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.

2014 Festival of Sail

So back on the road for 2014, this time down to Victoria. I covered 2560kms over the 9 days and met up with nearly 40 DeckHardware customers both old and new in the first couple of days. The main reason for going down was to help officiate at the Geelong Festival of Sail. This event has over the years attracted the bulk of the Melbourne sailing community as well as an increasing amount of interstate visitors.

Thursday saw me at Geelong, with a quick visit to the local chandleries before going on to Royal Geelong Yacht Club and the Festival of Sail.  I was assisting Ted Anderson in running the Sydney38 National Championships. Dennis Thompson also from Sydney was the Principal Race Officer running a lot of divisions which included the Melges24 Nationals as a prelude to their World championships the following week. With over 300 yachts, multihulls and sportsboats, Corio Bay was pretty crowded at times especially when a ship came down the channel.

The Sydney38s ended up with only 9 boats; however this didn’t diminish the state of the competition. When the fleet rounded the top or the gate marks at the bottom of the course, there was usually less than one minute across all of them, with little more at the finish. We had two good days of 15knot southeasters and then the final day with a lighter 8knot easterly. Challenge2 [Sandringham], Phoenix [Geelong] and Zen [Middle Harbour] topped the podium, but the racing wasn’t over till the last mark of the last race. No one had any idea of who finished where till the results came out. Such was the pressure that both Phoenix and Zen had spinnaker wraps whilst leading, ouch. It was great racing and I certainly learnt a few things from watching the likes of 2012 World Moth Champion Josh McKnight doing bow.

All enjoyed the event, as did I having out been out on the water there. Similar in many ways to Lake Macquarie, shallow water and shifting winds made it interesting. Now that I’ve been, I’ll know more the next time I have the opportunity to go out on Corio Bay.