Out on the water

It’s been a couple of full on weeks. A fortnight ago I was in Jindabyne running the annual Snowy Mountains regatta on a freshwater man made dam built for the Snowy Mountains Scheme after World War 2. The dam is huge with more than enough area to run a decent size course. There is only one obstacle however when laying marks, the flooded original township below! Luckily there’s an area that’s marked as a no go zone for anchoring.

Saturdays racing was marred by the distinct lack of wind, something that does happen from time to time at any event.

After waiting ashore for most of the day, the start team went out and had a look when there was the makings of something on the lake. I came up with the idea of a short fun race.   Amazingly it was a course that they hadn’t thought of in the past in Jindabyne. An all-in start, out around both islands and the ‘no go markers’ and back to the start /finish line. Easy eh? Except that you could go either way, clockwise or anti. Certainly made a few think, course length was the same either way, so which option? Most went anti, however it was the ones who went clockwise who made the most of the breeze. Everyone finished quite tight and all enjoyed the change.


Sunday was a little different, we had wind! So two quick races were held and what was to be a longer third was shortened back to the same as the others as the wind dropped. So we had results, everyone had a good time and once again the country hospitality shone, not to mention the benefits of sailing in freshwater.


Last weekend was the annual Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s Sydney Harbour Regatta over two days. Usually I run the Adams10s and another One Design class, this time however we hosted the Sydney38 Championships with three overseas crews and several more from both north and south of the border. We then added the Farr40 class for the weekend as well. Racing was planned for Offshore on the Manly Circle. Friday we went out and in some very challenging conditions ran 3 races for the 38s. The breeze swung all over the place depending on the clouds coming through, over 100 degrees during the day making things quite difficult.


Saturday was totally different. Due to an East Coast Low pressure system, both seas and wind were up. I took the start boat out to the heads and it was far too dangerous to send any one offshore. There was also no way that I could anchor the boat, or course marks, let alone see them! Seas through the heads were as big as I’ve seen in a while. So inshore with all the other courses, somehow managing to get a 1nm beat. More races completed. I would have loved to have a photographer on board as some of the finishes were spectacular, let alone some of the broaches.  The Farr40 Estate Master came through the line surfing at nearly 20knots, the major issue of course was dropping it in time on a lee shore.


Sunday, things had calmed down somewhat due to the overnight westerly which knocked the head off the seas. So back out to the Manly Circle and a nice south wester averaging 16-18knots, perfect. I made the one bad call that I haven’t done in a while, I thought the breeze would swing left which is the norm. Instead it stayed in the south west and went even further right. My mistake was not giving the mark boat room to lay a course as I had laid the bottom mark too close in. Unfortunately the second race became a bit of a one way track, lesson learnt. I had to apologise to the competitors over the VHF.


It was probably the hardest three days on the water as a race official, the East Coast Low really put paid to that. Previous years have been just nice NorEasters and one can only hope for that next year.


Now it’s off to Wallagoot Lake Boat Club for their annual regatta. Wallagoot is another lovely little country club, situated just north of Merimbula  on the far south coast of NSW. A small volunteer run club with 2 or 3 of each class using the yardstick for handicaps. At Jindabyne we use a common wing mark on the triangle, at Wallagoot the multihulls like their reaches so there’s a wider gybe mark for them. More mark laying but the monos and multihulls are separated making it easier on them. One of the things that does happen at these country events, is showing off the new products from our suppliers. These guys don’t have a chance to touch and feel much of the products now available, this is their chance to ‘tart up’ their boats with new lines from LIROS and boat and sail repair kits from DrSails.


Next week it’s back on the road in the van, north to Queensland for 10 days or so. Plenty of new products in the DeckHardware range to show  around. Forespar have a range of new lubrication products and Allen Brothers also have some new fittings. It’ll be pretty busy.

So that was the weekends weather eh?

Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs race management team again backed up to run another regatta  a week after the clubs Sydney Harbour Regatta. This time it was the Melges32 National Championships. My RO offsider at the club, Steve Tucker ran three races for the class on Friday in what appeared to be a nice Noreaster. The decision was made to get in an extra race on both Friday and Saturday after viewing the forecast models for the weekend.

