The end or a new beginning?..

Rating: 5.00/5 (2 Votes)
For those of you that have persevered with this little blog over the years, firstly many thanks, in particular given the intermittent nature of the updates!  If following our updates on Facebook you will know that we have had a monster year so here is a monster post to go with it!
The arrival of our little guy and lots to do at work means that I have been ensuring that any spare time I have for sailing is actually spent sailing. So while we enjoy the maintenance break this year, I thought it was time to check in with a final blog post on how the season went, and how I feel we have gone against the goals we set back when we first purchased High Anxiety Christmas  2011.  They pretty much boiled down to - Fix up the boat, Find a crew, Go racing and Share our stories. 
Whilst it is the end of the blog, I do not want to give the impression that it is end of the H.A. story..... because it is not by a long stretch. We have new plans being formulated, (many of which are currently written on the back of a bar coaster with a post-it note stuck to it). It's fair to say those plans will reveal themselves in time but we will continue to race, and you can still follow us on Facebook or Instagram.  
So the end of the blog but not the story, perhaps then this post is more akin to finishing the first book in a series? Either way if you are not interested in this years results or a little trip down memory lane, might be best to change the channel now...
1. The Boat
You can see how the story started here. Needless to say a few years down the track we definitely purchased the right boat. It has rewarded our improvement as a crew, as we continually found another gear. Realistically the boat is still faster than the skipper, but it is getting harder to find the incremental gains. Our friendly competition on Occasional Course Language One have said that maybe we could try going in the right direction! 
Looking back at the last few years there have been a lot of miles and a lot of stories (certainly more than made the website). We have been caught out in a storm blowing 60 knots and some horror deliveries banging into 30 with terrible hangovers but always got home safe. We have also had some amazing times like this Whisper Mug or this Coffs delivery and, particularly this year, some cracking results. With the right breeze the boat is super fast and like a Real Housewife of Melbourne, her new sails, face-lift, refit and  nose job hide her age nicely.  
Right boat? - Check! 
2. Find (an awesome) Crew  
At the time we launched the site Morag and I had already found out by sailing the Whisper Mug 2 up,  High Anxiety is a lot of boat to sail and we are going to need a crew. So plan A - Find a crew. We have had the good fortune to have and had awesome people sailing with us over the years.
Most started as racing newbies and as such Dave and I have been able to introduce a bunch of people to a sport that is our passion and see over time it become their passion too. A few years later these guys have multiple Bluewater and overnight races under the belt and could add value on any of the racing yachts running around at RPAYC on Saturday's.  They really have been fantastic.
syd harbour
Needless to say - Find an awesome crew?  Check!
3.  Go racing but "Don't hit anyone and don't come last"
Albeit in our first race only the skipper really had any idea what was going on - and he was rusty. A couple of broaches, a wrap around the fore stay and subsequent torn spinnaker and of course our  famous to us motto "Don't hit anybody and don't come last".  
Our racing started from a low baseline and some might say it has not improved that much! However our crew stuck it out even in those first couple of light wind winter series with the old torn sails when we thought the races would never end.
old sails
A combination of the skipper not understanding a new boat, forgotten local knowledge (who could forget starting on scratch in the winter series and sailing right past EB because we were trying to work out on the map in the back of the book where it was), our newbie crew and extremely good competition meant the low points were many in the early days.  
One race in our first Winter series, the committee boat had to radio us (in Pittwater)  to find out if we were still planning on finishing the race given how far behind we were. Happily per above we had a fantastic bunch of people that were determined to do better every week. 
 Marcus Matt delivery
We got some good support from the YRC and other skippers at the RPAYC, particularly Allen Storman who jumped on board for a number of races to share his local knowledge and get us back in touch with the fleet. He still comes for a ride from time to time and we are always grateful for his time and advice. Carl Russet was another skipper that always stopped by for a few words of encouragement or helpful pointers back in the bar after the racing (and still does). 
To put it in perspective here is a look at some of our early results from the 2012 & 13 season, the F means did not finish, C is Did not compete, R is retired, and yeah.....there is alot of them. 
Lion Island 
first lion
winter series1
Fast forward to this season and our racing motto has changed to "Laughing all the way" our focus has shifted over time from don't come last, to being competitive, to winning and having a good time.  Our aim is to get the gun in Fleet 2 when we can and beat the next boat up the ladder in Offshore racing . It doesn't happen often but it is achievable on a good day. 
We still enjoy great support from the other skippers and have some friendly rivalry with some of the boats we race against frequently like Bill and Rob on OCL1,  Jeff on "Rouge", Ron on "Inevitable" Gary on "The Real Thing" and of course Allen on Gezzabelle.
Our racing this year has improved no end, specifically the consistency. We are by no means the fastest, nor most experienced, or anywhere near the best at reading local conditions but we now know who is, and our aim is to be right there if one of those guys makes a mistake.
As gear has replaced or repaired we trust the boat more and push it harder,  Breakages that would have seen us retire in years gone by gets fixed or jury rigged, on deck or at the top of the mast, and and we continue on. 
So "yeah yeah" I hear you thinking, enough with the self congratulatory build up. How did we do this 2015/16 season?
Here are the highlights....  

