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.

More regattas and driving

Following on from the Farr40 regatta schedule, the annual MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta was held at the beginning of March. As per the norm in what was the 11th running, I ran the One design courses for the Adams10s, J70s and the VXOnes in The Sound. The event overall has multiple divisions and course areas with some 170 entries, so I was just a small cog. However as part of the SHR, the results for the J70s and VXOnes were for their State titles.

The Adams10s kicked off the weekend in a good NorEaster on Saturday, a little bit of runout tide, but the track was pretty well clear of some of the other fleets racing. As per usual, it depends on the day who is going to win or even place.  Jim Curtis on Another Dilemma had the best consistency for the day, with assistance Jim Vaughan from the late Ben Nossiters Sirius but when Brian Lees on Contentious sails like he does, last in one race then wins the next, the scorecard is all over the place. Matt Watt on Gogo lead at the bottom in one race then his crew decided prawns were on for dinner, so that was that…

In the J70s Tim Ryan was ably assisted by renowned tactician Steve McConaghy and despite an OCS in the first race cleared away from the fleet in each race. Second was former Adams10 sailor Brent Lawson, who finding himself without a boat for the SHR did a ring around and scratched up a boat and crew in the days before. Certainly a change of pace for both Steve, who had come from filling the same role in the Farr40s and Brent in trying to learn how to sail a smaller boat with an Asymmetric  spinnaker.

In the VXOnes, Andrew York had Tasar sailors Rob and Nicole Douglass as crew and the regatta experience showed with another clean slate. Fred Kasparek came up from Canberra to keep Yorky honest.

Sunday dawned with yet another brilliant summers NorEaster, they’ve been lacking all season. In the Adams10s, Brian again showed inconsistency with another win followed by more mid fleet placings, leaving the AD crew to reap the rewards with a win and two seconds. In the J70s, Tim again showed the fleet the way, the big event experience of his tactician showing. Unfortunately last years wining skipper Tony Barnes had the owner of the boat sell it so was unable to defend. In the VXOnes, again it was more of the same, with Andrew York sailing higher and flatter to windward with his 3 person crew against most of the others with only the two aboard.

In all, the Sydney Harbour Regatta with two perfect days sailing was enjoyed by everyone out on the harbour.

Next up was a 550km trip down to the south coast. Some time back on a previous visit, I was asked back to Wallagoot Lake Boat Club to run their annual regatta. Normally held with five divisions, the event was smaller in number due to unfortunate clashes with other events. There was a mixed fleet ranging from a Hobie17 coming from Jindabyne down to an OpenBic.

Division 1 included all boats with yardstick over 113. Winner was Reif Oliver on his tiny O’Pen Bic , 2nd Gote Vykstrom (Laser Radial) and 3rd Neil Fisher (Sabre).
Division 2 had just 2 trailer-sailors, with Commodore Brian Wright winning ahead of Roger’s boat, the Margart D.
Division 3 included a great variety of boats, with yardsticks less than 113. Peter “Master Blaster” dominated on his Devoti D-one, often leaving the rest of the fleet far behind. 2nd Tony Hastings  and Luca Dorrough (both NS14s) and 3rd local champ Rob Morton (RS100).
Division 4, multihulls, saw Maricat state and national champ Rod Anderson claim his biggest prize – the WLBC Regatta. Tim Symons (Hobie17) was 2nd.

This event is what country sailing is all about, including the home cooked deserts and goodies for dinner and after sailing. Everyone has their own idea of the perfect boat, so the VYC yardstick system comes in handy. None the less, it was a great weekend with reasonably steady 5-10knot seabreezes and Bob [Sabre sailor] and Darren [Stingray sailor] are now more informed as to how to run the startboat. Thanks again to Tony Hastings for arranging accommodation, a good nights sleep was had.

Next up this weekend is back to Middle Harbour Yacht Club and the 420 and Cadet Dinghy State titles. Two days out on the harbour in familiar waters again.

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Canberra time

Friday afternoon I headed to Canberra to officiate at the ACT Dinghy Championships held over the weekend. As many would know, the traffic heading out of Sydney on a Friday afternoon is simply the pits for want of a word. I left at 3pm thinking ‘yep should be fine’. Instead I entered the worst traffic snarl ever encountered. The city was experiencing the typical afternoon storm for this time of year, so it was semi expected to be busy – but first gear in the Harbour Tunnel? It’s an 80kph road! The traffic was like this for the next 30kms, taking over double the time getting out of Sydney, so instead of being on the road for 3 1/2hrs it was 6. I’d hate to do this commute daily.

