Keepit at Copeton

There’s two essential things that make for a good regatta, they are water and wind.  There is a distinct lack of water in inland Australia and the 51st Keepit Kool Regatta at Lake Keepit was a victim. I’ve been there when there’s been over 70% and as little as 9 or 10%, however this year its empty or as close as 1% can be.  Certainly not enough to go sailing with anything but a remote controlled yacht.  As a result the Keepit locals decided that to sail they had to take their boats elsewhere and in this case it was to Copeton Dam several hours away. Copeton when full certainly covers a huge area, however with 9.3% there’s just enough to go sailing. Several of us there for the first time are waiting for it to be near full to go back and have a look. There’s a huge amount of space and those not staying in the powered section of the park, preferring to be off the grid, had plenty of room to themselves. The only issue was a lack of phone reception in the area which created the usual technological issues of today’s world. There were those of course who loved not being distracted by emails, text messages and phone calls.

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A few of the Copeton locals in the early morning. That’s the water down there!

Thirty hardy crews arrived for the weekends racing, some from Keepit surrounds, others travelling from Newcastle and Sydney. Understandably the numbers were halved, with a combination of factors. The second element in sailing is the wind and apart from one brief instance whilst the briefing was being held, the flags drooped all weekend, struggling at best to get to 5knots.

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Gust of the weekend, I had to take a photo whilst the briefing was being held.

As is the norm for country events, there’s a mixture of boats, from sportsboats and smaller trailerable yachts, a range of multihulls and the usual fleet of Lasers and mixed monohulls. A rather intrepid young fellow even tried his sailboard, unfortunately having to paddle or get assisted back to shore in the glassouts mid race. Only one race was completed on Saturday, with three on Sunday and a ‘passage’ race on Monday morning. The on water race management team did their best given the conditions.

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Pretty much the weekends conditions.

Keepit is known for it’s evening social life with organised ‘home cooked’ dinners on Saturday and Sunday. The yabby races and the trivia followed. As runners up in the trivia, our table thought we did pretty well, maybe next year we can go one better. Hopefully inland Australia will receive some much needed rain and we can return to Keepit for the 52nd Keepit Kool.

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Mondays passage race. You can see by the opposite side, just how much the water level is down. Where I’m standing would be under water when full.

 

Back on the road 2019

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about being on the road or on the water. The Summer sailing season in Sydney finished up, so now I’m on the road interstate.

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Aussie wildlife in suburbia – country style

First up was a trip north to Southern Queensland. However with a couple of detours inland, Casino I’d not been to before and as the first stop, really didn’t have the time to have a look around. My second stop was west of Toowoomba, visiting a customer I’d seen a couple of times before. Luckily for me he works from home, really the rather large tin shed out the front so I’m able to connect after hours and on weekends. Given that it’s several hours drive away from anyone else, this works.

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From there it was on to the Sunshine Coast where Craig and Tracee look after me, all too well as Tracee likes to cook, feeding another gives her the opportunity to experiment too. They’re out on acreage 20minutes from Mooloolaba gradually making improvements in the garden and surrounds. Tracee also has a thriving vegetable garden with plenty of fruit trees that also has a fence around however not to the stage I’ve done at home but showing my photos, I think Craig has another job ahead. They have an issue now and again with the local wildlife, it’s nothing to be sitting on their deck having a staring competition with a Kangaroo family. But it is nice and peaceful and a joy to watch at times, just not when they are in the garden having a munch!

Monday was spent seeing customers old and new locally. With most areas of Australia, I have it pretty much sorted who I see where and when to minimise the time in between stops, but now and again I get caught out. I then spent a few days working my way around the suburbs of Brisbane, it’s certainly nice to see the roadworks heading in and out north of the city finished, although that doesn’t stop the evening peak parking lot in a section that should be doing 100kph. The highway south to the Gold Coast is 4 lanes either way and you can do the sign posted speeds, however the greater section to the Sunshine Coast is still 2 lanes and nowhere to pull over in a breakdown, the same bit of road that I drove on in the mid 70s when first driving to Mooloolaba in my teenage years with a Laser on top.