Awards - Alan Rich Trophy for Best Performing RPAYC Yacht 

 Crew trophy

Sailing Results -

1st Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race (PHS Overall)

1st Pittwater Inshore series 

1st Sydney Harbour Regatta (PHS Div 2)

SYD Harbour620
1st Bird Island Blue Water Race 


2nd Whisper Mug 

3rd RPAYC Short Ocean Point Score

3rd RPAYC Bluewater Point Score


3rd Coffs Harbour Solitary Island race 



You bet! 

I am chuffed, and super proud of the crew. not just the guys that raced this season but all the guys and girls that  have been on this journey with us. 

Racing? - Check
Don't hit anyone and don't come last?  (well technically we haven't hit anyone) - 50% 
4. Share our stories 
So I have a passion for sailing, I was lucky enough to go keel boat sailing a as a kid on a Farr 1104 called Piccolo (yep the 1976 Tattersals cup winner) with my parents and a cool guy named Ian Bond. Getting consistently beaten in Sabot's by my brother was a little bit painful so I was always happier on the keel boat.
Even better that Ian would let us bounce around all over the boat, and help out on the fore deck while we were racing. Back at the dock we would zoom all over the marina and Mornington Pier check out the boats, and trawlers then fall asleep on the sails in the bow.
Anyway I was lucky I found out early how much fun sailing could be and I have tried to explain it to people for many years,even while taking an extended break away from sailing I always planned to come back and buy a boat. 
When I stopped sailing I would keep up on the web, following people around the world blogs like Bumfuzzle and Slapdash which were favourites and pretty inspiring. However quiting your job and sailing around the world is a pretty big step that not I or many others can do on a whim.
So when we got our boat there seemed to be a good opportunity to tell some stories that might be more accessible to people just wondering where to start. As for us- we were starting from scratch. New club, with a new to us - relatively cheap boat, and having just moved from Brisbane to Sydney, no crew! 
race start
So we figured some people might be interested in how that would go - what it is all about, or how they could get involved. We hoped some people would get inspired to sail with us or even somebody else.
If you are thinking jeez the blog, Facebook, twitter, seems like a lot of time invested to tell everyone else how wonderful you are - You are not the target audience :) If you thought jeez those guys look like they are having fun maybe I should get in touch and go try it, I hope the blog has been useful.
dsc 0085
Most importantly my family and friends have been able to follow along with our adventures racing blue water up to Coffs Harbour, up the Hawksebury with the dogs or even just heading off with mates to the Patonga Pub.
Seriously, we have had a ball. We have stories about sailing with Whales, Dolphins, Penguins, Seals, Sharks, Sunrises and sunsets, flying fish and Pirate ships.
 Web 2014-02-26 18.38.03
We have documented part of what it takes to refit an old race boat, in a number of articles covering deck paint to antifouls and evertyhing in between like how we picked sails and what we have broken. We have covered Safety at Sea training and what is a Safety Audit, and plenty on the Boat and its history
life jacket
Share our stories - Check 
5. Epilogue 
Well that's it from me - thanks for getting all the way to the end!  I will definitely check back here from time to time and definately as we firm up our new plans and set some new goals. So please leave a comment or feel free to get in touch via Facebook - Hopefully I will see you out on the water,  it really is worth giving it a go.