Saturday morning dawned in the nations capital with a little drizzle which thankfully cleared mid morning. More importantly there was wind! Those who have sailed there before will know of the frustrations competing, it’s worse as the Principal Race Officer with two courses and 10 divisions on Lake Burley Griffin. Conditions in Canberra are either blowing or nothing. To have 4-5 knot wind out of the east [well, south east to north east] is fantastic!

Race one got away with 7 divisions on my course, then the wind dropped out for a time. As there was only one common mark with a 50 minute time limit, abandon was the only option and start all over again. We got two races in straight after that and everyone was happy. Well at least those who won the lottery, otherwise known as the shifts.

Sunday morning was the same but a little more wind 5-8 knots in the gusts, same direction but no rain, Hooray. Again we got in two races, however with the time difference between the faster boats and the stragglers, there really wasn’t the time to run another. With a few who had also joined me from Sydney wanting to hit the road home, it was a four race series. As usual, there were plenty who sailed with their head out of the boat and those who didn’t. Canberra is one heck of a fluky place to sail, it certainly benefits those who watch the conditions. It’s not one of those places where you go left or right and one tack on the layline to the top mark.

The NS14 had the largest fleet with many non locals getting some time in on the water where their Championships will be in the coming months. One of the class builders, Mark Thorpe came out on top with two firsts and two seconds. In the last race he was OCS [started early and had to come back]. When I asked him later, he said “he went the opposite way to those on the first leg, might as well do something different”. He won by nearly a leg! Got lucky on that one. Another crew who were recipients of a trophy were DeckHardware ambassadors Michael and Amanda Pfeffer, Good to see them sailing as it’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to watch them. There were others who we saw in the top few the first time around and the second time they were literally out the back door. Just keep sailing, in Canberra you aren’t out of it till you have finished.

The volunteer team down there were just great, helping laying and moving marks as required and they looked after the “out of towner” race officer with smiles and words of thanks. It was another great event with over 80 entrants and hopefully all came away happy with the experience. Okay, I know some didn’t but that’s sailing.

With six weeks or so to Christmas, it’s almost Rolex Sydney Hobart time. Following that it’s the International Cadet Championships. That’ll be into 2016. Where has the year gone?

Away again

Those that follow my movements will know that recently I was away in Southern Queensland. Every thing was planned and going well, I filled up with fuel just off the Gateway Motorway in Brisbane on the Sunday afternoon following a nice drive up from Sydney. As I waited to turn right back on to the motorway, no gears. Bugger! 1400 on a Sunday afternoon too. So I called for a tow truck and also let Robyn know what had happened. I was able to get the van to a VW dealer and lock it up in order to return first thing Monday morning. Next call was to an old mate who has helped out now and again with DeckHardware – Mark Grey. Mark’s moved up from Surfers to Brisbane in order to be closer to his business building campers and trailers. I was able to stay with Mark whilst the van was off the road for two days. As it turned out, the drive shaft had worn and needed replacement, so two days were lost doing the rounds. I did however spend some time helping out at Aussie Campers & Trailers, always something new to learn, in this case servicing wheel bearings. Thanks again to Mark and Jules for the hospitality. To add to the bad day, I also found out that Ben Nossiter had just passed away. Ben has been an Adams10 sailor for many decades and no one at Middle Harbour Yacht Club has come near his record of 18 club championships. I had visited him the previous Thursday in Hospital and we agreed to have a rum at the club upon my return. Unfortunately this was not to be and Ben will be missed greatly. Following discussions with Robyn, it was decided that I return for the funeral, therefore cutting the trip short. With all of these issues, another trip is planned back in a few weeks time to see those I missed out on. I did however get to see a few customers and whilst at Scarborough, I came across a yacht I thought I’d never see again. This particular yacht was owned by Robyn’s father John Dibble when we first started dating and was sold after our wedding to step up to a Farr 1104. Defiance is the original IOR MK3 S&S Half Tonner, built by Doug Brooker and was the plug for the mould that Savages in Williamstown ended up making how many versions of. Many adventures were had aboard Defiance, MHYC Club racing, Offshore’s, Two Handers, RSYS cruises to Lake Macquarie. Broke the boom on one cruise and as the ladies race was the following day, a replacement had to be made ASAP, Done. Plenty of memories. I hope that the current owner will look after her and have as much fun as we did.

