Monday, July 15, 2013

Looking forward to Sprinter - Tugarah gunya'marra season

It has been a windless and sometimes wet Winter in Sydney with fewer sailing opportunities. We are hanging out for some more reliable wind in August, a season known as the 'Sprinter' at the Botanic Gardens and Tugarah gunya'marra by the D’harawal people.

The seasons recognised by Aboriginal communities vary across Australia, and are based on changes in wildlife and vegetation. However, since European occupation, the 'traditional' view of the weather has been that of the Northern Hemisphere, with four seasons; Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn.  
In the Sydney area, koalas fighting signify
hot weather approaching. (Pic. NPWS)

More recently Scientist Dr Tim Entwisle, at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens  has  developed his own five-season model for Australia's central east.  In his model , spring begins a month early in August, when many native plants flower. Named 'sprinter', it lasts two months, and is followed by Sprummer a four-month-long summer beginning in December. 

The traditional owners of the  D’harawal Country and language area (from southern shores of Sydney Harbour, to the Shoalhaven River and  the Wollondilly River) have an even more refined system of six seasons, documented by Frances Bodkin, a respected D’harawal Elder  and author of the book: "D’harawal Seasons and Climate Cycles".

D’harawal Seasons 

Coming soon the D’harawal Season of Tugarah gunya'marra, cold and windy.
'The lyrebirds' calls ring out through the bushland as he builds his dancing mounds to attract his potential mates. It is the time of the flowering of the Marrai'uo (Acacia floribunda) which is a sign that the fish are running in the rivers. Boo'gul the marsupial mouse mates and dies.
The season ends with Boo'kerrikin (Acacia decurrens) flower, which indicates the end of the cold, windy weather, and the beginning of the gentle spring rains.'

Friday, June 14, 2013

Instagram Sailing

Its been a while since my last post, in part, I have been traveling with the family.  My teenage daughter  spent a lot of time with her head in the iphone and ipad and hooked me into Instagram.  It was a great way to vicariously sail in hotel rooms while watching and not understanding Italian TV.

I was not sure if I would keep it up on return home, but I have been posting some iphone snaps and still check in to get a daily dose of sailing photos.
Tourist pricing is not normally this obvious

You can view Instagram on a PC but to upload and to search you need to use the free phone ap. So its a good medium if you are out and about.

You see my Instagram account click on the icon on the right.

Here are some of my Venice snaps and below are examples of some of the sailors I follow:

J Spithill
Nathan Outteridge
Yatchting Queensland
Americas Cup
Aus Sailing Team

A lot of  young adults use this medium, sailing organisations take note. It is very easy to use.

Number One Laser Sailor ghosting on a Moth, Winter 2013 Middle Habour

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fast Handling Technique

This time last year I borrowed from the library Frank Bethwaite, "High Performance Sailing", It was a big book and at times a difficult read. But I have no regrets putting the time into reading it carefully. Many of his observations and theories have stayed with me and since influenced the way I think about sailing.

Frank Bethwaites new book Fast Handling Technique is a far easier book to read, and and I am looking forward to picking it up a second time to find the things I missed.

As a keen intermediate level sailor, I am constantly looking for the answer to the next stage of my development. At this time its my quest is for better boat speed and handling, minimising the use of the rudder, using boat heal and sail trim. This was the lesson for me from Steve Cockerill's boat whisperer videos.

Bethwaite’s theoretical and practical analysis reinforces the point. He argues there are two kinds of boat handling the original and outdated ‘natural’, ‘one handed’ method of using the rudder to steer up in gusts resulting in slow speed and capsizes and the ‘fast’ two handed method of coordinating easing sheets, steering and body movement.

The book is loaded with theoretical and practical observations that apply to all sorts of sailing. I sail a Laser and crew on yachts. I found the setup guides are particularly relevant to yachts and the section contributed by Brett Bayer on Laser setups is invaluable. While I will probably never experience them, it was fun to read about the apparent wind techniques for the foiling Moth, 49er and ice yachts. 

You only need to get one important tip to make a book or talk worth the time and money and this book delivers many. You also get to experience the intellectual approach of a highly acclaimed sailor, trainer and designer.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Take your sailing gloves on holiday

Sometime this year I am planning to take a break from sailing and go traveling with the family. I have been thinking about how to stay fit as I won't have access to my bike or local pool or the ultimate exercise machine the laser dinghy.

There is a growing trend to exercise with your own body weight and I just found this article in the online version of the UK's Guardian newspaper.

It about  Spartanfam started by Chaka Clarke who learned his way of working out in the army. With mortar alarms and camp excursions in Iraq constantly interrupting his fitness regime, he developed a more flexible approach: "I started doing pushups in my tent, pullups on the tank barrel and on the side of the bulldogs, the armoured fighting vehicles that we had, doing squat jumps, just messing about."

Now living in London Clarke started Spartanfam.
Their motto is go hard or go homesounds a lot like laser sailing.

One of their stunts is hanging sideways off whatever comes to hand – lampposts, scaffolding, his friends – performing a bodyweight exercise called the "human flag" that entails gripping a pole and holding yourself parallel to the ground.  I will pass on this one.

The military seems to a source of these kindhs of excercise routines, probably out of necessity. I remember my parents generation in the 1960's getting into 5BX an exercise program developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force, which also essentially relied on the principle of exercising without gym equipment.

Spartanfam has a series of videos on youtube demonstrating their exercises.  I like this video because it uses the kind of facilities found in hotel rooms like doorways and couches.

