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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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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”.


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