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Sabre Sailing Dinghy

Australia's most popular one design single handed class. The fun Single hander that is easy to sail but difficult to master.

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While some one hundred or so yachts came sweeping up the River Derwent at the finish of the Sydney Hobart and Launceston to Hobart races in late December, a swarm of smaller sailing boats were often seen dashing back and forth across the river.
A fleet of 35 Sabres, a single-handed adult dinghy, was contesting the Australian championship on the river, conducted ably by the Derwent Sailing Squadron.
Despite other commitments, including the Launceston to Hobart and the King of the Derwent, the DSS race management conducted 10 races for the Sabres without any incidents.
The weather was kind except for first day when a strong southerly front caused some havoc with the fleet.
In the end it came down to the last race on Sunday to decide the overall winner with a duel between South Australians Craig McPhee and Mark Soulsby, the defending champion.
McPhee, with four firsts earlier in the series, went into the final race with a three point lead and a second place in the final race was sufficient to give him a two point winning margin and his first national title in the Sabre class.
Soulsby, well-known as a former champion Sharpie and 505 sailor, made a spirited bid to retain his title, winning the last two races.
McPhee finished with a net 14 points after two discards, Soulsby 16 points while third overall was another South Australian, David Arnold on 20 points.
Victorians filled the next two placings overall, Jim Scott on 23 points and Murray Shaw on 41 points followed by the first Tasmanian competitor, Jeremy Fish from Lindisfarne Sailing Club on 53 points.
Matt Westland, also from Lindisfarne placed 9th and Matt Pearce 11th.
Lauren Keil was top placed female sailor, finishing 20th overall while her father, Chris Keil was 15th in standings. Junior champion was Joshua Eggins who placed 17th overall.
Peter Campbell
4 January 2016
For a full breakdown of results Click Here

Click here for the final Results

The national series was a great success and all those who sailed it enjoyed themselves and the series greatly. Below are a number of reports which might indicate the spirit of the series as well as letting you know some of what has happened. 

The 97/98 Bachelor Series oops, I mean National Titles

We all travelled from far and wide to Largs Bay for the 97/98 series. It seems that sailors will do anything to go fast so most of us took the hint from the two favourites (Barry and Nick) and came without our wives or girlfriends. I have been to a number of nationals with the Sabres and have never seen so many attending (or being allowed to attend) by themselves. Barry should be proud of the strong influence he has over the fleet - for surely it must be his influence and the fact that we all want to go fast (or at least that is what I tell my wife Meryl). There were a couple of visitors who broke ranks but all claimed extenuating circumstances. Dick Wilkins travelled from Queensland and claimed he needed a second driver (although Shane Navin made it from Sydney by himself). Phil Johnson our National Measurer, was a traitor to the cause and brought new wife Anne and then claimed he was still on his honeymoon. There may be something in this as he seemed distracted and could not find the marks. Jim Holyroyd also brought Lynne but claimed she was there to look after son Matthew. The rest of us all travelled by ourselves and of course were well behaved throughout the series - at least I had no reports of inappropriate behaviour from our more seasoned competitors. 

Most of the visitors and quite a few of the locals brought their boats to the club on measurement day and immediately the controversy started. A number of people started polishing their boats (I must admit I was also guilty). This is not mentioned in the class rules and they state that anything not in the rules is not allowed so I wonder whether we broke the rules and should have been banned. There was considerable discussion as to whether the fleet should be broken up into polished and an unpolished boat divisions. I was glad these suggestions were not taken further as I would have ended up in a large group of the fast boats. I think this was just another example of Barry leading us astray. We figured that if he and Nick thought it was fast then we had all better do it. You know how hero worship goes. When considering divisions next year, I suggest we follow the lead of the Mirror class and have a Cruiser weight division. Then again I might be the only competitor.

Late on the first day a few of us even went out for a short training run - I felt it was a bit keen but if Barry and Nick were going then maybe it could help me (I should have realised that nothing would help me…well maybe a…). Worried looks were on the faces of the leading contenders as word got out that John Dick was coming across as a late entry.

John did in fact pack his boat and actually left at 4am, drove 200 metres and decided it was crazy rushing at the last minute and returned home to bed - much to wife Gaynor’s surprise. Oh well, there is always Black Rock next year John. The welcoming evening was a quiet night giving us a chance to meet up with old friends. I was happy to see so many ex Gwenies but to tell the truth after so many years have difficulty remembering the boats and sailors - but it did bring back many good memories.

The next day was invitation race day and the first item on the agenda was our official briefing. After going through the usual typos in the sailing instructions - one of these days I will attend a regatta that does not post amendments to the sailing instructions - we then had a concerned pregnant Faye Mckenzie ask for sign on sheets. This created considerable discussion with a voice on high calling down to the masses “Are you for real”. We left the briefing agreeing to disagree on this point as the club had an excellent safety record. At this stage the one question on everyone’s lips was “John Dick - where are you”. Off to the invitation race we went and disaster struck - our hero Barry won it. We all knew he might as well pack up then and there as he could never win the title after such bad luck. 

