What a week and a bit.

Sunday before last I flew over to Perth to do the WA rounds seeing the DeckHardware customers over there.  It was a big couple of days, up to Hillarys, down to Bunbury and Mandurah, around Fremantle, back up to Hillarys and more in between, some 675kms. There’s always plenty going on, new roads and buildings, things change my bearings, where am I again? Turn on the GPS.. Unfortunately there were several who I didn’t get to see for a variety of reasons, next time eh Rachel and Colin?

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Once again I was hosted by Paul and Sarah who make these trips west possible. As it’s nice to come ‘home’ at the end of the day to a smile and ‘how was your day’ rather than an empty motel room. One evening we enjoyed the fireworks held for WA Day down at Fremantle Boat Harbour, a pleasant clear sky too.

I had a quick turnaround and was back in Sydney for literally only a couple of hours before heading off in a packed DeckHardware van. This time it was to the 50th Annual Keepit Kool Regatta halfway between Gunnedah and Tamworth, some 450kms north west from Sydney. DeckHardware has supported the Lake Keepit Sailing Club and this event for a few years now and as always it’s great to see ‘old but familiar faces again.  It was an easy drive there and I had dinner waiting for me courtesy of Marita Wilmot this time. Coming home? Well that was a different matter. There was the now usual holdup on the F3 from Morisset to Wyong due to road works, however this time there was also a 3 car pileup blocking two lanes near the exit at Hornsby. It was a crawl from before Mt White to the exit which added another two hours to the trip.

It was however a great weekend in that it wasn’t the chill of previous. Once the morning fog lifted it was a pleasant 17-18c around midday and less blankets and no portable heater at night. There were the two firepits outside the clubhouse where you could stand and rotate the body appropriately which was nice in the early evening. As well as providing a fully stocked canteen for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Saturday night was the Crustacean Challenge where Yabbies are ‘sold’ off and the winners collect, at which children and adults both enjoy the atmosphere. Sunday night they held a trivia competition for the keen ones. There really is something about the hospitality of the country clubs that keeps the sailors coming back.

On the water, I wasn’t involved this year but they had about 70 entries spread across 4 divisions, the largest for some time. Keepit Kool is known for being a generally light air event with the odd hour here and there lost in a drift-a-thon. This year there was enough breeze to get in 5 races on Saturday and Sunday, the last race on Monday was abandoned, then the breeze came in not long after. However everyone had started packing up and results were being tabulated. Water level was down around 13% from last years nearly70% but there was still enough and there’s plenty of rigging space too. Everyone has space, there’s no barging for a ramp, you just pick your spot at the waters edge.

Over the 50 years there’s been plenty who’ve been to Keepit, make a point in your diary for 2019 and if it’s been a while, you never know who you’ll run into. There were plenty of world and national champion sailors competing and enjoying the event for what it is, fun.

 

 

Back on the bike

Back on the bike as they say, or back out on the water.

Over the Easter weekend I spent a little time up at Bayview Yacht Racing Association, BYRA with the NS14s State titles. Having grown up over the road it was amazing the changes to the area and to Pittwater itself. I spent a day out on the start boat assisting the Race Officer and the changes were immense. What was really noticed having not been on Pittwater for a while is the amount of moorings that have encroached on to the sailing area, areas where we used to race are now covered by moored boats. BYRA for example used to have a channel that they could sail in and out through the moorings, nope, now filled with more moorings. It was enjoyable however to be out on ‘old waters’ again and just spectating.

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The white roof in the middle of the photo is where I spent my teenage years growing up, my parents built this house in the mid 70s.

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Last weekend I drove down to Batemans Bay for their annual regatta. It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the water running a few races and here was the classic example of why I’ve enjoyed doing yacht racing race management. Whilst BBSC is predominantly a yacht club, this regatta which has been running for several decades is catering for trailerables and off the beach classes. As a result the yacht owners and crews man the support and race management boats with a little extra RIB support from Canberra, so there’s plenty of experience and enthusiasm.

This year there were nine divisions with 57 entries across two courses, Divisions 1-6 ‘outside’ and the smaller including Sailablity, 7,8 & 9 inside Snapper Island. I had multiple divisions outside with classes like Flying Dutchmans, 505 and Lightweight Sharpies. With others like Lasers and Spirals and several multihull types like Hobies, Prindles and Wetas. Unfortunately the trailer yachts/sports boats were missing this year, pity as they missed some great sailing conditions.