Saturday was yet another great day out on the harbour with the Northerly blowing around 12-14 knots, just nice. The fleet started with the usual general recall, the out going tide was a major factor here, no one had bargained on it even though it took the start boat a while to settle in. One of the things of running a fleet the calibre of the Melges32s, the Farr40s and the McConaghy38s, is the way they go about their start procedures. None of the running up and down the line like most club boats, they all work up to windward to check the shifts, come back check the line and then line up to start – text book fashion. Like the other two classes, they start from well back and are on the pace when the flags dropped. Good to watch, the class has a limit of three professional crew and it’s reflected here.

The racing was close with the Tasmanian Voodoo Chile team again making the trip north, they also did the Farr40s and MC38s. They have purchased an excellent second hand Farr40 in the USA to compete in this years World titles. They’ll be one to watch. Chris Way and his Easy Tiger team and another Tasmanian Greg Prescott with 2Unlimited gave the Voodoo Chile crew a run, these three swapped positions regularly on Saturday.

Sundays forecast almost went to plan with a light and sloppy westerly when we went out to run the final 2 races. The breeze was all over the place, shifting from 190 to 340 degrees and hardly reaching 6 knots. Along with the rest of the start team, I was also monitoring the weather, Toby on his Ipad and I had the phone going. A large storm cell appeared on the BOM radar, so I asked Kim Williams the Melges32 class president to come alongside and have a look for his thoughts. We made the decision to hoist AP over H and adjourned to the club, not knowing what was on offer. As the crews were settling down upstairs, there was a large crack of thunder literally over the marina. Those sitting nearby the start team were thankful for being ashore and inside and dry from the rain!

Following a mini meeting of myself, Kim and the top 3 competitors, it was decided to abandon racing for the day. With a time limit of 1500 for racing, it meant if we went out only one race could be held. The points in the top three wouldn’t change as a result, so I think everyone was happy for the early finish to the regatta.

Once again the core volunteer MHYC race management team of Steve, Toby, Ted, Andy and Philc did an excellent job in their assistance in this event, well done guys. Next up for us?

In a couple of weeks time in the 420 State titles.

Off to Queensland

After a couple of weeks back home and in the office, it’s off to Queensland for the first time this year. I’ll be spending the week on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts as well as the Brisbane waterside suburbs.

Whilst at Middle Harbour Yacht Club the other day, I came across Tawarri a Swanson42 that I did my first ‘offshore regatta’ on, the RSYS Squadron Cruise back in the early70s.  A solidly built cruiser,as they all were in those days, it was interesting seeing her up close again.  Certainly brought back memories of my first time at Wangi Wangi.


Tomorrow I’m off to the Sabots at Abbotsford,  a continuation of DeckHardware’s support of the class National Championships earlier this year. Haven’t been there by road for a number of years, being the upper harbour we race up there once a year in the annual Chaos Cup, so called because it goes to Bedlam Point.

Next weekend on my way south from doing the rounds in southern Queensland, I’m stopping by the Big River Sailing Club at Harwood where I was last in November. They are having another regatta, I’m looking forward to seeing some of the locals again, one of whom I went to school with. Once again I’ll have the DeckHardware regatta support van there.

In the coming weeks, I’m off to Jindabyne to run a race officers course and a two day regatta, Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs Sydney Harbour Regatta where I’ll be offshore with the IRC boats. Following these are the Melges32 and 420 events at MHYC.

There’s always something on.

Victoria 2014

The first interstate trip this year is to Victoria. Normally at this time of year for the last 30 years or so, I’ve been involved in the Adams10m Class Championships, either as a competitor or as Principal Race Officer. This year however, for the first time, I’ve been given the opportunity to officiate at Geelong’s Festival of Sail for the Sydney38 Championships. Whilst I go to Geelong several times a year to see the various DeckHardware outlets, this is a part of Port Phillip Bay that I’ve never been out on. I certainly look forward to seeing what it’s like as this event is the Southern equivalent to Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs Sydney Harbour Regatta.

Given the chance to come south also presented itself with the opportunity to do the rounds of many outlets in Victoria. I started off with a trip via Metung and Paynesville and for the first time paid a visit to Marley Point. This is the home of the Marley Point Overnight race that has been run for many decades across Lake Wellington, up a narrow channel and in to the northern reaches of the Gippsland Lakes District. An overnight race which attracted around 500 in the early days, these days they get over 100 plus trailer yachts, sportsboats and multihulls. Many of our friends have done the race and back in the 80’s Robyn and I were on our way down when car issues turned us around. We never had the chance to have another go.

