So that was 2015

The Christmas and New Year hectic period has been and gone. Not that the coming weeks are any different.

Christmas always means the Rolex Sydney Hobart race and on Christmas Eve it starts with the mandatory race briefing at the CYCA followed by a shorter Race Management one. My MHYC [middle line] team has been together for a few years now so there’s a settled pattern. The CYCA [front] and RSYS [rear] are also pretty steady so it usually all goes to plan. With the size and number of big boats and the addition of the Clipper boats a 3 line system was the go again. It’s almost becoming a regular over the last few years. Boxing Day gave us a work out of the harbour and there were several incidents that have been well documented. Speaking with Sir Robyn Knox-Johnston after the briefing, he’d advised all of his Clipper crews that the race is not won in the harbour and to just get out clean. We had a clear start on our line and that’s a great feeling and relief as it also gives us a chance to head offshore after the start to watch the fleet head south.

The following day heralded the start of the International Cadet Dinghy National Championships to be held at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. This event had been the effort of quite a few enthusiastic parents and the head of the clubs Junior program, Locky Pryor. They had held a training session prior to Christmas measuring all the local boats. It was great to hear from the National measurer that in his near decade in the class this was the smoothest registration day. Well done to all the MHYC volunteers.

Sailing wise, we had all hoped for a steady Noreaster each day. Unfortunately the weather didn’t quite go to plan, providing only the one typical Sydney Summers day. The rest were held in East to South East sea breezes varying from 10-18knots. The seaway was a challenge for most as was the tidal flow. Some read it right most of the time whilst others struggled with the swell and chop. One thing was was outstanding and that was the effort of the winning crew on the Victorian boat Samaran. In one start, they were boxed in and went the other way to the rest of the fleet in an effort to escape. No one covered and suddenly they were in the top pack at the first mark.

One of the things that I do enjoy when running sailing events, is watching the top of any class at the best of their game. Be it the Olympians like Jason and Lisa on the NACRA or young Cadet sailors like Julian and Micha, it’s purely a joy to watch and like most you learn something new from each of them.

Middle Harbour ran a great regatta and we were able to get in two races a day over the 6 days on the water. Huge effort from all of the volunteers, ashore, on ferry watch and of course the mark layers and start team.

Next up? I’m off to Melbourne with the DeckHardware van showing some of the new 2016 releases from our suppliers and immediately following, I’m back on the water officiating at the Farr40 State and National championships. These two events are a prelude to their 2016 World Championships being held later in Sydney.

2016 has only just begun..

A busy month, nearly over for the year.

As the Australian sailing season winds down, I’ve spent four weekends in a row out on the water both days running events.

The first event was the Snowy Mountains Regatta down at Jindabyne, around 6 hours drive south of Sydney. This was the second year at Jindabyne and again the locals looked after me. We had a mixed fleet of dinghies, catamarans and trailer yachts including a good fleet of  19 Lasers, some of whom had driven down from Canberra for the weekend.014 017

Friday evenings twilight race was held in a nice 5-8 North Wester around the laid club marks and everyone finished which was nice after last years evening storm. Saturday we had a good Easterly and ran several races, good stuff. Sunday had the forecast 18-20knots Easterly and brought with it a short sharp chop on the fresh water Lake Jindabyne which made laying marks and holding anchor on the start boat difficult. The lake was made last century for the Snowy Hydro power scheme, drowning the original town so there’s a few no go areas as far as sailing and putting marks go. You may hook something harder than mud.

As the last competitors were finishing the last last, there was one young girl sailing a Laser on the last leg. She’d capsized multiple times and the last set was just short of the finish line. The rescue boat was off attending to a sinking Hobie16, so I asked the markboat to stand by her. Once the time limit expired, we came alongside to assist, she’d had enough and was starting to get cold, so we got her aboard. The only option was to jump in the water and right the Laser myself. The last time I’d sailed a Laser was a looooong time ago. After working out the vang and mainsheet were cleated off and releasing them, I had a pleasant 3 km sail back to the club. at least it was all one leg and no tacking! That’s one thing ticked off for a while, at least the water was fresh!

The next week end was the annual MHYC Sydney Harbour Regatta, so back to home base and running the Adams10m and the NSW State titles for the J70 Class. Saturday brought clear skies and finally a pleasant seabreeze of around 10knots. The main issue however was the runout tide, it was a big one. With the start boat laying across the tide and beam on the the breeze, it was a nasty day out rolling around all day.  014 015 036 054We had all sorts of issues trying to get a square start line. Sunday was far far better, the SouEaster of around 15knots was fantastic, still with a bit of tide but hey the startboat team were comfortable at least! Adams10s had their usual close racing and the J70s were shown around by my old Laser sparring mate Tony [Sir Arthur] Barnes. Sir Arthur was having his first hitout in the class on the demo boat and certainly hasn’t lost his touch on the helm.

