Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ten things that have changed in Forty Two years

It has been an eventful week. I had my first dinghy race in 42 years and the Tillerman put this blog on his list 3 Best Laser Sailing Blogs on the Planet, in the ‘relative beginner’ category.  

So I’ll stay in character for this post.  

Although  I am racing in the same place, Middle Harbour just off Balmoral Beach,  a lot has changed in 42 years.  This is my Australian Moth rigged at Balmoral circa 1969 note the high tech walking stick mast, pocket-luff sail and hand crafted bamboo battens.

This is what has changed in forty two years.

The shorts have got longer - say no more

The web and google gives us all the unorganised information we could hope for

Boats come from factories  -  my Moth was built in a friends garage with plywood, glue and clamps - note the beautiful, rare and depleted rain forest wood veneer deck

The Laser was invented 40 years ago  - it has taken that long for me to get on one

Moths got foils - next the foiling  Laser

Kids get sailing coaching - even a relative beginner GM can hook into some coaching thanks to the NSW Laser Association 

Weather forecasts are now reliable, you can plan the weeks practice sail around the wind you want - in my case 8 to 12 knots is a lot of fun

Dinghies have dollies

The power boat wash has gone from 10 cm high to 1 metre high - all the more reason not to hit the lay-line early so you have space to chip one in ahead of the inevitable giant wash

Capped teeth - it was always stupid to hold the main-sheet in your mouth when tacking


  1. Ahhhh, brings back memories. I bought Mark Baker's moth in 1972 and sailed it a few times off Northbridge against Ian Brown - boy he was quick with his skiff design!

    After a few years in Melbourne and Albury, I sailed from Balmoral in Lasers with Tim, Warrick, Gibbo, Lyndall, Mark, and a bunch of other great sailors. It was awesome.

  2. We used to sail down under the Spit Bridge to race the moths from the Moth Club at Seaforth, the one on the waters edge on the other side from Northbridge. The winds are so shifty around there, we never stood a chance against them and their skiffs. We were rigged for the steady summer N/E 15 to 18 knots blowing from straight from the sea.

  3. Hmm. As I suspected. You may have just bought your first racing Laser but you are no beginner at single-handed dinghy racing.

  4. OK sure, but it has been 42 years since I have had a go at it.

  5. Hmmm. I see from the website of the Middle Harbour Amateur Sailing Club that they held a couple of Laser races this week with 16 boats racing. Some guy called Nick, racing in Laser 176894, scored a 2nd and a 3rd, and is currently lying 2nd in the Spring Series. I don't recognize many of the names in the fleet but I see that Jeff Loosemore and Rob Lowndes - always up there in the fleet at the Masters Worlds - are in 9th and 10th, so this is a high quality fleet.

    So unless some other guy called Nick borrowed your boat, you are already a damn fine Laser sailor. Well done!

    Are you going to write a blog post about your "first dinghy race in 42 years"?

    1. I can't complain about those results, but they have been adjusted for the handicaps and as a new member I was given a generous handicap. On scratch I came third last in the first race and about 5 or 6 in the second race.

    2. Thank god for that. i thought that you might be one of those incredibly annoying people who take up Laser sailing in their later years and immediately jump to the front of the fleet. Now I don't have to hate you.

      On the other hand, 5 or 6 is still pretty impressive. Perhaps I'll reserve judgement on whether to hate you or not.

  6. The first time I was in a race under sail was back in the 50's and it turned out to be a match race against a moth. We both sailed into a rain squall in the cold waters of Grand Lake, Colorado. My father put me up to it. I had no idea at the time that he was hooking me up to a lifetime's addiction.

  7. Hi Nick,

    Saw you had a blog from the link on Tillermans site. Nice, lot of links and info.

    I will start sailing again Sundays for sure and hopefully time permitting Wednesday or Thursday afternoons. I often race somewhere on Saturdays as well, time permitting. If you want to see some real improvement you can not go past racing as much as you can and finding some good sailors to train with. MHASC is a great club to sail from in that regard. I am sure you will enjoy our club and its camaraderie a great deal.

    As Tillerman already inferred, if you can get within sight of Rob Lowndes you are more than half way to the front of any high quality masters fleet. He is a good sailor. We have had many good races together over the years, particularly in the tricky conditions we get at the beginning and end of each season when he excels.

    Sean - MHASC

  8. Hi Sean, thanks. I hope to go to the club on Thursdays and Sundays, see you then Cheers Nick

  9. Hi Nick,

    Thankyou for your blog. I too began in a timber dinghy being a Mirror sailing out of Balmoral as a youngster at about 10. I took up Laser sailing about 7 years ago and sometimes still feel like a novice as I'm reminded with every capsize which is far too frequent.

    Laser sailing is very much a single handed sport and I think we single handed sailors are a breed of our own. We each have our quirky personalities but by in large in my experience, all Laser sailors are generous with their advice and assistance. This has allowed me to have the odd win and every once in a while beat Rob Lowndes (not to often though).

    I now get great joy in being able to impart the knowledge which has been shared with me by many at my club such as Sean, Rob and Colin Cain. The school

  10. Thanks Lachlan, see you Sunday.


  11. Interesting post! This certainly brings back memories of me in my Gill Sailing Clothing and sailing through the high winds and rain! I agree that the internet gives loads of information to enjoy sailing to the max.

  12. Ahh sailing gear, that's another thing that has changed. I sailed all year around barefoot, in shorts (see the photo) and football jumper.