The series is a little bit of a blur to me as I was busy down the back of the fleet trying to embarrass a few people by beating them. So I don’t know what happened up the front but do know that the lead placing’s in the races changed many times in most heats and that the racing was close and clean and that somehow Nick and Barry managed to win all the races between them. ( They were using identical Hooper Q cut sails if anyone is interested ). 

While the racing was clean I do think National Measurer, Phil Johnson should be taken to task on a few things. First was the way that Phil let a number of boats infringe the measurement rules. The first case has already been mentioned - allowing sailors to cut and polish the bottoms of their boats. However there were two more serious breaches of the rules that he also chose to ignore. The first is that Sabres are supposed to be a single handed boat yet he allowed Faye McKenzie to sail two up or at least 1 ½ up. Not content with this he then ignored a flagrant breach of the Sabre rules on tiller extensions. In the first of back to back heats Peter Young broke his Tiller extension. He borrowed some rope and used this as a tiller extension in the next heat. This must have been cheating as it was his best heat - finishing second. Unfortunately for Peter he went and bought a new Tiller extension the next day and never went as well again. I must ask why Phil never checked the length of the rope to make sure it was not longer than 1m. Surely flexible tiller extensions are illegal. Jokes aside Peter, it was terrific seamanship. For a National Measurer Phil you need to have a good hard look at yourself. If you keep this up you will get a reputation for being too considerate - harmony in the class is something we cannot afford.

One should also comment on the fact that Phil is a nice person despite the fact that he will do anything to win - except wear glasses to find marks. He loaned Peter Reid a boat for the series and then even repaired the holes in the hull after Peter had enough bad results not to be a threat for the title. On boat preparation one must mention the Holyroyds. Jim was concerned that Matt had not replaced a badly corroded shroud but wanted him to take responsibility for his own boat. Unfortunately the next day Jim broke his own mast step, putting the mast through the deck. Nothing plenty of epoxy and tape would not fix and he was out racing the next day. 

New Years Eve was the next big event - the club was left deserted and we scattered. A few of us oldies went to a Greek Restaurant on the recommendation of someone who shall remain nameless. Well to say that service could be improved is an understatement. They should employ Basil Faulty to show them how to improve their service. It did however fill in the night. To give an indication of how slow the service was it took us over 25 minutes to pay them the bill. The big Yank waiter was also no help and just tried (and failed) to crack jokes. 

The younger brigade went to Glenelg for the night. Nick! what was the deal you made with the barmaid and how do we know it wasn’t completed. Also Nick I thought you had been drinking long enough to know when to stop so that you could get home and not have to call your girlfriend’s father. It was not fair on Barry - you should know as you get older you need your beauty sleep. As for our younger sailors I have promised not to say anything that might embarrass them. While I think of it congratulations to Marcus and Jacinta in winning their titles and Matt Wilson and Amy Alsop on being runners up. 

Well this article is getting too long and I need to draw it to a close (while someone will still talk to me). Before I go I must comment on a few other things that happened at these titles. It is good to see our National Champion is as careless as any other kid - leaving his sails and foils on the lawn in front of the club all night. Fortunately someone put them away. 

Largs Bay had a long pull to the beach and the return back to the club always felt longer - even when the tide had come in. It was nice to have someone help you through the soft sand as you slowed down. For those that did not get a thank you - thank you. Secondly the tidal fall was large and we would not have survived without the trolley dolly dads who pulled our trolleys up after we had left and made sure that they did not drift away - thank you all.

We must thank all those who attended the titles for the first time and particular the kids who will learn and improve as time goes by - unfortunately for many of us older sailors. It was particularly good to see the boys from Ballarat. It has been a while since we have had boats from that region. I am sure they will get better with practice. I must remind you kids that “Old Age and Treachery will beat Youth and Skill”.

Enough of the serious stuff. You must wonder about the safety of where we sail when they clear the beach for sharks shortly after we had pulled our boats up. And why are the Eastgate women such bad luck for their menfolk sailing? Does this worry our National Champion? Did Marcus have glandular fever and did any one else catch it. 

All joking aside the sailing was fair and fun and Nick deserves to be National Champion. His thankyou speech was excellent when he thanked his parents, his girlfriend - Jacqui, and finally Barry, his training partner and friend. He is only the third sailor to win 2 titles.

But Barry can I finish by giving you some advice. You made several major mistakes that cost you this title. Firstly you travelled with Nick and shared accommodation with him. You made getting to Largs too easy for him. Then you went and picked him up at 4 am New Years Day - This was just a tactic to make certain you did not get enough sleep. You also went in as a witness for him in the Protest knowing that if he lost you would be National Champion. Like Phil, if you keep this up the class reputation for comprising of considerate sailors who look after each other will unfortunately grow. We can’t let that happen (but I fear I am too late). Finally - never win the Invitation race it is just too much bad luck for even you to carry.

In conclusion I must apologise to those I have not mentioned. This report would have run to the length of a book and I would be left without anyone to talk to. More importantly the rest of you must be too nice and too innocent to have a go at - or no one gave me the dirt on you.

Stephen Early
Never Say Never 

From LargsBay to Largs Bay

It had been a year of change for us as a family. A move interstate meant; new school, a new house, new jobs and a new lifestyle. But one thing did not change, HIS sailing. The cat moved to N.S.W. with the carriers but this precious possession could not be trusted to this unknown quantity, we towed it up. A sailing club was quickly found and he began sailing four weeks earlier than his Victorian compatriots. N.S.W. was looking promising!