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From the other side all you see is the CBD of Brisbane

The next couple of nights were hosted by an old Middle Harbour mate who’s retired to the northern suburbs of Brisbane, Tony Hannan. I can’t count the number of boats we sailed together or against, but each time I stay the evening stories are never the same. It’s always good being able to fill him in on what’s happening down south, despite his occasional visit for a regatta or two over a season.

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Once this was the style of yacht design, known as plank on edge

 

My last two days north of the border were spent on the Gold Coast, one doing the rounds and the other visiting the annual Sanctuary Cove Boat Show. The show has evolved over the years with more focus on power and especially this year, Jetskis and similar high speed personal watercraft.

My last evening north of the border was spent with grey nomads James and Marita, sitting in their caravan watching football on an Ipad! Unfortunately our Manly Sea Eagles were beaten by the Gold Coast team at home so it was a good excuse for an early night given where we were.

As always it’s good to catch up with a lot of customers, many who have become friends as well over the years. Unfortunately it’s not always possible to see everyone and to those who I haven’t caught up with, we’ll try for next time. Others like Tony have left Sydney for warmer climes, it’s just a little hard to fit everything in.

Having gone up the inland route, I headed back down the more familiar coastal road. All I can say about the NSW section of the Pacific Highway is that it’ll be fantastic when the roadworks are finished. How long that will be, it’s been how long they’ve been promising? At the moment the northern third from Sydney is all over the place with speeds from 60 to 100kph and back every couple of kilometres.  I don’t think it’ll be before my next trip north, but here’s to hoping as my windscreen is evidence of the current state.

 

 

Wallagoot Lake 2019

Last weekend saw my now annual trip south to Wallagoot Lake for their annual regatta. This was my 4th time they’ve asked me to be the Race Officer and this year saw the NSW Sabre class include this event as their State Titles for the second time. The class have indeed made the decision to make this event at Wallagoot a fixture on their calendar. This year also saw an influx of Sabre sailors from Victoria for the first time and the locals are hoping that some of their knowledge will be passed on after the first six placings were held by those who came north.

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Sunset view from the clubhouse of a lone pelican

It’s normally a six hour drive south, however as is the norm these days there’s always someone to stuff the road system getting out of Sydney and it took me nearly ninety minutes longer due to an incident in one of the tunnels heading down the Hume Highway. This backed everything up to the harbour tunnel making it a crawl, something I’d hate to do on a daily basis. Instead I took the coast road and it made the trip just that bit easier once past Botany Bay. I came home via the inland and had a good run especially up Brown Mountain, part of the Great Dividing Range.

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Sabre fleet working to windward

Saturday morning was more of the same that I’ve experienced before at Wallagoot, the land breeze fades out, giving in to the seabreeze, this time with a bit of south in it. We got in the first race an hour late, then a break for lunch and at 1500 got in two more races in a nice 5-8knot seabreeze. A good day on the water for all.

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Saturday afternoon

Sunday morning saw more of the same with a dying land breeze and the seabreeze struggling to come in and even though we only had two races to run, the seabreeze only allowed one for the rest of the divisions.  We just got in the fifth race for the Sabres shortening them after the first triangle.

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Hurry up and wait, we had a bit of this. The Pacific Ocean is just over the hill and you can hear the surf at night.

In checking the weather up and down the coast, it was interesting to note that the Farr40s on Sydney Harbour were also postponed due to lack of wind over the weekend.

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With over fifty entries this was the largest fleet at Wallagoot for quite some time and those coming for the first time all expressed that they’ll be back. With the candlelight dinner on Saturday evening and live music from a local NS14 sailor, why wouldn’t you put this on your calendar.

Jindabyne moved

In previous years the annual Snowy Mountains Regatta was held in late February, however Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club had several clashes at that time of year, so a move was on. Bringing it forward to pre-Christmas was the go, I was able to fit it in then too.  Returning again for another stint as the regatta race officer is always a joy, I thoroughly enjoy the country hospitality too.

