So busy time flys past me

It has been an insane few weeks!  Two of them were spent out of the office at Match Racing Events on the water of Sydney Harbour and Pittwater.    This was followed with coming back to the office as Phil headed down to Sail Melbourne!  Which coincided with the busiest month of the year starting and it was BIG!  Then we get to this week and Monday Night I had the opportunity as a sponsor to attend a special function for the Australian Sailing Team – the “Road to Rio” Begins.  Then Tuesday was the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge and I took the time to head down to the shore and take some photos and videos!  So where do I start…

I truly love this time of year.  Plenty of time on the water at different events as well as a business which is all about the sport of Sailing meaning we get extremely busy at this time of year!   The Match Racing saw some interesting conditions and I do not think I have ever been as wet as I was umpiring on Pittwater and it was not even raining!  The conditions and breeze saw waves breaking over the boat and the umpires!  It was however great fun with a great team.  The conditions at both events truly were all over the place making it really hard and some long exhausting days.   By the end of the 8 days I was looking forward to a bit of rest and that was never to come!

The good news is however that business has certainly hit the peak season.  With DeckHardware keeping us more than busy as we try to keep up with the demand!  A huge thanks to Cam McDonald who turned up just in time to help unpack the big Liros Shipment. Cam is well known in the 18′ skiff fleet in particular for his splicing. Thanks Cam! We all know he wanted first go at the new stock haha

The Road to Rio Launch was a fantastic event to be able to attend.  We have been involved with the team for a number of years now as well as some of the athletes and even some of the support team are friends so it was great to be included.  We were reminded that we are all a part of the journey and have our part to play.  To find out more about the Road to Rio Launch head over to the Australian Sailing Team’s Website.

Australian Sailing Team Embarks On Road To Rio

The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge was the very next day.  For the seventh consecutive year, the CYCA has decided to dedicate the event to raise awareness and funds for its SOLAS Trusts, which were established following the stormy 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race when six lives were lost.  This is something that is extremely important for many of us.

Link to my photos


Up next is the Sail Middle Harbour Regatta which is going for the next three days out of two of my favourite clubs MHYC and MH16’SC. For those who remember my yacht Animus, I had both clubs written on the stern as my crew was often filled with skiffies.

To finish off I have a ThrowBackThursday moment from 2008, I stumbled across this great photo! One American Sailing Anarchist who wanted to see what it was like to sail with a chick crew hahaha.  Yes he flew to Aus!  What a great day! Most of the time I did not seek out an all female crew it just sometimes happened when none of the guys could make it.  Other times as the skipper I would be the only chick onboard.   #TBT

The Animus Crew
The Animus Crew

Where is our club heading?

Where do you want to see our club in 5, 10 15 years time?  I would like to see Middle Harbour Yacht Club as the destination for Sailors who love our sport and wish to compete against the highest level of sailors run by professional race committee that is the envy of other clubs.   Our location is and we know that.

I believe we need to inspire the next generation to stay in sailing and hopefully at our club.  So that they too then inspire the next generation to love our sport of Sailing.

My family was a part of the highly successful era in MHYC Centreboard and Offshore Sailing scenes.  Lately MHYC has told the world how strong we were and the sailors our club produced through its fantastic Centreboard Division.

Centreboard Division

  • Create a family environment
  • Get parents involved
    • Show them how to get involved
  • Run a power boat handling operators course
  • Look at classes offered and the direction of these classes offered at the club
    • Have a pathway and options along the path for our sailors.  When I was a teenager I asked and my mum fought to head down the same path as RPAYC, CYCA and RSYS and their training centres.

Junior Division

  • Optimist

Intermediate Division

  • 420

This is currently where our club is placed.   Ideally we should have an all inclusive Centreboard Division as it was when it was the strongest club in Sydney.

