up for me is a trip to Tasmania next week. Aside from packing the DeckHardware van full of stock for the visits to the various outlets, I’m also going to spend a little time around the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. This is a Bi-Annual event that brings the Marine Industry together with those who love the feel, texture and smell of the old days. Shaved wood for example, a smell I can’t forget from my youth helping my father build the various boats – his and mine There will be a range of boats on display as well as distributors and retail outlets. I’ll be there with my old mate, Ben King and Brierley Marine. Ben has helped out DeckHardware over the years and this time it’s my turn. He will however be back to assist us with the Sydney Sailboat Expo in a couple of months time though, more catching up.

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.