And then the discussions started about the Nationals. Work commitments and the wish to save my holidays until later in the year meant that I couldn’t go. I had an EXCUSE! So a phone call was made to the hotel-motel in L.B. and a bed was had. This accommodation was soon occupied during the titles by other honorary bachelors.

After Christmas with a boat in tow, Shane began the trip to L.B.. Phone calls along the way ensured that he was safe and alone. The kids had gone back to Victoria with Pa, to be picked up on the return trip by Shane. Meanwhile I was “home alone”. The positives about being by yourself either at home or on a sailing trip?

* You do not have to cook, or you can cook what you want. “Peter was a great cook. He does a fabulous Malaysian meal AND he is very domesticated, cuts up the vegies as well.”

* The house work is minimal. Well you do not have to clean up after three other people. “I did the washing Jen. Well I stamped on it in the shower and then layed it on a towel to dry. They commented on my domesticity”

* The closest I got to the ocean was a lilo in the pool and Ian Kiernan’s book “Coming Clean”, an excellent read. Another pit stop crew went one step better - They spent their time in Bali satisfied with daily phone calls to get the feel for L.B..

* Shane had a wonderful time sailing especially with the last race, fourth across the line, the best so far. Barry and Nick tied on points but on a count back and after winning a protest, Nick won the championships.

* While I spent my time “home alone”- “There were heaps of ladies, eight in all and Faye was four months pregnant” This was said with great and due admiration. But my thoughts went back to the 1990 - 91 series at Lake Boga, our first nationals, when Kelsie learnt to walk on the shores of L.B., water just metres away from our caravan. The pit stop crew were hard at work that year keeping one toddler safe.

A new wave of pit crews was evident this year with mums and dads helping their teenagers with beach cradles, trailers, drinks, meals and all the other incidentals that crop up when one is sailing seriously in a National Titles. They also assisted the honorary bachelors as “trolley dollies”. It was a great venue. The club sponsored it well. Next year we will be at Black Rock.

“Carn the Vics!”

Well he is home now and after ten days sailing he is now cleaning and fixing his pride and joy, that “bloody green boat”.


Arthur Brett , a member of both Black Rock and Frankston Yacht Clubs, sailing “The Bearded Clam” (Sabre no. 1552) to convincingly win the Sabre National Championship series run by the Black Rock Yacht Club over the 1998-99 Christmas break. With a fleet of 54 entrants and after nine races with 2 races dropped, Arthur managed a very credible total points score of only 14 (one of his drops was a DSQ for an OCS in race 2 in which he was 1st over the line). He also won the Invitation Race, which was run before the “back to back” first heat.

Arthur who was World Sailboard Champion in 1988 was making a comeback to sailing after many years absence due to a back injury. He trained every morning before work for 4 months in the lead up to the Nationals.

Arthur’s win in the series was the result of an uncanny ability to recover from a mediocre fleet position at the weather mark by using his incredible downwind speed to close up on fleet leaders or to gain first place generally before reaching the gybe mark. Arthur also displayed good speed to windward and once in clear air on the upwind legs, was seldom headed.

Weather was ideal in so far as it ranged from 5 – 8 knots in the early races up to 10 – 15 knots as the series progressed. 

Second in the series was Murray Smith from Port Pirie Yacht Club in SA, sailing his immaculate new boat “Bits” that was built in only 3 weeks and launched one week before the National Titles. Murray, formerly from Perth previously sailed 505’s and Solings, including a European campaign and is an ex sailmaker with the North loft in Melbourne.

Sabre stalwart, John Gratton from Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club in Adelaide sailing “Odds N’Ends” repeated his 3rd placing of last year and was always nipping at the heals of both Arthur Brett and Murray Smith, especially in the lighter winds of the earlier heats.

Junior Champion was 15 year old Simon Balmer sailing “XTC”. Simon achieved a very credible 7th place overall and managed one heat win as well as one second, and one third in other heats.

The trip up for us Victorians went well even though we left the day after New Year’s Eve. It may have jus been coincidence but a large number of us all decided to stay in Goulborne and then proceed on to Toukley the next day. The only complaint or comment was how poor the roads are in Sydney as we bounced our boats along. 

After a quiet night catching up with old friends. It was pleasing to see the boats who had traveled from Queensland and South Australia making this with the exception of the Tasmainians a true National Title with not only representation from all Mainland states but a strong representation from each state.

The first heat started in a nice 20 knot breeze and strengthened to 25 knots during the race. Murray Smith established an early lead and held on to it to finish from John Gratton and Sean Hackett. I suspect this may be a first for a Sabre Nationals with the first Victorian being Damien Pound in 6th. A special mention must go to Krystal Weir who was running second and only dropped back when she holed her boat in unfortunate circumstances. She still finished well up even with her front tank full of water. She certainly showed that it is technique not size that counts.

Heat 2 was the first of our back to back trap “short” courses. The wind was a nice 10 – 15 knots and we saw Damien Pound coming out to win from Phillip Johnson and Rohan Nosworthy three completely new top 3 finishers.

