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Ocean Sailing

Episode 19: Ocean Gem Crew Show Notes

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Hi folks and welcome to this week’s episode, episode 19 of the Ocean Sailing Podcast. This week I decided to do something different again, we’ve just done quite a bit of racing recently, so I thought I would take the opportunity to do a bit of a race debrief with five of my six crew who sailed the Sydney to Gold Coast race with me. So for this session, we are at the Southport Yacht Club. They’ve graciously supplied me with a room free of charge to be able to sit down and do a bit of an interview and recording session and do a debrief on the race and share that with you and since I last put together an intro, we’ve been north and south and probably done right about a thousand nautical miles.

We sailed at the XXXX Gold Cup, which also the IRC Queensland championships a couple of weekends ago and unfortunately for us, the forecast 15 knot winds ended up being 20 to 30 and in the first race of the championship we dropped number one kite into the water while the bow was doing nine knots down wind and prominently destroyed it and ended up having to finish the series race two, three and four somewhat under powered without our number one spinnaker and had a reasonably good run, we’ve had a few accidents with it and it’s been repaired a few times.

It was due for replacement but ultimately we finished that series of our first IRC series, 10th out of 15 entries I think it was. On the Sunday night we then left Manly, which is east of Brisbane, travelled the 60 miles back to South Port on the Gold Coast. I got in about 1:30 in the morning, Home at about 2:30, back up at six AM and then back at the boat at seven for departure for Sydney. We had a really tight window to then get down to Sydney for the Sydney to Gold Coast race, a 384 mile race north up Australia’s east coast.

Second biggest ocean race of the year behind the Sydney Hobart in terms of the competitor numbers and for me, it was our first multi-day race as a crew. We’ve done quite a bit of sort of 12 to 24 hour stuff, but we’ve never actually done any multi day racing. I’ve done plenty of cruising that way, but it was the first real test and for us given we got our IRC and ORCI ratings just before Christmas about nine months ago. It was our first real big fleet test as well on those ratings to see how we go, and just a reminder, I’ve got a 25 year old Beneteau, 44.5 foot long yacht. Beneteau 445 it’s called Ocean Gem. 

So, as you can imagine, today’s IRC racing, we’re racing a lot of high performance boats, a lot of carbon hulls, carbon masts, carbon gear, carbon sails, and so we rank quite low against the rest of the fleet. Our rating is 1.016 and we’re racing against boats that have got 1.1, 1.2, 1.5 as much as 1.98. That’s why they literally have to sail at almost twice our speed on average to beat us on handicap.

So that’s our first real test and it was a race that was supposed to be about two and a half days and ultimately it took four days, just over four days for us to go the 383 miles. It’s a race north against the prevailing southerly current and what it means, in all breeze conditions you’ve got to factor the current into account. But in light to no breeze the current becomes a real challenge and a real test.

So my thought is a bit of a debrief would be quite good. If you’ve done some racing then seeing how we go about debrief might give you some thoughts with your crew. If you haven’t done any racing or any sailing at all, getting the perspectives of crew that some of them had done their first multi day race, sleep on the boat overnight type races ever. Some of them had only done day racing before that. So I thought it would be good to see how they reflected on the race. 

Some of my crew, Shaya, Sean, Eli, Alex and Steve and Rick and me. That’s seven. So all but Sean were at the session. Sean couldn’t make it unfortunately because of some family sickness issues. So I thought it would be good to have a bit of a debrief and this is the race, I think the race that we had was a real test of character and it really showed up tenacity and determination in our team, which is really encouraging with what lies ahead. 

We also had a journalist from the local newspaper, News Limited owned Gold Coast bulletin who had contacted the yacht club about three months ago and said, “I want to do the Sydney to Gold Coast race onboard a yacht and write a story. A bit of a day in the life of an off shore sailor.” So I volunteered to take her on my boat.

Shaya was her name and she was excellent. She’d done a little bit sailing with us before that but really I got stuck and then wrote a bit of a feature piece in the local newspaper which is all good for helping to promote sailing as well. So for us, the four days or four days and one hour is a pretty long race. Only because our expectations were almost half that. But four days isn’t that long if that’s what you expect and so it was a real test of character with the change of weather we dealt with. 

And so this episode is about hearing it from a crew’s perspective, hearing how they saw things, their highs and lows. Are there things that they thought we should do differently and it was great having the session at the Southport Yacht Club where we based, fantastic yacht club and again if you live in the Gold Coast, don’t hesitate to stop and if you’re thinking of trying some sailing, come down on a Thursday afternoon and join one of the twilight racing crews and go out on the broad water.

So for us, because of the length of the race and we finished late on the Wednesday then we had to pull out of Brisbane to Keppel race which was due to be starting on a Friday. We just couldn’t turn the boat around in six hours with damage we had to repair to sails, re-provision the boat and get it back out to Brisbane ready to go again. So we pulled out of the next race unfortunately. Unfortunately that race, unlike the Gold Coast race, was 20 to 30 knots from the south, southeast. It would have been a fantastic one and a half day, 350 mile race but that’s how it goes.

So that’s a session that you’ll hear shortly with my crew, some of the crew who did the race and doing a bit of a debrief and then the next week I’m now heading away north again 580 nautical miles to Hamilton Island, for Hamilton Island Race Week for the very first time. If you want to check that out, 250 entries, biggest fleet ever I understand, should be spectacular racing around the Whitsunday Islands. So we’re in the passage, IRC passage division so each day will be, I imagine, sort of four to five hour race around different islands and different courses and stuff which is pretty cool.

So again, I’ve had a really busy couple of weeks so a little bit behind in show notes for the last couple of episodes. So they will follow and with those again some great videos, I’ll include some great videos as well. Make sure you check out the show notes at In the show notes for this episode, got a great two minute video that is a good listen and not being overly aggressive whether you’re in the right or in the wrong off the start line of a 383 mile race.

The videos show a dozen to 15 boats, literally pulling out, spinnaker poles out, they didn’t give themselves enough room, they got tangled up leaving Sydney heads, one ran aground, see if we needed up facing the wrong way, boat’s bowsprits, four or five out of the race within 20 minutes of starting and we managed to veer 20 degrees to the left and go around a sort of messes to start had sort of unfold. Again, I’ll put a video in the show notes page in YouTube.

But it’s just a good listen and staying out of trouble because it’s pretty sad when you see the crew who have prepared for weeks, maybe months, have their race ended just through being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and being a little bit too aggressive. So I will share that as well. Enjoy this week’s episode of the Ocean Sailing Podcast with some of the Ocean Gem racing crew. Great episode to get crew perspective on things and certainly if you’re thinking of getting into sailing, your local yacht club, have a chat of somebody, I’m sure they’ll be able to get you on the boat and get you a taste of what it’s all about. So folks, enjoy.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Hi folks, welcome back to the Ocean Sailing Podcast. This week we’ve got something different we’re doing. I’m with some of the crew of Ocean Gem, my yacht that recently competed and they XXXX Gold Cup up in Manly in Brisbane and then we had to finish it on the Sunday get back to the Southport on the Sunday night around one AM and then head off to Sydney on the Monday morning first thing for this Sydney to Gold Coast race. 

We have three delivery crew, a couple of our regular crew and a ringer that we got from the yacht club at the last moment and we had a great sail to Sydney, it took us two days and four hours, so a nice quick trip down 390 odd nautical miles and then we started the Sydney to Gold Coast race on the Saturday morning.

Ocean Gem Crew: Afternoon.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Saturday afternoon, I forgot. Despite all of our expectations and intentions, we participated in the slowest Sydney to Gold Coast race in history and so we thought it would take us about two and a half days, it took us four days and one hour to complete and unfortunately for us, the race was a bit of a roller coaster ride. We started with a fleet of 75 boats, started out at Sydney Harbour which is pretty awesome and quite a spectacle.

On the show notes page I’ll post a couple of videos which show 10 or 15 yachts piling up as they lift the Heads. One running aground and several running into each other. So it was quite an exciting start. We’ve got some good breeze overnight the first night, going into day two we, to our surprise, we’d gone from back of the pack to leading our respective IRC and ORCI divisions. Then by the end of the race, some four odd days later, we were at the back of the fleet after really staying quite a stop start race where we were becalmed several times from anywhere between three and six hours at a time and we probably spent at least 24 hours of the four days at a standstill.

Unfortunately with the East Coast of Australia, if you’re heading north, you’ve got south bound current that’s running between sort of half a knot and three knots depending where you are. When you’re becalmed, you’re not actually standing still, you’re going backwards, so it really can be quite a test. So I’ve got the six of us here today for this session, six of our seven crew and we’re going to run through a little bit of a debrief really as we would normally talk about the race, talk about what we experienced, what we learned and then with some other racing we’ve got coming up later this year, just do a debrief around what can we do differently or what could we do better next time around.

So on Skype we’ve got Shaya who is currently on holiday in Cairns, which is a couple of thousand kilometres from here. Say hello Shaya.

Shaya: Hello.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, welcome along. Then in the room with me at the Southport Yacht Club, they’ve kindly lent us a room we can use, we’ve got Rick, we’ve got Alex, we’ve got Steve and we’ve got Eli. So say hello guys.

Ocean Gem Crew: Hi everyone.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Welcome along. Hopefully the rest of the podcast is at high level of excitement.

Ocean Gem Crew: Because it started off yeah.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, so we’ll get started, we’ve got a few questions to ask you guys really, as a bit of a debrief and we’ll start with you Shaya seeing as you recently joined us, you’re a journalist for the local Gold Coast bulletin, you joined us maybe 10, 12 weeks before the race with the intention of doing the race and writing the story on a day in the life or four days in a life as it turned out on the race course.

So from your point of view, what were you most, I guess, anxious or worried about before the race started? What things were on your mind the most prior of the start of the race.

Shaya: It’s definitely sea sickness to be honest. Yeah, I was just really worried about it because I know I do get quite sea sick out there and that once you’re on the boat you can’t really get off. So I was worried that I’d get sea sick and then be sort of stuck on there and yeah, that was my biggest worry.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Alex, what about you? What was something you were concerned or anxious about before the race and just drag that mic right up towards you guys. Pull it a little closer.

Alex: I guess the only thing I was really concerned about was not making the start line because we’d all put in so much effort and everyone was on such a high to actually get down there and race, that’s my concern was that was something going to happen with the boat? We had that issue with the HF radio where we’re getting replies back from Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue. If we didn’t have an operating HF radio we couldn’t race. Those sort of things were concerning. It was just, we wanted to make the start line and we wanted to race.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, this is a good point and a bit of background, we did have issues passing our radio test which in the end turned out perfectly fine throughout the race and then we had other issues, which we’ll come back to later with our model safety checks, and we’ll come back to that. Okay, Rick, what about you?

Rick: Well, contrary to Alex’s idea, I had full confidence in making it there and getting into the start line, the only thing that I’m really sort of I suppose worried about was sleep. Personally I don’t sleep well in strange beds but I realized that if I got tired enough I would sleep. It’s just a matter of making sure I did sleep and get the most out of it.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Did you sleep?

Rick: Sometimes, not very often. Just lying there looking.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay. Now Steve, you’re done quite a lot of off shore racing, Sydney to Hobart races. I guess this is a bit of a dawdle up the coast really. Was there anything at all that you had sort of concerns or worries about and just pull that microphone even close to you guys. Pick the whole stand up because your sound here is a little bit low.

Alex: Probably the basically just the unknown. So we’ve got a crew that hasn’t really done a lot of off shore racing for any great length and we’re throwing it all together whilst we’ve trained on off shore races. It’s just the unknown of what was going to be two or three nights, which turned into over four days of how everyone would react to that, who was going to get sick and who could cope with be it, be it high winds, low winds or anything like that?

Probably the other thing, the concern was the race start. It’s probably the biggest fleet of off shore race yachts in Australia on a quite a short line and like what happened, you really got to get away well and not retire. Just before the Heads like I think four boat steed. That was probably the main thing and the same race last year, it was very light wind start, it was very tight start and made a big difference on the overall result. So they are probably the two things for me.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s good point because you think about the Sydney to Hobart having a 110, 115 boats but it’s spread over three start lines isn’t it? So 75 on one actually is busy. Also, there’s no control of the spectators, so they just go anywhere they like.

Alex: Yeah, it’s very lose where as a Sydney to Hobart, you’ve got three lines, you’ve got spectators behind their own buoys, they’re out of the way and you’re allowed to go around them but then they’ll actually go around you. All the big boats that are absolutely smoking through at three times the speed, miles away, you don’t even see them. It’s always a pretty tight line and which we did great on. So that was a highlight.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, because it’s quite unique to have big boats get a bad start and have to come up through the fleet past you as opposed to being ahead of you on their own line and off and gone.

Alex: It looked great for us, that’s for sure and embarrassing for them I’m sure so that’s good.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Cool, what about you Eli? What were your anxieties or concerns?

Eli: Yeah, popping spinnakers in front of 74 other boats, two thirds of them professionals, some of the best boats in Australia, dropping spinnakers in front of those boats and trying to get a clean start. It all felt like I was on, or we were all on show a bit and I wondered how it was going to go. I was confident.

Ocean Gem Crew: We had confidence in you.

Eli: Now, we did really well. We did great actually. Great start

Alex: We actually ran the line on port for a while, which was a bit concerning at times.

Eli: A little bit. 

Alex: It worked well.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think part of the challenge is there’s so much going on around you, there’s so much to look at if you don’t keep an eye on your own game at the same time because you’re a spectator as much as you’re a participant. So it’s easy to just get distracted with what’s going on around you and lose sight of what’s in front of you.

Eli: Yeah, there’s a lot of nice boats to look at. I had to keep my mind on the job.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, that’s good. Shaya, back to you. What aspects of the race did you find most challenging from a personal point of view?

Shaya: Well I got pretty sea sick in the first few days because the tablets just weren’t working. So I was sort of trying to put on a brave face so you guys wouldn’t notice, to then pull my weight and then I found that really challenging. But then as soon as Steve gave me his tablets from, I think you said they were from England or something, they worked wonders. So it all came together then.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, what brand of tablets were they Steve?

Ocean Gem Crew: Stugeron.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Oh Stugeron?

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, they’re the good stuff.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, better drugs.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Highly recommended. That’s good, you certainly did put on a brave face for the first couple of days because it’s not nice when you’re feeling green.

Shaya: Yeah. The rest was all right I think. When there was no wind, of course that was challenging because you get up from your four hours sleep and you haven’t sort of moved, that can be a bit disheartening.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: The same rock that’s there when you go to sleep, is still there four hours later when you get up.

Shaya: Yeah.

Ocean Gem Crew: In fact, further in front of you.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, or the rock’s further ahead than it was last time you saw it. That’s even worse. Okay, cool. Alex, what about you? What aspects of the race did you find the most challenging?

Alex: I guess because we’re all at a race, we want to sort of pumping on a bit of adrenaline and you want to get moving and you want the bike to go fast and you want to be up there with the fleet and I guess the most challenging parts for me were when we will becalmed. When we just couldn’t get the boat speed that we wanted and particularly, because a lot of the racing that we do here is against other keel boats that are fairly cruiser sailors. To see that fleet of high performance racing yachts and just a little whiff of a breeze, off they go and eight, nine 10 knots.

That was challenging to be so slow in those light breezes. Start to catch up to them, the way we did on the first night and then to be becalmed and then to see them maybe a mile or two ahead get a breeze, and then just take off and we don’t get that breeze. So to me, that was just frustrating. You just wanted to get moving, you wanted to race, not sit there waiting to race.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think it felt worse the time than it actually was. After we finished I looked back for the results and I think IRC rating wise, we have a second lowest rating in the fleet and that’s pretty much about where we finished up. It was nice to be ahead of 15 or 16 or 20 boats, whatever it was at one stage, we needed wind to keep that up. Having a low rating is one thing, it’s never motivating to see a whole fleet in front of you. It doesn’t matter what your rating is, it’s just psychologically it feels wrong, isn’t it?

Alex: But we were doing so well. If we’d been able to keep up that speed, we were with the fleet and it was just frustrating to see that wind die out continuously. What did we have? Four or five holes that we fell in to on the way up?

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, quite big ones.

Alex: It would have been just favour to not find those holes. Keep moving.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, exactly. Okay. Thank you. Rick, what about you? What did you find?

Rick: I agree with Alex on that one and this is challenging, his words were frustrating and I think that’s correct. It was frustrating just watching people being able to move with no wind and we just stopped or went backwards with the currents. Otherwise, I think it was a pretty smooth run, the whole thing, enjoyed it.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s good. And when we were moving, we were moving okay but that’s right, when you’ve got wind of less than four knots, you’ve got carbon hulls that will just drift along.

Rick: Yeah, and just leave us fore dead.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Literally stopped dead. Yeah. It’s quite a difference, over four days.

Ocean Gem Crew: Rick.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Steve?

Steve: I’m exactly the same, heavy boat, light winds, a sub three knots…

Rick: Heavy crew.

Steve: Yeah.

Alex: Heavy everything, heavy absolutely everything. No matter what you do in sub three knots in a heavy boat, it’s just not going to go as well as a light boat, which as everyone was saying, we were right up with. If not ahead and frustrating that we just park up and just couldn’t get going like they could. I suppose like what you’re saying, if we were second last the whole race, that wouldn’t have been a problem because they would have been ahead and we probably would have been encouraged because we were catching them and then we’d slow down and then we’d catch them and slow down being a downwind star race that you catch the boats that are in the holes.

Because we’re so far ahead and we’re first in our division and ahead of boats that are a whole lot lighter and a whole lot faster than this. It’s just so frustrating going backwards through any fleet. So that was the main challenge that I saw like everyone I expect.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Fortunately it eventually came to an end and didn’t last another 30 days or something silly. 

Ocean Gem Crew: It felt like 30 days.

