Sydneys Winter

The last few weeks I’ve been out on the water with the brave souls with the Middle Harbour Yacht Club Winter fleet. I say that almost in jest as the weather has been nothing but pleasant out on the water. The breezes have been relatively kind, especially given it’s winter. Yes there have been a couple of occasions when we’ve had to shorten the course, but then you have days like last week where there was a lovely Nor-Wester of 15-18knots with clear skies and flat water. Couldn’t have it any better really, we’ve even had time to watch a couple of whales in the harbour as well.

Here’s a few photos from the last couple of weeks on Sydney Harbour.

420 State Titles at MHYC

Out on the water again this weekend was pretty much a joy. As Principal Race Officer at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, I get asked to run all types of events. This time it was the 420 State titles. Whilst I don’t run the centreboard division on a Sunday, this is usually left to the parents, I’m involved in most of the regattas at the club.

This one was one of the best and more enjoyable, we had a great team on the start boat, the two mark laying boats were filled with parents who knew what to do, just fantastic. We also ‘jagged’ the conditions. ‘Hughie’ obliged and provided us with pretty steady winds on both days. Saturday we got away a couple of races till the shift came through and then got away another 3 as the forecast for Sunday was bleak. As it turned out, Sundays racing started after a delay in perfect condition, the 10knot breeze only varied 5 degrees whilst the 20 boat fleet were racing. The only hickup was abandoning race three on Saturday before the finish. We had the 40 degree shift come through during the race and the smaller club start boat [ the yachts had the big one] couldn’t hold at anchor on position. Surprisingly only two competitors asked why? The rest must have agreed due to the shift.

Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to be involved again with the 420 class, they are certainly enthusiastic and a joy to work with. Here is a few photos I had the chance to take.

Next up is the start of the re vamped Sydney Mooloolabah yacht race, this time for multihulls.

So that was the weekends weather eh?

Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs race management team again backed up to run another regatta  a week after the clubs Sydney Harbour Regatta. This time it was the Melges32 National Championships. My RO offsider at the club, Steve Tucker ran three races for the class on Friday in what appeared to be a nice Noreaster. The decision was made to get in an extra race on both Friday and Saturday after viewing the forecast models for the weekend.

Saturday was yet another great day out on the harbour with the Northerly blowing around 12-14 knots, just nice. The fleet started with the usual general recall, the out going tide was a major factor here, no one had bargained on it even though it took the start boat a while to settle in. One of the things of running a fleet the calibre of the Melges32s, the Farr40s and the McConaghy38s, is the way they go about their start procedures. None of the running up and down the line like most club boats, they all work up to windward to check the shifts, come back check the line and then line up to start – text book fashion. Like the other two classes, they start from well back and are on the pace when the flags dropped. Good to watch, the class has a limit of three professional crew and it’s reflected here.

The racing was close with the Tasmanian Voodoo Chile team again making the trip north, they also did the Farr40s and MC38s. They have purchased an excellent second hand Farr40 in the USA to compete in this years World titles. They’ll be one to watch. Chris Way and his Easy Tiger team and another Tasmanian Greg Prescott with 2Unlimited gave the Voodoo Chile crew a run, these three swapped positions regularly on Saturday.

Sundays forecast almost went to plan with a light and sloppy westerly when we went out to run the final 2 races. The breeze was all over the place, shifting from 190 to 340 degrees and hardly reaching 6 knots. Along with the rest of the start team, I was also monitoring the weather, Toby on his Ipad and I had the phone going. A large storm cell appeared on the BOM radar, so I asked Kim Williams the Melges32 class president to come alongside and have a look for his thoughts. We made the decision to hoist AP over H and adjourned to the club, not knowing what was on offer. As the crews were settling down upstairs, there was a large crack of thunder literally over the marina. Those sitting nearby the start team were thankful for being ashore and inside and dry from the rain!

Following a mini meeting of myself, Kim and the top 3 competitors, it was decided to abandon racing for the day. With a time limit of 1500 for racing, it meant if we went out only one race could be held. The points in the top three wouldn’t change as a result, so I think everyone was happy for the early finish to the regatta.

Once again the core volunteer MHYC race management team of Steve, Toby, Ted, Andy and Philc did an excellent job in their assistance in this event, well done guys. Next up for us?

In a couple of weeks time in the 420 State titles.

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.


2014 eh?

What happened to 2013? That year went pretty quick, as we arranged each trip, some months in advance they quickly caught up. The month of December even more so. My trip to Sail Melbourne at Sandringham Victoria, followed immediately by a trip north to Yamba and Grafton. Then Sail Middle Harbour where I ran part of the regatta for 420s and Finns. Then of course the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, finishing off the year with DeckHardware’s support of the 50th Sabot national titles.

Sail Middle Harbour was the result of Sail Sydney not being run and our club Middle Harbour Yacht Club in conjunction with Middle Harbour 16′ Skiff Club combined to give some of the classes an event. We had a good fleet of 420’s and it was great to have the Finns for the first time, especially with some of those who had been at Sail Melbourne turning up. With good conditions, it was out to the Sound for both fleets as Middle Harbour 16′ Skiff Club had the 29ers inshore from us. Once again I was supported by a great team of volunteers from the club helping make the running of the regatta a little easier.

The annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is always a sight to see. With 5 100’ers, a couple of 80’ers, 3  Volvo70s and the Clipper Round the World race fleet, it was always going to be hectic. For this year the CYCA decided to run a third line to split the fleet up a little. The CYCA with Dennis Thompson ran the big boats on the front line, I had the middle with our MHYC team and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron had the back line. We decided to add to our normal startboat team with additional helpers, I try to mix it up each year. We have many requests to come out and this year it was the turn of some of Melissa’s match racing people. As we have two teams, one upstairs and one down, it was great to have the back up of Jeremey Atkinson who is also a highly credited race official and rules expert. We try to have a clear start as no one is called for 5 minutes if they are over. This year we had a couple starting early, one who came back almost straight away and another who waited till they were called. When this happens we have to wait till all are clear before we can follow the fleet out the heads. Once again it was quite a spectacle and this coming years will be just as big being the 70th.

A couple of days later through DeckHardware’s sponsorship of the 50th Sabot National Championships, I spent some time at Drummoyne Sailing Club with the van. Once again it was fantastic to watch some of the up and coming junior sailors and with over 130 competitors trying to remember some of their names was a little hard. It’s always interesting to watch those who are actively involved in their boat preparation and rigging.  Including new DeckHardware Ambassador from Lake Macquarie sailor Jed Fatches. Wangi Wangi Moth sailor Jody Shiels tipped us off on Jeds ability and enthusiasm and it was great to meet and follow Jed and his family. What was interesting was that each state had a team song. This was sung at the opening and closing ceremonies but also each day prior to hitting the water! It was great listening to the teams trying to out sing each other after their coaches pep talk. Sam King from Launceston in Tasmania was the 50th winner of the overall trophy which included names such as Nathan Wilmot and Nathan Outteridge. Tasmania also cleaned up in the teams event, quite a successful trip for them.

As soon as the Sabots finished at Drummoyne it was the turn of the 16′ Skiffs. Both the club and a couple of the sailors had asked if we’d be there with the van. So it was a continuing daily trip over several bridges to be there for the beginning of the 16’s. Lee Knapton and his crew of Brydens won each of the 7 races, something that long time skiffies had not seen for several decades. This was a new boat and as it was fitted with a couple of DeckHardware products Liros and TBS, we were more that interested in the event. DeckHardware ambassador Fire Stopping were also amongst the front runners and it was great to see them also without boat issues at the end of each day.

This past weekend I drove up to Port Stephens for the  Flying Eleven National Championships, as it turned out it was also their 50th birthday with the first boats built by Mariner Craft back in 1964. Having more than a passing interest in the class after Melissa’s involvement in the 90s and some of our friends who now have their children in the class, it was great to watch. Funnily it was a familiar name at the top after the first day of racing – Jed Fatches. Jed had teamed up with fellow Sabot sailor Tom Stivano for this event and they went out and won the first two races! Talk about grins when they came to see me at the van at the end of the day, great to see.

An old mate Graeme Ferguson was there with his family as youngest daughter Jordy was skippering for the first time, the number of girls who are now sailing is fantastic and they certainly give the boys a run. I also caught up with Trevor Barnabas and Hugh Cooke from Manly. Both of these long time skiff sailors were up there with their grandsons, watching and listening to the parting of pre race advise was fantastic, even I learnt something each day. Melissa had gone to school with Christine Barnabas, Zac and Jakes mum, so this was another pairing we were looking out for. Zac had only just won the Manly Junior Nationals on at the same time as the Sabots and this was their first Flying Eleven event in a borrowed boat. It only took them 4 races to win their first! Something to be said for this generation of sailors.

This coming weekend I’m off to Victoria. I’ll be spending a few days doing the rounds of the DeckHardware customers and then I’m off to Geelong. At this time of year for the last 3 decades, I’ve pretty much done or run the Adams10 Championships so I’ve not had the chance to go to Geelong’s Festival of Sail, one of Australia’s  largest regattas. I’m involved in the on water running of the regatta, as I’ve not been before, it’ll be interesting to say the least. This event also includes the Melges24 World Championship, held for the first time in Australia. With 8 nations competing, I hope to have the opportunity to see a little of the racing.

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.


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.

Race management duties

This past weekend saw me out on the water at Middle Harbour Yacht Club as the Principal Race official for the McConaghy38 Class National Championships. The forecast was rather bleak earlier in the week for the weekend, however Saturday ended up being quite a nice day on in the Sound with the wind out of the East South East and a nice 8-10knots. Sunday almost went true to the forecast with almost non stop rain and drizzle, thankfully the breeze stayed around 12-15knots for the day from the South East.

Whilst the fleet was small, it more than made up for it in talent aboard the boats. Tasmanian Andrew Hunn who I’ve known since our Laser days in the 70s, has been at the front of the Farr40 fleet of late and brought his local tactician David Chapman and chartered a boat. Dual Gold Medalist Malcolm Page sailed with Leslie Green on Ginger, these two ended up equal on points with the Tasmanian team winning on countback. The Hunn sailed away from the fleet on Saturday with 3 wins and a second in the passage race. However on the Sunday they were a little unlucky breaking their outhall in one race and having to carry a fifth in another before bouncing back in the last race. The top four boats in the end were spread by 4 points showing the competitive nature of the class.

Andrew Hunn noted that the size of the spinnaker made it difficult to see where he was going, I guess also there was the change from symmetrical to asymetrical spinnakers for he and his crew. As you can see in the second photo they had a good lead in Race 3 through the bottom gate.

In the coming weeks I will be up North to Yamba, back to Middle Harbour for the Farr40s then down to Melbourne for the ISAF World Cup Sail Melbourne, back to Middle Harbour for Sail Middle Harbour. This is a new event for the 420s, 470s, Finns and 29ers, which will be interesting as some of the new competitors should be out there.

Then there’s the Rolex Sydney Hobart race on Boxing Day, the 50th Sabot Nationals co sponsored by DeckHardware and 2014!