The next Friday was the Annual Property Industry Sailing Event, this huge fund raiser attracted over 90 entries in 6 divisions. With a solid 20knots and drizzle at the start, I sent the boats off on the longer of the two options. Ragamuffin100 sailed around the harbour course in under 2 hours! Unfortunately with the last boats needing to sail from Middle head to Shark Island and back the the finish in 90mins, the wind dropped out completely, nothing, nada, zip. We ended up with only half the fleet finishing, which no one could have predicted. Those I spoke to after, were also surprised at the conditions collapsing. The non sailors however enjoyed the day and that’s one of the main things.

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The following day was a joint club race with the RSYS big boats coming around to MHYC for the day. Whilst it was a nice day weather wise, the only option wind wise was to set a windward leeward course. The smaller boats had it easy, however David Kellett aboard Sydney60 much preferred the longer legs than sprints. We got in two races in a nice seabreeze and I think most were happy with the day. Those who sailed the day before at least had a chance to dry out.038 058

Last of the full on weekends was running the NSW States for the 420s and 470s. With numbers well down due to clashes with other events both locally and overseas, the planned trapezoid courses were substituted for basic windward returns, which made it a lot easier on the volunteer [420 parents] mark laying teams. We got in all the races with time to spare, some made the comment that the races could have been a bit longer, but with only a handfull of each class, they were closer on the shorter courses. Spreading them out on longer courses would have seen a few of them sailing on their own most of the time.

Last Saturday was the last club race for me this 2014/2015 Summer Season at MHYC. With the Combined High Schools sailing at Belmont16s after Easter and then the inaugural Sydney Sailboat Expo following, that’s it for the summer. I’ll be back on the road taking the DeckHardware van to Queensland, South Australia then Victoria in the coming months showing off an ever increasing range of products.

Getting busier

021 087 089 As if we didn’t have enough on at the moment. With Mel heading off to METS in Amsterdam, I’ve been to Western Australia, Southern Queensland and Victoria in the last couple of months as well as the local rounds  here in Sydney.

Just for something different, I headed down to Lake Illawarra for the Manly Junior State Titles round one. DeckHardware are sponsoring the class this season, so it was good to go and catch up with many of the parents and competitors. The DeckHardware van was kept busy prior to racing as they had had a bit of a blow the day before and there was plenty of repair work going on early on the Sunday morning. having been brought up in the class and Mel having one too, we have great affinity for the young sailors and their enthusiasm for the sport. With just on 50 boats sailing the competition was pretty hot, good to see. I’ll be following the class through their Nationals at Middle Harbour and the remaining rounds of their State titles.

I have also been doing the rounds of the local outlets and whilst at Woolwich Dock catching up with Paul Eldrid from One Sails in Perth. I stay with Paul when over there and he’s spending quite some time in Sydney setting up Craig Carters new offshore racer Indian for this years Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. I let him know he has to say Hi to the Start Team. This years race will again be something to watch with the five 100’ers on the front line. These are probably the fastest offshore monohulls currently sailing so it’ll be a bit hectic Boxing Day. Once again there will be three start lines like last year, busy.

With November 11 this week, it’s the one time of year I think about my Grandfather Tom Yeomans or Fa as the family knew him. Tom was a Gallipoli veteran and reading a copy of his diary that I have, the antics the young ANZACs got up to on the way were incredible. I highly doubt any youth today would be able to climb a Pyramid in Egypt for example! His original diary is in the possession of the NSW State Mitchell Library in the city. I can remember him taking me to the Vaucluse Bowling Club and whilst he had the odd beer or two, I played on the merry go round and rode my skateboard. Sadly illness dogged him in the last couple of years of his life, so it’s only my early years that I can vividly remember with him.

Bugger

The other week I ventured north to Southern Queensland, doing the rounds of the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast seeing DeckHardware customers, again both old and new.

Where does the ‘Bugger’ come in to it? I was parked in a service road nearby a retail outlet talking to Robyn on the phone prior to going inside. A fellow pulled up behind me with a trailer to drop off a couple of things to another shop. As he drove off he neglected to shut the gate on the trailer adequately and it hit the real tail light and corner panel above, causing the gate to fall off the trailer as well. After speaking with the shop employees, I held on to the gate and left them my card if he wanted the gate back. he rang later in the day and we met up at the spot, swapping his details for the gate concerned. Just the hassle of it all, the local Police couldn’t do anything as there were no injuries or damage to public property. Like I said just a ‘bugger’.