Ocean Gem Crew: Just that last day.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, especially the last day, that cruel. Eli, what about you?

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, well I’m just going to repeat the same thing, lack of wind was really frustrating and then to throw into it a million sail changes.

Ocean Gem Crew: I knew that was coming because there was no wind.

Eli: Then, you know. Still not to happen. From a number one to another three to a code zero back to a one, down to a three again. And still we’ve only gone two miles and that doesn’t sound like every bowman in Australia right now. Complaining about sail changes. Yeah, just no wind.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, you want to be able to sail more than 500 meters if we change sails again, don’t you?

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, preferably.

Ocean Gem Crew: Preferably in the right way too, not backwards.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, that two miles, that could have been any direction.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Shaya, back to you.

Shaya: Yup.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Were there any times you sort of felt scared or unsafe or just wish you’d stayed home?

Shaya: Yeah. I did think a few times, “I wonder how long it would take me to swim to shore?” Yeah, I don’t know why I thought it was so tough when there was no wind. You’d think that’s it’s not hard on you physically or anything, but mentally it’s just I found it really tough. Especially when we got deadlines and stuff coming back home and I just didn’t know when exactly we’d be back home, I found that a bit challenging. Then I started wondering, “Oh was it the right decision?” Of course it was but at the time, it plays with the mind a little bit.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Well and to put into context, I think the last couple of days you had your editor calling you, more than once a day saying, “Are you back, have you written your story because you’re past your deadline?”

Shaya: Yeah.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Added to the stress right?

Shaya: It ended up turning even, like publication wise for us, it was even better that we came back closer to the weekend but at the time I didn’t know that, yeah that part was a bit stressful.

Ocean Gem Crew: Exams.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s right, you miss an exam, right? You had an exam to be back for it.

Shaya: Yeah, but I sort of laughed at it in the end, it all turned out but yeah.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Did you ever feel scared at all?

Shaya: I think there was only once when it was dark and there was thunder storm and there was a fair bit of wind for once and I think the boat was leaning a little bit and I just got a little bit scared for maybe 10 minutes but you said, “Oh don’t worry, you’ll be okay.” It was fine after that.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Then wind died and you wish the storm came back so we could get going?

Shaya: It was sort of like, “Come back.” Yeah, it was fine then.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, what about you Alex? Any scary moments or what the hell am I doing here? 

Alex: No.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I could have been at home reading a book or doing the gardening.

Alex: No point that any of that occur. I mean I committed to the team, to the race, to basically get out there and experience as much as I possibly can and it was more of a case of like bring it on, let’s give ourselves a good test and I guess the time where it started to happen, like the sort of weather we wanted was that thunder storm on that last night. Started to get 20 knots over, apparently it was the boat was healing, it was cooking, and that was fun. That was a lot of fun but the rest of it, no was just pretty much as I expected.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, unfortunately that only lasted maybe six, seven hours at the most?

Alex: Yeah, it was very short.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: By the time it build and faded out. Good ride.

Alex: Can you imagine that ride all the way up from Sydney? How good would that have been? I think it would’ve been awesome. 

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think that’s called the Keppel race.

Alex: Yes, exactly. That’s 30 knots, 30 knots, 30 knots. 

Ocean Sailing Podcast: It changes everything when it’s got pressure all the time. Okay, what about you Rick?

Rick: I was never scared or felt unsafe or anything. I had full confidence in the crew or you as a helmsman. But I’ve been off shore with enough of you and we’ve been up to things like Mooloolaba or whatever. Okay, they’re not as long but everyone knows their job and gets to it and does it. So yeah, I was never scared or unsafe there.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, I think the boat bangs and crashes off stuff, the more you realize that’s just the norm and it can handle it. If you haven’t heard for a while, it can be a bit unnerving to start with when you start falling off the odd wave and crashing along and the funny thing is there’s plenty of noise downstairs, and you think, “What is going on upstairs?” But you go upstairs and it’s just a tack. But downstairs you’d swear that somebody’s ripping the bows out of the boat when you tack. That noise is horrendous.

Ocean Gem Crew: That’s a very quiet boat. Anything above five knots of speed, it just sounds like a cyclone above.

Ocean Gem Crew: It’s crazy. I actually made a comment of how quiet this boat downstairs.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: It’s called a thick heavy hull.

Ocean Gem Crew: It’s like the hot shower. Very enjoyable.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: When was the time you did an ocean race where you had a hot shower two or three days and ate fine dining the whole way? Okay, so given your background, I’m sure there wasn’t any sort of scary moments for you? But at some point did you just wish you had stayed home and given the race a miss?

Ocean Gem Crew: It was hard to get through a few moments, like I just hate going slow and we went slow and then we went ultra-slow and then we went backwards and then we actually past a rock and then it past us. So that’s how ultra-slow we were going. Only fear that I had was more about how much food we had because on the last day we’re just eating biscuits because we’d run out of food. You just weren’t sure why someone was actually staring you down.

If your arm looked quite tasty or what? So no great fear on sailing but yeah. I’m glad we had just enough food to get us home and no more holes in breeze because that could have been easily an extra night.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, I did suggest to Eli that he starts holding up his arm.

Eli: That’s about the only time I thought, “Oh today, I wished I’d stayed home.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, we have plenty of gas to cook whatever we were able to acquire, no fishhooks. Okay, so Eli, what about you?

Eli: Yeah, other from trying to eat my arm, it was pretty good.

Ocean Gem Crew: When we got overtaken by Fish Rock, kind of wish I stayed home.

Eli: Yeah, that was a bit disheartening but as for unsafe, not really, everything was pretty good, we didn’t really have much wind so I couldn’t really get too out of control. It was all pretty good.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Fish Rock was probably the pinnacle of whoever was on the helm was really unlucky because he’s just sailing these lines that are going up and down the same line, everyone else is giving him advice. He’s trying to get the boat moving and in three knots with a strong current, there’s nowhere to go except for back to the foresail on the main line, just not to go backwards.

Eli: Three knots was a gust.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Then other boats somehow came through.

Eli: Well I went to sleep for four hours, praying that when I woke up, we’d be somewhere further up the coast. We were further back than when I went to sleep and that was pretty bad.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: You need to sleep for eight hours. Okay. Cool, Shaya, what was different about the race to what you expected. I’m on a recurring theme here.

Shaya: Well, like I’d done it a little bit of sailing at night before and I’m new, I think I knew what to expect in terms of sleep and that it’s not always comfortable and that for sort of thing. I just didn’t think that sometimes we wouldn’t move. I thought surely we’re sailing along the coast, there will be wind all the time but there wasn’t. That was the most surprising part. The rest I think I just went with an open mind thinking whatever happens, happens and I’ll try and get used to it. Yeah, that was pretty much it, the wind 

Ocean Sailing Podcast: It’s clear this podcast is about answering all these different question with the same answer all the way. The lack of it.

Shaya: Sorry.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s all right.

Shaya: Like the journal in me sort of came out a few times when something was a bit hard, it was like, “Oh, this is good for the story or by far overboard,” I have a better story. Sometimes it worried me but at the same time yeah, not too much.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, cool. Alex, what was different to your expectations. 

Alex: Look I suppose being exposed to the calibre of racing yachts out of the CYC just the boats, like the TP 52’s, those DK 46’s, whatever they were just seeing that racing hull with all the carbon. Just the speed of those boats that was just wow. That really blew me away and I wasn’t expecting to see such acceleration and such movement in open water from boats like that in light winds. That really blew me away.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, good. Rick, what about you? What was different of what you expected?

Rick: The timeframe. Literally how long it actually took for such a short distance and how long it took to get down.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Especially the trip down, two days and four hours.

Rick: We killed it, turned around, and stopped. Yeah, that’s the only thing that really I suppose was really unexpected.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Steve?

Steve: Mine’s a little bit different. The unexpected was having a hot shower, day two I think it was and I think I led the charge on that one then because we actually used a fair bit of water, we just made or own water. So I’m not used to the luxuries of a cruising, a star race boat and took full advantage of it. I must say, having a comfy bed, having a dry bed, having a dry boat, it was just great. It would be great if we could have all of those experiences and did it in two days but I’m sure we had a much better race than some of the guys on this ultra-fast boats that were expecting it to be over in a day because I did hear that those guys ran out of food. That was after one night. At least we had enough for three nights. Yeah, mine was the other way of how good is this. Great food, comfortable, happy days.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s a good point, because when you say that, “I think I’m going to have a shower.” I thought you were joking. We’re sitting there, we’ve got hot water because we have to run to use the radio to use the radio and so then to suddenly go, “Why not?” Then everyone followed I think. “Are we having a hot shower? Who is next?”

Ocean Gem Crew: You’re welcome.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: So yeah, that’s good. Okay what about you Eli, what was different to what you expected?

Eli: Yeah, the food was way better than I expected. I don’t know what I expected but it was pretty good. I was like, fine dining, calm water, you know. It was pretty relaxed, it was good. 

Ocean Sailing Podcast: We were just was thinking like the red wine or…

Ocean Gem Crew: I was going to say, you expected wine.

Eli: Yeah, it wasn’t that. I didn’t expect no alcohol on the boat at all. I don’t know if I should say that on the podcast, blasted around the world but it’s easy, semi-cruising boat.

Ocean Gem Crew: Even on the way down, when we’re in such a hurry to get out of there because we had four hour turnaround from Sunday night to Monday morning. Same thing on the way down, we didn’t even think about it to run away, that was two days. But yeah, coming back, we normally would have a bit of a sun downer or something, especially in fine weather. 

Ocean Gem Crew: I suppose we expected it to last a lot shorter than that. When you’re sitting there looking at the same rock, it might be nice to have a beer.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: If we had beer on board, we would have quickly made a rule that as long as we becalmed it’s okay to have beer, it would been gone. So good point. Okay. Shaya, how did you enjoy your 24/7 life on board while you were racing?

Shaya: I really liked it to be honest. I don’t know, it was just really different to what you get at home, you come out on deck and like millions of stars and there’s whales and there’s dolphins and it’s just so different, but it’s so enjoyable at the same time. Yeah, I was surprised by how much I liked it.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Had you done anything like that before?

Shaya: I did, we were on a sail boat for three weeks in the Amazon but there wasn’t much wind so it was still life on board where you had to do watches and that sort of thing. I enjoyed that as well. So I knew that that wouldn’t be the tough part.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: You kept that little adventure up your sleeve didn’t you?

Ocean Gem Crew: That was very quiet.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Up the Amazon, we’ve all done that. Okay, that’s cool. Alex, what about you?

Alex: Look, I really did enjoy the 24/7 lifestyle of the boat. It’s interesting, everything sort of compresses, it’s sort of like almost like a little society that’s compressed in time because everybody’s got their own little personalities and what was really good about our crew was that we all got on so well and everybody supported each other and because you’ve got that watch system happening and you virtually I think Steve you said at one stage, the life becomes sleep, food and sitting on the rail.

We didn’t get a chance to sit much on the rail because of the wind again, but you sort of get into that routine and everybody was out there sort of helping and supporting and rotating and doing what needed to be done that I loved every minute of that 24/7.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s good. It is an important part, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of that because I’ve been in groups, either on camps or on boats where there’s just one or two thorns in the side and people get irritated after a while if everything’s not going their way. So that sort of team spirit and ability to get along, that means a lot of as the days tick on and the frustrations start to build.

Alex: Yeah I mean there’s not a lot of room on the boat, everybody’s in very close proximity to everybody else, you know? They’ve all got to go for a piss over the rail if need be and eat and sleep and belch and burp and fart and everything else that happens then.

Ocean Gem Crew: He’s speaking for himself. 

Alex: Yeah, and no one complained.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s right, that’s right. Okay, that’s good, what about you Rick?

Rick: I enjoyed it, I agree with Alex in saying that everyone got along really well and they did, they knew what was required of them but also they sort of went out of their way to make sure that everyone else was happy. If they look like they’re a bit down, take over a bit of their tasks that everyone worked together really well and I know Shaya says we’re all thrown together as strangers. Well we weren’t really that. We weren’t at the end of it, that’s for sure. Everyone I think sort of cemented their friendship and understanding of the other person.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, I mean that’s a good point because you can work with somebody but then going to be 24, 48 hours with them and they could be a different somebody to the eight hours you spend with them occasionally.

Ocean Gem Crew: Especially without a drink, you know?

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think I lost a few kilos on that trip actually. Not planned, but there you go, healthy. Okay, what about you Steve? Well you covered quite a few of your luxuries.

Steve: Yeah. As you probably heard. I enjoyed it a lot and being on a long race or what turned out to be a long race was actually quite good because it did actually gel us as a crew as well. So we had more time and we had more time to chat, more time to learn each other’s skills and how we live. Personally I sleep more on the boat in a three hour shift on and off than I do in a night on land.

So that and the Stugeron helped in that as well. But yeah, I love it. It’s even though it was a lot longer than expected, it was still a great time, it was just hanging out and we just had more time to hang out than we did in those big wind holes.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Where by the end of it, it was like, “Okay, no wind. Who wants to sleep? And wake me when there’s wind.” I think some of us must have got about 12 hours a day by the end, in terms of sleep, which is great. You might as well be asleep than sort of sitting around getting frustrated waiting for wind.

Steve: Or in some cases, “Wake me when it’s time for a sail change.” It was exactly right.

Ocean Gem Crew: Then back down stairs.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, okay, that’s good. So Eli, what about you?

Eli: Yeah, with that 24/7 lifestyle, you kind of build that camaraderie and you get really close with everyone and by the end you kind of a family and that’s quite enjoyable, that’s quite amazing and you get back and you’re all more than friends. You’re all pretty solid and it was a good crew, there was no thorns or someone you’d kick off the boat if you had the chance. No, it was great.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s a good point. You normally get some time together. It’s amazing I thing just settle onto a daily routine; breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a bit of wind in between.

Steve: I got a lot of sleep. I slept better than I do at home as well, so you’re not the only one Steve. Yeah, maybe more.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Shaya. So I’m going to rephrase this question, what was it that started to get on your nerves by the end of the trip, if there was one thing?

Shaya: Well initially I thought it’s like when I first heard I was the only girl in the boat, I was like, “Oh my, everything’s going to get on my nerves,” but at the end it was just the wind, everything else was fine, it was pretty good.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: After you’ve been on the boat a few days, everything slows down anyway. All the day to day stuff you’ve got to [inaudible] kind of behind you really, apart from a text message. But yeah, life’s quite simple on the boat really, as long as you get along. What about you Alex?

Alex: Yeah look, the only thing that got on my nerves was lack of wind. It’s the prevailing theme, you just get moving, everything’s happening, you’ve had sail change, you’ve trimmed it up, you’re getting up to eight knots, everything’s going well and then within half an hour it’s dead and you’re back sitting around lulling around. That was like, “Ah!”.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay. Something different?

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah I was going to say nothing got on my nerves, I don’t think I just accepted that there’s no wind and that was life. There’s nothing we can do about it, and that’s just luck. You got bananas on board, you’ve got bananas on board.

Ocean Gem Crew: And we did, we found one.

Ocean Gem Crew: Oh there were more.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Clearly there must have been, right? Does a banana [inaudible] as well?

Ocean Gem Crew: Oh, there is a dessert.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah I think I was pretty chilled out for the whole race really. 

Ocean Sailing Podcast: One thing I saw that started to get on people’s nerves, is if you try to steer the boat and know that it’s not moving and you try your best and then another comes back giving you advice, like I was going to do that. You think, “Oh maybe this — someone else do it,” and then do now better. Well maybe we go from two and a half to three and a half, you could just get the boat moving again. But it was so wind dependent. It’s just that line that’s below three and a half knots, there’s almost nothing you can do.

Ocean Gem Crew: That’s sailing for you. You’ve had that here on a twilight where we haven’t even finished a race.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Several time.

Ocean Gem Crew: You just have to learn to accept it I suppose. Move ahead hopefully.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: At least the weather was 20 something degrees, it’s not like it was raining or it wasn’t really cloudy, it wasn’t cold. I’m sure there’s tougher ways to have no wind.

Ocean Gem Crew: I really thought that you showed exemplary patients when there was no wind, you’d be at the helm looking for a sail change, looking for a shift and you were just positive, pumped and we’re all sitting around and going, “Ah there’s no wind,” and you were there going, “Yes, there’s a breeze coming in, let’s get the sail done, let’s put the boat this way.” Hundred meters away and I looked at you and I thought, “All right, this guy’s got it, he’s working, he’s working.”

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Day four when you hear that for the 29th time you’d say this guy’s lost it.

Ocean Gem Crew: You kept going which is great, from a team point of view that was just fantastic.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think it’s important because it would be fair to say, by the time we had the last bloody hole at Coolangatta on 7 o’clock in the morning before we finished the race, I was thinking, “We’re going to vote. Surely it’s going to be unanimous. Let’s just retire.” But we did it.

Ocean Gem Crew: Well at some stage we were going to have bacon and eggs for breakfast weren’t we?

Ocean Sailing Podcast: We were going to pre-order it ahead. I think Eli said, “It doesn’t matter if we’re at it for a month, we’re going to finish this damn race.”

Ocean Gem Crew: Breakfast by 8:40 it was at one stage?

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, it’s tough. Okay, can we cover you on that one?

Ocean Gem Crew: It’s probably all the same.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Anything for anybody else?

Ocean Gem Crew: No. It was a good test of character because being sailors, you’re supposed to be able to deal with light winds, you can’t just go, “All right, throw the anchor out,” or what we prefer to do is, drink alcohol or something like that in a pretty serious race. It’s the second biggest off shore race in Australia. You can’t just give up. You have to get the boat moving and frustrating wise, it just isn’t going to happen under two knots.

