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.

Down South and 3605kms later

Following on from the interstate trips to Western Australia and Southern Queensland, this time I was off down south to Victoria via the ACT. Friday morning was an early start to try and beat the Sydney peak hour and the dreaded M5 to Canberra. Four hours later, not too bad I suppose, Driving in to Canberra Yacht Club to meet up with Matt Owen the CEO. Like many who I ring, Matt took advantage of the DeckHardware van calling through and pre ordered, then came out to see what’s new. Unfortunately time was against him due to another appointment so we didn’t have the chance to spend as much time as we had liked. After dropping off a Sydney Sailboat Expo poster and going through a few items and I was off to Victoria.

Driving through the Snowy Mountains at this time of year suits me, I prefer Palm Trees to snow. Those who haven’t done the trip should as it’s a great alternative to the coast road. I arrived in Paynesville in time to drop off a Flying Eleven mainsail and jib for Stuart Loft to have a twilight launching and sail of his new acquisition. Lofty had arranged with Andrew [Dolly] Divola for me to be the go between/courier, timing. I hung around Paynesville and Metung seeing Aaron Hill who operates outlets in both towns, on Saturday morning. Again Aaron was one of those who took the opportunity to have a carton of DeckHardware products delivered. Like many he also took advantage of the van to purchase more. Saturday was also the Opening Day for the Great Lakes Sailing Club, so I took all of that in too, always interesting to see how other clubs do it. Then off to Sandringham, more K’s.

After dropping off another carton locally, I was off to Warrnambool Sunday, pretty much a days drive again. Pleasant though as the road is more and more familiar with each trip. Coming through Colac for example, how much water do they have? Enough to sail? Almost this time, I’ve seen the water well down in the past but they must have had a bit. I know they had more as it rained for much of the time I was there!

Monday morning and a good start with a couple of local customers showing some of the range out of the van. This trip was looking good from a sales view. Off again for the 3 hour tour back to Geelong and updating more customers. Tuesday morning was another good sale with one customer, nice. After seeing 12 different outlets, I finished the day on the other side of Port Phillip Bay, this time at Sorrento. It’s a good hike around the bay, about 100kms I think, there is the ferry of course but I have to see those on the way. Wednesday I started the day locally and worked my way anti-clockwise this time, another 13 seen, a busy but again a productive day. Showing off the new product range and talking about the upcoming Sydney Sailboat Expo is enjoyable but takes time. Those who I left SSE posters will were all receptive on the idea that Melissa and her team have been working on, some talking about making the trip for the show next April.

Thursday  was not quite as busy number wise, however those I saw were excellent. I spent some time with Andrew McDougall and Andrew Morris at KA Sail discussing the upcoming Moth Worlds at Sorrento. Amac also showed me the new Waszp drawings, I’m lucky to be one of only a handful to see his new design. Amac is hoping to be able to sail one at Sorrento this January, hopefully we’ll have a production Waszp at SSE as they plan on having two boats there. Another who I saw Thursday was Martin Sly, one of the better boatbuilder/repairers in Melbourne. Martin has a rather large shed, full of all types of sail and power requiring his attention. Like others, he also came to the van to shop. Friday was down to Western Port to see those there, followed by coming back to Sandringham at Lunchtime. After a couple of hours at the two chandleries and the club, it was in to the city for the last stop of the week.

In previous trips, I had a good run out of the CBD. This time however it took over an hour to hit the Hume Highway. I only got as far as Tarcutta before stopping for the night. 3605kms, 47 different DeckHardware customers and eight days later, home.

I’ll be back to Sandringham in December to help officiate at ISAF Sailing World Cup/Sail Melbourne. In the lead up to the event, I’ll be attending the ISAF International Race Officers conference, hopefully in the New Year I’ll be an IRO. Studying to come.

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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.

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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It’s been a big week

I’ve been down in Sandringham Victoria helping officiate at the ISAF World Cup of Sailing at Sandringham Yacht Club. In order to keep up my accreditation as a National Race Official, I volunteered my time to help out on the water. I was the RO in charge of laying the marks on Alpha Course with the able assistance of Dennis and John from Black Rock Yacht Club, who also have many years of experience. We looked after the 470s, 420s, Finns and later in the week the OKs. On the final day we also had the Libertys, Skuds, Laser 4.7s and 29ers.

The conditions early in the week were quite rough on Port Phillip Bay with strong southerlies, later in the week we had 5-7knots for a couple of days and on the final day a gusty Northerly to 25knots. All courses bar the Kiteboarding lost Tuesday and the 49ers and 29ers also lost Wednesday.016

I hung around Tuesday till 1500, then took the decision to say nothing will happen and dropped down the Sport Phillip Marine at Mornington one of many chandleries I wanted to see whilst in Melbourne.