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Coming ashore Friday evening

 

Again as in previous years, I’ve left Sydney around lunchtime and headed south, although this time I had a quick stop at Woolwich Dock to drop off some PROtect Tape for the 100’er Infotrack. Luckily once out of the horror metropolitan city traffic it was a good run and whilst I missed the start of the Friday evening race, I was there in time for the team to come and pick me up off the beach for the finish. They had a great evening sail with just enough to make it pleasant. The club locals then put on the usual great spread for dinner, finishing with a couple of rather large pavlovas!

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Whilst we programmed for 4 divisions, Multi’s, trailerable, dinghies and Lasers, we only had the one competitive trailer yacht, an Elliot7 who we put in with the mixed dinghies. I’d been talking about this regatta to a couple of close friends, James and Marita who talked a couple of their friends Steve and Paul in to coming to Jindabyne. I know it’s a long haul from Sydney but it’s a great country regatta and hopefully we can attract more again next year. We’ve had all sort of mixed trailerables from VX1’s to Flying Fifteens in the past.

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Good fleet of Multihulls

 

 

Saturday dawned with a typical local glassout but the forecast looked good and it was, for one race. Again it was good to have boat driver and Sabre sailor Ross and the Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club RO John with me on the start boat, the three of us have done this for a few years now. We shortened up the Multihulls so we could get another race away, however with only Brett White’s 20′ carbon flyer remotely looking like finishing it was time to abandon and go ashore. Hurry up and wait was the order of the day and in the end it was ‘beeroclock’. Given that the temperature was in the 30’s, everyone was quite happy on that call. One thing about sailing in Jindabyne, the water is fresh and drinkable.

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Laser start

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Saturday afternoon glassout

 

Sunday started as a followup to the day before until the breeze arrived out of the east. It was fantastic to get two good races in, around 10-15 knots of wind. Plenty of laughter as the tail finished the second race screaming downhill in a huge squirt. The 14 strong fleet of Lasers especially made it hard work for Ross and John to keep up with the pencilling, luckily I had my tape running and John was able to work off that, forward – rewind – forward – rewind..

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Sundays breeze 

 

 

And then as they say, it all happened. A large nasty black cloud appeared and then dumped some heavy rain on us, the breeze rotated right 90degrees and upped the ante to over 20knots. Many sailors sheltered in a little cove on the side of the lake, smart, better than sailing around. In the end I decided that it was AP over A, too hard for some of the younger sailors to stay upright and the older ones too enjoyed a little relief. Typically as Ross pointed out, the front went through and the wind died completely resulting in us becoming a towboat, towing competitors home.

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The breeze however stayed calm as the Sun came out, so at least it was nice for the regatta presentations. One of the lighter comments that afternoon was from MG/NS14 sailor Tony Hastings from Wallagoot Lake, I asked him why he was taking so long to unrig preferring a beer instead. His reply? “Hey, the boat’s got a good wash, waiting for it to dry!’ Thoughts of a saltwater sailing in fresh, brilliant. Another competitor hadn’t sailed there for a few decades, he said he’d be back next year not leaving it too long. I hopefully will be back too, unlike some dams like Keepit there’s plenty of fresh water for sailing.

And this appeared on the club notice board, courtesy of John Byrne. I’m yet to work out what I have.

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Had another sail and another drive.

Following on from my first offshore sail in a decade, I had another sail, this time a Middle Harbour Yacht Club point score race on an Adams10, funny that given the decades sailing them. It was another day with Garth and his crew on Sirius, however this time it was a blustery westerly. The line was a little biased to the pin and Garth did an excellent job in timing the starboard run down the line. Those who tried to port tack start were confronted by us hollering, so there was a little bit of ‘ducking’ our transom.

It was a pretty uneventful race except for the last spinnaker reach, this was one of those beauties, over 14knots on the dial before dropping the kite and coming back to course. Then on the last tack to the finish, I slipped and extended my knee, the good one. Needless to say I’ve had a few visits to the physio since. But what about that ride – made the day.