So same old frustration, wind. But that’s sort of what we do, we’re sailors and its wind dependent. So it’s a good test of character to not give up, to keep actually going because in some cases, that is the difference between like moving forward a mile and not moving forward a mile. It’s easy to say, “It’s the light boats,” and in this case, it was but in other cases, it could be, you’ve just given up, you’re not on the ball, you’re not leaning the boat over, and you’ve not got the right sales up or something like that. 

So it’s a good test and what we have coming up, even though the Sydney to Hobart’s a heavier wind race. Absolutely guarantee, we will have a hull. A dead patch where we’re doing exactly what we just did and that’s when we need to go, “We’ve done this, we got two knots of speed out of three knots of wind, we know how to do it, now we know what angle to point the boat all that sort of stuff. Whilst it gets on your nerve, you have to look at it for what it is and choose to actually make it an opportunity to build character, to build skill and go from there.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s a really good point because we tried lots of sail combinations and we had lots of different wind streams and there’s times we got the boat moving in a certain breeze, there’s time that we didn't. It was a really good learning exercise, you never get to test that many combinations over that many days and be able to retain it in an off shore race when it’s like five, or six hours. You just don’t. So yeah, it’s a great lesson on persistence.

The race was like 93 hours long or something, somebody said? Well even if it’s just three of those hours, if you can give two knots and others are doing nothing, six miles at the end of the day can be the difference between somewhere and nowhere or can be the difference between finishing or hitting the next wind hull because you haven’t got home yet which is pretty much what happened to us. So yeah, that’s a really good point, okay. What about you Eli?

Eli: Just refers back to no wind probably the 29th time, put the code zero up because the wind had built from zero knots to one knot, that started to get a bit tedious and get on my nerves but it was great training. Sometimes we did get the boat moving from doing that, sometimes we didn’t. Either way we tried something and I’ve put a code zero up a lot more times than when I started.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s the most we’ve done in the whole of the last 12 months..

Eli: Change sails. So it was sort of great training but it might have got a bit tedious.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think on your 49th and sail change I did it for you because I just figured it was just…

Eli: You don’t want to bring me up from my sleep again.

Ocean Gem Crew: How good are we at sail changes?

Eli: Yeah, it was great training.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Actually, by the end of it, we were like, well I know everybody when we were a third of the way through it we were like Steve said, people in the cockpit are anticipating what you need because they know it, they’re not waiting for you to holler, “Ease this, ease that, let this go.” It was starting to happen quite fluidly.

Eli: Yeah that’s true actually, at the start there was a lot of shouting back from the bow to let things off and by the end, it was all done as I’d go to grab for sheets. They were already off and free so I could do what I needed with them or have the how you tied on and you’d be going up before I called for it. Perfect. It’s good training and nice weather for it.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah absolutely. Okay, Shaya, what were your key highlights?

Shaya: The finish line was pretty good. That we did it and that we got through it all but the start I found really impressive as well, with all the other boats because I had never done anything like it. So to have Wild Oats XI on the side and all these others. Yeah I found that impressive. So I’d say probably the start and the finish. Heaps of stuff in the m middle as well like the whales and the food was also really, really good but yeah.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: So to summarise, if you can start, see a whale, eat something and finish that would be the perfect race for you? 

Ocean Gem Crew: All inside one hour. 

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, half an hour or an hour.

Shaya: Yeah.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, that’s good, thank you. What about you Alex? What were your highlights?

Alex: Look, my highlights were the whole ocean racing experience. Pretty much the build up at the dock, at the CYC like you could see the more people arriving from the Friday to the Saturday then on Saturday there’s a big crowd, there’s TV crews, there’s helicopters starting to fly around and you could just feel the buzz and you sort of can’t help but get caught up in that buzz and like Shaya, the start was amazing, at that one stage, I looked to my left and there’s Wild Oats, you look up and there’s about 10 stories of sail going up and then at another point, I looked over my other shoulder and they’re Scallywag, it’s just a wall of black carbon sail right next to you and just watching this boats power past. It was just great. The whole thing was just fantastic.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, it’s pretty exhilarating. Besides being in and amongst that really, it’s hard to explain.

Alex: Just the buzz on the harbour. After we started and the spinnaker was up and things settled down and I mean, everyone’s like really pumped up looking left and right, seeing where there’s a hole to move in to, where the gap is, where the congestion was, where that collision was up near Watsons Bay, we dodged that really well and just sort of being in the zone I guess, we were at the start there, it was just all happening really nice, that was fantastic. If you could relive that every weekend it would be wonderful.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Exactly. Okay, great, thank you.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, the highlights I suppose, as Alex was saying again, the buzz at the club. There’s always a buzz there in front of the big race. My brother did a Sydney to Hobart a few years ago and yeah, it was just going off. So this isn’t as big but it was still there. The start was good with all the boats calling starboard to boats that we probably shouldn’t be calling starboard to, things like that and then one night we had the kite up and we had a bit of wind and that was fun. You had everyone now on the rails at the back corner, they’re just keeping it down and we were just flying along and that was a good night sail.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that was fun. That was really thrilling. Gives you a taste of what’s possible if we just [inaudible]. But yeah, that was fun.

Ocean Gem Crew: A lot of fun.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, thank you. Steve.

Steve: I’ve got two things, the adrenaline on the start, I was helping Dave with the tactics and like what I said before, 75 boats, lots of coin out there and all on the one line, which was about half the size of the finish line which was ironic. But with wind that changed through about 90 degrees with about five minutes to go before the start and having to change tactics and just adrenaline pumping, calling Dave through on the line on port and there’s moments there, do we go behind or in front and then sort of jiving, in fact I think we ended up tacking around to go back on starboard and then looking back to two thirds of the fleet behind us, including boats that have a multimillion dollar check thrown at them every year to just go faster and here’s us, a little old cruising boat, out in front of them and we got a few photos. Which is great.

So having two thirds of fleet behind us and just watching them come through, which was fantastic and then we followed our routes that we planned off the weather route we got, went out wide and I think we were probably the widest boat there for a while and because we had breeze and because we had a great route, we ended up coming first at that point in time, which is probably where we should have actually gone and said, “Well we’ve done it now, a portion of the race, only had about 300 miles to go. They weren’t going to shorten the course on us unfortunately but that was nice going from a great start to then leading our division in two divisions. 

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I’d say maybe e12th out of 75, 24 hours in which was as good as it got.

Steve: Really cool for what was really a training exercise for us to get us to the next line and really getting a result to start with then three days later it’s slightly different. But those three days were probably more important than the first 12 hours. So yeah, they’re the highlights for me.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, you did a great job at start because I never would have planned on being at the pin end, on port with a style like that. It’s not where you want to be normally.

Steve: Well it generally costs you more money than me too.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Well he actually find this hole and said, “There’s a hole there.”

Steve: We’ll take that.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: There’s a big hole but isn’t there someone to fill it? It took maybe 10 minutes into the race then Black Jack came through and you think, “Oh shit, we did get a good start. This boat should have been off and gone.” So yeah, it was excellent. Okay.

Rick: Yeah, the start. Having spinnakers up in front of Black Jack and having them come cruising past five, 10 minutes later. That felt pretty good. The shadow of Scallywag coming over and just hearing this noise, and looking up as we were about to put the spinnaker up and there she is. Just huge, it was amazing. Highlight of my life. It was unreal. Blew me away. I never thought I’d be on a start like that with 75 other boats and boats of that caliber.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Being in the thick of it.

Ocean Gem Crew: Riding in the thick of it. I had to keep my mind on the job and not gawk too much, everything around me.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I was going to say, there must be a bit of damage caused by crew members taking photos rather than taking photos and taking selfies and everything else on the job?

Ocean Gem Crew: I’d be guilty of that, in a quiet moment I had

Ocean Sailing Podcast: We’re okay because we didn’t have any damage but you see a video footage of broken spinnaker poles and spinnakers flying out the back of the boat, you wonder how the crew had time to take the footage. Okay, cool, So Shaya. Let’s try not to meet you on the W this time but what were your low points other than wind?

Shaya: Probably where they say, yeah. Just because you know that you’ll have to pull your weight because there’s different jobs around the boat and that if everyone’s stays positive that plays a big part and then being seasick you sort of want to curl up into a little ball and sort of do nothing but you still got to do everything. Well not everything but I still played a part in a crew I guess that I found out a bit tough.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, okay. With sea sickness, it happens to most of us at some point and the best thing you can do is gear and well and best thing the crew can do is support you while you get yourself well.

Shaya: Yeah, which I was really well not surprised, but I thought you guys were awesome as well because when it wasn’t feeling too well, I was falling asleep on the spot, there was always someone to say, you know, “You go have a sleep, I’ll take over on this,” and yeah, that helped a lot.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: that’s good. Okay, Alex? Low points?

Alex: I don’t think I had any low points because like I said, I’m really keen to ocean sail and race and stuff and the whole lot was just enjoyable but if you had to say, “Well if you had to pick anything, what would you pick?” I’d probably say when we had that really good run with the storm that last night and then we got up to Cook Island and we’d already organised breakfast for 8:40. We’d already just about sent the text ahead, we’re going to be home soon, I can smell breakfast and to physically see the finish line and to sit there for those hours that we did, that was like, “Okay, this is sending a message, this is a real test of patience, how are we going to handle it?”

We handled it really well, Eli went for a swim, we got surrounded by dolphins and whales and really it wasn’t a low point in the end, you just had to sort of adjust your thinking and to me it was literally that. Change your attitude, adjust your thinking and make the most of it. Low points, no. There weren’t any.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: To put it into context, we got to the point where you could see the finish line, it’s probably an hour and a half away sailing time and we sat there becalmed for another four hours, staring at the finish line off in the distance. Realising our bacon needs weren’t going to end.

Alex: That I think was the ultimate test like you can understand being becalmed at Smokey or those other places but when we had already had the wind, there’s the finish line. Why did the wind stop?

Ocean Gem Crew: Because that’s sailing.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah. Okay, thank you. Rick?

Rick: I didn’t have any low points, I enjoyed the whole trip, it’s as easy as that. I thrive on it, love it.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s good, okay.

Ocean Gem Crew: I’ll second that motion, we’re really living the dream. We’re out on the boat, showering, eating well, got dolphins and whales, we probably saw 30 or 40 whales and heaps of dolphins and people pay good money for that so I’m living the dream.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah it was pretty awesome, maybe got to steer it to rock a bit too much maybe but other than that, I enjoyed it a lot. There wasn’t really too many low points.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Was there any point which the sail changes started to become low points?

Ocean Gem Crew: No. I love it up there. It was all training and as gruelling as it can be, when you’re half asleep and you’ve just been woken up at three in the morning because the wind’s increased to three knots and they want the spinnaker, it’s all training. No it was good. No real low points other than Fish Rock.

Ocean Gem Crew: It was just repetitive, the sail changing not a low point.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, just repetitive.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: You’re pretty enthusiastic so it would be fair to say, I’ve sailed with lots of people that are very unenthusiastic when it comes to sail changes and you get to the point where you don’t want to ask them because their reaction but you are always 99 times out of a hundred, you're enthusiastic.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, more than one, I think that was one of those pretty… I was a bit half a sleep.

Ocean Gem Crew: We didn’t change anyway so I didn’t know that.

Ocean Gem Crew: That was it actually, that was the low point up to change.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I came to relieve you to say you can go to bed now and you just got the companion and I said, “Can you just change the sail before you go to bed?” You had to come back out, you were psyched and you were headed for bed and then suddenly, we didn’t even change sails in the end. I just had to stand around.

Ocean Gem Crew: He actually said that. He said that before you went down and it’s like, watch this, I’ll do this to him.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Five minute rule became new rule. Okay, cool. Shaya, what do you think your biggest contribution to the team was?

Shaya: I guess photos? I don’t know. I don’t think I contributed as much as everyone else.

Ocean Gem Crew: You got a cool article in the paper, that was pretty good effort.

Shaya: Yeah, I think just photos.

Ocean Gem Crew: I think your contribution grew over the four days, the last few days you were the first to jump on anything. When we said we were going to do anything, you were like, “Great, which winch, which halliard, which sheet? So your enthusiasm grew.

Ocean Gem Crew: No, it was drugs. She was running a pit by the end of it.

Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, she was.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah you were steering the boat by the end of it, I saw that the paper. it must be true. Okay. Cool, Alex?

Alex: I guess what I think my biggest contribution was basically backing up all the other team members, if something needed to be done, I was sort of trying to be in there helping if I could, at no point did I try and sort of sit back on the rail and take it easy, it was like get in there and get it done and I think that can be said for pretty much everybody and that’s what made it such a great experience that everyone was in there committed and pitching in.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: You did lunches really well and you did the radio skits really well. That helped a lot. Because sometimes there’s just jobs you do well and he’ll be like, “Okay, he’s done a great job, just leave him to it and the theory is you rotate everything but doesn’t work that way. So it’s better that na assembly do something well?

Alex: Yeah, the Scheds, that’s obviously first time I’ve ever done Scheds and I really enjoyed it, it was a good experience and because I hadn’t done it, before I was quite happy to put my hand up and say, when you said, “Can you do it?” I said, “Yeah, I’ll do it. Just for the experience,” and it was good.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, it was good, it was actually something I was worried, given some of the HF radio problems we were having with people, well being able to hear people. out of there, people we could hear vaguely okay, we ended up having voice, great calls and everything just been…

Alex: Do you remember like that, first radio call it went, I could actually, like sitting down stairs, everything went silent up in the cockpit. Everybody stopped talking and then when I did my skit and they replied, there was clapping and cheering from up in the cock pit there, yes, the HF works.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: With the HF and the satellite phone, and what to do. So we need some awesome technology.

Alex: Yeah, so all the backup plans were ready but it was just some relief, we didn’t have to use them and the HF was clear as a whistle.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s good. Okay, what about you?

Ocean Gem Crew: I hope I contributed just by being there for everyone, willing to do anything, any time, I even went up the front. Call you out once.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: You did.

Ocean Gem Crew: Give him a break but yeah, I don’t sort of say I did anything fantastic or anything like that. I just hope I was there for anyone that needed it.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Was just the fab you had with the helm for hours on end, happy to sit on the rails, Happy to leach others the route, happy to teach others.

Ocean Gem Crew: It’s part of the job.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: It’s great having you happily do whatever’s required. Some peoples specialise in some things and some people with say, “I’m not even doing that, also, that’s my rig, get out because you don’t. There’s people that are quite protective so it’s good to have people that are willing to just do whatever it takes and change break as well so it’s good. Okay, Steve. 

Steve: Hopefully I could just share my experience and give everyone a bit of a heads up on what to expect, probably not so much in sea state and winds and all that sort of thing on this trip but even just food and sleep and sea sickness and all the stuff that I’ve been through and done on these style races and more so that the unknown becomes the known. Like what I said to Shaya who was concerned about sea sickness said, I’m assuming I’ll actually get sick for the first day or two.

I almost embrace it this days, a way to lose five kilos in three days. I think it’s more of a mind game than anything else, that if you let it get you down and it can destroy it where as if you go, you feel great afterwards and it’s good for weight loss and you can make more after it and have a bit of a drink and then you’re fine. Even those sorts of experiences hopefully that can help everyone else because it can be terrifying thing.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, the stuff that you really helped with on the start line was in and around that was excellent. The tin foil trays with the food, how good was that? They just popped dinner in the oven and heat it and come back to it 45 minutes later, not standing over a pot like we historically did.

Steve: All those sorts of things will really be tested when we actually have some rough conditions and then the next step from that is, “Well we’re not eating meals like tonight because it’s too rough. Anything that fits in your hand, that’s what we’re having for dinner. It can be an apple or it could be a quiche or something that fits in the palm of your hand, to protect that from the salty spray and then that’s what you eat. It’s sort of all those things that you’ve learned from having a soggy sandwich or a bowl full of food that has sea water in it. If that could save anyone then happy days.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: You need to paint a better picture if you’re going to get Shaya to come down with this.

Steve: No, she’s got the drugs now, it’s all good.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, what about you Eli?

Eli: Changing sails, that’s probably the biggest contribution, just getting it up there and changing sails.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Well that’s a really big contribution, it was great, just give it 100% without doing that.

Ocean Gem Crew: I’d also add to that too. And there was good times to test even though the winds weren’t as high as what we probably expected or, we did have times we were like majorly overpowered and the boat was on the land and it had to do sail changes and all that sort of thing. Both Eli and Sean were up there on a big angle. It’s not so much, “I’m able change the sail but I’m willing to go up at night time when the boat’s on a massive heel and do it, flake the sail, hold on for dear life, do all that because not everyone can do that. So the sail change sort of thing is part of it but the balls to get up there and actually do it is a big part as well. That was a good part of the crew, had that same attitude, it was great.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: To put in context, it’s 75% of the race actually did have wind. It maybe 20% of the race, 50% of the race made lots of wind. Even though the cabinets kind of dominate our thoughts, we were moving 75% of the time. That’s a long 25%. Okay, cool. Shaya, what else do you want to share or comment on in terms of something else you want to share with us? 

Shaya: I guess I just wanted to say thanks for you didn’t, you guys didn’t really know me, I hadn’t done much sailing with you guys and just let me come on the boat and sort of embrace the whole photo side of things and shed your stories and yeah, just really appreciate it. So I guess just thank you.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Well, you’re welcome, and you’re definitely the nicest journalist we’ve ever met.

Ocean Gem Crew: I’ve only met two.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Oh no. I’ve met a ew. So thanks for taking such an open minded view of the whole experience because you could easily write a story and say, “This sailing life sucks. You sit there going backwards and it’s boring.

Ocean Gem Crew: I’m pretty sure we thought she was going to do that.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Alex?

Alex: I just wanted to share that ocean sailing just being on the water is such a wonderful experience. I had sort of some preconceived ideas about what spending that amount of time on the water would be like but it was just such a positive experience, particularly the nights where we had those nights where it was just stars blazing from horizon to horizon and you can actually hear the slip stream of the water against the hull and no other sound, that was just fantastic. 