Heat 3 - We lined up a short time later and the wind had started to build. By the time we were on the second beat we were all hanging on and working as hard as we could. The wind had shifted and coming down the last “reach” which had turned into a square run became suicide alley with many capsizes. Only half the fleet finished and although the squall had only lasted a few minutes it did its damage, not so much to the boats but the bodies trying to sail them. Murray Smith won this heat from Phillip Johnson and Damien Pound.

Heat 4, a new day and some sore and tired sailors after there buffeting in the two previous days. A nice 15 – 20 knots all day and in heat 4 Murray Smith won followed by Damien Pound and John Atkins. Now into heat 5. The start was if nothing a talking point with boats unable to cross it on starboard tack and fair bit of havoc and carnage on the pin end. In the end it was won by Simon Balmer followed by Damien Pound and Rohan Nosworthy. A problem with this day is that someone with good contacts upstairs organized it so that the wind died on the last work of both races.

We turned up on Thursday to our one scheduled morning race and even the heavy weather sailors were prepared to sail a light race to rest their bodies.

Heat 6 was delayed by half an hour so that the race committee could be sure that it would not continue to build. We started again in another 15 – 20 knot breeze, but this time a much more unstable breeze. Rohan Nosworthy won from Murray Smith and Damien Pound who managed to finish with a broken boom vang. We all had a large amount of water and weed being blown into our boats but how Fiona, Natalie and Carly managed to get fish into their boats I will never know. Also who grounded on the start line, capsized and literally ran after his boat. Suggestions are that his boat had better be renamed Thunderbirds are go.

The last day and as we rig we look forwards to a nice 10 – 15 knot breeze (I have difficulty believing I put 10 – 15 knot and nice in the same sentence). As we lined up for the start of

Heat 7 the breeze filled to 15 – 20 knots and by the end of the race was 20 –25 knots. After a general recall we started to beat south on this “short course race”. We did eventually find the windward mark which the race committee had layed somewhere close to Melbourne. After running back downhill waving to Sydney as we passed we continued on. To our surprise no one was able to complete the two laps and a work of this course in the time limit with the lead boat Sean Hackett missing out by less than 10 minutes. The wind over lunch filled in and the afternoon consisted of watching the impulses bottle as their race was blown out and we decided that 30 – 40 knots was not worth the effort.

On the social side we must thank Fiona McCulloch for bring up an excellent trolley dolly in Michael Johnson. I had some doubts about his abilities as he seemed to help Fiona and Natalie much more than me so it was no loss when he became an excellent rescue boat assistant and sailor of boats when their owners became too tired to continue after capsizing. His help was most appreciated although I am not too sure Fiona’s mind was totally on sailing.

I wish here to stop all rumours and state that Damien and Louise are nothing more than friends. It is just a coincidence that they both sail white boats with varnished decks, have the only 2 Yacht Shop stainless steel dollies in the fleet, have matching Mckay Trailers, both drive Black BMW’s, have adjacent rooms at the Motel, travelled up and back in convoy and more often than not train together. They are not an item – they have both assured me so stop jumping to unjustified conclusions.

Some questions are still to be answered:

  • What was one of our young female skippers referring to when she said “It is all right as long as I get my daily fix” (I can assure all this was not drug related)? 
  • Why did all males (or all those that were not geriatrics) volunteer to judge the bruises competition and who would have won the most embarrassing bruise?
  • How strong did the wind blow? 
  • What will Shane do now he has all this free time? What is our National Measurers secret in that he is so fast that he beat not only all the other Grand Masters, but all the other Masters as well.? 
  • How many if any escaped without a capsize and who has the record for the longest gap between capsizes? 
  • How many others are going to copy Sean’s method of launching and retrieving his boat.
  • How do Catherine Masters, Timothy and Andrea McMillian and Adrian Kamer keep their innocent image?
  • Why do the Victorian Gormet Club always find the Faulty Towers Restaurants?
  • Will the “Odd Couple” travel away together again.
  • Which father is in trouble for not photographing his own daughter?
  • How loud were those birds at 6 am?

Stephen Early 1437

The 28th and we were all getting ready for the big week ahead. Boats arrived after a rough trip across Bass Straight. Team Chic went for a run in the morning and then went to the Taste of Tasmania in the afternoon. Was this to add some weight for the windy conditions? Michael Johnson launched his new boat and it floated. There were three new boats at the nationals the other 2 only launched a couple of weeks previously. All were blue with varnished transoms (must be the 2000 colour). Meanwhile others went and bought more wet weather gear – it is cold out there. All seemed ready for the days to come.

The time had arrived and we were all down to the club early giving our boats the final checkout. Team Chick attended the opening ceremony in their t-shirts and then we went out for the invitation race. The wind varied from 1 to 25 knots from the North, South, East and West. If you did not like any particular condition just wait a minute and it would change. Richard Jackson won the race from John Atkins after the leaders; Murray Smith and Rob Priest could not find the windward mark after a change in course. 

December 30th and the time to get serious has arrived. The first heat was in the afternoon and all the competitors were nervous. The weather was good, a nice 18 – 20 knots and a steady breeze for all. The fleet quickly split up with those who liked the heavier air out front. It was a long race with top places swapping even on the last work. The final places were Murray Smith from Phillip Johnson who passed his son Michael on the last leg. As for the two borrowed boats Mumbo Jumbo broke a shroud on the last leg while Richard Jackson managed to break half the wires in a shroud.

