One finishes and another starts

Well that’s the Winter done and dusted for Sydney and Middle Harbour Yacht Club. Tomorrow is the season opener for 2016/2017 Summer season. No radical changes to the format, so more of the same, hopefully with typical summer Nor’easters under clear skies.

We also have Bart’s Bash coming up in a couple of weeks and Mel has borrowed Sirius and rounded up some of her old gang and a few others to give the A10 fleet a run for their money. It’ll be fun to watch. So those at MHYC on the 17th make sure you sign up for Bart’s Bash!

Of course we’ve also seen the Australian Sailing Team again take out the honours at the Rio Olympics, being the most successful team with 7 of the sailors from 11 coming home with either a Gold or Silver Medal. Congratulations to all involved out on the water, it’s a huge effort from all the sailors and their support team. It goes without saying that we like to think we’ve played a little part in their success when they come to visit us in the warehouse at DeckHardware. I’ve watched closely the last few years the NACRA team of Jason and Lisa. First up as a member of the start team at Sail Melbourne/ISAF World Cup at Sandringham, watching how they communicate on and off the water, Jason’s body positioning on board, kneeling first before going out on the wire. Lisa has been a regular visitor working out what they needed where and it’s been great to be a part their program. Another frequent visitor was our Laser Gold Medallist Tom Burton, as I had sailed and built Lasers back in the 1970s it was always another lesson from Tom talking how he went about things. I was also able to watch him up close one day a couple of years ago doing some coaching and I came away impressed with his skills, even I learnt how to Gybe like the top guys. I thought the main issue was always keeping the mainsheet off the corner of the transom, but there’s a lot more to it these days.

As part of the Olympic period, a few of us had an early start at MHYC with the Channel7 Sunrise Weather team. Unfortunately racing that day was abandoned in Rio but we were able to show Sam Mac around our club, even getting him out on the water on a Laser with DeckHardware Ambassador Lauren Gallaway for one live cross to the studio.

Soon we’ll see our Paralympic Sailing Team have their turn in Rio. These 6 sailors and their coaches have also been in and out over the years discussing their boats and requirements, it’s always good to see them and assist their program. Skud18 sailor Leisl Tesch has become a close friend, joining my start team the last couple of years for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Mel and Teschy have got together regularly over the last few years, going through the Racing Rules of Sailing utilising Mel’s knowledge as an umpire, so that she and Dan are fully prepared for anything that may rise. It also helps that at one stage Leisl’s partner Mark was Melissa’s mainsheet hand on Animus.

So one finishes and another starts, both here and in Rio. Again I’ll be watching all competitors closely.

Road trip time

This time last week I was finishing up a week of seeing everyone in Southern Queensland. The previous trip at the end of May had a few issues and therefore the trip was a few days shorter, hence a return was required.

I left home on Sunday morning and first stop was the Nabiac Caravan Camping & Boat Show. Just about the middle of the NSW coast but it was a reasonable sized event, certainly plenty of locals. There were plenty of vans with a scattering of everything else around the town exhibition grounds. Monday Morning after a night in Coffs, it was Yamba seeing a few DeckHardware customers there, then Ballina followed by a drive up to the Sunshine Coast. When will the road works be finished on the north coast of NSW? Who knows, but it’ll be great when it is, especially the Ballina north section. It’s pretty peace meal at the moment starting at Nambucca Heads.

I spent a couple of days on the Sunshine Coast seeing everyone and looking at various boats under construction, it’s good to see Aussie boat builders working on new boats. The Schionning Catamaran shown is fitted with Forespar Marelon plumbing. Wednesday and Thursday morning around Brisbane, again showing a range of DeckHardware products. Now that we are distributing all of the Schaefer Marine range, I have to make sure all the riggers and sailmakers are aware of the Tuff Luff range.

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Thursday afternoon and in to Friday, it was down to the Gold Coast with more of the same, doing the rounds and making sure all of the outlets are fully aware of what products DeckHardware has to offer. It’s especially good to have some place orders as well, both for stock in the van as well as from the warehouse.

After nearly a week of non stop drizzle, it was good to head south again. Saturday was the start of the Sydney Gold Coast Race and whilst not involved this year, I took out the MHYC startboat with a couple of others to watch the event. Once again it was a drift out the heads. All except for the 100’er Perpetual Loyal. They got a westerly gust at South Head and just took off, those only boat lengths behind could only watch and listen to the groans as the carbon super maxi took off. Everyone else had breeze from all points, Hero to Zero in these conditions, some doing well and others not so. For those looking up Loyals mast, yes that’s a crew member. His role in not only finding the wind, was to kick the main sail battens across in each gybe, so light were the conditions. On one gybe it too 6 attempts to pop them.

Next up is my long drive down to Port Lincoln in South Australia. From there, I’ll work back anti -clockwise around the coast in to Melbourne. This trip takes two weeks, plenty of road time but plenty to see.

Headed North West

Last weekend I headed inland to Lake Keepit for the first time. The lake is around halfway between Gunnedah and Tamworth and when full is larger than I expected, however on this occasion was around 17%. The Keepit Kool Regatta has been going for several decades and is one of those that should be on most lists for dinghies, multis, sportsboats and trailerable yachts. So I went.

I wasn’t involved in the running of the event, instead I filled the DeckHardware van with a range of products, more than usual and pitched the marquee to show some of the lines we distribute. As is the case with many of these regional areas, there’s those who haven’t heard of DeckHardware, so it’s a good time to show the wares.