For me, one of the big highlights was just the camaraderie that amongst everybody that was sitting on the rail or in the cockpit on watch during those nights. It was just — look, thoroughly enjoyed it. Anybody that ever wants to take up ocean racing, I would highly recommend it to anybody because it’s a chance to get out in nature and something that is such a beautiful place but the same time, we’ve all got a little bit of competitive spirit. You can just sort of keep that going and be out in the wild blue yonder. It’s just fantastic. I just love it.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s great, thank you. What about you Rick?

Rick: Yeah, I think that everyone should try something like this just the experience of, as Alex’s saying, being out there. Whether it’s sailing in the bay or whatever but just sailing full stop I think is an experience that has to be done. I suppose I’m a bit bias that being brought up next to the water but the sailing is the first step and then the racing, so you’re mixing two things together, that’s recommended to anyone and everyone.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: The irony with off shore racing. It’s actually quite relaxing, probably 75% of the time and probably difficult or terrified probably 25% of the time depending on how the weather goes. But it’s not as demanding as racing in Cairns, there’s lots of long periods of quite enjoyable increasing the moment and relaxing really. Okay, thank you. Steve.

Steve: A couple of things. I’d say that one comment is we’re saying all this and we’re saying the wind was bad and woe is me, but we’re actually very blessed to actually go out on a boat with a whole lot of money and sail the seas and see whales and dolphins and we had fun, there was no doubt we had fun. My sailing passion started when I was 12 years old and it came from a dream of my dad that when he had cancer when he was in his 30’s, he said, “If I survive this I’m going to buy a boat and learn to sail.” So he actually did that, he survived and bought a boat, only problem was he realised he didn’t know how to sail.

So that’s where I came into it and he enrolled me to a yacht club and it took off from age 12 onwards and I enjoyed racing and all that sort of thing. It’s something that you can’t just buy a car and go for a drive, you actually have to have the skills and it’s something that most people don’t take on at this stage in life, they got to live it from day to day. That’s probably the first thing that we’re very lucky doing this, there’s no doubt and the fact that Dave supplies the boat and food and fixes things up when we break it and all that sort of thing. 

The second part is, this was really our ideal warm up for the Sydney to Hobart. Spending all that time together. Learning crew watches, learning how to live on a boat, doing all the sail changes all that sort of thing. We’ll probably line up one of the least experienced boat on the line for the Sydney to Hobart this year but we’ve experienced the crew work and everything we need, we don’t have the Sydney to Hobart’s under the belt like some teams have but we know that we’ll stand by each other, we know we can do stuff in heavy times and we know we can get there and we know the boat can get there, that’s the other thing. It’s a well maintained boat. 

Put all that in as well as Dave’s passion for the sport and yeah, you only need to look at what he’s doing in the next two years. He’s either very passionate or close to being insane that there’s no doubt we will be in Hobart for New Year’s Eve this year and this is what we need. I’m sure a few days of heavy wind and all that sort of thing. We’ve had that in off shore race, we just haven’t had it for a long period of time. We’ll get there. It’s great prep for us.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, it’s really good point for a preparation point of view because you can do a one day race and virtually no sleep and there’s nothing like a multi-day race where you have to have watch systems, you can’t have one person doing one job the whole time and all this things are getting tested, that’s a really good point. Okay, thank you. Eli.

Eli: The crew work was great and everyone had each other’s backs, you’d be tired or a bit down or get moody because it’s three in the morning, you’ve been awake all night and someone would have your back, send you to bed even when you wouldn’t send yourself to bed. So it was a great test of the crew and I think we will do really well, great skipper, great helmsman, everyone chipped in, everywhere, good test to the gear as well. I found some serious flaws in some of my gear, water proof gloves that aren’t really water proof, stuff like that you know? Yeah. That’s about it, just a good test and I think we did well and it was great, a lot of fun.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: I agree, I mean in terms of just the fact that we great supportive group and had a sense of humour all the way through and even if one person was feeling a bit down six people and get the move back up, if we’ve got that kind of attitude and we were versatile cross trained and for me to try a thing and we supported each other and then anything’s possible really and that kind of group’s going to succeed more for the a lot, kind of succeed all the time, you can’t succeed if you don’t have a good supportive group that works well together and that we are lucky to be able to get out there and great piece of ocean and great climate and sail. 

So if you can have fun and do it with who you enjoy doing it with then that just makes it perfect experience. Okay, I’m going to roll the last two questions into one because just conscious of time. Just sailing with you Shaya, what do you think we need to prepare or pack or do differently or change for the Sydney to Hobart based on anything you might have observed that wasn’t quite as operating as smoothly as it could have or gaps and things that were lacking?

Shaya: No, I think maybe an extra day of food just in case you get stuck out there. That’s pretty much it. The team work was great, I don’t know much about equipment but nothing really failed on us. So it always seemed like pretty perfect on that point. That’s the only thing I can really think of.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, maybe waterproof camera for you for Sydney to Hobart.

Shaya: Yeah, that would be great. And a water proof notebook as well.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah. Especially if you’re having to file your [inaudible] before you get there.

Shaya: Yeah.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: No, that won’t. It won’t be a slow race. Okay, cool. Thank you. Alex?

Alex: I thought it was quite funny when we’re thinking about if we’re going to be out here for another night, we’re going to be start running out of food and at one stage, we were talking about fish hooks and fishing lines and someone mentioned that, “Ah there’s fish hooks and lines in the life raft. So if we go hungry, we know we won’t have to break into the life raft and get the fish hook. I’d probably take a hair line and a fish hook in those quiet moments, bring a couple of coral trout or something on board.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah. Okay, cool. Rick, what will you do differently for Sydney Hobart?

Rick: I think we are working very well together as a team at the moment. There’s no doubt about that. We got on together, I suppose the Sydney to Hobart, and we just have to be prepared for that start up the harbour. Then the finish up to Darwin because that’s the next spot.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s just a repeat actually isn’t it? This about last leg of our race if you’re doing it wrong.

Rick: I’ve got a client that’s done the Sydney to Hobart five times now and he says stick to the right, that’s what he said but we’re not saying that out to everyone else.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s what he said. But we’re not saying that out to anybody else. Yeah, okay, cool, thanks Rick. What else have we got [inaudible] wise?

Rick: I think we’d probably got to make sure we don’t take everything on board from this light, long race into the Hobart, I go a bit crazy with food and because we are going to have heavy times. Food prep, use all the things we learned from this race but also have it designed so that we can sit on the rail for two and three days, eat three meals and all that sort of thing. 

Live routes for our weather. So if we can get live data off the satellite phone because after two days of forecasts that we found on this four day race that the weather changed and our original route was probably not exactly right. So we probably need to adjust that as we go to ensure we are in the right spot. Yeah, we will definitely get the same conditions at time and to be able to do it, that’s a frustratingly slow part of the race. But we’ve learned a lot from that too. Happy days.

Ocean Gem Crew: One other thing probably we do need to pack is a bigger kite because…

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, I’m working on that, we should have it next week. Yeah, definitely sail more conditions that would even help. Okay. Eli?

Eli: I’ll probably re-waterproof my waterproof gloves just to make sure.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: You’re quite attached to those one. 

Eli: Yeah, I’m feeling a little dry and then they’re wet and then just horrible. Nothing really, a couple of small changes with the way we run lines on the bow the knots we use, we are going to need to get the spinnaker sheets and braces spliced or using other night because it can jam in the end of the spinnaker pole and when we try to jive, I can’t get the line to drop out. I’ve looked into it and I know there’s another knot we can use.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: We just spliced them.

Eli: I think we had two spots blowing.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: The two part. Yeah.

Eli: I think so because they’re all bounce now which I think. Anyway, the ones on the brace are definitely by one and they get jammed every time and that’s not working, we need to get them re-spliced or is there a few other knots you can use that are a bit larger which hopefully won’t jam in the end like the bow one does?

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, let’s do that, because splice pull out?

Eli: No, not really, actually be stronger.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: The spinnaker part, and straight away and it’s not a good thing right?

Eli: No, they should be stronger than a knot. So if they’re done properly, done on this. They’re probably a fair bit older than the average knot wind they blew out.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, at least 12 months old.

Eli: Okay, that’s good.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: In fact, one of them we lost overboard and one to be replaced it’s pretty sit them on top. Yeah, splices are all fresh this time.

Eli: Yeah, they shouldn’t be blowing out.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay. We picked up from the safety order. We’re going to add latches to our floor boards so when we’re upside down.

Eli: “When we’re upside down.”

Ocean Sailing Podcast: So we don’t fall on our heads. In case we’re upside down. Saloon beds, we have to put some nets up on the bed so we got 10 foot off this so when you’re sleeping on one, take it off and leave it on the table.

Eli: Yeah.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Maybe a little lower table quite a bit of sort of storage area and then we’re going to put some stretching and hitting up on the fridge freezer. You can get nearly up on top and clip it on and all that stuff up the top doesn’t come flying off if we have a bit of a knockdown.

Ocean Gem Crew: The cradle for the life raft too.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Oh yeah, the cradle.

Ocean Gem Crew: A cradle for the Dan boy.

Eli: Yeah, rest in peace. The other thing was more area to hang up the crew gear.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: yes.

Eli: We sort of ran out of room and have the crew gear everywhere, we’re going to have an extra four people on board for the Hobart.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: We’ll have to reorganise that. Okay, has anybody got anything else they want to add before we wrap up?

Ocean Gem Crew: I think it was just a really good experience for everyone, everyone enjoyed it and we just like to say thank you David.

Eli: Yeah.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Pleasure.

Ocean Gem Crew: How about we turn it back on Dave? What’s your highs and lows of the race and what did you get out of it?

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Haven’t you noticed I’ve been dodging answers? The high points were definitely the starting a fleet of boats like that and getting off to a great start and staying out of trouble, which we said we were going to stay out of trouble. It’s along race. We didn’t have to get a great start. We got a great start, just the atmosphere was amazing at the club, seeing the history of the club of all these photos of all these racing at 9h45, that’s pretty cool. Yeah, I loved it.

I’ve done lots of sailing and it wasn’t racing with lack of wind and persistence pays off and I’ve done lots of racing where you don’t win because you win because the other guys gave up. You managed to just get yourself up the front of the fleet and before you know it, it’s running away. That was high. Just the whole crew, just the way we work together and gone on well and sort of the funny side of some of the most frustrating crazy setbacks that we had, that was really enjoyable.

In terms of low points, yeah, probably the only low point really and it wasn’t really a low point. It was just we sailed really well when we had plenty of breeze and saying when it started raining that there’s lighter boats we got to be moving away and they had the same challenges as us relative to the other competitors. Not really about testing ourselves but being able to say, “We started, we finished, and we had more than our fair share of reasonable breeze, to test ourselves. The moments where we did, we were climbing up the ladder and when the wind stopped we sort of received it gain.

Here’s what we need to get out of it. The boats in good shape, we had a great race, everyone worked together extremely well. At least we know now if you tweak a few things and then we’re in good shape on the next. It was excellent. The fact that it wasn’t easy was I thought was a good thing because otherwise if everything just goes easily and everything goes to plan, it’s easy not to look for what you can do better, it’s easy to gloss over some of the cracks but usually when things aren’t going well, the cracks show up. Especially with people and personalities. Especially when people get tired and frustrated and grumpy. I was quite impressed that we didn’t really have hardly any of that at all. Virtually none, which was just a reflection of everybody’s character and commitment to what we’re doing. So yeah, I thought it was great and the food was good, that helped a lot.

Ocean Gem Crew: It was unreal.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Good food at sea when you’re racing or cruising. Good food’s a highlight or a really big low light, so having good food was good. Shaya, anything else you want to add before we wrap up?

Shaya: No, that was all.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay. Thanks everybody, thanks for the race, thanks for coming out tonight for a couple of hours and having a chat, thanks for appearing on the Ocean Sailing Podcast, this will be the fastest kind of in the can to live, probably sometime [inaudible]. Looking forward to all the racing we’ve got ahead together over the coming months and I’m really excited about that.

Ocean Gem Crew: Bring on Sydney to Hobart.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Thanks for all of you.

Ocean Gem Crew: Thank you.

Ocean Gem Crew: Thanks David.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, thanks Shaya, Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Shaya: Thank you. See you next time.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: See you next time, we’re looking forward to that

Ocean Gem Crew: You’re roped in now.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Don’t worry, if we don’t hear from you, you’ll hear from us.

Shaya: Okay, sounds good, all right. Thank you, have a good night.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Thank you, you too. Take care.

Ocean Gem Crew: See you.

Ocean Sailing Podcast: Cool.

Ocean Gem Crew: Unreal.

Interviewer: David Hows

Episode 4: Ray McMahon Show Notes

OSP: Hi Ray, thanks for joining us on the Ocean Sailing Podcast today. It’s great to be able to chat to you about the history of the Southport Yacht Club. Its 70 years old this year and interestingly when we chatted a little while back you explained how it’s not always been a sailing focused yacht club, even though it always had the name Southport Yacht Club. So, tell me about the birth of the yacht club initially and what really drove the development of the sailing club well we were largely a power boater’s domain back then. 

Ray McMahon: As you said David the yacht club is 70 years old and in fact in just three short weeks from now, on April 19th we celebrate the 70th anniversary from when the club was first incorporated back in 1946. Over the years the club has gone through many changes, power boaters, sailors alike have frequented the club and used the club and both have used it with great excitement. And there’s been several attempts over the years to create a racing club here as well, as another arm of the Southport Yacht Club but I think over the last 10 years it’s been the most successful. We now have a serious racing division at the club and we have got over 500 races this year at the Southport Yacht Club.

Ray McMahon as MC at Sail Paradise 2016

OSP: Well, that’s more than on a day, it’s a pretty good batting average.

Ray McMahon: It’s a big ask, isn’t it? And the people behind it do a damn good job and having to keep up with the pace as well, yes more than one a day.

OSP: Okay, when racing started off at Southport, did it start at Southport Yacht Club first? Were
there other sailing clubs in the early days on the Broadwater? 

Ray McMahon: Look, clubs have come and gone and there are still other a few clubs around here on the Broadwater but the Southport Yacht Club seems to be the one that’s survived the test of time and obviously in surviving the test of time has grown and grown into what it is today.

OSP: Okay. And what I find unique about the facility here is its got a big food and beverage business and It’s in a unique location and my experience has been that most yacht clubs struggle to operate food and beverage other than Friday, Saturday and maybe a Sunday and they don’t have the patronage that we have at the club. How much of that contributes to the ability of the club to invest and grow, outside of revenue from Marina berths and sailing fees and all that kind of stuff?

Ray McMahon: Yes, massive contribution. The food and beverage brings new people into the club and they discover the sport and want to be involved. Part of the reason why this is busy 7 days of the week is again the 70 years it’s been here. It’s been here a long time if you’ve opened a restaurant up, we all know the first few years are the toughest ones but it’s been here for 70 years, its 7 days a week. 

We are also a bit unique on the Gold Coast as well in that we have got this fantastic weather pattern, where even our winters don’t really hurt us too much so we can be out on the deck four seasons of the year and enjoying it. We are also very blessed to have the view that we have got here. Those people 70 years ago that setup the club put it in probably one of the best spots you could on Broadwater.

OSP: It’s pretty unique and enviable. Surely there is plenty of cases where yacht clubs don’t have
waterfront views or water frontage in terms of what they look out at so that makes it a unique facility.

Southport Yacht Club offshore racing is friendly but extremely competitive

Ray McMahon: Absolutely and if you travel up the down the east coast yacht clubs, many of them have pleasant views of fishing trawlers etc and that is unfortunate for them because I am sure they would like to have our view, but yes we are lucky. We are blessed to have the fantastic location, fantastic view and all this helps the club to go forward. 

OSP: So, tell me about when yacht racing actually got started here at Southport, how did it get started? Was it inshore, was it offshore? Tell me about those early days.

Ray McMahon: Yes I will take you back to almost 10 years ago, which I would term the modern era of yacht racing here at the club. There were a few attempts that have come and gone, but for many years the club has owned our sailing squadron up at Hollywell as well which is a brilliant venue, its great and kids learn to sail up there and there are some amazing sailors such as Matthew Belcher that have come out of Southport Yacht Club.

Kids start learning how to sail on opti’s and sabers and then into teenage years on slightly larger boats. And we have had a fairly strong inshore fleet and for what I would say trailer size sailing boats. But we have never really had a big boat keelboat series that’s been successful for a number of years. 

I moved here from Sydney just over 10 years ago around the same time as another guy famous with yacht racing in this country; Rob Mundle who had moved here about a year before me, also from Sydney and a few locals around here Matthew Percy a former Olympic sailor, John Hall who was known up here as a broker, and Lee Dorrington another ship broker. These guys all got together some 10 years ago and realised there was nothing really happening out of the Main Beach clubhouse for big boats. I think our complete racing calendar for the year for big boats was about 5 races.

Formative years at the Southport Yacht Club

OSP: Wow!

Ray McMahon: Yes. It’s nothing when you consider going to other clubs that would have 70, 80 or 100 races for the year for big boats. So, the guys got together and formed a twilight races series because twilight racing is the big thing around the world. Its social, yes it is racing, but the bottom line it is social. Not too scared to have a drink in hand while sailing around in a twilight race. Every club these days that is successful has got a strong twilight race series and most clubs do them throughout the summer. 

So about 10 years ago these guys got together and formed the group called the KBG as opposed to the Russian Secret Service, which is the KGB. We were the KBG which stands for the Keel Boat Group and we organised a race series for 8 Thursday afternoons on 8 consecutive Thursdays in the summer and thought we would see how this goes. We had no real idea what was going to happen after that. So in first race when we had 5 boats which was quite exciting and when the eight weeks were up and I think that every boat owner and every crew person was like ”oh, what do we do now, its been a great 8 weeks and it had ended in mid March. 