I would like to call on all those who believe in Middle Harbour Yacht Club to stand up and assist our club in finding its “Mojo”.  Many of you may have young kids and be wondering what path to lead them.  Whether they will be as lucky as you were growing up in a fantastic sailing environment.

I believe Middle Harbour Yacht Club has an opportunity right now as they did back then.  Perhaps instead of telling the teenagers what they will sail next they could hold an open event for all dinghy classes.  Then advise these classes that MHYC would love to have them race on a regular basis.  The place to start would be the 505’s which were such a strong class once at MHYC.  Let’s make the event a fantastic event and show everyone what a great place it is to sail and how amazing the people are.  How much we all love the sport of sailing.  We have the facilities to run the most professional event possible.  We also have the personnel in not only staff but a fantastic volunteer base that have run many great regattas over the years.

There are many questions people have asked me over the years.  Why was I the youngest skipper by such a margin? Why was I the only racing female skipper?  Where did those you grew up with go?  Where is your age group? Why did the Centreboard Division fold all those years ago?  Why are there so few females?  How did you manage to run so many women’s events and crews?

I have over the years said I have some but not all the answers should anyone wish to listen to someone so young.  I am a little older now and would love to talk to those who want to listen to my thoughts.   Perhaps we could hold an open forum and invite the members of the past?

So I ask: Where do you see Middle Harbour Yacht Club in 5, 10, 15 years time?

A weekend on the water

I truly am a lucky sailing chix.   Over the weekend I got to spend the entire two days on the water at two pretty awesome clubs.

The first one being Middle Harbour Yacht Club on Saturday.  Dad asked me to come out on the Start boat.  Not only to learn a little more watching him as the club PRO but also to take a million photos on a perfect blue sky day.  The Harbour really put on a show.  In Middle Harbour you could see the bottom as it was crystal clear water on a perfect 15 knot day.  I was so very lucky to be able to spend the day taking photos on a day like this.  Plus I got to see the first race of the season and where everyone was at.

Images from Saturday

I then got the chance to drive Hugh George again and learn how to pick up the marks after the race.   This was something new to me on such a large start boat.  It was great to have the clubs two RO’s onboard to help me learn this skill and how the boat likes to operate.  So big thanks to Dad and Steve for that one.

On the way back in the crew were letting me know to slow down as they had seen a windsurfer in a little distress.  I let Dad take the helm for this one as we got the poor shaking guy and his board onboard and delivered him back to Balmoral. Poor guy really was in a state and I am glad we saw him before he ended up in the main harbour.  He was already near Middle Head and heading his way out there.  When we got back to the club the preso was done and people were already heading home.   What a long day on the water!

Sunday I had to deliver some parts to friends of mine at Narrabeen Lakes Sailing Club.  When I got there for their first Learn To Sail morning session there were kids EVERYWHERE!  I mean EVERYWHERE!  It could have been the amazing weather, the impact of the Olympics or the family atmosphere at that club.   It was an amazing day as the kids from the club took out a new kid each to give them a go and Rhys, Greg, Ian, Ian and I manned the Rescue boats also towing them out with out sails up to learn how to balance in a boat and steer.  What an amazing effort by everyone!   Pam and Andy could be seen taking people out in Herons at the same time!  EVERYONE from the club was busy and helping out somewhere.   Things then changed back to a bit of normal as we headed out for the junior sailing session.   Gee joined me in the RIB to do some coaching as Greg jumped in the start boat.  She did a fantastic job in particular coaching her little Junior States Crew around the course when the breeze kicked in a little.

In the afternoon I was leaning towards heading home to do some work on the website.  My friends informed me I could not go to work as I was in the RIB for that afternoon.  I must say I was not really going to say no on such a beautiful day.

Funny how life changes

So a few years ago I was happy working two jobs and sailing 3 -4 days a week in Summer and 2 days a week in winter.  Then everything changed.  I got a call that changed my world and went to work for DeckHardware full-time.   It was not long after this that my family made the decision that we would like to purchase DeckHardware and that would change my life for ever.   I would end up working even more jobs to help grow the company and doing more hours and unfortunately have to sell my beautiful Animus so that we could buy more stock and bring in new brands.