With  a division each for monos, multihulls, sportsboats and trailerables there was a spread in the types out on the water. There was the usual fleet of Lasers, however the second biggest  fleet were the Hartley16s. Competitors came to Lake Keepit State Park from many areas, Sydney and Lake Macquarie included. There were Viper sportsboats and a JS30 from Lake Macquarie amongst the faster trailerables and in the dinghies a 16′ skiff, a 49er lead the pack. In the multihulls, a Nacra lead their fleet from an A Class. As seen by the photos, the conditions were generally light, the best breeze on the Sunday was around 6-7 knots, perfect for those modified boats like the 29er with a larger square topped rig. Certainly a spread of types for the handicapper to keep a track of.

Accommodation in the park was in vans, both permanent or BYO or Tent. Many chose the latter option, including myself. The major issue here was that unlike most regattas where you camp next to the club, the accommodation area was about a kilometre away. The facilities however are excellent and certainly well frequented by those with caravans with nice hot showers and a laundry. There is also a huge covered BBQ area for those larger groups.

If you haven’t been, I suggest you go and find out why it’s called the Keepit Kool regatta, I did.

June update

Over the June Queens Birthday weekend, I was again out on the water running the Optimist East Coast Championships at MHYC. Whilst we were blessed with nice fine days, the wind gods neglected us. Both days were affected by fickle winds early in the piece. With over 70 competitors in the two Optimist fleets and a couple of Cadets and a few 420s to round out the fleet, there were plenty waiting for a a course to be set, especially on Sunday with a 3 hour delay. Once again I was fortunate to have Melissa  backing me up and Robin Tames and Phil Clinton also aboard the start boat. With a team that starts everything from the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Race down to the aspiring sailors in the Optimists, it’s good to have the experience aboard. Some competitors came up from Victoria to add to those from around Sydney, hopefully they all enjoyed the experience.

With two fleets sailing different courses, we had three teams finishing them. Phil was inside the cabin with a scribe, Mel was outside with a couple of scribes and I was upstairs on the flybridge. With the competitors coming across the finish line down wind, seeing the sail numbers was a little difficult with their booms straight out from us. I was able to have the view from above and a little easier. How Mel kept up I don’t know, let alone the scribes. Some how we were able to collate the results! The tape recorders got a work out too.

What was nice was the number of the junior competitors saying ‘Thank you’ to the start boat as they finished the last race of the event. That’s always appreciated and I hope they continue to thank the volunteers through out their sailing career.

Yesterday I spent the day at DeckHardware with our 16′ Skiff Ambassadors Fire Stopping. Owner James Bury [white cap] has decided to refit the multiple Australian Champion with an all new fitout of Allen Brothers fittings. All of the old cleats, blocks and systems were replaced with new parts. Along with forward hand Rob Napper, James had arranged professional sailor Mitch White to assist. By bringing the skiff to DeckHardware, the three of them were able to swap and change fittings, whilst I tried to keep a record of those used. With the added use of Schaefer Marine Low friction rings and Liros 1.5mm Dyneema, many of the systems have been tidied up hopefully making the boat easier to sail and therefore faster. Time will tell when James and Mitch return to Sydney at the beginning of the season after competing in Team Transfusion at the Farr40 World Championships in New York.  To have a look at the range of DeckHardware products available you can find them on our website

Today was back to Middle Harbour Yacht Club, but this time with another hat, that of one of the clubs Safety Auditors. As the Principal Race Officer, it’s also a chance to hop aboard some of the boats and look at their layout. Something not possible when you are out early and back late. Credit to those who I saw, there’s always some thing you pick up on, from not having the current ISAF 3013-16 Rule book aboard to not having the yachts sail number on the stern. These were minor compared when talking to some of the other auditors.



Australian Combined High Schools Sailing Championships at Belmont NSW

051Last week saw me up at the Combined High Schools Sailing Championship at Belmont on the shores of Lake Macquarie. Known as the CHS, it’s an institution amongst all teenagers to grab a boat, any boat and compete. Over the years many well know Australian sailors have competed in a variety of classes. I can remember a young Nathan Outteridge sailing a 505, Nathan and Sarah Wilmot sailed in borrowed Magic25s and my daughter Melissa sailed a Europe dinghy one year. This year was no exception with  Melges20, VXone and even a Nacra5.8 sailed by 29er sailor Harry Price. As with many of these events over the years, it’s great to watch the boat handling skills of the next generation of Aussie sailors, many no doubt spurred on by the successes of their compatriots in the last couple of years overseas.

Weather wise we had everything, from sunny drifters to blown out races due to too much wind and driving rain on the last day which saw some pack up and leave early. With over 140 entries spread across some 35 different classes in 5 different divisions, it was quite difficult to keep track of most other than the few you knew. This was one event I was glad to be ashore at. I was however kept quite busy at the DeckHardware regatta support van, both first thing in the morning and even during racing. In several instances, I had sailors come ashore with something broken, a quick repair and they were out again hopefully not missing too much.

The results showed quite a mixture across the fleet, with the leading boat a 16′ skiff, followed by a Maricat and the leading Flying Eleven.

On the Thursday night Melissa spent some time organising an evening with Gold Medalist Liesl Tesch, multiple Olympian Karyn Gojnich, Laser sailor and coach James Burman, Americas Cup and maxi boatbuilder Lindsay Stead and the Sailing Chix [Nix, Nic and Mel]. Nix compared the evening with each speaker giving a short Bio and then questions from the floor were asked. It was interesting those who asked and the type of questions. “What do you do with crews who don’t listen?” “How do you deal with breakages?” Many of those there were delighted to see Liesl’s Olympic medals [she has the full set from wheelchair basketball and sailing] and have photos taken with her.

DeckHardware again provided some products as prizes and we look forward to continuing supporting the youth sailing in the future.


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,


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

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,

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