They also wear gloves, similar to my laser sailing gloves, so I will now need to put them on the packing list.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Great Regatta - And Back To Bad Public Policy

Martin Brady in 25 knots

The NSW/ACT Laser Masters was last weekend at the Great Lakes Sailing Club. The club is located in the Booti Booti National Park where many of us camped.

It was a great event and a really good roll up with 124 entries, 57 standard, 59 radial and 8 4.7's.

MHASC was very well represented at the regatta and on the podium.

Congratulations to Sean Atherton-Feeney, Venessa Dudley, Rob Lowndes and Martin Brady. 

Meanwhile one of the local causes that I care about is starting to hot up.

Hunting in our National Parks is due to start in March.

Our state Premier Barry O'Farrell has broken his pre-election promise that there will never be hunting in National Parks and made a deal with the Shooters Party.

The National Parks Association of NSW, the Public Service Association of NSW, WIRES and Wild Walks have been campaigning over the last two years to stop shooting in NSW National Parks.

Getup has now joined the cause and is raising funds to run an ad in the Sun Herald.

This is the ad and if you would like to know more or help click here.

New Zealand knows all too well how hunting and recreation is a recipe for disaster. In late 2010, a 25-year-old New Zealand school teacher, Rosemary Ives, was shot dead while brushing her teeth at a camp site in a conservation park on the North Island. The amateur hunter responsible mistook her for a deer. Then in 2011, another bushwalker -- 23 year old Dougal Fyfe -- was shot and killed by his best friend.

UPDATE  July 2013

Very good news!   

In Late July 2013 we recieved this advice from the Campaign Coordinator, National Parks Association of NSW.

Control of feral animals back in the hands of NPWS
On 4 July 2013, the NSW Government announced that a trial of the Supplementary Pest Control Program would commence in 12 national parks. After this trial, a report would be delivered to cabinet and further national parks on the original list of 75 may be considered for the program.

The details of controls and management reveal that campaign to stop amateur, recreational hunting in national parks has been won.

The trial program is fundamentally a professional hunting program and will be run entirely by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff. The program is back in the hands of the professionals who have always managed pest animals in NSW.

NPWS staff may bring in professional volunteers to help execute its professionally planned and managed programs, and such volunteers will have to go through the same training as NPWS staff. E.G: Undertake navigation training, species identification training, demonstrate competency etc.

Any pest eradication programs that NPWS staff utilise professional volunteers for will have one of two zones within it. There were previously three, and the third to be omitted was the ‘scary zone' that permitted amateurs to carry out unsupervised hunting at their own discretion.

The two zones that remain are Zone A and Zone B.

Zone A: Volunteers will be part of the NPWS team and working shoulder to shoulder with experienced NPWS staff.

Zone B: Experienced and trained volunteers are supervised by NPWS staff. This will include induction and daily safety briefings. Detailed reporting, data collection and debriefing requirements will also apply. Site specific shooting plans with detailed maps will direct operations, with these being approved by NPWS regional managers consistent with regional pest strategies.

National Park will be closed to the public when pest eradication programs are taking place as has always occurred when NPWS have managed these programs.

A new addition to the rules around pest animal control is that there will be no shooting activity by NPWS at all in any national park during school holidays.

No minors will be allowed to hunt in any national parks despite lobbying from the Shooters and Fishers Party.

Unions of National Parks and Wildlife Service feel that the safety concerns they raised during the inception of the program have been adequately addressed. 
The campaign to stop amateur, recreational hunting in national parks has very much been won! The groups working on the campaign have committed to keeping a watch on the program and are now calling for: 
> Funds dedicated to the Game Council to be given to NPWS for strategic, integrated professional pest animal control programs, including further research into more humane methods of killing pest animals. 
> For the management and controls for pest animal programs in national parks to be also applied to our State Forests. 
In addition to the announcement around the Supplementary Pest Control Program, on 4 July the government also announced it had disbanded the Game Council of NSW. This came after an independent review of the Game Council by Steve Dunn reported the many incompetencies of the Council and that it promoted poor governance. 
For those who wish to see media and reports delivered from Ministers on 4 July, go to our webpage:
Thanks to everyone for their support to date.
There will still be news and updates to come in the future, but this will be less frequent. 
Best regards
Justin McKee, 
Campaign Coordinator, National Parks Association of NSW. 

News Items

SMH 18 Feb 2013 Plan to let minors shoot in parks

ABC News 20 Feb 2013 - Former Shooters party Exec opposes shooting in parks

SMH 26 Feb 2013 Hunters to use silencers to hunt in national parks

SMH 1 March 2013  Investigation found evidence of alleged illegal activity by a senior executive of the Game Council NSW

The Other Side

Pro Hunting Blog

Shooter and Fisher Party

Friday, January 18, 2013

Too Hot To Sail - The Planet Is Warming so is Australia

Yesterday Sydney broke the hottest day record with a top temperature of 45.8 degrees Celsius (114.4 F).  For those of us acclimatised to the mild temperatures of sub tropical Sydney, it was far too hot to be on a Laser.

On Monday and Tuesday last week  the Australian-averaged maximum daily temperature rose to over 40°C. Monday’s temperature of 40.33°C set a new record, beating the previous highest Australian daily maximum of 40.17°C set in 1972.

This is according to the Australian  Bureau of Meteorology which recently published an article in the on-line publication  The Conversation.

They say it is just not an Australian phenomenon, the summer just gone in the US was the warmest on record, with extreme heat records broken at a rate never previously seen before. Studies here and overseas are now showing that many of the recent extreme summer heat events around the world — such as the European heat wave of 2003, the Russian heat wave of 2010, and US heat waves during 2011 and 2012 — would have been very, very unlikely without the influence of global warming.

Read the full article at The Conversation”