For something different, last Saturday I took the DeckHardware van up to Wangi. At this time of year they have a regatta for a variety of classes and once again I was able to help keep the sailors out on the water. Wangi is the home of many top sailors and with the expanses of Lake Macquarie, it’s pretty easy to see why many overseas teams like Oracle come to train there. And it’s close enough for a day trip. It was a great Winters day, however the conditions weren’t too nice on the Race Committee and the sailors, as most got a tow home due to lack of any breeze. One of the rare occasions, I’m glad not to be out there, frustrating to say the least.

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A weekend on the water, for a change.

This last weekend, before I’m heading north, I spent once again out on MHYCs start boat running a few races. Saturday was race two of the Winter series and the weather was just nice for the small but competitive fleet. We had a nice WSW breeze of about 15 knots maximum. All the boats managed to sail the whole course without shortening, as is the case some weeks when the breeze drops off, but that’s winter in Sydney with the prevailing Westerlies. Nothing too exciting apart from the dolphins herding fish in to Balmoral where we were anchored for the finish, too far away for any photos.005003

Saturday night was the annual Summer season prize giving where all the divisions, Saturdays, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday night fleets are acknowledged and trophies are handed out to those who excelled. Always a good night where everyone catches up. Unfortunately, Ben Nossiter who has regularly featured on the wall for the Adams10s for over 20 years wasn’t able to attend due to ill health and everyone wished him all the best. Jim Nixon, his long time mainsheet hand accepted and spoke on behalf of the crew.

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Sunday and back out on the water for the Annual Waitangi Cup. This is a teams event the Adams10s hold between New South Wales and Victoria, unfortunately this year the Victorians could only field two crews, so it was 2 on 2. Easy for race management and scoring purposes! Again with the Westerly slowly shifting right all day and gusting from 9-20knots, all four boats had to be on the game with headsail choices varying between #2 and #3s. NSW however in the first two races finished with a 1, 2, so the third race was a bit of a dead rubber. It’s always interesting this event, as to make it a little more even, there is a boat draw the day before. No one is allowed to sail their own boat and there’s always plenty who can’t find the halyard or control line where they are used to it. NSW retained the Cup, 11 points to 19. Bring on next year, the Victorians are planning on taking to Cup back, they’ll be holding it down at Blairgowrie on the same waters as the recent Moth Worlds. Shallow water and tidal conditions will make it interesting.

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Next weekend I’m on the road north for a couple of weeks in the DeckHardware van ‘doing the rounds’.

Another summer over

Yes, that’s another Australian Summer over and with it another season of sailing and race management for me. In the last nine months or so I’ve been to every state either as a race management volunteer or driving the DeckHardware van to regattas for support or to visit the various outlets Australia wide.  I’ve seen some great racing, from Dinghies and Multihulls through to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race and the spectacle of the five 100’ers on Sydney Harbour.

I’m often asked which are the good events to attend by some of the off the beach sailors we see. There’s a couple that I keep going back to. These are the smaller volunteer run/family run events like the Big River Sailing Club regatta at Harwood in northern New South Wales and the Snowy Mountains Regatta at Jindabyne. Both of these attract a range of entries,monos, multis and trailerables. The conditions for both are completely different to most other venues around the country. At Harwood everyone camps next to the club and their boats, even the locals to save the drive home. Competitors come down from Queensland and up from as far south as Lake Macquarie to sail on the river with all it’s tidal issues.

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On the other hand is the open expanse of the freshwater Lake Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains of southern New South Wales. Here we sail on a lake almost the size of Lake Macquarie, no need to take bottled water out with you. Just lean over the side and gulp, that’s where the town water comes from too. Again the camaraderie between those down from Sydney, Canberra and the locals is fantastic. Each time I’ve been to both clubs, I keep running in to sailors I haven’t seen in a couple of decades and as you could imagine the stories get broader. If you have the chance to go to either next season, I hope to see you there.

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I also had the opportunity to see the Bi-Annual Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. Hobart really knows how to put it on for the visitors, those who are at Constitution Dock for the end of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race will know what I mean. This was no different with all the boats, market places and entertainment. Again, if you have the chance..On the ferry to Devonport from Melbourne I kept running in to all sorts of people heading to the event.