As much as I miss the girl she has gone to a flat water home that she deserves after 30 years of hard racing out of Middle Harbour Yacht Club on the sound.  In an easterly she was unbeatable as one of the softer and oldest hulls still racing.   I was so lucky to be the third owner of such an awesome boat and it truly was a privilege to be allowed to drive such a fantastic yacht. It was also a sad day when she left our extended family as back in 2002 with good friends, my father and uncle aboard we had won the Adams 10m Nationals.   It was not long after that I bought her from family friends the Whites.

Owning DeckHardware has changed my life completely.  I have had the chance to travel to Europe multiple times visiting Ireland twice, London three times, Germany twice, Amsterdam Twice and Paris.  I have also had the chance to go to America several times visiting California as well as Washington DC and Annapolis.   I found myself until last year pretty much working 24/7.  Which is how I have found myself sitting here on a beautiful Saturday working away on the laptop instead of being out on the water. Seeing DeckHardware grow and change has been worth it even if it has been one hell of a ride and continues to be.  Along with all the experiences and friends I have made as a result.

I now make sure I do spend time on the water which has reminded me why we bought DeckHardware in the first place and why I love being a part of the Sailing community.

My parents tell me as a kid my personality would change as we approached my grandfathers yacht.  I was lucky growing up as one grandfather had the ocean racer and the other the 1920’s ketch with bowsprit and all which we restored.  The 1920’s yacht Thistle was kept on a mooring and apparently when I would step from the carpark to the grass to row out to the boat I would change completely in personality.  I even worked out how to go Wednesday Sailing for School sport with Adams 10 legend Pat Carroll during my teenage years acting as my coach.

For me I am at home on and near the water.

So sitting here with my laptop looking out at the ocean I better get back to work so I can enjoy it tomorrow…  Enough reminiscing and reminding myself why I push myself and work two jobs.   As my crew who are still in my life always say to me when they help out at Boat Shows and in the warehouse: one day you will own a boat again for us all to go sailing on.

In the meantime I have a pretty awesome company that I believe in and love to work for that needs all my attention to keep growing and I am proud of that.

Animus is actually sailing!

Who’s turn will it be this year? We will have to wait and see. After all you have to be in it to win it!

Two years ago Animus missed the Adams 10m Nationals due to a broken mast, this year it looked like we would miss out again. Animus has not sailed this season due to work commitments and doing the Nationals just went into the too hard basket. With no regular crew and some maintenance required there was a lot to do. This is when Live Sail Die stepped in and asked what it would take to make sure we made it to the Adams 10m Nationals at Lake Macquarie.

After calling one of my regulars Tom Freeman who has sailed with me since the Flying Eleven days we decided to give it a go at putting a team together. He made a few calls and managed to get a mate of his who he sails Farr40’s with as well as match racing in the youth fleets. Dave Chapman was in which makes three.

It was then that I called Big Dave Nelson. Dave was part of the winning crew back in 2002 when Animus was known as SSV under the ownership of the White family. I was part of the crew then along with my father Phil Yeomans and Dave has sailed with us on many occasions since.

My good friend and Two-handed partner in crime Kate Cooper was in “if we really needed her” even though she should be finding a new place to live. I did try and now with just 5 days to go Kate is definitely in.

This is where the internet came into play with Facebook and 12′ skiff sailor Brad Greenrod saw that I was putting a team together and sent me a message that he was interested. We now have a crew!