Doing the rounds of the various outlets is always good, many of these have become friends over the years, those you see out on the water as well. Like Tony Hannan, who I’ve known for over 35 years and sailed with and against at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. Tony until recently ran his sail loft at Brookvale near us and decided on a ‘Sea Change’. He’s moved everything up to Redcliffe in the north of Brisbane. It was good to catch up with him again, spending a little time going through the DeckHardware new products and reminiscing as well. It was good to see him place an order shortly after – thanks Tony.

I had the chance to catch up with several friends who had moved north. One who I caught up with was Mark Grey at Surfers Paradise, good timing as he and Jules have made the decision to move north to Brisbane’s southern suburbs and be closer to work avoiding the driving time.  The house they’ve found has plenty of room, so hopefully next time I’m in Brisbane there’s a bed too. Another was Katie Evans a lovely American girl who I first came across on Sailing Anarchy. She ended up marrying another Aussie anarchist Simon Evans, who unfortunately passed away due to illness last year. Katie was offered a job on the Sunshine Coast recently and she’s loving the change, ‘the weather is  like Florida’ she said. She’s another who I’ll keep in touch with when up on the Sunshine Coast. I do apologise to those who I didn’t have the chance to catch up with..next time. Another I had the chance to catch up with late one afternoon was Bev Yeomans. Bev’s husband’s father was a brother to my grandfather, if that makes sense. I’ve tried to stay in touch since my father passed away several years ago. They grew up nearby each other in Vaucluse and I can remember growing up with her daughters in our younger years. Like many she has a collection of my fathers maritime art works and I took the opportunity to take photos of them. Dad ‘paid’ his way in later years by giving many friends and relatives original art works when visiting and staying away from home. Bev is just one of many like Robyn and I who like his art works.

Whilst at Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club, Paul Blundell the clubs sailing manager mentioned that the local TV station [Win] was coming shortly to interview him on his sailing program for school children from country Queensland. It was fantastic to see a group of kids learning to sail, surf and fish on the coast and taking those life experiences home to the bush. Many of them only took a couple of hours to pick it up, Paul and his team do a fantastic job here – well done PB. I too was interviewed, however my piece didn’t make that evenings news.

Coming home for the October long weekend, it was the first time for as long as I can remember that I wasn’t involved in either competing in an event or running one. So instead I spent Saturday morning and Monday afternoon at the NSW Youth Sailing Championships on Botany Bay. Monday afternoon becoming the traffic cop directing traffic as the competitors came out of the water and crossed the road to the rigging area.

Needless to say, I wasn’t home for too long. Next up, Victoria.003 004 008 031

 

2014 Combined High Schools Regatta

After all of the preparation and setup it’s amazing how quickly the 2014 Combined High Schools sailing regatta at Belmont went.  Once again the weather didn’t co-operate with strong southerlies and rain each day. The competitors however liked the good breeze, although many at the end had had enough.

 We support this event because we believe in what it stands for to us, not to lift our profile let alone our income, but to hopefully spread the word so more young sailors can enjoy what so many others have before them. Having competed in it myself then taking my own children to compete it is hard to stay away. The CHS for quite sometime has given many the opportunity to sail something different to what they normally sail. Some who normally sail a Flying Eleven for example, will trial sailing a Tasar or Northbridge Senior. This year one female Heron sailor, tried out an Olympic Finn, completing every race bar one a big effort given the conditions.

It takes more than a week to set up the van and ready myself for the week at the event as well as pack the box of prizes.  The support we provide at the event by having the van setup takes a lot of work but can be very rewarding when you are able to see someone get back out on the water.   Our range of products sees me selling all sorts of little things from a few metres of rope or shockcord to a shackle or tiller extension.   They don’t amount to much but they do help towards covering the cost of being out of the office and paying for the accommodation to be at the event.

The CHS is an event we enjoy being involved in and hope to assist in lifting the profile of such a great event. Along with principal sponsor Slam, DeckHardware has been able to support the CHS at Belmont for quite some years. Rod Carter who runs the event as well as being the Principal Race Officer also shares the same enthusiasm, as do the many volunteers from Belmont 16′ Skiff Club and the parents who man the mark/rescue boats daily. This is one of the few events where I get to stay ashore and just watch the up and coming sailors Australia is producing.

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.

2014 eh?

What happened to 2013? That year went pretty quick, as we arranged each trip, some months in advance they quickly caught up. The month of December even more so. My trip to Sail Melbourne at Sandringham Victoria, followed immediately by a trip north to Yamba and Grafton. Then Sail Middle Harbour where I ran part of the regatta for 420s and Finns. Then of course the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, finishing off the year with DeckHardware’s support of the 50th Sabot national titles.

