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.

 

The Adams10 years

The Joe Adams designed 10m debuted in the mid 70s and quickly gained a foothold at Middle Harbour in the inshore divisions. Originally built by Paul Kelly and then a few others including Dave Dillon, the A10 is the perfect harbour racer I think. You can race fully crewed with either 6 or 7 or shorthanded with as few as two, which I did over several decades.

A couple of the early owners were the Partridge brothers John and Kerry who owned Pear Tree and The Bird and I did a few races with them before settling down sailing with Pat Carroll [father of Matt, CEO of Australian Sailing/formerly Yachting Australia] on his original cabin top version , The Carpenter. A couple of crew back then in the early 80s included Nigel Holman before he bought the original Cuckoos Nest and Tim Gallego who still comes back each year from England to get his A10 fix.

Pat then upgraded the cabin top 10 to the last of the Timber seaters that Paul Kelly built. This boat went on to become Rock Solid/Dukes/Skinny Flat White. We had some great years sailing this boat on Wednesday’s with his brother Bill and Dave Hannon, father of sailmaker Tony. Another Saturday regular was Ian Sutherland who shares an ironic co-incidence with Robyn and I. Ian and his wife share the same birthdays as Robyn and I!

The 10s have for many years alternated the championships between Lake Macquarie Yacht Club and Middle Harbour Yacht Club, the two strongholds with the odd change to Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at Pittwater and Gosford Sailing Club. These trips were mandatory offshore and there were plenty of easy and plenty of on the nose, not fun on an inshore racing boat with internal leads. Nowhere to go below to have a rest, without wet weather gear on.

The majority of these were of course done shorthanded either two or three up, great when it’s nice, wet on the nose and boring as all hell when you motor all the way. Those trips, you would sail a bit, motor a bit etc with the 6hp outboard ringing in your ear on the stern. I can’t remember who [The Doc?], but someone once borrowed a larger 8hp and thrashed us all motoring home, then there were the Pittwater guys who towed theirs up behind a large cruiser. The heydays were back in the 80s and early 90’s with up to 30 boats on the line, great racing amongst plenty of recognised champion sailors.

On a couple of occasions the girls joined me at the lake as we’d taken either one of Dibs’ boats or my fathers’ Thystle as accommodation. Mel had her first dinghy up there at the age of 5 or 6 sailing around the moorings, very much a family atmosphere around the regatta. She too grew up sailing with Pat Carroll, who would give her the helm to bring the boat in and out of the marina early on.

The White family had stopped racing offshore and decided to enter the A10 fleet with Salamander111 in partnership with Chris Watt, another of the Salamander11 crew. After a couple of seasons, it was noted that Extender was on the market and so a return to a timber seater 10 was made. Extender was renamed SSV after their family business, more on that boat later.

I had returned to sailing once again with Pat and he jumped at the chance to grab Cold Comfort from Tony Hill and she became The Carpenter111. The Carpenter11 initially became Dukes and then Rock Solid with a bunch of skiffies on board. I sailed with Pat Carroll on his three Adams 10s on and off for about 20 years, never quite in the placings but on our day ruffled a few feathers. It was however enjoyable sailing as Pat was ever the gentleman both on and off the water. There were a lot of Wednesdays, two handed and even a few night races usually sailed 4 or 5 up and more than a few beers during and of course how many trips to Lake Macquarie and back.

It was around 2000 that I returned to sailing with the Whites, Steve and Greg on SSV and along with Melissa, we were the core crew. We did all the usual A10 stuff, every other year up to the lake etc, competition was fierce as SSV was pretty competitive despite being one of the older timber seaters. After just missing out winning on the lake in 2001 we finally won one in 2002 and with a race to spare. It was perfect conditions for SSV, light with a few shifts. In one race we were OCS at the start but at the top mark, back in the race, somehow it all clicked that year in the championship.