Next step was to get Animus up to Lake Macquarie and looking at Seabreeze a week delivery would have been very wet bashing into strong Noreasters. So Sunday morning with the help of my father and our shorecrew (Mum) Animus arrived at the lake. It was a very long motor without much breeze. I managed to take just a couple of photos during the trip. If you have never been into the Lake check out the the video on the Adams 10m Website. I did not take any photos or video going up the channel this time around as we were warned by the Coast Guard twice that several boats had to be pulled through the day before. In fact they had already had three that morning and whilst we were going through a smaller boat along side was not paying enough attention and ran aground. It is only about 1.2 to 1.4 metres deep in parts at high tide so it is a bit of an experience to say the least when your draft is 1.8m. Let alone the rushing tide through such a small channel.

So Animus is now at LMYC ready to compete in another Nationals. This is something I have done since I was a kid as my Uncle and Father have sailed the 10’s my whole life and now I do. It is always remarkably close racing with as many as half the fleet a good chance when they are having their good day. Ben Nossiter after roughly 20 years of trying finally claimed victory at last years titles. Animus is out defend our title, the ‘Pat Carroll Memorial Trophy’ for the first placed timber seat yacht. However as we have proven in the last 10 years just because we have timber seats does not mean we won’t be up there at the front of the fleet.

Who’s turn will it be this year? We will have to wait and see. After all you have to be in it to win it!

Crew’s Red Hot Regatta

After an AP of 3 hours we were able to go out and compete in 3 races with the wind flicking from 155 to 175 to 200, for each start. By now the wind had abated to 15-25 knots in the puffs with rain at times. This was hard sailing in the short chop making upwind conditions difficult. The girls did well to get the weight as far out as possible considering there was no toe rail to keep them onboard.

During the June long weekend MHYC sent a team to compete in the RMYS Women’s Keelboat Regatta.  This was in response to a generous invite from the owner of the Adams 10m Rollercoaster, Ken Simpson. We brought our own Spinnakers (3), Mainsail and #1 Genoa to make sailing on an unfamiliar boat slightly easier.

The three days of the regatta provided a range of testing conditions:

Day 1 The weather today, 5 degrees Celsius (coldest June day for 13 years), wind 2-4 knots and thick, blanketing fog.  Visibility was no more than 1000m at the best of times.  Often no more than 100m with a runabout appearing on the course from Williamstown, which is on the other side of the bay, lost and having no idea where they were.  The breeze was swinging between 40 odd degrees, with no chance of setting a course.  After nearly 4 hours floating around the race officials decided to pull the pin for day.

Day 2 Again the crew were up bright and early, for our 7am briefing with John Hurley.  However the weather was now proving a handful with gusts reaching 40 knots from the south-west forcing a delay in racing.  We went for coffee with one of the Melbourne sailing teams that were competing in the event.  After finding out racing was still delayed we then decided to do the girlie thing and head for the Markets.  Liz, Rosie, Kate and I walked a little further as they decided if they could not go for a sail on Rollercoaster they would go for team bonding at Luna Park on the Rollercoaster.  Unfortunately the Rollercoaster was not operating so back to the Yacht Rollercoaster for hopefully an afternoon of racing. After an AP of 3 hours we were able to go out and compete in 3 races with the wind flicking from 155 to 175 to 200, for each start.  By now the wind had abated to 15-25 knots in the puffs with rain at times. This was hard sailing in the short chop making upwind conditions difficult. The girls did well to get the weight as far out as possible considering there was no toe rail to keep them onboard. The fleet was mixed with the main competition coming from Salamander III (Adams 10m), Horizon Sprint (Radford 10.9), Alien (Lidgard 11m) and Hush (Cavalier 35).  That night we all watched the Wallabies play England in the Motel Lounge Bar and continued our team bonding, with our English members of the crew.

Day 3 Race one saw us use all three spinnakers, starting small and ending up with the big masthead.  It was great to see how fast the crew had become in the Spinnaker hoists as well as being able to read the sailing instructions.  This saw us getting the gun in the first race of the day.  The racing was as close as ever with only seconds separating some of the fleet.  With many headsail changes between the #1 and #3, Kate is now very experienced at headsail changes not having done any prior to the event.   We were able to get three races in, breeze 10-18 knots with the occasional gust of 25.