Sail Middle Harbour was the result of Sail Sydney not being run and our club Middle Harbour Yacht Club in conjunction with Middle Harbour 16′ Skiff Club combined to give some of the classes an event. We had a good fleet of 420’s and it was great to have the Finns for the first time, especially with some of those who had been at Sail Melbourne turning up. With good conditions, it was out to the Sound for both fleets as Middle Harbour 16′ Skiff Club had the 29ers inshore from us. Once again I was supported by a great team of volunteers from the club helping make the running of the regatta a little easier.

The annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is always a sight to see. With 5 100’ers, a couple of 80’ers, 3  Volvo70s and the Clipper Round the World race fleet, it was always going to be hectic. For this year the CYCA decided to run a third line to split the fleet up a little. The CYCA with Dennis Thompson ran the big boats on the front line, I had the middle with our MHYC team and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron had the back line. We decided to add to our normal startboat team with additional helpers, I try to mix it up each year. We have many requests to come out and this year it was the turn of some of Melissa’s match racing people. As we have two teams, one upstairs and one down, it was great to have the back up of Jeremey Atkinson who is also a highly credited race official and rules expert. We try to have a clear start as no one is called for 5 minutes if they are over. This year we had a couple starting early, one who came back almost straight away and another who waited till they were called. When this happens we have to wait till all are clear before we can follow the fleet out the heads. Once again it was quite a spectacle and this coming years will be just as big being the 70th.

A couple of days later through DeckHardware’s sponsorship of the 50th Sabot National Championships, I spent some time at Drummoyne Sailing Club with the van. Once again it was fantastic to watch some of the up and coming junior sailors and with over 130 competitors trying to remember some of their names was a little hard. It’s always interesting to watch those who are actively involved in their boat preparation and rigging.  Including new DeckHardware Ambassador from Lake Macquarie sailor Jed Fatches. Wangi Wangi Moth sailor Jody Shiels tipped us off on Jeds ability and enthusiasm and it was great to meet and follow Jed and his family. What was interesting was that each state had a team song. This was sung at the opening and closing ceremonies but also each day prior to hitting the water! It was great listening to the teams trying to out sing each other after their coaches pep talk. Sam King from Launceston in Tasmania was the 50th winner of the overall trophy which included names such as Nathan Wilmot and Nathan Outteridge. Tasmania also cleaned up in the teams event, quite a successful trip for them.

As soon as the Sabots finished at Drummoyne it was the turn of the 16′ Skiffs. Both the club and a couple of the sailors had asked if we’d be there with the van. So it was a continuing daily trip over several bridges to be there for the beginning of the 16’s. Lee Knapton and his crew of Brydens won each of the 7 races, something that long time skiffies had not seen for several decades. This was a new boat and as it was fitted with a couple of DeckHardware products Liros and TBS, we were more that interested in the event. DeckHardware ambassador Fire Stopping were also amongst the front runners and it was great to see them also without boat issues at the end of each day.

This past weekend I drove up to Port Stephens for the  Flying Eleven National Championships, as it turned out it was also their 50th birthday with the first boats built by Mariner Craft back in 1964. Having more than a passing interest in the class after Melissa’s involvement in the 90s and some of our friends who now have their children in the class, it was great to watch. Funnily it was a familiar name at the top after the first day of racing – Jed Fatches. Jed had teamed up with fellow Sabot sailor Tom Stivano for this event and they went out and won the first two races! Talk about grins when they came to see me at the van at the end of the day, great to see.

An old mate Graeme Ferguson was there with his family as youngest daughter Jordy was skippering for the first time, the number of girls who are now sailing is fantastic and they certainly give the boys a run. I also caught up with Trevor Barnabas and Hugh Cooke from Manly. Both of these long time skiff sailors were up there with their grandsons, watching and listening to the parting of pre race advise was fantastic, even I learnt something each day. Melissa had gone to school with Christine Barnabas, Zac and Jakes mum, so this was another pairing we were looking out for. Zac had only just won the Manly Junior Nationals on at the same time as the Sabots and this was their first Flying Eleven event in a borrowed boat. It only took them 4 races to win their first! Something to be said for this generation of sailors.

This coming weekend I’m off to Victoria. I’ll be spending a few days doing the rounds of the DeckHardware customers and then I’m off to Geelong. At this time of year for the last 3 decades, I’ve pretty much done or run the Adams10 Championships so I’ve not had the chance to go to Geelong’s Festival of Sail, one of Australia’s  largest regattas. I’m involved in the on water running of the regatta, as I’ve not been before, it’ll be interesting to say the least. This event also includes the Melges24 World Championship, held for the first time in Australia. With 8 nations competing, I hope to have the opportunity to see a little of the racing.