Headed South and a few other places too.

So just for something a little different at this time of the year, two weeks ago I headed down to Melbourne. First up was a three day seminar hosted by ISAF for race officials to update their knowledge and the latest ISAF race management policies. This was run by Rob Lamb from England who designed the new course. All I can say is that it was totally different to what I was expecting. There is so much new stuff going to appear in the next edition of the ISAF Rules.

With a full program of three days [0830-1830 each day], there was plenty to learn. A lot of what I do in race management will be updated in the coming seasons. I learnt plenty and like a lot of things about the current state of the sport of sailing at present, changes are afoot. A lot of the course is angled towards those who aspire to help out at a big fleet nationals [50+] or the Olympics. Many there are hoping to get to that level. Travel overseas is a given, there were people who had flown in for the three days from England, USA, France, Hong Kong and Singapore and from all parts of Australia.

How did I go? Not confident in the methods now used to lay Trapezoid courses. The new sheets should look easier to use, however as I don’t use them week in week out like many of the clubs in Melbourne for example, you tend to lose the ability. The big thing here is that you need a lot of resources, something that many clubs don’t have. I will say that, yes I learnt a lot.

The following day it was down to Sandringham Yacht Club for the ISAF Sailing World Cup in conjunction with Sail Melbourne for the invited classes. This event is huge, I’ve been before, both out on the water laying marks and ashore looking after the competitors with the DeckHardware van. This year there were 400 competitors and around 200 volunteers both on the water and ashore. They do look after you well too. There’s the event T shirt, food and water for out on the boats and then drinks in a set aside area just for the course teams to de brief. It is hard work though, there’s two race briefings daily and when you have to be there around 0800 to make sure of a parking spot and then off the water around 1800, it’s a long day.

This year I was on the Alpha Course start boat with a team led by Garry Hosie from Mordialloc Sailing Club. All of the clubs around Port Phillip help resource the event, a huge effort. On our course we had the Start boat, Pin end boat, two course laying boats and two rescue boats. Then whilst we were running the NACRAs, Finns and 470s there were also 3 Jury boats. Quite a team of around 25 people on our course. My role was that as Deputy Race Officer, should the Course Race Officer [CRO] be unable to continue, I’d step in. What I ended up doing was monitoring the breeze and the competitors on the course and passing on my observations to Garry [ITO] and John Allen [NRO Canadian version]. A non stop job with the breeze all over the place. I was also the back up line sighter viewing from upstairs whilst John called it down stairs. Garry was on the OCS flags.

It was great watching the NACRAS especially, I hadn’t had the chance before to be part of their race management, so this was a new outing. As a supporter of the Australian Sailing Team, at DeckHardware we know pretty much all the crews when they come in for updates to their boats. Watching the three female crews, Lisa, Nina and Lucinda in action brings a new focus. These ladies are brilliant! It was a joy to watch from the startboat what each team goes through in the pre start and then how they all interact with their skippers as well. Yes, I learnt a lot from watching them and I’m sure there’s more to come too.

As for the conditions during Sail Melbourne? We had good breezes and then we had none. The Gold medal race day for example, we had a nice 18knots for the NACRAs and 470s and then the Finns were on the last down hill and the breeze dropped out. This was in the space of only a couple of hours. Like many places, ‘you should have been here yesterday’. Well the day before was similar although we had to postpone the start as there was too much! We ran the ‘morning fleet’ with out issue and then at 1500 the breeze dropped out altogether! AP up over A and send ’em home.

It was a very draining week physically and mentally, good to meet and work on the water with some new people learning other techniques for the same application.

Now for Boxing Day and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start, for the eighth year I’ll have a team from Middle Harbour Yacht Club running one of the start lines on behalf of the CYCA. Over one hundred boats, how many helicopters? With Five 100’ers will there be more than 20? With the current forecast of a Spinnaker start, maybe.Wind reading

Jason and Lisa just pipping Bundy and Nina

Jason and Lisa just pipping Bundy and Nina

Back on the 'bike'.

Back on the ‘bike’.