At the end of that season, Mel made the call and decided to put her money in to a boat. She debated on old 1/2tonners and Adams10s of course. We looked at several boats but given our experience in the class, none stood up. One day at the club, I was talking to Ken White about not finding a suitable boat and he said ‘make me an offer’. He’d been thinking for a while about another cruising boat, talk about timing. So Extender/SSV became Animus and Mel at 22 was the youngest and only female skipper at MHYC. I stayed on the main, where I’d spent the greater majority of my time in the class and in the first season with Mel on the helm, she managed to equal Ben Nossiter for Gun Boat Trophy, number of guns at the club something few had achieved over the years when Ben dominated. Despite Ben not winning the championships. We’d beaten him to that!

Brigitta was a new boat and crew to the club and I offered to sail with Martin Chalk one winter in order to help them out and bring them up to speed. With many changes to the layout and by bringing them closer to the fleet, these guys had a lot of fun in the early noughties. With the invention of the HCW 24hr race around the lake I ‘borrowed’ Brigitta for the event and yet another overnight trip to the lake. With a pulled together crew, only one of whom had seen an A10 before, we won line honours even after a short period aground at Warners Bay. Mel sailed Animus with an all-female crew and it was around midnight that we finally caught them. I was below and when I poked my head up, ‘who’s that?’ , looking at the navigation lights nearby. ‘Animus’, finally after some 10 hours we’d caught up to them.

The following year, I ‘loaned’ Brigitta to Blake Middleton and Tom Freeman whilst I jumped back on board Animus with Mel. Blake had flown out the previous year for the HCW from Wayzata USA and Tom was Mel’s longest serving crew having also sailed with her on the Flying 11. The four of us sailed the two boats up to the lake for the second edition in a lovely easterly. Blake and I sailed both boats back during the following week in a couple of sweet NorEasters, great when that happens. Animus had a good tussle with Chris Williams and his T7 crew and they finally got away in the last couple of hours, but only just. Blake and I went on to run the next few editions of the HCW as the Race Officers.

Over the decades of sailing Adams 10s at Middle Harbour, there’s only a couple that I haven’t sailed on, three I think! They are a great class for around the harbour and have the ability to do coastal trips as well. One trip north was Mel, myself and Damo Bassett, Mel’s forward hand on Animus. We’d motor sailed overnight in company with Ben Nossiter on Sirius and at sunrise we were a little surprised at how big the southerly swell was when we went to set the kite!

One trip back was just Damo and I. We had a nice Northerly to Cape Three Points at the northern entrance to Broken Bay, before the forecast westerly hit and hit it did. Hot and windy, necessitating dropping the main and continuing under #3 headsail, the smallest aboard. The heat dried the salt spray on our clothing too. One of the harder trips offshore in the 10, but back in one piece. The majority were deliveries in optimum conditions, either downwind or reaching. Several were just motoring with the 6hp on the back ringing in your ear.

In the 10+ years I’ve been a National Race Officer I’ve run racing for the class, I’ve always enjoyed watching the racing. Especially the bottom/gate roundings and the various spinnaker drops. Needless to say I have a large portfolio of evidence in mark rounding stuff ups. Next up for the Adams 10s, I’ll be again running their National Titles at Lake Macquarie Yacht Club in January 2017.

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Animus at the boat end

Time for a little reminiscing

I’ve been told that my first time sailing was being put in a 505 spinnaker bag whilst still in nappies. Dad [Peter Yeomans] was a lifelong sailor having grown up at Vaucluse and sailing VJs at the local yacht club. He then continued sailing 14’skiffs whilst studying in the USA where he met my Canadian born mother.

Upon returning to Sydney, they settled at Newport and Dad was sailing at ‘The Alfreds’ with George and Tim Clarke in a Dragon, KA44. In the early Sixties he started building his first yacht on the front lawn and at the same time building me my first Manly Junior Pipsqueak. Needless to say I learnt heaps about building boats whilst helping Dad, be it painting and varnishing, the other end of a copper Rib rivet or steaming the ribs in an old 44. I sailed as much as I was allowed as a kid growing up and this continued when we moved to the waterfront at Bayview.  Dad sailed Temeraire in many JOG events both out of Pittwater and Sydney Harbour where I often joined him as a crew. I can remember on one occasion, Dad dropping me and a couple of school mates off at Lavender Bay to sail her back to Pittwater, we would have been 16 at the time.