New Years Eve and all were ready for two heats. Murray Smith and Maree Early were both given the yellow leaders singlets as overall and ladies points score leaders. We were held at the club until a light breeze set in and out we went for heat 2. This saw a 5-knot breeze slowly strengthen to 10 knots a new group of leaders. Michael Johnson managed to hole his boat and then a shroud came undone to loose his mast overboard. Four members of Team Chic were in the top 10 lead by a runaway win by Jo Butler from Richard Jackson with Rob Priest third. Jo had found a new way of making a boat fast – put a For Sale sign on it.

After a quick lunch we were back on the course for heat 3 with the wind starting at 0 knots and building throughout the race to a 15 to 20 knot last work. A close race was held and Michael Johnson came home first, as Richard Jackson’s toe strap broke just before the finish line pushing him back to second with Murray Smith third. We now go into the lay day and New Years Eve celebrations with three winners from three heats and Murray Smith leading from Rob Priest and Richard Jackson, but the points score that close that no one could be confident. Both Murray and Maree hold onto their yellow singlets. Unfortunately Murray’s boat was damaged while getting it out of the water and it was in true Sabre spirit that it was heading for Rob Priests home to be repaired.

Having recovered from New Year’s Eve we all meet back at the Yacht Club on the second to resume hostilities. Murray’s boat had been repaired and we all hit the water for a heat in a wind that started at 5 – 10 knots and built up to 15 knots. Murray Smith was first over the line followed by Michael Johnson who had lead for most of the race with Richard Jackson third. In the overalls it is Murray Smith still leading but with a pack not far behind.

We now turned up for what we knew would be crunch day with two heats to be held. The day started in a 10 knot northerly and as we ran down in a southerly towards the first mark the race was abandoned. The wind then kicked in at about 30 knots and a few of us including both of us in borrowed boats decided not to break the boats. This in reflection may have cost Richard Jackson the title but to his credit he was more worried about the borrowed boat than the title. The wind settled down and the heat started to be won by Rob Priest from Michael Johnson with Murray Smith third.

The second last heat followed in the afternoon with a breeze that was generally in the 5 – 10 knot band. Richard Jackson won this race from Michael Johnson with Rob Priest third. We now go into the final day with any of the top 4 capable of winning. The Junior trophy still up for grabs with the Women’s decided by consistent sailing and being taken by past champion Maree Early.

The final race was one that befitted the series. It was sailed in great spirit. After one general recall the fleet was off. If the race was shortened at the first mark Murray would have had the title, shortly after that Richard took the lead, which he held to the end of the race. With Murray and Michael both back Richard had the lead. As the race went on Murray climbed through the fleet with Michael close behind. The Final Placings were Richard from Phillip Johnson with Rob Priest in third. Michael’s fifth place good enough to give him the title by 0.75 point form Murray with Richard 1 point back and a further 1.25 points back Rob Priest.

The series was conducted in great spirit and just a few examples deserve to be commented on. First was the effect Team Chic (pictured above) had on the series. The older girls worked well as friends and set the standard while the younger members fitted in well and were made welcome. However I must ask why one member is in there and what the girls know and have not told us.

However there must be some comments made on the less than satisfactory behavior of a few sailors. I was most upset when approaching the first mark in the first heat to find my daughter (sailing my boat) says to Lindsay “Hell, Dad’s up here”. But then Lindsay is not totally innocent, going down the last reach he asked me if anyone would mind if he caught up to his youngest daughter Elyse and give her some coaching. Of course he never even got close as she sailed away showing the improvement she had made over the series.

There seems to have been a special on blue paint this year with 3 new boats at the nationals being painted blue. I also believe Russell Bates new boat is blue but then being a Bates boat – who is surprised. They must have bought gallons of blue paint. But the nicest looking boat was On the Edge, a new composite boat sailed by Samantha Moffatt. 

It was good to see a good number of juniors although looking at one member of Team Chic in particular I think we need a minimum weight to sail a Sabre. Talking to Russell Bates the other day we agreed that a minimum of 100kg would be suitable. We also considered a minimum wind strength of 20 or 25 knots. 

We all were made most welcome by a friendly club and both the club and the Tasmanian Association and in particular Keith Bolton should be congratulated for a well organized and well run titles. Right through the fleet down to the juniors the comradeship was great. In fact their junior sailor was most friendly to a number of our young ladies and claims were made about one in particular.

Just in conclusion a few questions are still in my mind and I would not mind answers. First how close did Jo get to destroying the one feature of Michael’s boat in which he is so proud? Where was Phil off to in the little black dress that was in his sailing bag? Why did the Trolley Dolley’s that Team Chic brought along seem to stop work when the girls got in? Who was the sailor who was locked out New Years Eve from his accommodation.