So we started again in spring later that year with a much longer twilight series of 13 weeks, which was 6 weeks pre-Christmas and 7 weeks post-Christmas and then at the end of that we found ourselves saying, “what do we do now?”. It was about our 3rd year we decided that why don’t we run our twilights through the winter as well.  Just because other clubs don’t do it doesn’t mean we can’t when we have got the weather here. So we decided to have a spring summer and winter series. Cut a long story short now we have 42 twilight races each year, we have three series throughout the year. 

So we do a 14-week series and then have a 3-week break and a 14-week series and a 3-week break. So throughout the year we are doing 14 weeks on and 3 weeks off and over Christmas we have the 4 weeks off. So twilight racing really was the start of what is now building into a fantastic keelboat fleet and offshore racing. Probably about 5 years ago we then also realised perhaps offshore racing could start to lift as well and not to preempt any criticism about offshore racing, but this year now the club now has 76 races for the year for keelboats with a combination of twilight and offshore racing. It’s a long way from the 5 races 10 years ago.

OSP: It’s a substantial change. What about the fleet sizes for twilights and offshore what sort of
numbers are you seeing with this kind of frequency? Is there fatigue with the increase in race
numbers, is there fall off or is the opposite happening in terms of growth in race numbers?

The Broadwater before it was dredged and before the Seaway Entrance was established

Ray McMahon: Interesting question. I think to a degree our fleets are fairly typical Gold Coast and what I mean by that is Gold Coast is a rather transient area. People come, stay for their 5 or 6 years and eventually move on. Others like myself love it here will stay forever but it’s quite transient. So, I have been finding that our fleets are literarily the same with the people who come and sail with us for 4 or 5 years and potentially move on. 

So our numbers are good. In a twilight race we have around 20 and have had as many as 30 out there which is great and our offshore fleet is undergoing unprecedented increase in fleet numbers as well. But at first I was a little concerned how we were getting to 20 and weren’t climbing above that and I have noticed we have lost some boats. 

But looking at where we lost them we only lost them because the boat had been sold when the owner had moved on or the owner had moved and taken the boat with him to another part of Australia. So we weren’t losing them for reasons of not enjoying the club or not doing the right thing, we only lost the boats because they were changing their post code. So I have had to come to terms with that. As much as I am builder I like building things. I don’t mean a builder as in houses I just like building businesses or whatever. Now we get the growth in numbers and we get to lose a few I have got to accept that. I don’t like it but that’s Gold Coast. People will transit to the other capital cities of Australia.

OSP: Ok. So, if we go back to those early years and again how the KBG were operating. So they were operating outside of the Southport Yacht Club initially and then the yacht club approached you I think for and talked to you about using their facility. How did you go from operating outside of The Southport Yacht Club on probably minimal resources to then suddenly morphing into it and working inside the Southport Yacht Club? How did that all come about? 

Ray McMahon: Yes. You are absolutely right David. Initially in the early days and I will give you a bit of a background to how tough it was, John Hall one of the guys I mentioned earlier, he is a solicitor. We wanted to have John involved because John was able to draft up documents to ensure that in the event of an accident, I hope it never happens obviously, but that we are indemnified against that risk and obviously we had to get aquatic permits and so on and to get aquatic permits you have to make sure you have structures in place etcetera. 

Southport Yacht Club is an world class facility in 2016

So having a solicitor onboard was very handy for him to actually draw up a lot of this gear and make sure we were doing the right thing and make sure we were going the right way. So, we did a lot of work behind the scenes ourselves. Every week we were on the phone talking to other boat owners trying to get them involved. 

Lee Dorrington who was a boat broker and involved in the early days, used to walk up around the marina literary knocking on the boats doors when he saw an owner onboard saying, “Hey, you want to come and join us for a sail?” And we were doing all the work. That’s fun. We were happy to do that. We wanted to go racing ourselves so no problem. But you are correct I think the club saw it was going well, after attempts in previous times where it hadn’t been successful, so the club thought it was going on well and were approached to bring the Keel boat group under the banner of the Southport Yacht Club. 

I must admit to a rousing round of applause to the guys that did all the hard work, because we all had businesses to run or jobs etcetera and that was kind of a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel, after the work that we had done. For the club to take over and run it through their already structured administrative system was great. 

So that happened which was great and we basically handed the reigns over to the club. There was teething issues at the time and I think at one stage we found we had almost lost a few boats, but I think the owners felt perhaps we had actually (the KBG guys involved) had stepped back too much and we knew what the owners wanted because we started the structure. 

So a few of us are still very much involved now and again to make sure what started, maintains its progress etcetera. So the club now runs it, which is great, a few of us are still involved to help with the running of it, but the KBG is long gone. A lot of fun but a lot of hard work at the time.

Early Gold Coast days before the Southport Yacht Club was established

OSP: It’s interesting. And who were some of the colourful personalities behind this in those in the early days and are they still around today?

Ray McMahon: There are two of us still around today very much so. Colourful, absolutely. Lee Dorrington a broker as I mentioned earlier, Lee is one of the most colourful guys you will ever meet and those that know Lee, I am sure we will be going “yes he is colourful”. He is ok, he has got the beard and the long hair and when he is on the dock is not afraid to call a spade a spade. 

Great guy real good bloke, happy to call him my mate and actually he just recently attended last years presentation night and we actually got him to present a few prizes because he was one of the guys that actually started his whole big ball rolling. He is a great colourful character and he is in Sydney these days. Matthew Percy longest member here at the club, Vice Commodore of Sail at one stage, former Olympic sailor as I said earlier and Matt again colourful character. Matt is about 6ft 7 and probably about 130 kilos, so when Matt’s in a room you know it. And Matt being a character he is, uses his very bold stature and when he is in the room and he will put his hand on your shoulder you know Matt is the only person it could be. 
So Matt is a very colourful character and a guy that has been part of the sailing of this club for many years and I am sure he will be for many more years. John Hall who was our solicitor at the time John now lives in Melbourne and John is a lovely bloke, great guy, fairly quiet and I guess to a degree he just went about his business and made no fuss. And then we all know in the yachting world Rob Mundle. Rob is still very much involved at the club. Rob is a past Commodore of the club went on to become Commodore of the club shortly after the KBG days and Rob has written many hundreds of articles regarding sailing and yachting around the word and now he is getting more notable as an author of maritime books and doing a great job and still very much involved here at the yacht club.

OSP: Its quite fascinating when you think Rob is pretty understated guy, comes out and sails, nice guy but then you go to the bookshop and there is a whole lot of books there and then you listen to the commentary on the Hamilton Race week on TV, there is Rob’s voice and you wouldn’t know it is the same guy.

Ray McMahon: Yes. Its true and every now and then Rob asks me if there are any spare crew if he is short of crew for his boat, so I will put someone onboard and I will say to the person you are in Rob Mundle’s boat today and often I get back “The Rob Mundle” “Yes, the Rob Mundle”. He is ok, he is cool, he doesn’t bark he doesn’t bite, so he is just a good old bloke that gets out there and I don’t mean “old” Rob, but he is just a good bloke that gets out about there and has a sail. Yes very much understated as you said.

Southport Yacht Club early years

OSP: Ok. So when you look at the last 10 years have there been any moments at the club where the sailing just kept going because of a core group of passionate people or has it’ just gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years?

Ray McMahon: I guess if you have to really answer that in a short phrase, it has gone from strength to strength to strength. Obviously there have been patches where there has been lulls and the odd J curve and the GFC hurt boating and yachting around the world. So, it hurt us to be sure and many of us including myself a few times questioned was it going to survive and keep going, but fortunately those questions where 1% of our thinking and 99% were how do we go forward? How do we progress and so on. So, on a whole I would say it has kept going forward from strength to strength, with the odd speed bump rather than mountain to overcome. 

The Broadwater before the Southport Yacht Club was established

OSP: It was just too expected. Okay, so, when you look at some of the prestigious clubs, well established clubs around Australia CYCA, Royal Prince Alfred, Royal Victoria, Royal Perth and Middle Harbour, how would you say the Southport Yacht Club compares and where are the areas that we could still be better at or build strength, competency and reputation with?

Ray McMahon: As a club we compare very well with the ones you mentioned and other clubs around the country. Obviously I can’t speak for them but speaking for ourselves, we are a strong club financially and with growth and we are quite a strong club that’s had good management here over the years and I think we compete and compare with the best around the country. 

On the water it’s certainly a different story. Certainly our juniors have been very much competing and comparing with the best around the country and we have got a fantastic credibility at junior regattas where the Southport sailors will come home with all the cookies. In bigger boats, in keelboats it hasn’t quite been that way. There has been periods throughout the club’s lifetime, but in my time here (and I came from Sydney and was a member of the CYCA) and I felt our fleet was a little naïve at the time, and again five races breeds naivety and probably everybody knows everybody. 

But it was a little naïve at the time and so therefore in building a race series, we have also had to ensure that we built the skills of our skippers and crews to go along with that. We knew we would get to a stage where we had 20, 30, 40 even 100 boats out racing and potentially with 100 Muppet’s at the helm, you don’t want that, that’s dangerous. So, we had to make sure we kept increasing our skills for our crews and our skippers along the way. Where are we today compared to other clubs? Well, we are building and we have got a great yacht club here but we are building a racing keel boat division and where we have come in 10 years is amazing and I know that David, I’ll have this conversation again with you in 10 years time and we will be going even better. 

The last couple of years we have been able to bring home a few decent trophies back here to the club. A local boat won the Beneteau Cup, which was great, another local boat won its division in the 2015 Sydney to Gold Coast race and another in Airlie Beach Race Week. Things like that 10 years ago was just not going to happen. Now our keel boats are starting to compete with the bigger clubs on the water. We always competed with them as a club venue and I am convinced 10 years from now we will just be as strong at competition level with the ones you mentioned.

The Southport Yacht Club at the head of the Broadwater today

OSP: So somebody who is listening to this may have read about sailing, they may have always dreamed about getting to the sailing. You look at a yacht club and you look at these expensive boats sitting there. How easy is it to actually get into sailing and become a sailor and step onboard with no experience and just doing some sailing? How do you go about that and how easy is it?

Ray McMahon: One of the great anomalies about this sport I am sure people sit on the shoreline and see a beautiful yacht go past and think God I wish I could do that, how do I get onboard? Well it’s actually easy, you just walk in the front door of the yacht and we will happily do our best to find you a ride on a boat that suits you and your personality. And again adding to that, it’s also quite bit funny that often we struggle to find crew and you get people who say, what are you kidding me? And yes its true boats will go out sometimes needing 10 crew and they will have 8 or 7 because we often struggle to find crew. 

We obviously struggle to find very good crew, but sometimes we just struggle to find any crew just to fill spots. So it’s quite easy to get into, it’s a great sport, its very healthy sport, you don’t
have the drug issues that some other sports have unfortunately for them. We are a very clean sport which is great and we spend our entire time out there on the water in the fresh air and it’s just great. The camaraderie is just great as well we will go out there and have a race and then back in the club will be the stories how I let you beat me etcetera and its great camaraderie and we have a good club house that makes it even easier to do that, but yes get down here, come for a sail and I promise you the only drug that we have in sailing is your own personal drug of “you want to come back again and again and again”. It’s great fun.

OSP: It’s very addictive. It’s one of the few sports where you can enter at any age. You can be 50, 
overweight, out of shape and be a great sailor, right? You don’t have to be an athlete and you still don’t need to have steroids to help you with that, because clearly it’s not that demanding.

Ray McMahon: Absolutely right.

Southport Yacht Club foiling catamarans racing on the Gold Coast

OSP: …quite extreme although with dingy sailing and some of those high performance sail boats, you need to be very fit and athletic, but keel boats are pretty easy to enter at any age really, age 16 or age 66.

Ray McMahon: Absolutely right. You can come here for a sail. We start taking kids from age 7 here at the club, we will start teaching them from 7 years of age and again if you go to the other extreme, there are guys like Syd Fisher who are out there so you don’t need to be young.

OSP: Syd Fisher recently retired.

Ray McMahon: I don’t think he ever retired but Syd has been doing Sydney to Hobart at nearly 90 years of age and that is just outrageous. So, it’s a sport you can do your entire life and you talk fitness levels, you are right. You choose the level of the sport that suits you. If you are a gung ho, super fit person and you want to get into that style go for it. But if you a person you are just of average fitness and you just want to go out there and enjoy your sailing well, there are areas for that as well. I know people that have done the Hobart that probably couldn’t run 100 meters but they were good at what they had to do on the boat. 

OSP: And there’s boats and cultures for everyone in the sense you have high performance crews on one level and then you have the cruising boats that do social sailing they are not that serious about racing but more serious about having a good time and so you can pick your boat, pick your crew, find your spot and you will see  how seriously or not you want to take it.

Ray McMahon: And that is exactly right I couldn’t have put it better myself, its exactly right.

OSP: Two years ago I was at my neighbourhood barbecue and one of my neighbours said “I have always wanted to do the Sydney Hobart” and I said “that’s fantastic, how much sailing have you done?” He said “none”. I just like watching it in TV and he is now racing with me as a brand new sailor that started only two years ago. He is a great sailor already and started from nothing, so it’s a sport you can learn as quickly as you want in terms of the people around you and resources and courses and books that are available and it’s a sport no matter how much you learn you never stop learning.

Ray McMahon: It’s great. Will he get to do that Sydney to Hobart?

OSP: This year.

Ray McMahon: So he is good enough, he has learned enough.

OSP: Yes.

Lasers racing out of Southport Yacht Club Hollywell on the Gold Coast

Ray McMahon: Fantastic and that is great. And that is the sort of the story I would love to hear as well.

OSP: It’s a great outcome.

Ray McMahon: 3 years is a great outcome. It’s a good story and I would love to hear that sort of thing and really how simple it is. It’s one of those sports where you get started you enjoy it, hook into it because the sky is the limit. There are so many interesting things and we have mentioned Hobart a few different times. The Hobart race is great but these days there are so many things around the world that you can be involved in with the America’s Cup etcetera. There is all this fantastic racing all over the world these days that you can be involved in.

OSP: And you can make a living out of it too, right?

Ray McMahon: Indeed so.

OSP: I remember 30 years ago, Brad Butterworth sailing in the Citizen Match Racing Cup on Auckland Harbour with Russell Coutts in as amateurs and didn’t earn a bean from that you think about 30 years later, how the world has changed. So it’s a career path as well.

Ray McMahon: You are absolutely right. I think take Matthew Belcher, hasn’t worked for several years now, he just sails.

OSP: An interesting stat from the 2007 Americas cup. The average age of the winning team was 53 years.

Ray McMahon: And what is it today?

OSP: Its probably 33 I would say you look at those high speed soiling cats and it shows there is plenty of brain power required not just out and out braun.

Ray McMahon: Absolutely right but the good part us old guys (and I am over that 53 mark) but us old guys are still useful because it’s a kind of sport where experience does count for so much as well. You need a good mixture of youth and enthusiasm and experience.

OSP: Yes. absolutely. It’s a good analogy for lots of part of life I think. So our premier event at the
Southport Yacht Club is Sail Paradise and it attracts  40-50 entries and if you look around the country events like Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach and Geelong Race weeks, they attract some really big fleets. So when you look at the location here at the famous Gold Coast, where there is 50,000 to 100,000 tourists every week and it’s got this beautiful year round climate. What do you think we need to do differently or more of to grow Sail Paradise into a more significant event on the national calendar from a keel point of view? 

The Gold Coast, Queensland makes a great backdrop for Southport Yacht Club offshore racing

Ray McMahon: Good question. One of the great things like the one you mentioned earlier is that events like Hammo have been running for a number of years. So they have obviously got that time factor on their side and they are great with regattas and they run very well and I enjoy going to them all. The Sail Paradise regatta is only new and its been running now for about 5 years and I think and we really used the first 4 years as a bit of trial and error.
We learnt a lot in the first 4 years and this year in the most recent event we have just held, in January a few months ago, I really believe we got it right. And I hope I viewed that correctly as an organiser in watching it. The previous year I was one of the organisers as well and we got it wrong in so many areas. So we learnt from that and we had the same organising team working on it for a bit over 12 months, which makes it handy to get a second crack at it and we got it right this year. So, from this we will build. I am convinced our 40 to 50 this year would turn in 60 to 70 next year and again not wishing to be complacent, I will do my darnedest to make sure we get it right next year, so that 60 to 70 turns in 80 to 90 the year after.

So, that’s what I believe we have to do to improve Sail Paradise. Its one thing to get it up and running and build it, but you have to make sure that every year we are not complacent. If we have a good year let’s not sit back and pat ourselves in the back, lets have 10 second pat on the back and then go right back out and ask what can we do better next year? So that is the big one I think and lack of complacency is very important and I know we don’t have the complacency problem. 

So we will just spend time and keep building and listening to what they want, listen to the skippers. Skippers and crews always have different requirements, crew are a little bit easier, but skippers are the ones footing the bill and they have to get the boat there, get the boat home and so on, so listening to the skippers and the crews requirements and catering to them in the best possible way is super important, but again we are looking into the future I really believe that  one day we will be talking about Sail Paradise in the same sentence as the Hamilton Island, Airlie and Geelong Race weeks, because we would have had time and hopefully we will have the same organisers in that period of time as well, to make sure we keep building it and I look forward to where it’s going.

OSP: Well that’s exciting and when you look at the fact that there is a couple of thousand yachts spread across a number of marinas up on Moreton Bay, just 5 to 6 hours motoring from here if you can make it down here through the Broadwater or probably twice as long if you come down the outside, but there is a reasonably large pool of boats that have the potential to compete so it’s not like we need them to come from Sydney, they are not that far away.

