Welcome to 2020

2019 finished off for me and many others with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, for over a decade now I’ve been fortunate to head a MHYC team running the second start line. This time , the 75th running of the race south, we had four lines with the CYCA on the front, MHYC on the second, RPAYC on the third and RSYS on the fourth. Each year, my friends know that I try to bring someone who hasn’t experienced the opportunity, to come along and be part of the team. This year I extended an invitation to Peter Tinworth from Middle Harbour 16s who thoroughly enjoyed the day on Sydney Harbour watching the yachts head south, so much so that as he put it -” I can’t watch the start from anywhere else after this, you’ve spoilt me”. I think that means he wants to come back.

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Boxing Day, spectators and officials alike waiting for the Rolex Sydney Hobart start.

It was great to have all four lines with a clear start as we’ve had a few try to start early recently. Getting the anchor up and clearing the way for the entrants behind is always a priority. Our line is not a mark of the course for them and it doubles up to get going and see everyone heading offshore. It’s certainly interesting for those non competing sailors to follow the weather and the tracker to plot a reasonable course, something you couldn’t do last century.

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Pre-start maneuvers within the exclusion zone

Next up was the 16′ Skiffs at Soldiers Point Port Stephens, where DeckHardware was representing Allen Sailing and LIROS Ropes as sponsors. I was only there for the first weekend, whilst Melissa stayed for the week and took out the media on the RIB each day. It certainly was exciting watching up till the last couple of metres of the last race, with overall being decided on a countback. One mistake and you could easily lose up to ten places very quickly, it was hard work to get them back too. Everyone had their own races right through the fleet.

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DeckHardware van and RIB at Port Stephens

Melissa had a 36hr turnaround and is now up at RQYS in Brisbane where again she is representing DeckHardware on behalf of Allen Sailing as the title sponsor of the Flying Elevens. Whilst she’s done the trip a few times now, this was the first towing the RIB all the way, she made good time too. Following the Flying Elevens, she took a detour home via Noosa to see one of her old crew from Animus days.

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Heavy weather start

This weekend I spent the weekend again with the Farr40s, their prelude event prior to the States in February. Saturday was hard, there’s no other way of putting it. With a 20-25knot Southerly with rain at times and a good southerly swell it made for some good rides and wipe outs as well. We started with 8 of the 10 entries for race one and at the finish of race 3 had 3 1/2 finish. The fourth finished under mainsail only although not that far behind the others. Jeff Carters team Edake won all three races showing some great boat handling.

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Towing in the second gate mark on Saturday

Sundays racing however was a lot better, we got in two races in a nice southerly with a little shift left before the last two in a nice soueaster, both in a nice 8-10knots and flat seas south of Sow & Pigs Reef. Father and Son, Tom and Allan Quicks team Outlaw duelled with Edake for the honours overall. Edake winning by virtue of winning the last race, taking the regatta win. Double Black from Sandringham Yacht Club in Victoria were third for the weekend.

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Good Form from Newcastle nailing the pin end start

This coming weekend will see me out on the water with the Adams10s again at Middle Harbour Yacht Club for the three days of the Australia Day festivities. More of the same as Sunday hopefully, may be a NorEaster?

Farr40 Jan 2020 Clear start

Good Form, right on the pin

A new boat, regattas and more

A new boat, regattas and more

So the 19/20 Summer season started off for me officiating with a Farr40 regatta, since then we’ve had another. I’ve always enjoyed officiating for the Farr40s, they have a group of enthusiastic owners who enjoy their sailing, added to this they are very social as well and their dock parties at MHYC after days sailing reflect this. Their association secretary, Jen Hughes rounds them all up and tries to keep them all sorted both on and off the water taking photos and arranging the pizzas and beers.

Farr40s offshore

Off the beaches of Freshwater and Curl Curl, wind and flat water

My next weekend on the water was down at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. Something a little different this time but I had done a few years back, running the ACT Dinghy Championships with some 70 boats across 8 divisions. A mix of Sharpies, Flying Fifteens, Lasers, Sabres with a few solo entries like an Impulse and RS100. Terry Peak ably looked after the Sailability and Optimists on another section of the lake.

Sailing in Canberra

Weather was like this for the two days whilst on the water.

The Wind Gods looked after us and we are able to get in two days of racing on a trapezoid course in 10-15knots of westerly with the odd bullet coming through causing a capsize or three [dozen]. I was assisted by the Canberra start team and one even called me the ‘wind whisperer’ as he hadn’t had such an easy regatta wind wise on the lake before. The wind came in on both days just prior to heading out and cut off not long after the last finisher. We had minimal delays and everyone knows that on LBG it’s not uncommon to have boats working and running on the same leg of the course, the joys of inland waterways.

A the end of the day

It was like this on both days once racing had finished.

In amongst all of this, there’s a new boat in the family. For sometime Melissa has thought about having a RIB enabling her to go to various clubs and regattas to take some photos and support DeckHardware ambassadors. We started looking at second hand 5m and ended up with a brand new 6.5m RIB with all the extras required. I’ll also be able to use it at the various country regattas I attend. In order to tow it around, it’s necessitated two new vehicles, a van for me and a larger car for towing. This has been paid for out of Robyn’s inheritance and the sale of her family home.

On the RIB, on the harbour

I can’t remember a time going under the bridge by powerboat, I’ve always sailed.

Last weekend, I spent some time in the new RIB watching the 16’er States up the harbour, something a little different. They had a great NorEaster for two races on Saturday and a Southerly came through for the single race on Sunday. Good racing for the 40 odd boats in an otherwise very crowded area, although after a leg or so most were spread out, especially with a few capsizes.

Rounding Cockatoo Island

Hazards of racing on the upper harbour, the race 3, 1st mark  leader TED cutting it fine. Eventual winner with Orange spinnaker, IMEI.

16's sailing up the harbour

Some of the 16s fleet on Sunday

Having not had a trailerable boat since the early 80s when Mel was a baby, it’s all about getting in the queue at the ramp both in and out. I’m getting better at organising at home first so it’s not mucking about wasting time prior to launching. The facilities are far better now with floating pontoons to tie up to once launched and whilst the car and trailer are parked. So far so good, the electric winch works a treat too, no winding!

 

Mel’s gone to METS in Amsterdam this week to meet up with many of our suppliers. Around this time of year they release new products and catalogues and it’s the opportunity to meet in person with the people at the other end of an email or phone line. It’s a busy week for her with scheduled meetings over the three days of the show. I know that when I’ve been, almost the best part is the sleep on the plane home!

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.

 

 

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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2012 World Access Dinghy Championships

ImageThis week sees me back at my home club Middle Harbour Yacht Club. After 3 weeks away interstate in 5 it’s nice to come back to familiar surroundings.

Wth over 85 boats and over 100 competitors across multiple divisions, it has been quite an effort by our club Commodore Julie Hodder and a huge team of volunteers in organising this event.

As the club PRO, I’m stepping aside as Mark Pryke has been brought in to oversee the on water running of the event. It will be interesting working alongside him, as though we have known each other for many decades, this will be the first time I’ve been on the water with him, as against being on the water competing against him. Mark is known these days as an International Race Official, however, I spent many years sailing against him in the Adams10s.

The fleet this week includes the Access, Libertys and the Paralympic sailing class, the Skud18 as shown in the photo. In this case it’s Dan and Liesels boat which we sponsor through our support of the Australian Sailing Team. It’ll also be a good opportunity to get some on water footage too.

Hopefully I may get the chance to jump aboard on of the competing boats, just to get a feel of what they are like. I’ve never sailed a dinghy that can’t capsize, should be interesting.