Short trip to Brisbane

Last week I spent a bit of time in Brisbane. It was a combination of a few things happening. First up I attended the Queensland Yachting Association Club conference held over two days at Southbank. This was the first of many put on by Australian Sailing in each state.  As an AS sponsor, it was interesting and will be interesting to see what’s happening in each state. I’ll also be attending the Victorian, West Australian and New South Wales events.

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Grafton locals

In the middle of all of this was of course the final racing for the Americas Cup. I was able to stay with the QYA President Ken Hurling for a few nights. It was ‘great’ to get up at 0300 and watch what was going on in Bermuda with another sailor. Ken was able to keep up to speed with some of it through his daughter Suellen in Auckland as well, a quick call to her to check on the Kiwi feelings. It’ll certainly be interesting to see the format for the next challenge, will it be the TV spectacle of the foiling multihulls or a return to more traditional match racing on monohulls which most active sailors prefer.

Then there was Queensland Youth Week, an annual regatta at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. This event is rather large with over 200 competitors from Qld, NSW, Vic and even from Western Australia sailing in 10 different classes.  It’s always good to come to these events, even when I’m not volunteering for the on water side of things. Catching up with a range of friends, customers, those I haven’t seen for a while and run into as well as keeping a keen eye on what everyone is using where in terms of rope and other equipment.

I also took in a little drive one afternoon, it took nearly 5 hours in a roundabout route, west of Brisbane to see a non-marine customer of DeckHardware. It’s always interesting to see how a manufacturer utilises marine ropes and fittings in a harsh environment on the land. I spent an enjoyable couple of hours with Matt and his team thinking of different ideas and combinations for his business applications. You think you have one solution sorted and then one word or phrase sparks another option, which it did in a few circumstances. Always good to think outside the square.

Next up is Victoria followed by Perth, a drive then a flight and before we know it the Summer sailing season will be upon us.

 

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?

 

 

North again, then North West

With the close of the Summer sailing season and a slowdown in the on water volunteering, it’s back on the road. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been up in southern Queensland doing the rounds of the marine industry showing off new products.

I spent a few days on the Gold Coast first up doing the rounds, taking in a boat show and attending the opening of an Australian Sailing Team base at Southport. With the range that DeckHardware distributes, there’s always something new and this trip was all about getting the word out there.

Thursday afternoon saw me at Southport Yacht Clubs base at Hollywell, where Mat Belcher has set up a base for the Australian 470 squad. Middle Harbour Yacht Club is the home base for the Australian Sailing Team, however this is a first for a class to have its own home. Southport will give a variety of options with the local tidal flow and the ability to go offshore for race training without the Sydney Harbour ferries impeding. I guess that it will also free up a bit more space on the MHYC deck for the other classes as Tokyo2020 nears. When finished, they will have the ability to house under cover several fully rigged 470s.

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Over the next third of the trip it was up to Brisbane and what seems to be a regular visit to Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to have a look at the rebuild of Defiance. Craig is doing a wonderful job and along the lines of do it once and do it properly. His only time span is to have it ready for summer.   Since I last looked, it would appear to be minimal change, but to the keen eye, one can see the differences. His next step is to remove the engine and V Drive and replace with an updated model, this will make heaps of difference. Robyn and I can only grin when we think of the days of sailing in and out of the old MHYC marina. One thing that did strike me this trip was just how small she is. How did we manage to fit everyone in for a week aboard for the likes of the RSYS annual cruise? Then there are the memories of the Two Handed racing in the early 80s, it was easy because she is small and the gear easy to grab.

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The final third of this trip was up to the Sunshine Coast, not really a bad thought in a Sydney winter. The only difference was waking up to the early morning fog, it did clear up pretty quick though to a few brilliant days. Once again it was nice to catch up with everyone and for those who I didn’t see this time, I’ll be back north again soon.