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On Saturday the breeze was mainly out of the south as was the 2m swell giving plenty of volunteers issues bobbing around. The odd shower didn’t help but we managed to avoid the greater majority of precipitation. However the breeze was between 5-10knots so we got two races finished, although I shortened both by a lap. Sunday was far better, the swell had gone down and the breeze was up just a little to around 12knots. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions with the Sun out and I know many had fun on the reaching legs. Capsizes were very few, I only saw a couple and even those were of the Oops variety.

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 The forecast rain even held off till it was time to go home and then did it come down! There was plenty of localised roadside flooding. I don’t think I’ve driven in conditions like that for a while, the last time was coming south near Taree several years ago. The lightning show was pretty spectacular and as I drove north I was happy to leave it behind.

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 As always in these country events, the odd well known sailor will ‘pop up’ in a borrowed something or other. Tasar sailors like Rob Douglass and Rick Longbottom sailed a FD and a Laser respectively, well known skiff crew Cam McDonald was on a multihull this time and Nowra sailmaker Adrian Mills sailed his Hobie 14 to a division win.

The regatta is held around the ANZAC holiday weekend and it should be on everyone’s must do list. The years that I have been involved have had great sailing in great conditions and there’s pretty much a division for everyone. See you next year?

Already planning for next season has started with one club being in touch for their annual regatta in next February. Gosh, that’ll be 2019! Next up though is the 50th Keepit Kool Regatta in June and that is one that should be on the list of entering, I know I’ll be there. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of water like in the photo below.

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Back on the horse

Last weekend was the annual Sydney Harbour Regatta hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club and supported by the other major yacht clubs east of the bridge and RPAYC from Pittwater. As an example, the CYCA ran the Offshore boats, RSYS had Ynglings and Etchells, Manly Yacht Club ran the PHF handicap divisions and RPAYC had a mixture of sportsboat types.

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After being offshore last year with the Sydney 38s and Farr40s, it was back inshore on Hugh George [MHYC start boat]with the Adams10s again, this time alongside the Cavalier28s who were sailing their State titles as a part of this event.

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On Saturday we couldn’t have been given a better day, the sun was out and a NorEaster around 10knots. Just perfect, flat seas made it even better. The only downside for the competitors was the huge runout tide forcing a couple of individual recalls in both fleets. I did however advise them over the radio in the count down, that the start boat was hanging to tide not the wind and to note that it would push them over. All good as they recognised the fact and returned quickly and in one case even to win that race. I gave the Adams10s three laps and the Cavs two and the 10s with masthead spinnakers managed to catch the tail of the Cavs to ensure no hold up in a turnaround. It was a great day and no better had this summer. Three races ran without incident.

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Sunday however was a turnaround, miserable would be the word. A southerly change had come through forcing the Offshore boats inshore and many courses and divisions cancelled for the day. The Cavalier28s made the decision to not sail, so I only had a small but competitive fleet of Adams10s sailing. They of course loved the 20knot Southerly, hounds spinnakers and #3 jibs ruled the day however. In one race the third placegetter didn’t set a spinnaker, just poled out the jib and ran straight downhill faster than those trying to gybe spinnakers. There were a few broaches, the best was from No Friends who photographer Andrea Francolini managed to capture. We set them three short races, two lappers and 15 minutes in between to make it easy for all. Anchoring on the western ferry channel in the Sound is pretty uncomfortable in those conditions so the least time spent out there, the better.

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Having the Offshore boats inshore, including Marcus Blackmores new Hooligan and Paul Clitheroe Hobart winner Balance made for some exciting viewing as they came back to Manly from Shark Island. Hooligan on one run out ran the Manly Ferry, such was her speed, well in to the 20s. Balance gybed right beside us at speed, giving us great insight to the communication on board, no yelling just to the point. Neither boat would have been very dry given the amount of spray!

 

That was pretty much the last weekend at MHYC for the season. This weekend I’ll be down at Wallagoot Lake for their annual regatta including the Sabre States and NS14 traveller series. After that, also coming up is the NS14 States at BYRA on Pittwater at Easter and the Annual Batemans Bay Regatta following that. Then the Sydney Summer sailing season will be over. Time to hit the road again.

