So that was 2014

As we came to the end of 2014, my job at this time of the year is to be a Race Officer for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race a role I’ve done since my last race in 2005. This year there were three lines once again. This had only happened twice before, last year with the addition of the Clipper Round the World fleet and in the 50th anniversary race. Whilst there was a modest increase of 20 boats on last year, with five 100’ers on the line, they had to have room to manoeuvre pre start. We had a great team again on board, a couple of International ROs, a National RO, a couple of Club ROs and two National judges. No mistakes were going to be made! What was better was that there were no OCSs, everyone was well behaved. just how we like it.

There’s been plenty in the media about the race, so I’ll leave it at that. Bring on the next one later this year, it’s certainly one of the better days out on Sydney Harbour.

The following day the Manly Junior Nationals started at Middle Harbour 16′ Skiff Club. DeckHardware are a sponsor of the class this season, so I was there for the duration with the van and replacement fittings. What was great to see, a couple of the skippers working and changing layouts on their own boats, something we try to encourage. If you sail the boat you should know how to look after it. I had one junior skipper asking all sorts of questions whilst rigging his boat and I was more than happy to assist.

This past weekend I went up to Lake Macquarie to the 16′ Skiff and Mosquito Catamaran titles at Belmont and Speers Point. Many of the 16s have always been good friends, especially with Melissa growing up with them in their junior days. Needless to say there’s always someone after something. “Phil, have you got the van here? I need a ….”. Simple answer was yes. With many of the 16s using DeckHardware products such as Liros rope, Allen fittings and TBS Speed Grip non-skid, it’s good to see how and why they are using what where. Congratulations go to Lee, Peter and Ricky on Brydens for the win.This team have been the front runner for the last couple of seasons and this year was no exception. It wasn’t the runaway many expected, the races I saw were both very close in the front pack. Fire Stopping and Sutech from Manly also giving them a nudge as well as a couple of the local Belmont boats.

I also went around the corner to have a look at the Mosquitos. This is one class I’m not familiar with, so it was an interesting hour or so talking to the competitors about their boats. Once again there are some ideas that translate from class to class. One skipper had made a modification to an Allen block, so a photo was taken and forwarded to Allen Brothers in England to have a look at. Always a work in progress, fitting out a new boat.

Next up on the start line is the Adams10m titles, a class close to my heart having sailed them for many decades. Will it be the Ben and Tim show again or will someone else throw a blinder?

Where to next? After 2014 where I drove to Victoria 3 times, Queensland twice and Perth by air, not to mention the 10 or so trips around New South Wales, I’m off to Tasmania in February. I haven’t been down there for a couple of years, so it’ll be interesting to see the changes.

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.

Getting busier

021 087 089 As if we didn’t have enough on at the moment. With Mel heading off to METS in Amsterdam, I’ve been to Western Australia, Southern Queensland and Victoria in the last couple of months as well as the local rounds  here in Sydney.

Just for something different, I headed down to Lake Illawarra for the Manly Junior State Titles round one. DeckHardware are sponsoring the class this season, so it was good to go and catch up with many of the parents and competitors. The DeckHardware van was kept busy prior to racing as they had had a bit of a blow the day before and there was plenty of repair work going on early on the Sunday morning. having been brought up in the class and Mel having one too, we have great affinity for the young sailors and their enthusiasm for the sport. With just on 50 boats sailing the competition was pretty hot, good to see. I’ll be following the class through their Nationals at Middle Harbour and the remaining rounds of their State titles.

I have also been doing the rounds of the local outlets and whilst at Woolwich Dock catching up with Paul Eldrid from One Sails in Perth. I stay with Paul when over there and he’s spending quite some time in Sydney setting up Craig Carters new offshore racer Indian for this years Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. I let him know he has to say Hi to the Start Team. This years race will again be something to watch with the five 100’ers on the front line. These are probably the fastest offshore monohulls currently sailing so it’ll be a bit hectic Boxing Day. Once again there will be three start lines like last year, busy.

With November 11 this week, it’s the one time of year I think about my Grandfather Tom Yeomans or Fa as the family knew him. Tom was a Gallipoli veteran and reading a copy of his diary that I have, the antics the young ANZACs got up to on the way were incredible. I highly doubt any youth today would be able to climb a Pyramid in Egypt for example! His original diary is in the possession of the NSW State Mitchell Library in the city. I can remember him taking me to the Vaucluse Bowling Club and whilst he had the odd beer or two, I played on the merry go round and rode my skateboard. Sadly illness dogged him in the last couple of years of his life, so it’s only my early years that I can vividly remember with him.

It’s all on, the season has started.

Last Saturday was the Annual Sailpast at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, a tradition that stems back some decades. As the Principal race officer, it was again the opportunity to lead the club fleet in the start boat past the marina to take the salute from the ‘Flags’. The there was a club house start for the opening race of the 2014/15 sailing season. However I had other things to do later that day, packing my bags for a work trip to Western Australia.

As in past trips, I’ve been able to stay with good friends interstate, first up it was Colin and Katie Spence and their young son Connor. Colin over the years has been a purchaser of the Liros rope and whilst he’s no longer doing the amount of rig work, he’s still quite active sailing his Moth. Colin is looking forward to the upcoming Worlds to be held in Sorrento and his Moth is constantly being up graded. It was wonderful to catch up with them again, although Connor at three years of age referred to me as being one of his Dads ‘boyfriends’. That caused a few laughs, one that we’ll probably remind him as he grows older.

Later in the week in Perth, I again had the occasion to stay with Paul Eldrid of One Sails Perth. Paul is the co-owner [with Scott Disley] of the General Lee, a rather quick offshore racer in WA. This season however he’s running a new 47’er that’s currently in transit to Sydney for this years Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. The Indian team have made the decision to sail out of Sydney for the qualifying races, so I’ll see a bit more of Paul and Scott in the lead up to Boxing Day. Looking forward to it.

As is the case, I had a fair bit on and quite a few to see and show some of the new DeckHardware  products. Again I had a bit of driving and whilst I didn’t get to either Albany or Geraldton, I still covered quite a bit south, north and around Perth and Fremantle, just under 1000kms. With a list of chandleries,  sailmakers and other users of the DeckHardware range some may think it repetitive, however with 18 suppliers and over 10,000 items, there’s always something that someone hasn’t seen and wants to look at. In this case it was the recent JDC product Windoo, an addition to the mobile phone for checking wind speed and other information.

Needless to say, showing this meant I had to go to a few of the clubs WA, something that’s pretty easy to do when one likes looking at boats. Finding the Farr727 on the slips brought back memories from the mid 1970’s, seeing the C&C99 ‘In the Red’ which had just been sold from MHYC to WA was also a surprise. Of course watching the build progress of many boats is always interesting. With the range we carry, there’s always something to suggest to the builder, Marelon plumbing by Forespar and Non Skid by TBS France being just a few. The Australian Women’s match racing was on at Royal Perth Yacht Club whilst I was there, always good to see the looks on some sailors faces when they see me in odd places. In this case is was eventual winner Katie Spithill Pellew and her brother/coach Tom. Also sailing was DeckHardware Ambassador and NSW 420 skipper Lauren Gallaway getting more time and experience on the water, good to see.

As in the past, there’s always something coming up. In this case I’m off to Queensland shortly followed by Victoria. Just a few more ‘clicks’ on the odometer.

 

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.

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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!

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