Recently we had the Sydney Sailboat Expo at North Head / Manly. This inaugural  two day event organised by my daughter Melissa with assistance from my wife Robyn was fantastic. The weather co-operated on both days with clear skies for the over 50 exhibitors. There was a range of boating products, not only from DeckHardware, but also names like Harken, Ronstan, Musto and sailmakers Norths and Doyles to compliment the classes on display. I know of one builder who took a deposit for a new boat and there were plenty of other sales as well. There were classes / tutorials also on a range of topics like splicing, tuning, first aid and even media for clubs and I noticed some of the visitors to the Expo from as far as Geelong and Brisbane. Many there said they’ll be back and bringing their friends as well, so hopefully we’ll see it grow even bigger for 2016. As you will see in the photos, the range of boats from the Etchells down and even the all conquering 18′ skiff Gotta Love It 7 , there was something for everyone in the small boat market place.

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The next couple of months will see me heading north to Queensland [I prefer palm trees over snow],  doing the rounds showing off yet more new products available from DeckHardware, before heading west to South Australia and then back east through Victoria. I’ll also be getting out and about locally as well. Then there’s more races to run and more race officer courses as well, hopefully bringing more volunteers to the administration side of the sport of Sailing.

If you want to have the DeckHardware van at your event as support for the sailors or if you need help in running an event, drop me a line. I’m sure there’s more to see and do in the Australian Sailing Scene and if we can assist let us know.

 

Adams10s

I’ve been involved in the Adams10s for over three decades now, as crew, as owner with Melissa and as the Principal Race officer at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. The class is one that’s close to my heart, having sailed on 12 of them over the years. You can sail short handed, do No Extras like Wednesday and Thursdays or race fully crewed on weekends and in various regattas. They are an all round boat. Those that sail them agree.

This past Australia Day weekend saw the class back at MHYC for their annual championships. Unfortunately there were no outsiders, either from Lake Macquarie, Pittwater, up the harbour or interstate. The clubs fleet of ten competitive boats had 7 races to battle it out again. Saturday saw a lovely Noreaster up to 18knots, so I managed to get in 4 races for them. Sundays forecast was for light and variable and that’s what we had. I held them ashore for a while and just as we set the course the breeze changed 40 degrees – typical. So we only had the time to get one race away. Monday brought Southerly winds and a little drizzle for the final two races. As it was Australia Day there was also the added bonus of having to avoid the other fleets racing.

The finish of the first race saw the first four boats all overlapped and the start team all thought, ‘What are we in for?’. As it turned out that was the closest finish for first place. Other races saw individual duals with several competitors asking, ‘Who beat who?’. Pre regatta favourite Another Dilemma sailed a very good event, winning four races, adding a second and a third to the score. Helmsman Tim Gallego, who flies in each year from his new base in England had only one indiscretion – a Black Flag Disqualification in race three. But he was one of three BFD!

Second in the event was Rob Clarke on Kick and Chase, Rob’s a newcomer to the class, having owned several types of yachts at Middle Harbour over the years. He was ecstatic of course with the end result, going in to the event trimmer Shane Guanaria said they would be happy with third or fourth. Class stalwart Ben Nossiter has suffered a few health issues lately and wasn’t as competitive as he has been in the past. Ben and his crew were however happy to have finished third.

As usual, it’s a team effort when running an event, having the assistance of Toby Gurzanscky on the clock and Lindsay Rose laying the marks, made it look good. Those from the various boats who made up the rest of the volunteers to assist, also enjoyed their time on the start boat or mark laying boat. For some it was their first time to see how it was done. Some should make the effort more often going by some of the questions they asked, as they were a little surprised as to the amount of work required to run an event. They are of course more than welcome each Saturday. It was also good to see Matt Carroll, the new CEO of Yachting Australia. Melissa and I sailed for many years with his father Patrick on his Adams10s, The Carpenter. Matt was invited to make the presentations, great to catch up with both he and his brother Terry back at Middle Harbour.

 

Next up for me is a trip to Tasmania next week. Aside from packing the DeckHardware van full of stock for the visits to the various outlets, I’m also going to spend a little time around the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. This is a Bi-Annual event that brings the Marine Industry together with those who love the feel, texture and smell of the old days. Shaved wood for example, a smell I can’t forget from my youth helping my father build the various boats – his and mine There will be a range of boats on display as well as distributors and retail outlets. I’ll be there with my old mate, Ben King and Brierley Marine. Ben has helped out DeckHardware over the years and this time it’s my turn. He will however be back to assist us with the Sydney Sailboat Expo in a couple of months time though, more catching up.