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This coming weekend is another road trip, this time North West for the 49th annual Keepit Kool regatta at Lake Keepit near Gunnedah.  On previous occasions I’ve been there’s been little water, less than 15%, so with the current level of over 60% it’s hoped that everyone who has been before will return and those who haven’t make the most of the opportunity. Fresh water sailing at a country club on a Lake that is 2/3rds the size of Sydney Harbour in volume. The photo below shows the water in 2014 way down there. At over 60% there’s certainly a lot more room and I’m glad I’m not laying and pulling up the marks as it’ll be a lot deeper!

I’m looking forward again to the clubs hospitality and the evenings yabby racing. Who else is coming?

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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

The Farr40s

After nine days on the water and with some 34 races started and finished, that’s it for the Farr40s at Middle Harbour for this season. Next up for them is their World Championships also to be held here in Sydney but by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. It’s been a hard but enjoyable couple of months out on the waters of Sydney Harbour. The volunteer race management team have again done a professional job with the Fleet happy with the racing provided.

As is usually the case, the typical weather conditions weren’t there. We had drifters and blows with only a few of the races in a nice summers NorEaster. From our view it was great racing and those who hadn’t watched how the Farrs line up and do their start were impressed, full speed and hiking right on the line as the flag’s dropped. Yes we had the odd individual and general recall but you have that in any fleet. As always there’s a few ‘bombed’ gate mark roundings, too late with the headsail hoist and/or spinnaker drops. We saw spinnakers go under the bow whilst leading, ending up with the boat having to back off in order to get it back on board. It’s always nice though too, to see the polished roundings, pole away and the brace hand held till the drop. The volunteers who come out now and again always pick up and ask ‘why do they do it that way?’. When you watch it week in and out, it’s routine, however those who only watch now and again pick up how the top crews do it. The start team of course are all experts.

Good luck to all the MHYC teams at the upcoming Pre Worlds and Worlds, I’m sure many will be on the podium.

Before the two final weeks of Farr40s, I had a weeks trip to Victoria in the DeckHardware van on another road/sales trip. This time I went via the coast, stopping on Saturday at Lake Wallagoot. It had been around a year since I’d been there running a Yachting Australia Race Officers course, so it was a chance to see what and how they implemented some of the ISAF/WS rules. Like most, for a small club they have a core band of enthusiasts taking it in turns to be the mark layer and starter for the day. Looks like I’ll be down there again in March as they’ve asked me to run their annual regatta.

On Sunday I headed in to Paynesville to drop off an order to Hills Marine. Of course there’s always new product to show.

From Monday through to Thursday, I went anti clockwise around Port Phillip Bay, seeing a range of customers both old and new showing some of the DeckHardware product lines. Thursday afternoon it was time to head north as there was some yacht racing on the following weekend. Another 2787 kms on the odometer.

In the coming weeks, there’s another lot of regattas. Some I’m officiating at and others where the DeckHardware van will be there in support.

 

Adams10s

I’ve been involved in the Adams10s for over three decades now, as crew, as owner with Melissa and as the Principal Race officer at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. The class is one that’s close to my heart, having sailed on 12 of them over the years. You can sail short handed, do No Extras like Wednesday and Thursdays or race fully crewed on weekends and in various regattas. They are an all round boat. Those that sail them agree.

This past Australia Day weekend saw the class back at MHYC for their annual championships. Unfortunately there were no outsiders, either from Lake Macquarie, Pittwater, up the harbour or interstate. The clubs fleet of ten competitive boats had 7 races to battle it out again. Saturday saw a lovely Noreaster up to 18knots, so I managed to get in 4 races for them. Sundays forecast was for light and variable and that’s what we had. I held them ashore for a while and just as we set the course the breeze changed 40 degrees – typical. So we only had the time to get one race away. Monday brought Southerly winds and a little drizzle for the final two races. As it was Australia Day there was also the added bonus of having to avoid the other fleets racing.