Sail Paradise the premier regatta that the Southport Yacht hosts every January

Ray McMahon: Its true and we were lucky to have boats from many clubs competing this year, so it wasn’t the case of just one club supporting the event. This year we had a good spread across many clubs and I was quite excited to hear that they were all going home to tell their club mates what a great event it was and how we will access those couple of thousands of boats that are within a few hours north and south of us, is by someone from their club coming here, experiencing our regatta, experiencing the hospitality of Southport Yacht Club and then going back to their club and saying to their other members “hey guys we are good for next year, you want to go there too”. 
What we don’t want is people going back to their clubs and saying, “don’t waste your time, it was terrible.” That is what we don’t want and we hope we never ever have that and if we do well, we have got to fix it. But this year we were fortunate to get it right and some people have gone back to their clubs and actually said exactly that and I reckon several other club members will be here next year and if we can convert those additional next year in going back as well, that is exactly how we get all those boats up the road on Moreton Bay to come down for it.

OSP: That is exciting. There is nothing more exciting, whether you are a keelboat crew who do a little bit of racing or a serious sort of keel boat racer in having 20 or 30 or 50 or 70 boats on the start line. It’s a real buzz as opposed to 5 or 10. So as if those things start to build more too, it builds that buzz and that kind of atmosphere. 

Ray McMahon: With the thousand of races I have done, I still love it when I am on the start line and there is 100 plus boats and it doesn’t matter if its literally a twilight afternoon race which is potentially low key in the racing ladder. But when there is 100 boats on the start line the adrenaline the excitement level for that is off the planet and that is where your competitive side kicks in as well. If there are 100 boats beside you, you don’t want to be boat 100, you are getting up there as far as you can. If there is three boats beside you, you can always say you ran in third but when there is 100 boats around you, you want to make sure you are up in single figures.

OSP: You have got you eyes in the back of your sails when there is 100 boats beside you.

Ray McMahon: Oh yes absolutely.

A great atmosphere at the Sail Paradise prize giving in 2016

OSP: So at Southport Yacht Club the birth of yacht racing happened almost 10 years ago and you are basically the face (whether you want to be or not) of our twilight keel boat racing and a resident MC when it comes to sailing presentations and bits and pieces and awards nights and now a director on the board at Southport Yacht Club. What is your vision for the club if you fast forward 10 years from now, when you look at the amount of change from small beginnings on the sailing side over the last 10 years, what do you see in 10 years time when you look back? What does it look like?

Ray McMahon: Well on the face of the club I too agree I have a great face for podcasting, but I don’t see myself as a face of the club. We are a club, we have got a bunch of great people here and we all do a great job. Potentially I am the guy with the mic, I am often the MC so yes I appreciate I am often the face because I am the guy with the mic so people come to me with questions and that’s fine. Where do I see the club in 10 years time? I will wear a couple of different hats. First of all I will wear my board hat. As a board member the club will continue to grow, will continue to be a premier yacht club in Australia and will also continue to be a premier venue on the Gold Coast. We have plans at the moment on how we are going to expand the business and the building where possible and again we are not being

In our board meetings every month we make sure we look at what’s happened, how we can improve on it and where we want to go forward. So, the club itself will keep going forward in a wonderful way. On the sailing side, I also believe the next 10 years could be the most exciting. We are now at a point where we have gone from very little to having quite a good series for both twilights and offshore, so therefore great for being both social and competitive. So, the social racing is competitive, and so is your offshore. We have got a good race series; we have got 76 races this year as I said earlier and I will do everything I can in my power to keep being positive and motivated to ensure that arm of the club builds and builds. So, when we go to regattas around the country we can really gauge how we are going and we want out boats to be competitive at every regatta. We are not going to win every regatta, nice goal but it’s not
going to happen, but if we go there and we can be competitive and if we have got 10 or 15 boats at a regatta, if they are all competitive in their divisions then I think that’s a success, that’s a win and that’s where I want to be in 10 years time.

OSP: Ok. That’s great. And when you look at the location here at the southern end of the Broadwater, Main Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, its a magic  destination but what comes with that is this area called the split, which if you read some of the history was largely fishing trawler based and then out of that in the 1960s came the sea world theme park and now there is talk of hotels, a casino and a cruise ship terminal, so what do you think that could mean for Southport Yacht Club if even half of those things start to materialise in the next 10 years and the pressure it will place on infrastructure, water, traffic, marine permits and all of those little things that suddenly become bigger challenges?

Crews preparing for tough racing as they head out for day 1 of Sail Paradise 2016

Ray McMahon: Is that a landmine question I am about to hit or not?

OSP: Given the re-election of the popular very development focused mayor recently…

Ray McMahon: Mayor Tom Tate does a good job. He does a good job so I don’t have a problem with Tom. Look, from a yacht club perspective we would be affected in a number of ways. Obviously if all of these big plans go ahead financially it can only help us bring more people to this part of the Gold Coast and in particular here to the Broadwater and we have an absolutely sensational fine building that is great for coming and having dinner and having a quite drink. 

So we would obviously get a significant benefit out of that financially which is wonderful. On the water it would be varied, there would be a bit of a mixture with  benefits and losses as well. So the jury is still out on that part and I say that because there are so many different proposals in place and every proposal has its own features and benefits and possibly its own negative points as well. So it’s a hard question to answer because it depends on which of the proposals we really are referring to.

I have see one that suggests that we will bring these big ocean liners right into the middle of
Broadwater. Now let’s not be silly; if there is a big ocean liner coming in here, there is not going to be a racing course in its way. so that would affect the racing side of the club. Obviously that wouldn’t impress me too much, but there are other proposals that don’t bring the ocean liners into the middle of the Broadwater which wouldn’t affect our on the water activities, so I don’t have a problem with those. But I have got to say though that those are just my own personal opinions, and as a board member here at the club the board’s policy has been similar to what I have just said; that we really can’t focus one way or the other until there is a definite proposal in place. 

Once the definite proposal are in place then we can look at it and decide what could be the best for the majority of the members of the Southport Yacht Club and that is always what we have to do. There is always going to be one person that wouldn’t be happy but we are going to look at what the benefit is for the yacht club and the majority of yacht club members and we would go from there.

OSP: Yes and if you go back 50 or 60 years and you look at where it is today, you would say that by and large the development of infrastructure and everything around here has enhanced the opportunity for the club not taken it backwards. I am probably sure 50 years ago there were people that were pro-development and people that had all sorts of concerns about the evolution and growth of the Gold Coast.

Ray McMahon: I am sure 70 years ago, there were people who were saying they don’t want a yacht club here and if you look now 70 years later at what it has done for the area of the yacht club, so of course that is always going to happen with development. So again it’s just going to come down to which proposal is the one that would appear to get a green light and if there is a green light we can formulate an opinion of what is best for the members.

Cyclone the carbon hull, Frers 50 competing in Sail Paradise 2016

OSP: Ok. And as an aside, we have recently had one of our members; Andy Lamont talking about his plans to sail single handedly round the world later this year on a non-stop voyage on a S&S 34 yacht. Would do you think about that a club member doing that, is that something you would have pictured 10 or 20 years ago?

Ray McMahon: I think he is nuts. I have got to give him 10 out of 10 for bravery, crikey around the
world solo nonstop. And Sailing 22,00s nautical miles in 9-10 months at sea on your own, I promise you he will get one or two storms in amongst that. So he is a brave man. It’s not really something I plan on doing. I think it’s absolutely fantastic for the club and that he is a member here at the club and a member that participates in all of our events here. 

I think it’s fantastic for the Gold Coast that somebody wants to leave on an around the world journey from the Gold Coast and return from their around the world journey to the Gold Coast. I was talking to Andy a little bit earlier and I said “I think you are crazy” but give me one liner so we can work out how unique this is and he said “Ray, more people have gone to space than have sailed around the world solo” and that put it into perspective for me. Very few of us get to go into space. So its amazing this guy is going to do this, I wish him all the best but I think it’s fantastic for the club and fantastic for the region, for the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast can literary say hey, he is ours and more importantly I will look up and say he is actually more ours. So it’s good.

OSP: Well, Ray thanks for catching up today. It’s been really interesting to talk to you and find out more about the background of the Southport Yacht Club. I am sure our members will learn a lot out of that and anybody thinking about sailing in any club around the country might think about stepping inside their local yacht club and asking how they can go up for a sail and dip their toe in the water, so to say and check out sailing for the first time and who knows where that might lead?

Ray McMahon: Well, it’s been a pleasure David. Thanks for asking me. I have enjoyed every second of it and you are 100% correct if you are listening to this and you have got a friend that’s ever said I would like to sail, then just tell him how easy it is. Just walk into your local yacht club and tell them your level of fitness and what you really want to do and even if you don’t know, just say “I don’t know what I am going to do” you’ll get the experience, so get on a boat, it’s not that hard and it’s a hell a lot of fun for the rest of your life.

OSP: And on that subject we have got to wrap this up because in about 10 minutes we are actually going to do exactly that. You are about 10 minutes away from a whole lot of people walking in the front door saying “I want to go sailing today” as you are coordinating which of the 20 boats they are going to end up on.

Ray McMahon on the water with John Ashton, one of Southport Yacht Clubs boat owners

Ray McMahon: That’s exactly right and again I love every second of that. I love seeing the new faces that walk in, because you never know who is going to walk in and it’s always interesting having people walk in saying they want to go for a sail. So looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great afternoon, the suns shining out there, its about 15 knots, we are going to have a blast.

OSP: Excellent. Thanks Ray.

Ray McMahon: Cheers mate.

Interviewer: David Hows

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Episodes 2 & 3: Andy Lamont Show Notes

OSP: Good morning folks. We are on board Impulse this morning down at Southport Yacht club with Andy Lamont. Good morning Andy!

Andy Lamont: Gidday, how are you going?

OSP: Good. So, today we are talking to Andy. Andy is heading to do a solo circumnavigation later on this year so we have got an opportunity to talk to Andy and find out about his plans, find out about his background, find out about his preparation and hopefully over a number of episodes share his story as he prepares to depart on a very long trip. So, Andy, when are you planning on leaving?

Andy Lamont in the saloon of Impulse with his HP Toughbook on top of the engine cover

Andy Lamont: Well, we plan to leave mid October. We are just going to talk to Bruce to get the exact date that is going to be more favourable to get under New Zealand because Bruce doesn’t want to go under New Zealand because it’s going to be over 30 knots there. But, I need to go under there because one of the things I want to do is go under the five caps on the journey. So, we want to get a favourable window under there so I don’t get some really big seas and wind right at the very start of the journey. So, that is what we are looking for at the moment, we are getting some long term forecast probably in August and then we will set a date in August, but it’s going to be Mid October.

OSP: Ok. Great. If you are going under the five capes there is some pretty wild weather down there several times a year. What’s your wind tolerance or what are looking to stay below in terms of wind and sea conditions?

Andy Lamont: So, we plan to stay below 30 knots most of the time, but of course that is pretty unrealistic in the real world and most of the time we will be in conditions about 40 knots and no doubt actually as we come towards the end of the journey, we will be coming through the southern ocean in winter, so we are going to get hit with some pretty strong winds there. It will be unrealistic to not get 50 60 knots plus, but the trip is planned so that most of the really heavy conditions come, mostly we will be around the bottom of Tasmania and that is going to probably be the worst or the highest risk of bad conditions.

OSP: So, you will be on the home stretch at that stage?

Andy Lamont: Yes. I can sort of just close my eyes and just cry all the way home.

OSP: Okay, so, Andy, tell me what made you decide to do this? When was the point that you thought I am thinking about doing this and the point which you though I am really going to do this?

Andy Lamont: Well, it’s a bit embarrassing because some of these things you just set out to do in a couple of months and its has always been on my mind, as that was something I wanted to do one day right back to when I was a young kid. But, the moment came when I had a bit of cash due to the pending sale of a business and I thought, I am going to buy a yacht and sail around the world nonstop, that is the next thing I am going to do.

Andy's clearly articulated plan to circumnavigate alone in a yacht, written at age 6

That was in 2002 and its now 2016 so it’s been a long time coming, but I didn’t get that much money for the business that I sold, only about $20,000 so I looked around and really wanted to buy an S&S 34 at that time, but that was ridiculous trying to buy one at that price. John Dankenson is a really well known and well-respected designer and had designed a new kit boat and the kit was $20,000. So I went down and saw John in Melbourne and thought that was a great boat design, so I bought the kit and then I spent the next sort of 2 or 3 years building that boat which was about 2006-2007. I thought it was going to be finished in about a year, but it took a bit longer than that.

The boat was pretty much nearly finished when I started to develop a reaction to epoxy. So, I found it really difficult to work on the boat and then a few things led to my business needing me to be close to it, so I ended up putting my plans to sail around the world on hold. I also went and did a law degree and I don’t know why and then I was just looking at at boats for sale, as you do - not really thinking of buying anything, but thinking about how am I going to finish this boat and there was a lot of things I had done on the boat so far were quite easy.

Andy's backyard kit set project to build a John Dankenson yacht

But now the build was at the stage of some really technical difficult things, like putting a one ton lead bulb in the keel and that type of thing started playing on my mind and I saw this S&S 34 for sale and they wanted just under $50,000 for it and it was probably about 11:30pm and I just sort of sent off an email and said “look, I will give you $35,000 for it”. Well, they accepted.

OSP: Wow! Just like that. And was it was called Impulse when you bought it?

Andy Lamont: Yes, it was called Impulse, the same name it has now.

OSP: It’s kind of ironic really?

Andy Lamont: Yes. Because I had to have the conversation with my wife and I said “I know we have got a beautiful boat sitting in our backyard and we have spent a large amount of money on it, but now we have got this other boat, isn’t that great?”

OSP: So you are still happily married and you have got two boats?

Andy Lamont: Yes, I have got a very accommodating wife. She is very good to me but she has said “one of the things (and there are a few things) before I leave to sail around the world that I have to do is finish the skirting boards”, because I put a new floor in our house with no skirting boards. That was like a year ago, so I just did the skirting boards and then the other thing was I had got to get rid of the half built boat in the backyard. It’s out there now, anyone can have it for free and all I want to do is sell the mast and the other bits and pieces that I paid money for along with the hull. We’ve have a few people come and look at it but its quite interesting. It’s probably harder to give something away than it is to sell it sometimes.

OSP: The yacht is not quite finished so you need the right person?

Andy Lamont: Yes, you have got to have the right person and some people have wanted to take it and I have pretty much talked them out of it because you need either the money or the skills to finish it.

OSP: Otherwise it could have been a sort of play hut for kids to hide under in a backyard?

Andy Lamont: Yes. I know. A friend of mine said I will put it on my farm and all the goats will love it.

Andy's kit set project had to go once he purchase Impulse

OSP: I guess it’s not quite the vision of how you wanted it to turn out, when you started building it?

Andy Lamont: Yes. Exactly.

OSP: What does your family think about your plans to sail off around the world, when your daughter has just got married recently and you have a grandchild on the way?

Andy Lamont: Well, the interesting thing is when I first started talking about this in 2002, my oldest daughter was 13 and now she is 25 so it’s kind of its something they have grown up with, that they expect to happen. So, it’s not come as a surprise or a shock to them and they have had a lot of time to get used to, it so they are all sort of pretty excited about it.

OSP: It’s good they are probably relieved you are getting on with it at last and not just talking about it anymore. You are actually doing it.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly, that’s right. They have told all their friends “my dad is sailing around the world”. So, it will be good to go.

OSP: That’s good, and how did you decide I guess on this particular design and model? What was the sort of decision points for you for choosing this versus something else?

Andy Lamont: Well, I guess John Sanders is a great hero and an amazing sailor and an amazing seaman. He sort of made this boat famous for circumnavigations and back when I wanted to do this trip, it was this boat that I wanted to do it in - the S&S 34. John Sanders sailed around the world twice in one of these and then David Dicks did his circumnavigation, then Jesse Martin did his circumnavigation and most recently Jessica Watson did hers.

They were all non-stop circumnavigations, so it is really comforting to know if something goes wrong, it’s not going to be due to the design of the boat and that is a really important thing. That is why, when I made that offer on an Impulse I wouldn’t have made an offer on another type of boat it was not the S&S 34 that I wanted. John Sanders did a triple circumnavigation on later occasion in a larger boat, but the budgetary factor with a 34-foot boat is that everything is so much cheaper with a 34 footer, when compared to a 44 or 48 footer. So, it is a great sea worthy little boat and it was cheap to buy and it’s cheap to get up to standard. So, all those things were factors.

The S&S 34 called Impulse was in need of new paint

OSP: And this size boat is physically easier to manage than another 10 foot in terms of physically managing bigger sails, bigger rigging and things like rig and sail loads become more challenging if you are on your own. So, it’s a nice size for physical management.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly, that is the other thing. I can pretty much lift everything on the boat and carry it. I have tried to lift up some big Code 2 Genoas and stuff like that and moving them around the boat is just exhausting. Whereas with everything in this boat, I can pick it up and carry it and don’t have any problems with putting new sails up or getting them down or that type of thing, they are all manageable. So, that is a big factor as well.

OSP: Ok so why don’t you talk us through the work that you completed already on Impulse and the things you plan on doing. Talk us through the things you are working on, the upgrades you are installing, the things you are doing to make it more manageable, safe and secure and the things that will help you to stow and secure everything, to be able to manage your way around the world.

Andy Lamont: I will start at the outer section of the boat. We are taking the wheel off as it’s got wheel steering and its nice little system, but the boat really wasn’t designed for a wheel and pedestal steering. It is difficult to get behind the wheel; you have got to step over the seats in the cockpit to get behind it. Operating the boat with the wheel single-handed is much harder than operating with a tiller single-handed.