 

I sailed two MJs, updating Pipsqueak to Leucothea when the Mk2 design came in. From there I crewed on many yachts at RPAYC, midweek and Saturdays whilst sailing F11s at RPAYC, then Fireballs and 505s at BYRA. Upon leaving school I started work at Performance Sailcraft Australia building Lasers. Initially we unpacked containers of boats from Canada before the moulds arrived from New Zealand which had started production before us. Naturally sailing Lasers was a must and over the next 7-8 years I competed in many events in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Yeppoon also including many NSW country regattas like at Wallis Lake near Forster. My first Aussie built boat was 14127 and the last of many, 70000. These were great years and many of my opposition have become lifelong friends.

I delivered new Lasers up and down the east coast, although one trip was made to Darwin. PSA had two specially built trailers, one held 6 boats and the other 10. With another employee Les,  we towed the larger of these to Darwin in mid ’75, six months after Cyclone Tracy demolished the city on Christmas Day. It was one of those eye openers, I hadn’t been there before, nor had I really experienced or seen the power of nature. Les and I arrived around Midday and the locals wanted to go sailing, so we did. Unpacked the car and trailer and went sailing. We had written on the outside packing before leaving – Instant fleet just need water. Tick.

I spent a year working in Brisbane in the mid-70s and continued sailing Lasers and whilst there bought one of the first Windsurfers to Queensland. Upon returning to PSA in Sydney and then working at Sydney Sailboat Centre, I met Robyn and as they say, the rest is history.

I moved from RPAYC to MHYC and commenced sailing both inshore and offshore on a variety of yachts. Robyn and I started campaigning a Farr6000 which SSC imported from NZ. We had a lot of fun over a couple of years with our third crew Marita Wilmot.  Soon a change of occupation gave me added days on the water and I rarely missed a Wednesday for 20 years.

 

 

Australian Combined High Schools Sailing Championships at Belmont NSW

051Last week saw me up at the Combined High Schools Sailing Championship at Belmont on the shores of Lake Macquarie. Known as the CHS, it’s an institution amongst all teenagers to grab a boat, any boat and compete. Over the years many well know Australian sailors have competed in a variety of classes. I can remember a young Nathan Outteridge sailing a 505, Nathan and Sarah Wilmot sailed in borrowed Magic25s and my daughter Melissa sailed a Europe dinghy one year. This year was no exception with  Melges20, VXone and even a Nacra5.8 sailed by 29er sailor Harry Price. As with many of these events over the years, it’s great to watch the boat handling skills of the next generation of Aussie sailors, many no doubt spurred on by the successes of their compatriots in the last couple of years overseas.

Weather wise we had everything, from sunny drifters to blown out races due to too much wind and driving rain on the last day which saw some pack up and leave early. With over 140 entries spread across some 35 different classes in 5 different divisions, it was quite difficult to keep track of most other than the few you knew. This was one event I was glad to be ashore at. I was however kept quite busy at the DeckHardware regatta support van, both first thing in the morning and even during racing. In several instances, I had sailors come ashore with something broken, a quick repair and they were out again hopefully not missing too much.

The results showed quite a mixture across the fleet, with the leading boat a 16′ skiff, followed by a Maricat and the leading Flying Eleven. http://www.topyacht.net.au/results/2013/chs/combinedhs/SGrp2.htm

On the Thursday night Melissa spent some time organising an evening with Gold Medalist Liesl Tesch, multiple Olympian Karyn Gojnich, Laser sailor and coach James Burman, Americas Cup and maxi boatbuilder Lindsay Stead and the Sailing Chix [Nix, Nic and Mel]. Nix compared the evening with each speaker giving a short Bio and then questions from the floor were asked. It was interesting those who asked and the type of questions. “What do you do with crews who don’t listen?” “How do you deal with breakages?” Many of those there were delighted to see Liesl’s Olympic medals [she has the full set from wheelchair basketball and sailing] and have photos taken with her.

DeckHardware again provided some products as prizes and we look forward to continuing supporting the youth sailing in the future.

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