Cleavage at Cleveland

With Team Chic again attending (although minus one very prominent member) what other title could I choose? Having arrived on the 26th with time to spare we find our accommodation up to scratch and as soon as we unload head for the pool but decide it is too hot for the spa. The trip up and preparation for it followed normal procedures with a number of jobs left until the last couple of days. Needless to say I did get the lawns cut and the weeds snipped even if I had to call the plumber to fix the pipe I broke in the process. The new cradle was finished with a couple of days to spare (I always told Maree she would have it for the nationals). To make some more time I paid a mechanic to check and repack the trailer bearings. This was a mistake as I found one running hot and had to stop and pull it to bits and repack it before it seized. 

When we arrived we were informed that the club was locked and we could not get our boats in. This was excellent planning on behalf of the Queenslanders as it foiled the plans of those who hoped to get up early and train but I did notice one boat out with his gear in the club. Well we planed to get there tomorrow and time will tell how it all goes.

Thursday and the day before the titles. We were able to get into the club and many of us moved our boats into the club grounds although I have some reports that a local or two were surprised that we all didn’t turn up in a convoy. Only a couple went sailing while many of us returned to the spa and pool at Club Victoria. We were doing it hard. We gained a ruling that one lady would not be disqualified for heat treating her boat as she passed through a bush fire. Phil ruled that as it was only one side it probably warped the boat anyway. 

Friday finally arrived and from early morning boats were having last minute changes, as we all got ready for the Invitation race. The odd couple turned up but now with a third. As odd triple did not sound right. At their advice they have been named Huey, Dewy and Luey. Team Chic although smaller this year turned up in their uniform to the pleasure of many of the guys.

The race started on time with a large number of boats over standing the first mark. Anyone who follows someone who wears glasses on the land at all times has no excuses. For my part I blame John Dick and for the second time will not go with him up a work. The race had a number of withdrawals including Russell Bates and Michael Johnson from the front pack. The race was won by one of the favorites Barry Eastgate from Maree Early and Natalie Farrell all sailing new Johnson hulls launched in the last few weeks. I guess we can now remove Barry from the list of favorites and ask Phil when he will be building a new boat for himself. Many of us returned to Camp Victoria to rough it for the night and while in the pool and spa started to organize the important things, New Years Eve. The bachelors (John Dick and Barry Eastgate) were not spotted. Was it Barry celebrating his win knowing he might as well pack up his boat. 

The big day arrived and we again were greeted with a 15 – 20 knot breeze. The start line was tight but Michael Johnson and Russell Bates got away clean to the lead the fleet from start to finish. Barry Eastgate sailed well to recover to third while Maree Early swam and was separated from her boat causing her to retire. We packed up and those roughing it went back to Camp Victoria to the spa where we discussed the day’s action. The two bachelors have had their social life curtailed with the arrival of Alex from Melbourne. We have worked out that John Dixon’s problems all relate to the fact that he is not used to sailing such a pretty boat. Shane Navin is enjoying the series safe in the knowledge that his wife is keeping the bush fires from his house.

Day three of the series and our first two race day. We were greeted for the morning race by another 15 – 20 knot breeze. Michael Johnson again lead from the start with a close race for second between Barry Eastgate and Maree Early with Barry winning out despite Maree using movable ballast. In the battle that mattered I managed to finish just ahead of Doug Bennett. 

After a quick lunch we were out for the afternoon session with Michael Johnson again leading the way around the course. There were about 6 boats battling for second place and with the wind reaching 25 knots Russell Bates won out from Natalie Farrell and Barry Eastgate. Back at Camp Victoria in the spa those of us roughing it continued the important job of organizing our New Years Eve party. Peter Young has become one of the quiet members of Camp Victoria but with so many women in his unit (wife and daughters) I suppose he is not used to getting a word in. Robert Bates is starting to get on my nerves as he works harder and harder. I am finding it more and more difficult to keep up to him (in fact I am not). 

Day four and after a big storm the night before we were all apprehensive about starting today. In the end the club cancelled the day’s racing and a storm complete with lightning passed over the course just when we should have been sailing. Now we could retire to Camp Victoria and get ready for the nights activities. Huey, Dewy and Luey had to return to their camp and explain to the kangaroos that they did not sail. They were expecting a hard time as they were finding it difficult to explain to the kangaroos why they were not the first 3 boats in each race. As you could expect we had a quiet night around the pool and spa. 

Most of the Victorians attended and the weather were kind (yes even in Queensland it planned to rain on our party). We invited all interstate sailors and support crews even those from New South Wales. We must thank Les for supplying the live music. 

New Years Day and although there were no reported hangovers no one did anything to energetic. We all took the opportunity to relax and recharge our batteries. I guess some needed more recharging than others. Was that a result of them overcharging the night before?

The 2nd Jan. And the wind was again in the 15 – 20 knot range. The boats were fighting the breeze with Barry Eastgate leading at the first mark from Michael Johnson and Russell Bates. By the bottom mark Michael had the lead from a pack containing Barry Eastgate, Russell Bates, Maree Early and Mark Harper. In the end it was Michael Johnson from Maree Early and Barry Eastgate.

In the afternoon race we were greeted by a 15 – 20 knot breeze (what a surprise). In another surprise Michael took the lead early on from a pack of the usual culprits. However for the first time in the series the wind died a bit and in the end it was Michael Johnson just ahead of Barry Eastgate with Jamie Chivel third. Not to be outdone by a Blairgowrie boat John Dick came in with a fish even bigger than the one Robert Bates had in his boat in the morning race – go Rock.