So, I have had a new tiller built that by a good guy I met on the sea breeze forum and he has made a laminated tiller for me over in Western Australia, so that’s been great. So, thanks to him for that. I will be taking the wheel out and that’s probably the next big. When I take the pedestal that the wheel is attached to out, I am going to replace the cockpit floor. I have already replaced a quarter of the cockpit floor and the only weakness with this boat really is the deck in the cockpit.

It gets wet in there where the pedestal goes through the cockpit floor and the whole floor is pretty much rotten. So, I will cut that out; replace it with glass over marine ply and then add the tiller. So, that’s the next job and I love my Thursday afternoon twilight racing so it’s a job I have got to start on a Friday morning and finish by the following Wednesday. So, I am sort of arranging that right now so that I can still compete in the following Thursday’s twilight race.

The rotten cockpit floor in the S&S 34 needed replacing

OSP: You are certainly sitting pretty much to the top of the twilight series table and you finished well in the last series, so pretty means you are leading the overall championship for the year. As well as sailing around the world, you are a pretty competitive local racer even though you don’t say much about that.

Andy Lamont: Yes. I am a very competitive person. I try not to be.

OSP: I haven’t noticed.

Andy Lamont: I just can’t help it, I just love racing, I think it’s great fun and the crew here at Southport Yacht Club are a lot of fun to race with. No one gets too serious and we all have a lot of fun and also over the past sort of year of racing with this boat, we have really been able to get a lot of performance out of her, that we probably wouldn’t have got if we didn’t do the racing.

We commenced racing at Southport Yacht Club with a starting handicap of about 3:30pm, but by the time we did some things like trimming the sails better, putting on adjustable jib and genoa tracks and most importantly; putting a folding prop on and keeping the bottom nice and clean, we are now starting at 3:49pm with the faster yachts.

OSP: So, the difference of starting about 20 minutes in a 1 to 2 hour yacht race is 15-30% plus improvement in speed, right?

Andy Lamont: It is.

OSP: And its interesting because people often assume you are a racer or a cruiser but I think you can be both and if you become good at racing, your boat goes faster, well cruising is more enjoyable. It you have a long passage ahead of you and you can get an extra 1-2 knots of speed out of your boat, you will get to your next destination an hour or two earlier, or the speed may help you out-run some bad weather a whole lot faster. If you tune your boat well, you are looking after better, rather than being a lazy cruiser and having sails poorly trimmed or flapping and sheets chafing. I think being a good racer can actually make you a better cruiser and make your cruising more enjoyable.

Andy Lamont: Yes, definitely I believe that and of course when you are cruising there is a lot of joy eking a quarter of a knot of speed out of your yacht and that is one of the reasons I want to use the expedition software for my navigation, because it’s really a great tool to help you tweak your boat and measure all the different variables, so I am really looking forward to spending 8 or 9 months just tweaking my boat.

New sails arrive for Impulse

OSP: The expedition software is pretty well respected. So what else have you have to do all day?

Andy Lamont: Yes. I know. Other than checking my planning software, that’s it really.

OSP: It’s interesting having a feathering prop. I put one of those on my boat and I am adamant is made the difference of about ¾ of a knot and sometimes as much as 1 knot compared a fixed prop, so the speed difference is quite substantial. And if you are doing 5 knots, ¾ of a knot is a big chunk of extra speed.

Andy Lamont: It might be an extra ¾ a knot when you are doing 5 or 6 knots which is good but I think it’s probably an extra ¾ a knot when you are only doing 3 knots, that is a bigger deal.

OSP: Actually as a percentage it’s a big difference.

Andy Lamont: Yes, it’s massive. The biggest difference I have noticed is racing against the boats originally with my fixed prop and against them now with a folding prop. I noticed that when the wind was fairly light, it was an incredible difference. Congratulations to Gori Folding Props, because I have fallen in love with my prop. Even when I first looked at it, I was like “this is just a beautiful thing”.

OSP: It’s an amazing piece of engineering and that’s the great thing with twilight racing, when you sail against the same 10 or 15 boats each week, you have a great barometer when you make adjustments, because you can measure your performance against a like-for-like comparison. It’s not just guesswork and that’s kind of satisfying.

The feathering prop that folds flat when sailing

Andy Lamont: Yes, it is.

OSP: Moving from a wheel to a tiller makes sense as this removes another point of failure by not having the wheel and steering chain system, with the extra fittings and weak points that can also break under load. What else have you got planned as we look through the boat?

Andy Lamont: I have put in a new switch panel, which you can see underneath the stairs. I have got to tidy that up, and then I have got to replace my battery tie down systems. There are existing battery tie down systems in place, but I wouldn’t like the boat to be upside down and have to trust these, as they are a little bit dodgy. I have got all new instruments, as when I bought the boat it came with some really old B&G instruments that were made in 1976.

The original 1976 B& instrument panel

OSP: Wow!

Andy Lamont: Some of them still work but most of them didn’t.

OSP: Before the days of GPS

Andy Lamont: I have got all new instruments installed and they are set up with all of the connections and software to make them talk to my expedition software so that’s good. I have got to install the AIS and that’s going to be nice and easy to install and then I will connect it all up to the computer.

I went with a HP Toughbook laptop, because I thought one of the biggest things that knock people out of circumnavigations these days is a loss of electrics. With that in mind my Fleming Wind Vain is coming next week so I will have self-steering that is not reliant on electrics.

I will have navigation systems that will be independent of the boats electrical systems and that is why I went with the HP Toughbook as it’s got its own integrated GPS and power supply so we can run it if the worst comes to worst, as I can keep this charged off a solar panel and I will still have my navigations software running, even with a total loss of electrical power on the boat, not that I plan on having a total loss, but if it does happen, it is not going to stop me. So, I installed the new instruments and I have a plethora of GPS’s with a GPS in the chartplotter, a GPS in the AIS, a portable GPS and a GPS in the HP computer itself so that is four GPS’s.

OSP: So you will always know where you are.

Andy Lamont: One of the things you did ask me is what am I going to do with my time. Well, I am going to learn how to navigate with a sextant and take a daily sight and hopefully by the end of 12 months I will be proficient even competent maybe.

OSP: I also think that learning the art of navigating by the sun and stars is a fantastic skill to learn. It helps connect you to your ancestors who also used the same stars to navigate centuries ago. So, Andy, tell me about your plans with power generation and how you are going to manage charging batteries. It’s always a tradeoff between the extra comforts you carry and the amps they draw. What’s your plan with managing consumption and replenishing your batteries from a charging point of view?

New Raymarine instruments for Impulse

Andy Lamont: Well, I guess the first thing I am going to do is pretty much turn everything off that I don’t need. Turn the displays off and just have the whole thing running on low power mode. I have a Ray Marine chart plotter and a course master self steering system, but that will be turned off most of the time and I will just be using the Fleming wind vane for my self-steering. I will have the radar in sleep mode so it wakes up every 20 minutes or goes to sleep every 10 minutes.

So, basically I am going to run on low power mode as much as I can. I have 4 x 100 amp batteries so they should be able to run that gear and they shouldn’t really use very much of my capacity in any 24 hour period.  I still haven’t how to go about arranging solar panels on the boat. Conventionally with the boats most people are putting up a solar panels at the stern on top of a stainless frame or Bimini cover, because they have uninterrupted sunlight. However I don’t like them there, I just think there is too much windage in strong wind and they always seems to get damaged.

So, pretty much everyone that has gone around the world has come back with damaged panels or so all of that effort gets wasted because you get knocked down and the whole thing gets bent. I am more inclined to have flexible solar panels on the deck and maybe some kind of hydro-generator. Unfortunately in my boat it’s very narrow in the stern so fitting a hydro-generator along with the self steering gear at the back is probably going to be too crowded.

I know it’s all happening in October but these are the areas I haven’t really made my final decision on what we are going to do there, but pretty much it’s going to be running the solar panels. I think flexible solar panels is my plan and if we are in situation where there is a not much sunlight or we are not generating much, we can always run the boat on a no power mode and that’s a really important thing to me. We have a lot of guys going around the world in nice 40-foot boats, but once they lose power they pull out and they say oh we can’t sail the boat without power.

Impulse's new distribution panel is fitted

I can sail this boat around the world without power and so it’s nice to have power, have a radar, have AIS and all those things, but it’s not going to be something that is critical to the voyage. I could leave tomorrow with no power and navigation-wise, although I still need to do a little practice, but I have enough to be able to navigate with a handheld GPS and a box of spare batteries if I have to.

OSP: Now, that’s a brave approach to take and if you have got your navigation and your wind-vane self-steering, then you are well on your way in terms of being completely independent of whatever else you add on top of that, luxury-wise and necessity-wise because it will be a shame to have to pull out of something because of batteries. You don’t want to have to start motor every so often, just to keep your batteries supporting a big instrument panel and all the extra electronics that you live without if you want to.

Andy Lamont: Having said that I will run the motor every week at least and I am still thinking that you have got to open that self-feathering prop, because if you leave it shut for 10 months and you finally decide you have got to use it and it might not open. So, that the other thing it’s a non-stop unassisted solo trip around the world, but in all truthfulness I will have 90 litres of fuel and I will start the engine and open the prop once a week for half an hour or something like that. If the prop doesn’t open, it’s worse than not having a motor at all, isn’t it?

OSP: Yes, that’s right, and then if you lost your rig at point and you need to be assisted in some way if you can’t manage the boat by motor in a rescue situation, then all sorts of things start to get harder, don’t they?

The prop is a piece of art when its feathered

Andy Lamont: Yes that is exactly right. One of the first things that happened to me on the delivery trip from Sydney to the Gold Coast, where we motor sailed, we dropped below 5 knots with motor sailing and the starter motor stopped working. And we were lucky there was a crank handle here, so I took the engine cover off and gave it a few turns with the crank handle and just started up straightway. I had the boat like 9 months before I got a new starter motor because it was just so easy to hand crank it. I really didn’t mind hand cranking it, so another great thing about the engine is doesn’t need to rely on any electrics either to start or run

OSP: Simplicity is good.

Andy Lamont: Yes.

OSP: What about you rig? Is there anything you have to do with your rig to get it to where you want it?

Andy Lamont: Yes, absolutely. So, what we are doing and its going to happen sometime around June is we are going to take the mast out, we are going to take it to Cookie, the local rigger at S&H Spars and he is going to go right over it and make sure that there is nothing that is worn or near the point of failure or that might not be up to scratch. We will have a look at the whole mast for corrosion and then we will run a new VHS Aerial through it and do that type of thing to get the mast set up properly. Even when I bought the boat the first thing that I did was change the standing rigging so its only 2 years old, but I will change all that again and go to probably one size or two sizes heavier than actually is needed for the standing rig and also Cooky is going to put in an inner forestay so we can hank on the storm jib as well.

OSP: Great and an inner forestay is kind of useful because if you did lose your forestay for some kind of reason you act quickly it can allow you to have a backup forestay.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly.

OSP: So, it depends whether you have got it permanently attached or whether you have got it set up so you can just clip it on when you need it.

Andy Lamont: Yes, well the other thing too is I will probably put a little bowsprit on for a code zero sail. So, I will probably just run a spectra line to the bowsprit as well, just in case the forestay fails and the heavy spectre line will still hold up the mast.

OSP: Its good to have those kind of fall back plans.

Andy Lamont: Yes.

OSP: And with the length of your trip you have got a lot of provisions that you have got to take, you have got water that you need to take, you have got yourself to fit inside here and you have got sails and other bit and pieces. What are you doing with the layout, what sort plans do you have around storage and how are you going to handle all that?

Andy Lamont: Not completely 100% decided but I think I am just going to use the saloon berth as the bunk I sleep in. The engine is right at the centre of the boat and I have just started to make a new engine cover which will extend about 100mm behind where it extends now, which will then add a lot of storage space as it will be higher and longer.

Scraping the old paint off Impulse's hull

So, there won’t be much room to walk around the boat but that will provide me with a nice table in the middle of the boat and I will have a seat on the port bunk and also an area to get out of my wet weather gear on the port bunk as well. Then there is basically a whole lot of nooks and crannies in the boat, we have got all the whole area at the back of the boat that we can store stuff in and all the areas underneath the cockpit area that we can store stuff in as well. So, what we do with food is to put together one week packs, so all we really have to do is to take probably 50 one-week packs of food and I am pretty sure we will just be able to just stuff them into any nook and cranny…

OSP: Anywhere and everywhere.

Andy Lamont: And probably the harder to find the better because knowing me, I will go through all the one week packs and take all the chocolate bars out first. So, we will just basically fit them wherever they go. So when we are talking about all the provisions that you need, basically we need sails, food, water and some spare parts and tools. And some plywood, I love plywood. I love working with wood and I just think plywood is the most amazing stuff. So, I will take a fair bit of plywood underneath the bunks and just double up with plywood there. It weighs a little bit, but it’s just such a great material and you can easily cut it and do anything with it. It’s super strong, I will take a few large pieces and I will probably take 15 litres of epoxy, which is only 15 kilos plus hardener, so more like 20 kilos. But with 15 litres of epoxy you can just about do anything. Any sort of thing that is made up of steel or stone you can make an epoxy substitute for it.

I will take some fibreglass resin and matting, I have got plenty of glass at home from my other projects. So I will take a fair bit of glass which doesn’t weigh much and I have probably 6 or 7 meters of 600 gram glass and 20 litres of epoxy, which is going to mean I am pretty confident of fixing anything in the boat. So I will have my 50 one-week packs of food, 200 litres of bottled water and also 70 litres in tanks, so that’s 270 litres of water and I am going to make some water catching devices, so when it rains I will just spread those out and I will be able to catch a lot of water I will put that into the tanks so I am pretty confident I have enough water and I have an emergency hand water maker, although I have thought about an electric water maker, but at this point I haven’t gone with it, but I was really encouraged, actually amazed to see at the last boat show this little rain maker that runs on petrol , which I don’t really like on the boat, but he is saying on 1 litre of fuel it will make you 100 litres of water which is massive.

OSP: It’s a tradeoff with using fuel, otherwise you will probably use 100amps battery consumption to make 100 litres of water using a traditional water maker so that’s a pretty expensive tradeoff as an alternative.

Andy Lamont: One of the things of course is everything costs. My plan is look at people who have done it before; they just take their water and its fine. So, that is my plan to do that if I end up with sponsorship or some other form of unexpected wealth well, I would buy a water maker. But, apart from that I will just take bottle water. Bottled water is great because it’s really secure.

OSP: Can’t get contaminated.

Andy Lamont: Yes.

OSP: You are limited it to 600mils of contamination.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And the other thing that I haven’t decided to do yet, but am very keen to look into is to install the Turtle Pac self-inflatable bags inside the boat which basically turns the boat into an unsinkable unit, because these bags don’t take too much room and they attach to a diving cylinder and in the event the boat starts to fill with water, you just open your cylinder, the bags fill up with water and the boat still floats, even with a hole in it. A local here makes it on the Gold Coast. I have used the Turtle Pac fuel bladders on other boats, they are fantastic, durable and strong, you jump on them to get the fuel flowing out of the bladder into the tanks of the boat and they just seem to be indestructible. It seems to me to be a real great option and I am really surprised it’s not used more for this purpose.

OSP: Sounds like a great solution. I have read a lot of stories about people living in life rafts for 4-5 months and they are not really life preserving devices beyond 2 or 3 weeks, but if you can keep a hull from fully submerging and you stay attached to it you are more likely to be found as well and much more secure than getting off it.

Preparing the cabin top for repainting

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly, if this thing fills up with water for some reason and I have my Turtle Pac system, I will float around for 2 years.

OSP: As long as it rains regularly and you can catch fish you will be fine.

Andy Lamont: If I have 50 weeks of food onboard and I also have emergency rations, I can float around for a very long time. I am still trying to understand why it’s not used more.

OSP: Instead of building a waterproof bulkhead as lots of boats do, you have got an inflatable bulkhead instead essentially.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly.

OSP:…that is waterproof that you can put in a pocket inside the boat.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And of course IRC racing boats and Volvo boats and even the class 40s they all have the space to do that to have full bulkhead watertight rear bulkhead. They have got enough space to do that whereas this boat, we could build a watertight bulkhead there but you are still using that space, the door is going to be open and for a cruising boat it seems to me to be a good solution. And the trouble with water tight bulkhead is they can fail If the breach in the hull goes both sides of the bulk head, then even it’s all over.

OSP: It’s just a function of time even with the smallest leaks they will fail eventually. So, what is the cost of something like that?

Andy Lamont: 5 grand. I spoke to the guy last year about it and he said look I have done this on an S&S before, it will cost you $5,000.

OSP: Its pretty good life insurance.

Andy Lamont: It’s pretty good. It’s the same price as a life raft really. Although I will have a life raft as well but it’s another 5 grand and every that old story with B-O-A-T standing for “Bring Out Another Thousand” and you want everything but as you were saying before it’s a factor of time and money. With a trip like this you are probably going to run out of money and not get everything you want, you are going to run out of time not enough have enough time to put everything you want into the boat.

OSP: And then there is space to add to that as well. You have to pull these stuff somewhere too.

OSP: Ok. So, what are the things about this trip that keep you awake at night at 4 am with your mind sort of overly processing and thinking about things you might have overlooked or things you certainly decide to make out a contingency plan for?

Andy Lamont: The biggest thing that keeps me awake at night is which is why I haven’t got in the recent offshore races is because I jumped in this boat and we just sailed back up till Sydney and I was getting in there and I was doing things. One of the things I did is I though “Oh I just better replace that exhaust hose that runs up under the companion way stairs”. And  I pulled the old exhaust house out and it was completely perished.

OSP: Wow! So you were one step away from carbon monoxide poisoning basically.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly. We ran that motor coming from Sydney with guys down there sleeping, it looked fine at the exhaust elbow and all the way up to where it disappeared  under the companion way stairs and under the companion way stairs it’s that hard against the hull and under the battery compartment and you can’t really see into that space and it was totally perished. So that kind of thing.