The finish of the first race saw the first four boats all overlapped and the start team all thought, ‘What are we in for?’. As it turned out that was the closest finish for first place. Other races saw individual duals with several competitors asking, ‘Who beat who?’. Pre regatta favourite Another Dilemma sailed a very good event, winning four races, adding a second and a third to the score. Helmsman Tim Gallego, who flies in each year from his new base in England had only one indiscretion – a Black Flag Disqualification in race three. But he was one of three BFD!

Second in the event was Rob Clarke on Kick and Chase, Rob’s a newcomer to the class, having owned several types of yachts at Middle Harbour over the years. He was ecstatic of course with the end result, going in to the event trimmer Shane Guanaria said they would be happy with third or fourth. Class stalwart Ben Nossiter has suffered a few health issues lately and wasn’t as competitive as he has been in the past. Ben and his crew were however happy to have finished third.

As usual, it’s a team effort when running an event, having the assistance of Toby Gurzanscky on the clock and Lindsay Rose laying the marks, made it look good. Those from the various boats who made up the rest of the volunteers to assist, also enjoyed their time on the start boat or mark laying boat. For some it was their first time to see how it was done. Some should make the effort more often going by some of the questions they asked, as they were a little surprised as to the amount of work required to run an event. They are of course more than welcome each Saturday. It was also good to see Matt Carroll, the new CEO of Yachting Australia. Melissa and I sailed for many years with his father Patrick on his Adams10s, The Carpenter. Matt was invited to make the presentations, great to catch up with both he and his brother Terry back at Middle Harbour.

 

Next up for me is a trip to Tasmania next week. Aside from packing the DeckHardware van full of stock for the visits to the various outlets, I’m also going to spend a little time around the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. This is a Bi-Annual event that brings the Marine Industry together with those who love the feel, texture and smell of the old days. Shaved wood for example, a smell I can’t forget from my youth helping my father build the various boats – his and mine There will be a range of boats on display as well as distributors and retail outlets. I’ll be there with my old mate, Ben King and Brierley Marine. Ben has helped out DeckHardware over the years and this time it’s my turn. He will however be back to assist us with the Sydney Sailboat Expo in a couple of months time though, more catching up.

Winter’s just about over

It’s nearly that time of year, the Summer sailing season is just about ready to start for me. This Friday evening is the  race briefing where we run through all the plans for the season at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. As the clubs principal race officer, I have a great team of volunteers who help run the club racing and regattas throughout the year. I’m ably assisted by Steve Tucker as the RO when I’m off elsewhere. Along with Steve are Ted and Toby, we tend to just get on with it on a Saturday and where better than being out on Sydney Harbour. As with most race management teams, we are excellent sailors due to the amount of time watching and critiquing the boats out on the water.

I’m currently getting everything together to head to Perth in a couple of weeks time to show off more of the DeckHardware range of products. On previous trips I saw around 35-40 businesses, this time I have a list of 57. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to see the greater majority of the marine industry in Perth and the surrounding areas.

I’ve spent the last few months seeing those in and around Sydney for those who follow my travels. I’ve earmarked interstate business trips North and South over the coming months, in and around the various regattas.

Some may be aware that Sydney Sailboat Expo is coming. DeckHardware are excited to be involved in this event and we look forward to seeing everyone next April, here’s the website for all the details. http://www.sydneysailboatexpo.com

004Now and again we have visitors to the DeckHardware warehouse today was no exception. it was good to catch up with Nathan Outteridge and find out what he’s up to next. What with America’s Cup and the 49er Olympic campaign, he had less than a fortnight sailing the Moth from the previous Championships before winning the recent World title in England. I’ve always said it’s about time on water. Practise, practise, practise.

It’s been a pleasant winter with the temps in the high teens and dry until the last couple of weeks when the rain came. It’s been the wettest August in Sydney for over 15 years. There’s plenty who are hoping to dry out and the sooner the better.

Last weekend was the first mini regatta of the season, a fleet of Optimists and wouldn’t you know it? A break in the weather and a nice 8knot seabreeze – suite. Can we have some more?

It all starts soon, in many ways, I can’t wait.

 

 

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