Now for the final day. A change to sailing instructions allowed us to race both races back to back and to be a bit shorter. As we arrived at the club the smiles could be seen on the faces of the light weather fliers. However about an hour before the start the wind kicked in at 20 knots but for the first time from the south and not the north. The increased strength in the wind saw Russell Bates lead from Mark Harper and Barry Eastgate. 

In the second race Russell again lead the fleet home from Michael Johnson and Peter Skinner. We retrieved the boats. Held the AGM and packed up the boats. No more jelly fish, turtles, sea snakes, manta rays, dugongs and sharks, how boring sailing will be.

Seriously though this was by all comments I have heard rated it as one of the friendliest and best titles that the sailors can remember. Thanks must go to the Cleveland Yacht Club and the Queensland Association who not only ran a top regatta but also was prepared to listen to comments made and takes them onboard to make the regatta even better. One person who had a lot to do with this series was Mark Harper and he deserves a special mention.

Thanks of course to all those in the boats without which we could not have sailed and in particular those who brought their own boats. The kitchen kept us well fed and thanks must go to all the ladies who fed us instead of having a holiday themselves. A most important group who made sailing possible without real carnage when launching and retrieving were the trolley dollies who did a fantastic job. Finally from a personal point of view big thanks must go to my fellow sailors who made the series most pleasant to compete in.

From a strictly personal view I must thank the girls from Team Chic who make being a sabre sailor most pleasant. Not only are they good company but they put in huge amounts and without them the Victorian Association would be in heaps of trouble – just look at who our office bearers are. As per normal the girls lead by Auntie Nat had all the young girls following and waiting to join this prestigious team.

Back at Camp Victoria one sailor stood out – Russell Bates. Not because he was taller than the rest of us or, tried to beat the girls in the bruises competition or, was forever moaning about the state of his hands or, was forever moaning that too many people were going fast (particularly the girls) or, was claiming he should be in Team Chic or, was forever moaning that it was not windy enough, but because he was never critical of anyone and always willing to help and give advice and made the titles so much more fun (well I said I would get him back). I am sure we all look forwards to racing him again next year and for us Victorians in the near future.

Stephen Early

How to sail fast like Team Chic

  • Obtain multiple bruises in strange locations
  • Must have physical attributes of the female species
  • Regatta preparation must be restricted to the following: shop, swim, sunbake, sailing (only if required).
  • Shave down before start of series
  • Must consume alcohol post race (beer is preferred)
  • Identical uniform for “core” members, colours and styles may change from year to year
  • Must have the ability to avoid voodoo dolls
  • Obtain “go fast stripe” and “x factor” sunburn marks
  • Must wear “girlie” clothes to presentation
  • Must stay in one location – prefer to stay together
  • Must have a furry animal attached to mast
  • All male applicants are to be denied membership
  • Ability to mix it with the boys at the front of the fleet (remember the Vic teams racing!!)
  • Must hold an office bearer position in the association if possible
  • Must either drive through bush fire or fly to venue 
  • Numerous onshore group hugs
  • Chanting and cheering other team chics on the race course

Team Chic 2002
1131 – Fiona McCulloch
1613 – Maree Early
1621 – Catherine Masters
1622 – Natalie Farrell

Cleveland - the unofficial story.

What a contrast. The invitation race at Lindisfarne a year earlier had been sailed with fresh snow having fallen on nearby Mt Wellington, and with many of the competitors having invested in thermal underwear and polar fleece beanies. Roll forward 12 months, and it couldn't be more different. Brisbane in a heat wave took some getting used to. The entire regatta was sailed in mid thirties temperatures, and the nighttime temperatures hovered around the mid twenties. Naturally, none of us had air conditioning at our accommodation, although the lucky ones had ceiling fans. Furthermore, without daylight sailing, you simply got used to waking at 5.00am when the sun rises.

Fortunately, we were spared the nightmare of sailing any of the races in a drifter. The thought of having no wind & waves to counteract the heat and humidity whilst on the water would have been like spending 2 hours in your sailing gear in a sauna. As it was, the conditions presented a dilemma. Sail in the wet suit and long sleave top and risk boiling if the wind drops? Or go the shorts and T-shirt approach and expose your knees to a battering, and your legs to stings from the marine creatures if you capsize.

One certainly wouldn't describe Brisbane as being a drifter series. 18-25 knots was the wind range, and it meant that those that were used to lake sailing in fickle light breezes were at what might be described as being at a slight disadvantage! Moreton Bay was strongly tidal, and the with the tide typically flowing against the wind direction, it created interesting steepish, but shortly spaced waves. The rides that this created on the broad reaches had to be experienced to be believed, and bad luck if you got to do your gibe when one of the gusts came through. Some parts of the course were worse than others too, and our finish line was typically positioned in what could best be described as a washing machine.

Perhaps the aspect of Moreton bay racing that came, as the greatest surprise to us Southerners was the jellyfish. Let's be precise here. The things congregate in packs, and when you found a concentration of them, there would 5 of them to the square metre. Thump, thump, thump would be the sound as you foils hit them, and as we quickly found out during the invitation race, this has the inevitable effect of knocking your rudder blade up. As a consequence, almost everyone resorted to supplementing the shock-cord on his or her rudder box with tightly tied cord.