As a result the sailing instructions were changed from 2 races per day to 3 on most courses in order to catch up. Most classes were able to sail the full complement with our race track finishing off those who didn’t.

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It was also a great challenge to those employed at Sandringham having to work around the 300 odd competitors. The slipway wotrkers and delivery drivers all had challenges in going about their jobs, it was a credit to all that it seemed to all work seemlessly.

Daily we had several meeting prior to going out on the water, a RO meeting and then just before leaving, a meeting of all those on Alpha with the plans for the day. Whilst at times it seemed to be a bit of overkill, it is a neccessary evil, covering all bases as event organisers. None of this was new, but rather an insight in to the way others work.

I did however have some time early each day to look after the requirements of the competitors by opening the DeckHardware van with those products I brought down. Requests for Liros rope being the prime and others from shackles up, I was able to help all except one competitor who wanted his Laser vang spliced as well. That I didn’t have time for as I was running late for the boat.

It was a great week and I hope that all the competitors we looked after were happy with the decisions we made out on the water. I certainly enjoyed the time working with the guys from Black Rock as daily we agreed on our thoughts on the course as distinct from those made by the startboat. If I have the chance I’d like to work with them again, Dennis and John [who flew down from the Gold Coast] were a joy to spend over 8 hours a day with. We also had Tracey over from Adelaide, Sylvia from Brisbane and Robyn how had last helped me at the NSW Youth Champs helping the locals.

As for the sailing? The fleets were down in size being the first event after the London 2012 Olympics bar the Kiteboards who had the biggest fleet. It was good to see the Sydney guys whose races i have been running, all come down. It was also good to see many others who I catch up with from time to time, some unfortunately, a fleeting quick chat and then off to the next briefing or de-brief.

Next up is the Southern Line for the Rolex Sydney Hobart race on Boxing Day, it’ll be good to be back with my own Middle Harbour Yacht Club team again and on a larger and dryer boat!

 

Summer in Melbourne

Yeah right, try telling that to the 400 odd competitors at Sail Melbourne.020 The temperature when I arrived at Sandringham was 14c! Summer?

Yesterday all but the Kiteboarders were cancelled due to the adverse conditions. At this mornings de-brief even some of the more exerienced Kiters said it was at the top end of what they could sail at.

Today all sailed bar the Libertys, Skuds, 49ers and the 49er FX as again the conditions were not too good. Whilst I’m out on Alpha course I don’t get to see to much if any of the others sailing, but what we had would have been pretty much the same across all fleets. The breeze was in the 20s for the majority of the 3 races held today, one gust we saw 26knots on our JDC Eole. You know it’s windy when you see a 470 going to windward sailing up a wave and going totally airborne. One of those classic shots, that you wish you took rather than watching happen. All I could think of was the landing, but these guys are amongst the best and handled it with ease.

In the first photo it looks pretty good, but…as you can see from the second click, there’s no mark! The seas on Port Phillip Bay are all wind driven and after 48hours they were around the 2m mark. Not really the best for a small runabout carrying the marks for the day. Mind you coming back in was a good ride. 022

 

It’s been a hard few days for us on the mark boat. Monday we had a few issues with water in the fuel and alarms going off. We ended up returning to Sandringham and having the mechanic have a quick look, then heading out again. Tuesday was a hurry up and wait, nothing happenned till the PRO pulled the pin after 1500.

 

Today, it all happenned pretty quick, the start boat went out and checked the conditions and returned to the club. I literally had time to go back to the van, get changed, grab my RO gear and head out. The RO signaled a windward return, hooray, only one mark to lay and retrieve out of the mud. Denis Finn from Black Rock is our driver and did an excellent job trying to keep us dry. Mind you the fore hatch needs some Gaffa tape!

 

Tomorrow? Who knows, but knowing our luck it’ll be left over seas and no wind.

 

Final preparation day

Today was the final preparation day before ISAF World Cup of Sailing at Sail Melbourne both for the officials and for those competing,

I had an early start, down to Sandringham before 0800 in order to get a good parking spot for the DeckHardware van. Hopefully I can jig the same spot each day. The routine for today was  – set up shop, attend briefing, set up shop, attend briefing, set up shop and final briefing. The first meeting was introducing the teams on each course, as this is my first Sail Melbourne aside from the PRO, I know no one. The second meeting was out on the marina seeing the boat I’m on and the equipment provided. The third meeting was the officials welcome drinks with the local mayor followed by the competitors official briefing.

There are plenty of officials with experience from the Olympics down, on each boat I think the minimum is a state race official. the are plenty of nationals like myself just helping out. The guys I’m partnered with from Black Rock have over a decade each in running races on Port Phillip Bay.

I think I’m in good hands, just need the weather to co-operate.