No Wind No wind

All the Alpha course boats went and hid at Black Rock whilst the start boat stayed out monitoring the conditions

All the Alpha course boats went and hid at Black Rock whilst the start boat stayed out monitoring the conditions, bit nasty that day out of the South West.

First in goes to being last out later.

First in goes to being last out later.

Winter’s just about over

It’s nearly that time of year, the Summer sailing season is just about ready to start for me. This Friday evening is the  race briefing where we run through all the plans for the season at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. As the clubs principal race officer, I have a great team of volunteers who help run the club racing and regattas throughout the year. I’m ably assisted by Steve Tucker as the RO when I’m off elsewhere. Along with Steve are Ted and Toby, we tend to just get on with it on a Saturday and where better than being out on Sydney Harbour. As with most race management teams, we are excellent sailors due to the amount of time watching and critiquing the boats out on the water.

I’m currently getting everything together to head to Perth in a couple of weeks time to show off more of the DeckHardware range of products. On previous trips I saw around 35-40 businesses, this time I have a list of 57. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to see the greater majority of the marine industry in Perth and the surrounding areas.

I’ve spent the last few months seeing those in and around Sydney for those who follow my travels. I’ve earmarked interstate business trips North and South over the coming months, in and around the various regattas.

Some may be aware that Sydney Sailboat Expo is coming. DeckHardware are excited to be involved in this event and we look forward to seeing everyone next April, here’s the website for all the details. http://www.sydneysailboatexpo.com

004Now and again we have visitors to the DeckHardware warehouse today was no exception. it was good to catch up with Nathan Outteridge and find out what he’s up to next. What with America’s Cup and the 49er Olympic campaign, he had less than a fortnight sailing the Moth from the previous Championships before winning the recent World title in England. I’ve always said it’s about time on water. Practise, practise, practise.

It’s been a pleasant winter with the temps in the high teens and dry until the last couple of weeks when the rain came. It’s been the wettest August in Sydney for over 15 years. There’s plenty who are hoping to dry out and the sooner the better.

Last weekend was the first mini regatta of the season, a fleet of Optimists and wouldn’t you know it? A break in the weather and a nice 8knot seabreeze – suite. Can we have some more?

It all starts soon, in many ways, I can’t wait.






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.

Headed North

Last Thursday I left Sydney and headed north, this trip was a combination of a few things. I run a course for Yachting New South Wales teaching country clubs the art of being a race official and on this occasion I was at Kingscliff with members of the Tweed Valley Sailing Club. Like many of the country clubs, their fleet is a broad range of classes and abilities, what doesn’t change is the enthusiasm for the sport of sailing. It was good to catch up again with Commodore Bill who I had met on a previous trip. Also with a former customer Michael, now retired to the Gold Coast and sailing an Impulse dinghy. Amongst the experienced members was one fellow just back from a world cruise, he certainly had some stories. There is also some practical and it was good to see those who don’t usually use compasses and GPSs experimenting.

The following day I attended the Sanctuary Cove Boatshow to see what’s new and a general catch up with those there. For the first time in too many years, their was absolutely no rain. Usually the shows have had a shower and even heavy downpours to put a dampener on things. Those outside rejoiced as it was clear skies, although the clothing companies would ague otherwise. Rain for them brings the customers. It was nice to spend the day wandering around without the need for jackets and umbrellas.

Whilst these were the two primary reasons for the trip, I also had the chance to stop and see a few of DeckHardware’s customers both old and new. It’s always good to see them and show a range of products, especially the builders who stop and think ‘where can I use that?’. One I saw is building a carbon 20′ foiling catamaran, taking the rig off his Tornado to have some fun. I look forward to seeing how the country clubs where he sails handicap him. Spending a couple of hours going through the Allen, Liros, PROtect and TBS range opens a few eyes, especially when they are able to place a few blocks and cleats here and there. Another builder I have to take some parts to show when I next drive past in a couple of weeks time, he’s building a one off carbon race boat and every little weight loss helps the speed gains.