Over the last few days I’ve seen nearly forty DeckHardware customers, both old and new. It’s always interesting to see the reaction to some of the new products from our suppliers.

I’m fortunate to be able to stay with an old sailing friend in Melbourne – John Eyles and his partner Sharon. Many will remember some of John’s yachts called Indian Pacific. We sailed together on the J24, SP30, Farr40 in which he won the ’84 Hobart and the Davidson36 throughout the late 70’s and the 80s. Plenty of stories are told at night.

Last night I had the chance to go for a twilight sail at Royal Brighton Yacht Club on board Clipper a Bavaria36. Somehow once again we managed a win despite some of the usual sailing issues. Over rides, headsail sheet under the pole and then tacking…All sorted though for a 40 second win. Thanks to the owner and crew of Clipper for the opportunity to have a sail.

The coming days will see me out on the water with the Sydney38s at Geelong, I look forward to it.


2013 Sydney Harbour Regatta


This weekend saw Sydney Harbour and the waters offshore crowded with racing yachts competing in the annual Middle Harbour Yacht Club Sydney Harbour Regatta. With over 220 competitors ranging in size from the Historical 18’ers and Ynglings up to Grant Warringtons 100′ Maxi Wild Thing out on the ocean passage course.

All the major clubs on the harbour and with assistance from RPAYC on Pittwater and this year NCYC from Newcastle it’s quite an undertaking organising enough officials, startboats and course layers for the nineteen divisions.

In previous events I have looked after Course area E with the Adams10s, Flying Tigers and on occasions, the Farr40s and Sportsboats. This was in the part of the harbour known as the Sound, an area where MHYC has most of it’s racing.

This year however, I had a change of scenery moving to Course area I as RO. As part of the event, the Sydney38 class also had their championships, but with 10 races over three days instead. Fridays racing was held inshore in mainly light conditions, giving all the competitors and officials alike the chance to settle in. On Saturday and Sunday we went offshore to the Manly Cirlce and had some great sailing in a typical summer Nor’Easter. The weekends fleet also included two IRC handicap divisions. Racing was close in all three divisions and watching the fleet round the bottom gate from the startboat was enjoyable, both in the handling and the closeness of the racing.


It also gave me the opportunity of working with another team of race officials and course boats, in this case the team from the CYCA. All of their team were great to work with and I look forward to the next time.

Back on the beach at MHYC, the sailors were entertained by their favourite band, the Wolverines. Drummer John Clinton had a busy weekend as he was sailing his own boat Holy Cow inshore.

Next up is the Asia Pacific Access Championships in Canberra over Easter. I haven’t been there for a few years, so I’m looking forward to it.


More photos are here, http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151295595641721.1073741828.130146381720&type=1


Conditions on the harbour last weekend


Last weekend I was the PRO for the NSW 420 and 470 class State Championships at MHYC, conditions for the fleet on Saturday were miserable to say the least.

On Saturday with the breeze out of the east and a large swell running in the Sound of Sydney Harbour, the decision was made to move the fleets inshore to the relatively calmer reaches of Middle Harbour. Whilst the wind direction varied through 50 degrees, the strength also varied a great deal from around a nice 15knots to gusts in the mid 20s. This made for trying conditions for the competitors and race officials. On Sunday the conditions abaited a little and we were able to sail the remaining heats with all the competitors enjoying the downhill surfing.

Xavier Winston Smith and Mat Belcher won the 420 and 470 classes quite convincingly. Xavier in one race capsized just before the start and came through to finish second in that race.  For images and video go to our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/deckhardware.

This weekend sees the annual Middle Harbour Yacht Club  Sydney Harbour regatta once again. With the support of the CYCA, RANSA, SASC, RSYS, RPAYC, MYC and this year Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, there are multiple course both inshore and offshore with competitors ranging from the 100’er Wild Thing down to a fleet of Ynglings. I will be running the Sydney38 class, with 4 races inshore on Friday and 3 each day over the weekend on the Manly Circle.  Entertainment after sailing is once again the popular Aussie band The Wolverines – always a crowd favourite with the sailors. Drummer John Clinton owns the Beneteau ‘Holy Cow’ with distinctive markings on the sails and topsides.

Further information is available on the regatta website, http://www.shr.mhyc.com.au

Hopefully the conditions we have had of late will improve to provide some great sailing.