Nor-West for a day

Now and again I get the opportunity to teach a little about the art of being a Race Officer. Last June when at the Keepit Kool regatta near Gunnedah, I mentioned to some of the members that I was available to provide a session on race management.  Australian Sailing coordinated with the Club and I went up to the Lake on Saturday, about a 5 1/2 hr drive from Sydney to impart some of my knowledge and experiences. It was fantastic to see the effort taken as everyone present had quite a drive to the club, most over an hour from places like Gunnedah, Tamworth and Quirindi. The dam level is still pretty high at 63% but they were talking about those downstream needing water for farming, I hope that when the club hosts the 50th running of the Keepit Kool next June, there’s still plenty there.

 

I had a full room, pretty much every member of Lake Keepit Sailing Club attended and we went through the art of being a race officer. After nearly four hours of me talking, with a tea break in the middle, we finished up with a session on the clubs start boat running through a start sequence. The three members on the boat had an issue when I pointed out that we had a couple on the pontoon that were standing in front of the Orange flag. Hah, they were OCS and the Individual flag was called for, meaning a bit of a scurry to find it with a minute to go. Everyone enjoyed that part of the session especially, pushing each other, making sure it was done correctly.

 

For me the highlight of the day was meeting up with my first Manly Junior skipper. I had crewed for a little while at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club before Dad built my first Manly Junior when I was about 9. It was great to catch up with Keith Garrett after all this time, however he has now confirmed that his sail number was 268 and the name was Dragonfly, not the 245 as I had thought. It was funny answering his questions, ‘Did you or your father sail at RPAYC – Yes’. ‘Did you crew on a MJ – Yes’, ‘My name is…Wow!’. We had only a little time to chat, no doubt, the next time I go to Keepit we’ll talk some more.

 

After nearly all day at Keepit, it was time to head home again. The priority was to be home in time to sit in front of the TV and watch a car race on Sunday. And what a race it was at Mount Panorama, this year had a bit of everything. Rain and wet tyres, no safety car for something like 80 laps then a few, cars diving off at the end of Conrod heading out of the track to Bathurst City and of course the dramas at the end with dry slick tyres and having to conserve fuel. Great to watch and good for the sport to have the ‘little team that could’ win.

Back into boat watching on the water

Two weeks ago was the first day out on the harbour for the 2017-8 Summer sailing season on Sydney Harbour. It commenced with a good southerly for the McConaghy38s regatta. We got in one race out on The Sound, before the conditions got a little too rough. We then moved down the harbour and around the same time the conditions eased to make it a nice day. Four races were run and Leslie Greens Team Ginger came out on top winning three of the four. Good racing.

On Sunday morning and looking to get in another three races, it was the usual ‘Hurry up and wait’ call. There was nothing on the harbour, just millpond. We were in the middle and it was great having a chat with those north at Manly16s and also with the CYCA start team who were running a match racing event down the harbour, talking about when and how much it was going to blow. After nearly two hours postponement a similar breeze to the day before came in, a nice 8-10knot sea breeze. Once again Ginger lead. Not by much, but enough.

So it was a similar track to the day before, Sydney Harbour busy as usual now that the weather is pleasant. All the normal dodgems like other fleets racing, the Manly Ferries. Sydney Harbour, it was great to be out on the water again. It was also great spending the weekend with the Clinton brothers, Phil and Giff and getting the job done.

After a weekend off the water but still talking sailing at the Sydney Clubs Conference, it was out on the water again this past weekend. First up I had to do a couple of safety audits on two Farr40s before they went offshore, not a major issue other than the early start. Saturday’s racing was the usual point score however for only two divisions. The Open’s were racing offshore and the Adams10s were down in Melbourne to defend the Waitangi Cup, the annual interstate class challenge. The other inshore divisions were greeted with a typical building summer Nor’easter, just nice. It was great to be anchored back off Quarantine at the finish line, just watching the boats go by.

 

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Out on the water again on Sunday with the Farr40s this time, a small fleet of five as some crews were off doing other events internationally. Close racing though, with all finishing in around a minute. The old Transfusion is now Outlaw, sailed by the Quick family and came away with the series win after the offshore on Saturday and the three inshore races on Sunday. The Melbourne crew on Double Black ended up second, enjoying their weekend in Sydney as racing was cancelled in Melbourne on Sunday due to extreme conditions.