Next trip is to Lake Keepit for the Keepit Kool Regatta in June, one I’ve not been to even though it’s been going for several decades now.First up however, I’m attending a race management course for my own accreditation. As the ISAF rules change each four years, so does one have to re sit and re visit the courses to maintain currency. This is a two day event, the ones I hold go for 4-4.5hours. Hopefully I’ll pass without too many issues.

005 004

A new season has started

Last Saturday was race one of the Middle Harbour Yacht Clubs Winter Series and just about right on queue the weather turned Winterish. Forecast was for cold wet and breeze, the colder and breeze we had. The small but keen fleet got away in a typical South Wester and sailed the full course in the 18-20 knots of wind.

After starting the fleet, I motored upwind for the finish and noticed a fleet of Maritime and Waterways vessels off Middle Head. We took our time and then we saw the reason. Whales! One breached just off the port bow with no warning. Phone Cameras came out and we got a couple of shots. This is the first pair in the harbour this winter, I’d expect to see more in the coming months.

I’m off on the road in the coming days, this time down to the South Coast to run another Race officers course on Saturday at Lake Wallagoot. Normally a days drive, I’ll take a couple and see some DeckHardware customers on the way. In two weeks time, I’m off the other way to Tweed Heads for the next course, so I’ll cover the NSW coast line. Following that..I’m off to Lake Keepit with the DeckHardware regatta van over the June long weekend. I’ve not been there before but the Keepit Kool Regatta has been run for several decades now. Three trips, so I’ll be covering a bit of New South Wales.007 008 009

420 State Titles at MHYC

Out on the water again this weekend was pretty much a joy. As Principal Race Officer at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, I get asked to run all types of events. This time it was the 420 State titles. Whilst I don’t run the centreboard division on a Sunday, this is usually left to the parents, I’m involved in most of the regattas at the club.

This one was one of the best and more enjoyable, we had a great team on the start boat, the two mark laying boats were filled with parents who knew what to do, just fantastic. We also ‘jagged’ the conditions. ‘Hughie’ obliged and provided us with pretty steady winds on both days. Saturday we got away a couple of races till the shift came through and then got away another 3 as the forecast for Sunday was bleak. As it turned out, Sundays racing started after a delay in perfect condition, the 10knot breeze only varied 5 degrees whilst the 20 boat fleet were racing. The only hickup was abandoning race three on Saturday before the finish. We had the 40 degree shift come through during the race and the smaller club start boat [ the yachts had the big one] couldn’t hold at anchor on position. Surprisingly only two competitors asked why? The rest must have agreed due to the shift.

Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to be involved again with the 420 class, they are certainly enthusiastic and a joy to work with. Here is a few photos I had the chance to take.

Next up is the start of the re vamped Sydney Mooloolabah yacht race, this time for multihulls.

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.

Snowy Mountains, it’s been a while

I often make a joke on there being no Palm Trees in Hobart when some one mentions the Rolex Sydney Hobart race.  It’s an old family story that my parents took us to the snow and said ‘there it is, next time you pay for it yourself’.  We did much the same with our children, preferring to spend holidays afloat either on the boat or at regattas.

So it’s been several decades since I’d been to the Snowy Mountains. This one came about following a phone call, ‘would you like to run a race officers course in Jindabyne and then RO the Snowy Mountain two day regatta following?’. Why not?

So the DeckHardware van was loaded up and I headed to the Snowy Mountains for a couple of days. I had eleven students for the course, all were locals, pretty much the whole club bar a couple who were still overseas following the Winter Olympics. Friday morning we did the course and after booking in to the motel, I headed to Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club to check it out. We ran a Friday night twilight course using the laid marks in order to settle in the rest of the visitors as well as me! Lake Jindabyne is as big if not bigger than Belmont Bay or Botany Bay in terms of setting race courses for sailing – and it’s fresh water! I mentioned to the rest of the start team that we should take out some water, ‘we just have a drink when we capsize, the town water comes from here too’. The anchor line was quite visible going down, so yep, it’s clean.