As it turns out, the conditions on the course became something we all got used to after a few races. The real excitement therefore turned out to be the launching and retrieval exercise at the club's single launch ramp. With a good swell rolling over the end of the ramp, and with breezes always on-shore, it led to interesting times. Launching tended to be orderly, as everyone was lined up in single file waiting his or her turn. The fun started however as a dozen or more boats would be heading for the ramp simultaneously. Twelve into one simply doesn't fit, so you got used to emergency diversions after you already had your blades nearly fully up, or worse, having to try to swim your boat back after you'd jumped out in water over your head having missed the ramp. How we managed to get 43 boats back in one-piece race after race is beyond comprehension.

Of course, what would a series be without a race committee that wanted to make things a little different for the competitors? Dealing with the tides was hard enough - with boats routinely overstaying the lay-lines to such an extent that they would be on a screaming reach by the time they rounded the mark. The race committee however liked to add a bit more of a twist by routinely setting starboard courses. It just took one boat on starboard at the top mark to really make life interesting for the many who would approach the mark on the port lay-line. And then there were the start-lines. 8 races, and 8 start-lines that were invariably so pin end biased that only perhaps a third of the fleet were able to be in the front row and actually get thru the line on starboard. There was no better way to sharpen your starting skills!

And in the overall scheme of things, did any of the above either impact the result, of cause anyone not to enjoy themselves? Nup. The best sailors filled the top places, and everyone came away knowing that they'd been on holidays. Theme parks for the kids whilst Dad sails, swimming in the pool after racing, quality accommodation at cheap prices, and some flying

Downwind legs that reminds you of why it is that we love sailing so much.

Andrew Graham 1624

Cleveland Nationals holiday by Bates Boats

We were to leave for Queensland on the 20th December but decided to leave a week earlier to do some serious training at the Theme Parks before the Nationals.

We stopped off at Sydney on the way and spent a day at the Volvo 60 around the world yachts at Darling Harbor.

Upon reaching Cleveland we set off on a 4 day training program at the Theme Parks where Robert our son was determined to terminate his family members by taking us all on Lethal Weapon as our first ride, we were subjected to 4.5 G forces in all directions. I got to know the local Chiropractor very well from the frequency of visits.

Having completed all the parks the Victorians started to arrive from down south on the 23rd December. 

We spent Christmas Day eating prawns and surfing at Mermaid Beach at the Gold coast, as it was 37? nearly every day. 

After finding the Cleveland Yacht Club that is 98 years old we registered for the race day and then sat under Steve’s shade structure that was our savoir from the heat each day. While some go fast sailors wet and dried their boat I tried to remember how to rig the Sabre and remember how to sail since it has been 20 years in 1981 that I sailed a sabre Nationals.

The big day had come for the Invitation race and briefing after the safety issues were mentioned such as Jelly fish, Sharks, Turtles and Whales we set off to the Start line.

Half way out I hit a patch off Jellyfish that completely removed my rudder blade from the rudder box so with some spare rope I tied the rudder blade in. Latter this proved a not a wise decision as the Turtles are known to surface in front of you, ripping out your transom.

Barry Eastgate decided to win the Invitation race and take on the superstitious witchcraft of Mrs. Bates (my Mother) who usually makes Anzac biscuits to poison the opposition, but let the team down this year.

Race 1 and the heat were too hot with you having to hose yourself every 15 minutes before leaving the beach. One member brought her dry suit to Queensland with her just in case the temperature dropped below 35? and got cold (Fiona) !!! Michael showed that he was going to be the one to set the pace where he won the first race. Team chick also showed their strength by sailing out in front.

Race 2 - We were advised by a special briefing that they had neglected to advise us of the Sea snakes. What next Black cats and Bats!! My training from mum on the voodoo dolls was rusty because Barry decided to tip me over on the starting line with 30 seconds to go while I had one hand inside my life jacket trying to reclip up my new hiking pants that had unbuckled themselves at 45 seconds before the start gun, leaving them dangling around my ankles (the moral of this event is DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING BEFORE OR DURING A TITLES) and for Team Chicks don’t fall out of your boat without having a lead to hang onto.

Race 3 - Michael at the start line decided to be a martyr and sail his boat ahead of mine on the start line and take the 2 assaults by the suicide sabre and save my bewitched start by smashing up his boat (thanks again for your deflection) and Barry Eastgate for sailing too far inshore and hitting the rocks and slowing his boat down so we could pass him.

Race 4 - Electrical thunder storms stopped it so all the Victorians went back to the resort and hopped in the pool and spa to live life on the edge. 

Race 5 and 6 showed that the under 100kg skippers were fast and dominated the races. Michael having won all races till now and was going to take home the National Title. 

Race 7 and 8 were for the sabres with 20 to 25 knots and 2m vertical seas all skippers were stretched to their limit. Barry having broken his toe straps in race 7 retired as the races were back to back. Mark next time don’t listen to my advice as you were sailing too fast up wind in both races.

I would like to thank all the Cleveland members and the dolly persons for launching and retrieving boats in the seas. 

Russell Bates
Sabre 1593

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