Bypassing the snow

I headed south for the first time in a while, Canberra was the first stop at the Yacht Club to see their manager Matt Owen and show him a few things. Matt was joined by a couple of club sailors as well, peeking in the various bins as I showed some of the new products. There’s always plenty of banter with Matt, we get on well and this of course was added to with his fellow members. Whilst only a short stop, it was then off to have a look at a new sportsboat about to hit the water. I’d seen it being finished off at Innovation Composites in Nowra and now with only a week or so prior to launching, there’s always a few last minute items that are required. It’s always good of course to sit down with the owners and think about the choices of products before launching.

Canberra

After a few hours in Canberra, my next stop was to Paynesville, normally a reasonable drive till the road comes down the mountain to the coast. What I’d heard most of the day however was warnings about the crook conditions, wind snow and ice. Given the option, I headed east to the coast at Batemans Bay then the rest of the way down the coast road. This added nearly 4hrs to the overall drive, but it was a little warmer and I had plenty of time.

Just a little cool leaving Canberra

Gippsland Lakes Sailing Club was the plan for the day. They were holding a winter race and a small but keen group assembled for the briefing before heading out on the water. A variety of boats from Minnows through to Flying Fifteens greeted the day but by the time they reached the course area around the corner of Raymond Island the forecast wind had picked up and it was blowing high20/early 30s and the start team called it a day, abandoning the racing.

We had planned a product and maintenance talk at the club after sailing, something that we’d been working on for a while. Most of the sailors hung around and a few went home and returned and a few others who didn’t sail also joined in.  I had a variety of DeckHardware products on display and spoke about a range of topics from rope and plumbing to maintaining spinnaker pole ends and sails. Feedback from those attending was great with some excellent questions that all listened to. Everyone came away having learnt something.

Paynesville

Monday morning was spent seeing a range of DeckHardware customers around Paynesville before a drive in to Melbourne. In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to stay with my old mate Eylsey  and his partner Sharon, however they have decided to move south to Safety Beach so I was fortunate to call on Peter and Leonie Coleman. Pete’s a long time Etchells sailor so plenty to chin wag about.

I spent the rest of the week seeing various customers both old and new anti-clockwise around Port Phillip from Sorrento to Queenscliff showing off the range of DeckHardware products, both old and new. I didn’t have the time to wander around the marinas to see what’s new although one boat I did sail on back in the 70s is still at Paynesville  where I saw her last. Casablanca was designed and built by John Biddlecombe at Mona Vale  and I did my first Montague Island Race on her before the addition of the cabin top. Another found was Sir James Hardys Olympic Tempest Traminer, now fitted with a cabin top and being set up as a sportsboat, interesting.

Traminer

On Saturday I attended the Victorian Club Conference held by Australian Sailing [YA/AYF] but there were slight changes. These talks I found beneficial and it’ll be interesting to see how the Perth talk next week and the Sydney one not long after are attended.

So after a pretty full week it was home on Sunday, up the Hume an uneventful drive under 10hrs door to door and just under 3000kms.

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?

 

 

So that was 2016

It’s always a point of discussion in the office as to which event to attend or when to hit the road and show off new products now available from DeckHardware. This was the case with heading south recently. I was going to go north, but in the end north and south got swapped around as discussion grew about Sail Melbourne.

So off to Melbourne and surrounds for the week, this time driving about 1260kms over the 10 days. I arrived in St Kilda, home of the last Southern Hemisphere World Cup of Sailing and Sail Melbourne for the invited classes on Sunday and as was the outcome for the next week with the exception of one day, spent my time answering questions and assisting DeckHardware ambassadors and members of the Australian Sailing Team. Each afternoon after seeing DeckHardware customers from Sorrento to Geelong it was a return to St Kilda to see how everyone was going. The last few times at Sail Melbourne, I was on either the start boat or mark laying, so it was good to sit back and spectate and comment on what was happening. Naturally I had a few new products to show and everyone loved the new LIROS rope now available, it was very much a case of get in the queue for the Pink.

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As is the case in going to various clubs, there’s always a boat or two that I haven’t seen for a while. In this instant it was at Hastings on the western side of Western Port Bay where I came across a rack of Lasers. The incredible thing was that I’d built seven of the thirteen back in the 70s. I don’t know how many were still used but they must have been built pretty well to still be around.

I’m always grateful for my friends around the country who put me up when I’m around. My Melbourne hosts John Eyles and Sharon Rae again came to the fore with their hospitality. I’d sailed with Eylesie on many of his Indian Pacifics through the 70s and 80s and many stories are told over a glass of wine at dinner. Sharon has always been an excellent host but this time it was John stepping up with his efforts in the kitchen. I’d return to be told “we are having so&so for dinner and I hope it’s ok”. His apple pie was to die for, unfortunately leftovers for the following night were spoilt by Howie their little black four legged pie snatcher. Howie had obviously been watching John all day and wanted his share. I was informed that under no circumstances to pay him any attention as he was in the bad books. No evening walk up the street and back that night for the two of us.

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I finished up in Melbourne by watching the medal races for the Olympic classes on the weekend. What was good however, was having the big screen showing the on water footage and commentary by Malcolm Page. Most of the time you listened and turned around to watch if something was happening on the course. Plenty of spectators, as well as those who’d finished racing like the 49ers and NACRA crews.

Then it was time for the Hume Highway and a little drive home to Sydney.

Boxing Day is of course known for two things in Australia, the Cricket Test at the MCG and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Start. This was to be my 10th as the Race Officer on the second line, taking over from the late John Hurley as the MHYC team leader. With a seasoned team on the Pin End [Steve, Toby and Phil], we tend to just do it when afloat. This years invited guest was Tony Outteridge, who for those who sail on the Lake is usually found as the Wangi Sailing Club Race Officer. This was Tony’s first time on the harbour on Boxing Day for many years and first on a start boat. Something totally different to what he’s used to, with the Super Maxis on the front line and the dozen or so TP52s that we had on the second. This year we didn’t have a clear start with a few boats pushing the limit on the pin end, Individual recall on the centre line! The other lines were clear, lucky them. As was pointed out to the competitors in the race briefing, the Hobart isn’t won in the harbour, there was plenty of room further to windward on the line.

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One competition we have on the day, is to count the number of helicopters above. Last year we had 20, so on the guess sheet everyone was around that number. We were all disappointed to see only 10 for 2016.

So that was 2016 and a little bit of ‘I’ve been [nearly] everywhere’. Where I didn’t go in 2016, I’ll more than likely go in 2017. There’s more regattas and races to run and I might put aside some time to go for a sail a bit more often.

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.