Following Monday’s racing, the crew enjoyed a sit down dinner presentation with many prizes and a great attendance of approx 200 competitors and friends.   The evening was hosted by the RMYS Commodore who announced during the night that next year’s event would be known as the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta.

Congratulations to the overall winner on VYC Hyperactive (J24) Kirsty Harris.  Our overall results were VYC 5th, AMS 2nd, IRC 2nd.  We were also awarded best start trophy for one our starts.  A great result using a borrowed boat sighted for the first time 1.5 hours before the start of the first race.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank John Hurley for his Coaching and support during the regatta, the next thankyou goes to the MHYC members for their very generous support at such short notice. Thanks to all the companies who supported our raffle efforts including the Sydney Swans and DeckHardware Australasia who supplied our major prizes. Special thanks to my parents, Robyn and Phil for driving down with my sails.  A very special thankyou to Nigel Holman for the loan of his inflatable vests making the sailing more comfortable as we were required to wear lifejackets in this event.

Thanks also to the team pulling together with minimal training on Animus – Jen Rezek – Main, Liz Gazzard – Trim 1, Julie Hodder – Trim 2, Rosi Winn – Pit (plus everything else usually done by mainsheet hands in Sydney), Kate Cooper – Bow and Mast.  And to Qantas thankyou for finding Julie Hodder’s sailing gear, her bag had decided it did not like the Melbourne weather and that the regatta should be held in Cairns.

During the Regatta we enjoyed incredibly close racing with Salamander III. It is hoped that they will be able to join us in Sydney for the next MHYC Ladies Day, as we will be able to arrange an Adams 10m for them to sail.  We all had great fun and I encourage all Sydney women to think seriously about taking part next year.  As well as competing in the Women’s events on Sydney Harbour, they are always great fun.


Sirius and Animus head to the Nationals

There was discussion held as to who would go under the bridge first to avoid being the first to run aground. Luckily this was no problem and both made it to the clubhouse unscathed.

Friday 7th January at approximately 9pm Animus and Sirius left MHYC for the trip north to Lake Macquarie. The conditions looked to be favourable for the trip with a 10-knot easterly.

Animus commenced the trip without any incidents leaving the harbour under #1 headsail. Perhaps the boat should be renamed to describe our minimal way of approaching things.

Sirius however decided to get underway with their #3. Perhaps this was due to the fact they were still trying to set up their bedding with (cushions, sleeping bags etc) and pack their esky with the freezer bricks they had brought for the overnight trip. That could explain the reason that one of their crew mistook a ship for new units at Mosman.

We reached Long Reef and the wind dropped completely so on went the motors. Damian slept under the tiller to keep the outboard in the water. Whilst I tried to get some rest on the cockpit floor using lifejackets or wet weather gear for pillows. Due to the connection breaking on the motor we had to jiggle the fuel into the top fuel tank and try not to run out of fuel, which unfortunately did happen a few times.

Off Norah Head the Southerly change finally caught up with us. We cleared the headsail off the deck and set the Hounds Spinnaker. Sirius was 4-6 miles further out in the set deciding to pole out their #1 headsail. Great rides in the 3-4m swell, reaching 10.9 knots on one.

Sirius carried their main all the way to the Bridge for that little extra speed. Arriving just in time to catch the 8am bridge with Animus. The tide at this time was still on the way in, as it was my first time entering the lake by boat I was amazed at the speed that it was running. My parents have often told stories over the years of the entrance and how many boats had to be dragged across the bar.

There was discussion held as to who would go under the bridge first to avoid being the first to run aground. Luckily this was no problem and both made it to the clubhouse unscathed.

It was suggested that Ben needed to recharge his smock supplied by Anthony – Djuice Hot Pink.

Within minutes of leaving the lake for the trip home all fell asleep.