 

We set up the course on Sunday to the prevailing Westerlies and whilst it shifted right during the day and the gusts came and went, it was good racing and entertaining to watch. The start team did a great job assisting me, two had never been out before and two were out helping for only the second time, it all ran pretty smoothly. All also enjoyed the experience and the chance to watch some good racing and tactics.

There’s more Farr40 events to come over the summer, they are a great bunch to work with and I enjoy the rapport at the end of the day back on the dock and in the clubhouse.

Keeping Kool

I spent last weekend out at Lake Keepit near Gunnedah with the DeckHardware van. This wasn’t my first time there and hopefully won’t be the last. This year the local sailing club held the 49th Annual Keepit Kool regatta with close to 50 boats across 3 major divisions – dinghies, trailerables and multihulls.

 

On previous occasions, I’ve seen the water level as low as 13% and it was quite a steep drop/walk down to the water’s edge. This year however with a level around 63%, it was just there so to speak, not a hike or even a drive back up to the clubhouse.   Once again the clubs moveable trailer pontoon was used to good effect and I’m a little surprised that other clubs haven’t picked up on the system. It would work wonders at Lake Jindabyne for example where the tide is in at the end of winter and out towards the end of summer. Something that does work at Keepit is the amount of rigging space. Everyone has a spot on the shoreline and some even set up their vans/marquees marking their spot for coming ashore. Naturally it’s non tidal, so even those trailerables who leave their boats on the trailer overnight, drive forward a little so the wheels are out of the water and that’s it. Those who leave their boats in the water overnight put out a bow anchor and tie up the stern to the trailer, not going far! Those dinghy sailors who carry or dolly in would only need a boat length and they are in the water. This photo is from a few years back when ‘the tide’ was out, so you can see how far down the level was then compared to now.

Sailing wise the competitors were greeted with winds up to 8-10knots from the south east with it dropping as the occasional rain cloud appeared and hindered the racing on Saturday and Sunday. Monday was a typical Keepit with a shorter course as everyone struggled in the glass out conditions.

 

 

One of the things that Keepit is known for is the evening’s entertainment, the Yabby Races are a feature I’m yet to see elsewhere. Just another of those fun country events that I like going to. There’s been plenty of wellknown sailors compete over the years, have a look at some of the names on the walls of the clubhouse.

 

See you next year for the 50th?

 

 

That’s it for the season

As the summer sailing season comes to a close, I’ve been a little quiet the last few weeks. Over Easter however, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days at Wangi Sailing Club. DeckHardware has supported the NS14 class for a few years now and it was pleasing to see 45 competitors out on the water each day. The NACRA15s were also there as a selection process for the Australian Youth Team.

As always, whilst I stayed ashore, I keep note on what’s happening afloat and Tony Outteridge did a wonderful job as the  Race Officer getting in all the races. The conditions were generally light and the AP flew on more than one occasion, on Friday he managed to get three races in late in the day with the sailors returning ashore as the Sun went down.

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It’s always enjoyable at these events, catching up with those who I see at others such as the Wallagoot Lake team who made the trek to the lake, some for the first time. Then there are the other sailors who we see quite often as they tinker with whatever class for an event coming up.

This past weekend was my last event of the season, I was at Batemans Bay for their annual event as PRO for the first time. The club had contacted me last year after finding out that I’d been at a lot of the other South Coast events. I really enjoyed this one as it is one of the largest with multiple divisions including smaller dinghies, trailerables, yachts and multihulls. There was also a Sailability division which is great to see them included, I love the enthusiasm and the smiles on their faces when they are out on the water. There were some 50+ boats over 9 divisions on the two course areas with some classes having enough for One Design racing within a division.

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We had some great weather, 8knots on Saturday increasing to 12s on Sunday with flat seas and clear skies. Apparently this was a huge improvement on previous years. I couldn’t complain. The volunteer teams supporting the regatta by acting as safety and mark layers did an excellent job especially with the wind changes on Saturday. Needless to say, this was also one of those events where competitors sail past the start boat and suddenly realise who the PRO is. Unfortunately the rigging area for most is away from the club and not all came to the briefing to find out. Good to see a few of them off the water though.

It’s now that time again where we sit down and plan what’s happening over the coming months and try to fit everything in.