 

Then it was back on the MHYC Start boat and race officialdom. It was the first of the monthly Farr40 regattas for the season and whilst it was a non point score, six boats turned up for three races in a nice southerly on Sunday. This followed on from an offshore race the day before and a rather late night for some at the Farr40 20th anniversary function on Saturday night. The Association awarded five previous owners for their successes and support of Australian yachting in general. It was fantastic to be in attendance to see Marcus, Richard, Martin, Lang and Guido presented with a brilliant red jacket with their results embroidered on the pockets.

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Out on the water Sunday and it was good racing between Outlaw and Exile with only seconds between them for the days honours. Race 1 saw Exile win their first Farr40 race, giving guest helmsman Chris Way some bragging rights. In race 2 it was the Victorian team on Double Black,  it was great to see these two boats especially get amongst it at the front. The Farr40s will be back next later in October for another round and it’s always a pleasure to watch them, albeit very closely.

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This weekend past saw me at a club that I hadn’t been to for 40 years! A long time ago the Sydney Laser sailors used to head to Wallis Lake for a regatta once a year. Great Lakes Sailing Club certainly hasn’t changed all that much, the main change is an upgrade recently on more grassed rigging and camping space. One of our DeckHardware ambassadors was competing in the Wildcat Regatta, a 3 day event that has been held for quite some time. So it was an opportunity to drop by and aside from dropping off a ‘goody’ package for Lily, it was a chance to see what the event was about.

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Interesting was the number of well-known sailors looking for a fun weekend. Jason Waterhouse was sailing his father’s Hobie16 with his sister Bridget. His NACRA17 coach Darren Bundock decided to sail a foiling A Class as was Steve Brewin. There were plenty of other high profile sailors too, such as Brett Goodall coming from Victoria and Warren Guinea driving from Brisbane.

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Jason Waterhouse and Lily Smith at GLSC

 

It was great to return to GLSC, I guess I shouldn’t leave it as long till the next time either. It was also good to catch up with a few of those wandering around the boat park, with 80 or so entries there wasn’t much space left.

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Not much space left after 80 odd catamarans and trailers.

 

 

 

 

 

Delivery South

Last week was the first time in over a decade that I’ve spent some time at sea, ironically with the same skipper but different yacht. This time it was assisting to bring back a 49’er that had won it’s division at Magnetic Island Race Week recently. I flew to the Gold Coast on Monday expecting to leave that afternoon, however due to the southerlies we didn’t get away till the following afternoon. Apparently they’d had southerlies the whole way heading south from Townsville and were not keen on bashing into more of the same.

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Heading south the following day we had the leftovers of the southerly for the first couple of hours, then the breeze went left and it became a little easier to motor sail with just the mainsail up. Into Wednesday the breeze was forecast to build from the north and build it did to around 20knots.

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Around 1600 whilst below, Bruce did a sudden gybe and as a result the strop holding the mainsheet block on the end of the boom broke. Mainsail down and off and the jib top was set instead. Still without a motor we carried this all the way to Broughton Island off Port Stephens. The forecast was for a short sharp southerly change so it was in to Nelson Bay for the night. Timing was pretty good as it hit as we were motoring into the marina in the wee hours of the morning.

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Just like leaving Southport we saw the first whales just as we headed south, inside a mile of leaving the heads. Thursday was to be a day of motoring as the breeze struggled to get over 5 knots all day, at least the seaway was reasonable with little pounding in the leftover seas.

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I finally went below whilst off Broken Bay and only a few hours short of Sydney Harbour and woke to the sound of the motor being throttled back, we were off Sow and Pigs. It was absolutely calm with not even a ripple or a wave movement other than those we made. Brought back memories of offshore racing and finishing at night in similar conditions.  Thanks to James, Bruce and Jason for an enjoyable delivery passage and the usual yarns whilst at sea.

What a week and a bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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