We ran a couple of races starting at midday Saturday in winds of 8-10 knots from 120 degrees  for the 31 competitors, just nice. After an adjournment ashore and a quick briefing on a laid mark course, we had a short sprint starting just before 1700. With rain clouds beckoning, that was the preferred option by many.  Starting in reverse order this time, the small monos, trailerables and the multis starting last, we only just made it to the finish after a fuel issue on the start boat.  Then it rained, but only for 30 minutes or so as the sailors were finishing and unrigging.   All good, race 3 done.

Sunday morning was planned for one longer race, so after a 60 minute postponement, the multis got away in a nice 10-12knot breeze again from 120 degrees on a four lap course. This wasn’t to hold for long and the next two divisions as the breeze slowly dropped.   As most race officials would know, just as you move the start boat to the top mark to finish the race, it’s a race to the bottom again, this time against Hobie 20s !   I decided to shorten the race to just the triangle for all  , some just drifting across the line. AND, as per the norm, as they were sailing back in ‘Hughie’ came back in.   Not to worry, all were happy to have had a sail and whilst the results were all over the place for race 4 everyone enjoyed themselves.

I’d like to thank all involved,the hospitality shown by the  Jindabyne locals, the support of Matt Owen and his Canberra Yacht Club sailors and rescue boat team.  Country clubs are really community run with everyone chipping in.

I think I’ll be back next year – as long as there’s no snow.  Anyone else looking for somewhere different to hold a regatta should get in touch with Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club?

First trip to Queensland for 2014

Last week saw me driving up to Queensland for the first time in 2014. For a change of pace I went up the inland via the New England Highway. In years gone by this was normally an added hour so to the coast road, however with all the new bypasses it took quite some hours longer. I’ll continue to use the coast from now on I think.

Monday afternoon I started off in the west of Brisbane, helpful as that’s where I was coming in from and then went on to a new retail outlet in Brisbane’s east which opened late last year. Tuesday was spent doing the rounds of the outlets around the Brisbane area and then heading off to the Sunshine Coast. There are a couple of builders finishing off a couple of large Schionning catamarans, these both looked pretty good only a month or so out from launch. Both of these builders have another to follow which is good for the local employment.

The Sunshine Coast area is developing quite quickly and has certainly changed since I first went up there in the mid 70s. It’s no longer a spread out area, all the bush and farm land is being developed at a rate. I then headed south to the Gold Coast, again this area is being built quite rapidly with the upcoming Commonwealth Games. There’s also a light rail/tram railway being built. When I compare the developments in these areas and the total lack of new infrastructure in my local area, it has to make you think. Sydney’s main roads out of the CBD are 2 lanes each way, up north they are 4! Melbourne too has some new freeways and toll roads heading out of town.

Following the week of doing the rounds of the various outlets, boat builders and sailmakers, I then changed my times forward to NSW daylight saving time and stopped off in Ballina. Again catching up with a boatbuilder there, it’s always nice when they come to the DeckHardware van and purchase on the spot.

From Ballina it was down to the Big River Sailing Club at Harwood for another visit. In the past I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the Northern locals and in turn they appreciate having the van there with a few bits and pieces. This time however I was offered a spot on boat an I550, a little sportsboat built at Ballina. On the last visits, these little boats have inspired me and to have the chance to go for a sail on one, let alone a 2.5hr race, well.. What a hoot, just crack the sheets a little and they are off on the plane like a dinghy. I haven’t had a grin like that since we had Animus up and surfing. I can now see why there’s the eighth boat in the mould and nearly ready to come out.

For a change of pace, I’m heading off to Jindabyne for this weekend. I’ll be running a race officers course as well as the Inaugural Snowy Mountains Regatta. This is catered for the locals who sail a variety of dinghies, cats and small sportboat/trailerables on Lake Jindabyne, they are also hoping for a few of the Canberra locals to come down. The lake is the result of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme providing power to the South-east of Australia. It’s several times the size of Sydney Harbour so there should be plenty of room, not too much traffic apart from fishermen either. I haven’t been down there for several decades as I’m not a snow person [I’d rather sail], needless to say I have packed  for all weather conditions bar snow. Should be interesting, I hope we get some breeze.

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.