The perished exhaust pipes of the engine the previous owner had attempted to repair. 

When I was under there actually replacing that and looking around, I was looking at the seal on the rudder stock and the little piece of rubber pipe that sort of clamps onto the fibreglass housing and thinking that piece of rubber there is nearly 40 years old and, if that starts to leak, what are you going to do? It’s a big question what are you going to do. So, obviously you are going to take the rudder out and replace that. So, it’s like realising the things that you don’t know that are the problem.

Wasn’t it Donald Rumsfeld who said “the unknown and unknowns are the things you have to worry about.” So, it’s the things that you don’t know you don’t know that are the worst and that was one that, really I just really give a moment though to. I thought it all looked nice and solid but when I had a really close look at it, I thought gee this is a bit of a worry.

So, what keeps me awake most of all is the boat sinking. If the boat doesn’t sink, I can just curl up in a ball and cry.

OSP: Yes and set your EPIRB off.

Andy Lamont:…or just sit there and just wait for things to change things gets better because with everything there is greater energy for life and every storm passes and if the boat doesn’t sink well you are out the other side. So, that is the main thing that keeps me awake at night. That is why I put all new 10 mm lexan windows throughout the boat and type of thing.

If I can keep the water out, that is the main thing. I put a new PSS seal in and now I lie awake thinking, what happens if the PSS seal fails? An old stuffing box you can just tighten that up but you can’t do that to a PSS seal do I get a Zip tie and tie it up , surely there is sort of a set procedure for a failed PSS seal. Its things like that keeps me awake at night, but really what keeps me awake most of all is about like sinking.

OSP: Keeping the boat the right way up.

Andy Lamont: Yes. So, the keel attaches over on these boats over a really long period. It is very solid but when we take out the water, we are just going to drop the keel off it, check the bolts, if the boats are a bit suspect we will replaced the bolts. But again, it’s a great system the bolts come up through the boat and they tighten down with nuts inside the boat.

OSP: You can see them easily and you can see the condition of the boat.

Andy Lamont: And I have never heard of an incident where S&S 34 has lost its keel but everyone that goes around the world takes the keel out and checks the bolts and so that is just one thing to do.

OSP: Ok, and have you thought about what you can do to minimise the risk of injury, minimise the risk of falling over, falling off when the boat rolls upside down? How do you avoid breaking bones and puncturing lungs and that things like that, can that really debilitate you despite the boat being perfectly fine to carry on.

The S&S 34 engine in need of TLC

Andy Lamont: Yes. It’s a really good point. So, I am going to buy just a racing car seat with a seat belt which I can sit in and belt myself in. I am going to put a seat belt in the bunk so if the boat turns upside down when I am asleep I won’t just fly across the boat. I’m replacing the engine cover with a nice big storage compartment which is going to mean there’s not very far to fall inside the boat. There is a central pole which obviously people can’t see, it’s not in the boat at the moment it goes basically from the centre of the boat up to cabin ceiling that is going back in. plus I am going to put two more poles by the sink and just in front of the hatch so that it’s going to be 3 poles, it’s going to be like a little forest in here. There is just not going to be far to fall. So, that is going to be the big thing.

So, it is a nice little boat, there is not far to fall anyway but when I am asleep or drowsy or resting I will be in this and the weather is rough I will be in a seat belt so that is what I will be doing. I will take of course ok I have got some protective body amour and head gear so I will take that as well with me. So, if I got to get up the mast I will just put that gear on so that will give me a bit of protection from slamming into the side of the mast.

OSP: Put a helmet and stuff on because that is quite a risk really knocking yourself out if you…

Andy Lamont: Yes, I have a Gath helmet which is very light and nice and strong

OSP: I am sitting on your bunk and I visualise you being thrown across the boat and punctured by one of those bolts thats sticking down below your cabin top and theres about 20 bolts there and I am looking at them and they are about an inch long, thinking about the risk of punching one of those through your skull. Have you thought about that?

Andy Lamont: Well, so I have just left them long because the just look so handy.

OSP: Handy for what?

Andy Lamont: Well you can see I have attached some eye bolts (nuts) on them.

OSP: That could work.

Andy Lamont: So, then what I am going to do is I am going to make some netting so it attaches to those eye bolts so that anything that’s inside this shelf here won’t get thrown out and then what I will do is for every bolt that doesn’t have an eye bolt, so all those bolts I knew from the jib track for every bolt that doesn’t have an eye nut on it I will cut it off with an angle driver. I am pretty vicious with the angle grinder cutting off bolts at the moment. Sometimes I leave bolts a bit long because I am thinking I will use that for something. This used to have that basically similar to the car hood lining and foam underneath it.

The menacing looking bolts the hold the new genoa track in place

OSP: Like a final foam or something.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And it was all starting to sort of deteriorate and it was just raining tiny particles of foam from the holes in the lining on the boat. So, that was a big job. We had to pull all that lining off and I got the sander out and sanded it because all the foam  that sort of open cell  foam was glued to the ceiling, sanded all that off and then just put a coat of paint for the time being but I might put some closed cell foam just like Jessica Watson did to her boat which is quite a good idea. So, she just lined the cabin and the cabin sides in closed cell foam from Clark Rubber and that does a couple of things because its good insulation and it’s also all soft. So, that is one of the things. Those bolts won’t be staying long for too much longer.

But I am just looking at the design of the netting I probably have to get a sail maker to make it up for me but I think it will be great. One of the things you have to do is imagine about upside down and look at everything that could actually fall out of a place and make sure you have a system to have it all locked down but most importantly have that system that is nice and easy to use. You don’t have to go around, oh, there is a storm coming I have got to make sure you got through this to lock everything down, just have it locked down as a matter of course. That is what I want to do and make sure it won’t happen for that.  That is where I think the netting is probably great because a lot of stuff you are using all the time is visible and you just have to unclip the net and grab what you want and the clip the netting back on.

OSP: Its light, you can see it, it feels behind it. So, what do you think it’s going to cost you to get to the start line with what you have spent so far and what you are still to spend and then all of your provisions and all the other things you have yet to think about?

Andy Lamont: Is my wife going to hear this?

OSP: Probably not.

Andy Lamont: Well, the boat only cost 35 grand.

OSP: So, you already saved 100k.

Andy Lamont: So, we are already 100k in front. Well, I have spent a fair bit. I am probably of spending another 40k on it since I have bought it and I have probably another 40k before we go. So, that probably a hundred and…

OSP: 15…

Andy Lamont: one hundred fifteen thousand dollars.

OSP: And that is just getting essentials it’s not the sending it out fitting it out in terms of and this is really luxurious sort of items it’s just getting good solid safe see where the boat…

Andy Lamont: Something probably like this computer which is another one of those ridiculous things but it’s really it is kind of great in that way. Like let’s say the whole thing happens for less than $150,000 that is great for a trip like this which could cost millions and I know previous people that have been around the world nonstop, some items have cost more than that alone. The satellite phone for Jessie Martin back in those days cost him around $165,000 alone.

The new starter motor is fitted to the S&S 34's engine

OSP: Here is the thing. You can go out tomorrow buy $150,000 boat, it would not be great to sail around the world, you will still have to put another 40,50, $60,000 into preparing it to sail around the world. So the near end result because I have got an older boat and when you kind of build it from the ground up, you can of restart the life of every part of the boat that you then replace or upgrade like your engine, exhaust systems and like your steering and then you know that part of the boat is good to go for another 10 or 20 years. So, in some ways it’s a smarter approach than maybe to buy something that is 5 or 7 years old were due to its treatment or the lighter weight production these days and the way things are built you don’t need something that is robust anyway.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And I think every component has a life and if you buy a boat that is new you have got the maximum life for every component on the boat and then depending on what boat you buy all those components may or not be up for the serious challenge. So, some would be and that would be great but then if you bought a boat that was 7 years old, the every component needs to be replaced.

OSP: Yes. That’s right and manufacturers these days don’t actually spec things out for going around the world anyway they pick them out for coastal cruising. So, 2,5 or 7 years old may not be fit for purpose anyway despite paying three or four time the amount for the boat upfront.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And an interesting thing too, the difference in the newer designed boats and the older boats is really not that much, as far as cruising boats (I’m not talking about IRC boats)  there is not that much speed really it’s just space.

OSP: Yes some of the cleverness around the design…

Andy Lamont: They are not fast. They are probably more comfortable downwind , less comfortable upwind but they are not really an order of magnitude faster or more seaworthy probably less seaworthy some of them. It is an interesting thing. All the boats like this boat, now getting close to 40 years old, I can’t see why it is not going to be a viable beautiful boat in another 40 years.

The engine gets a complete makeover on Impulse

OSP: If you maintain the hull.

Andy Lamont: Yes. Very easy to maintain and that’s right if you maintain the hull and keep replacing the systems as they start to degrade…

OSP: Keep the water out, fix the leaks, stop rotting inside the boat. What things are not on track in your preparation from here October since like a long way to go away but it’s probably like having a baby you go from talking in months to talking in weeks, you are probably not far from talking in weeks soon rather than months so it will tart ticking down?

Andy Lamont: What is not on track? I have got my old Musto HPX sailing gear which is great stuff but I have already thought about getting a new set just probably a good idea you have to get some new off shore gear. The stuff I have got its great but I am sure it’s going to start to reach the end of its life pretty soon so that type of thing. So, the fitting out in the interior is – I am doing a fair of bit at the moment and it is  running to a pretty good schedule that is ok.

 The truth is the things I need to worry about are the things I haven’t thought about. So everything I have thought about I am going that’s ok. The mast is coming out and I am pretty sure if I am going to mount a radar on it even though probably it might be better on its own individual mast at the rear of the boat. It is just another mast getting knocked over isn’t it. 

OSP: Yes. And the higher up your mast or the higher the radar it does affect your range particularly with sails so that is something to consider versus a lower level. And when you like if you need things these days when I did a radar training course they talked about not standing in front of the radar because of radiation and when I had a technician recently say I should put my radar at the back of the boat I talked about that and he said the radiation was nothing, no more than a five flights to Perth or whatever the comparison is. But radiation I don’t think it’s good for you so there is a radiation effect if you consider standing in front of it and the height which gives you the range to consider as well.

Andy Lamont: Good point, so the mast is coming out so that radar going there, the new tricolour on the mast, all those things are pretty much covered. There’s a bit more work I will do glassing the inside of the boat but to be honest with you, the worrying thing is I think I have got it all under control which is … well that is the worrying thing.

What will happen is like everything else I have ever done in m life? It’s always like everything is under control until the week before and then it’s kind of pain stations. So, it’s probably what will happen. The thing for me is, really,  I can pretty much go next week onceI fit my wind vane on I could go next week, I would have everything I wanted, I won’t have my new storm sails but I could go, and  I would probably make it. So, I am not hung up really on having every last gidget and gadget that’s needed on the boat as long as everything is to a certain standard, one of the things I haven’t done yet is bought new stanchion for the boat. So, that will be nice to have new stanchion and stanchion bases. Again, if I didn’t do that, it’s not really the end of the world

OSP: Unless you are attached to them and they break and you don’t stand on the boat for some reason.

Andy Lamont: They are fine they are. Okay a bit bigger taller ones would be better but even tall stanchions are not going to stop you from falling off the boat, it’s really jack lines that is really their purpose.

Impulse's hatches are remove for refurbishing

OSP: Ok. So in terms of, what’s the safety equipment that you have got on your must have, must be bullet proof, must be triple strength, on your list

Andy Lamont: So for Christmas this year I got a set of jack lines, I also got a harness that doesn’t have life jacket attached to it just a harness which is really it’s a Bourke harness, it’s really light and I will just wear that all the time. I will just wear it all the time so it will just be like my undies. So, it’s nice and light and it’s never inconvenient to wear so and I think that the main piece of safety equipment.

OSP: And then be clipped on with that.

Andy Lamont: Yes. So, that is right. So, if I am wearing that and that I what I asked for, for Christmas was a harness, jack stays and a leash but I probably have 4 or 5 leashed. So, they are all over the boat and if run out and forget my leash there is a leash there. So I am pretty much probably going to sleep in this, in this harness and basically I won’t take it off.

OSP: And if you rush up in the middle of the night because you hear a sound and then you are not then racing out there in your undies with nothing else on and fall off in the back of the boat.

Andy Lamont: It is really I am not really fussed about a life jacket because it will be handy while I am close to Australia and when I am close to New Zealand. The last thing I want would to be sitting in an inflated life jacket halfway between here and South American watching the boat sail away. You probably feel like just getting a knife and because…

OSP: You would be pretty fortunate for somebody to just happen to be in the area.

Andy Lamont: So, really it’s the harness. Its making sure I just do not fall off the boat no matter what and luckily for me I am clumsy so I am not sort of going into this with a false sense of my own invincibility when it comes to having great balance.  I will trip over walking up stairs. So, I don’t have any illusions about that.  The main thing is to be hooked on all the time even when its dead calm because stuff happens.

OSP: That’s the time you trip and stumble when they do come and you are going twice the speed to do something.

Andy Lamont: Exactly.

OSP: So, prior to this trip what offshore sailing have you done? What is your experience been getting out of sight of land?

Andy Lamont: I haven’t really done a lot. I have always sailed. Sailing has been my sports and my passion since I was 11 years old but in sailed right through my teens and then when I was 17 I sort of met some people who were sailing to New Zealand so I sailed to New Zealand. When I got to New Zealand I just got bitten by the wind surfing bug and for me that was still my sport of sailing and I just had a passion for it, if there was an Olympics for enthusiasm I would have been gold medal player. I never really had a lot of talent but I just loved wind surfing and that was my sailing outlet.

The original Coursemaster 800 auto-pilot on Impulse

It was the first time I got in a boat and I just felt being on the water and being powered by wind that was to me I knew that was my thing and windsurfing satisfied that for me for all my adult life. I learnt to windsurf over in New Zealand then I came over back to Australia, stayed in Brisbane for a while, windsurfed in Brisbane and then moved to Western Australia purely for the wind. I just went out there I am going to Western Australia, I lived in Western Australia until my first kids were born then came back here and had a break from windsurfing for about 3 or 4 years than I was back into it again.

And then kite surfing came along in the 1990s 1999 and I kite surfed and then recently after more and more sailing but in-between – I have done south to Sydney quite a few times, South to Adelaide back to Port Macquarie with Tony Mowbray who sailed around the world nonstop in a Cole 43. So, I have done that. But I helped to deliver Wedgtail (RP55) with Cossie and John Gower they put up with me. I think it’s the funniest thing in the world and I am the butt of all their jokes,” you won’t get this one you are sailing around the world.” So, it’s been a lot of fun but I have learnt a lot with them and I probably have done more miles under Jury Rig than most people because we sailed back from Hobart to Brisbane twice under Jury Rig with a broken mast.

OSP: Wow! That’s a long trip.

Andy Lamont: Yes. two years in a row and so unfortunately they didn’t go to Hobart this year so we didn’t get to sail back because they are still trying to sort out their mast issues. And apart from that a few other little trips, but the main ocean trips that I have done are obviously New Zealand and from Adelaide to Port Macquarie which is not a bad trip quite a few miles. So, not a lot of offshore experience but enough to feel confident.

OSP: And the Tasman sea around Southern and Eastern side of Australia you can get all sorts of weather, you can get some big blows coming through, you can get stormy squalls, you get a fair taste of what is bad possible.

Andy in action kitesurfing

Andy Lamont: Yes. I don’t think the actual boat handling side of it I don’t think will be anywhere nears as challenging as the solitude side of it and that will probably be down to trying to maintain your capacity to make good decisions when you are tired. I guess this is really what happens to people. So, it doesn’t matter how much you know about seamanship and how many years you have been sailing around with a crew but when you are single handed, tiredness can be akin to drunkenness. The tireder you get the worse your decision making gets. Being able to sort of stay alone, you don’t have to make great decisions just have to  not to really make stupid decisions when you are super tired.

OSP: And just the fact you actually have to make decisions and not procrastinate and wait and wait and wait and things deteriorate.

Andy Lamont: Yes. There is plenty of cases like that and its pretty well documented. This is one of the things that happens to people who are solo sailors, they become paralysed and they just don’t make any decisions. So, they leave sails up and they are in all sorts of trouble.

OSP: Like the flight crash investigation one that indecision sets up a chain of events that snowball to the point of no return sometimes.

Andy Lamont: So, that’s the thing like act early act prudently and act early and all the other things and get enough rest like you just don’t know how I am going to feel after say 100 days by myself. So, that I what I am saying I guess they are more of the challenging things for me more than handling the boat pretty much this boat really to be honest with you. If you don’t have too much sail up and follow some pretty basic practical seamanship principles, you might not get there fastest, you might not be the most comfortable but you are probably ok. So, that side of things doesn’t really concern me too much and the other side doesn’t concern me too much either.  I am looking forward to that challenge but that is the unknown and how am I going to cope.

OSP: So, when you think about the solitude, have you thought about the ability to communicate with the rest of the world? Have you got any plans in terms of satellite or other communication options?

Andy Lamont: Yes.

OSP: What have you given thought to then?

Andy Lamont: I think the main option is the satellite phone. They are great now and the plans are much cheaper than they have been for ever so that will be the main thing. HF radio maybe but probably satellite phone is going to be the main conduit for communication with land. But having said that I do not want to be on the phone.

OSP: How is your day today? What do you see? Ocean.

Andy Lamont: Exactly. Part of me would be happier if there wasn’t that technology and I could just say I’d love to talk to you but I can’t but of course that’s me saying that now, that is not me saying that in 100 days into the journey so probably will be a whole different.

The rotten foredeck on Impulse has to be removed and replaced

OSP: And so have you talked about the communication side with your wife, what the expectation is and what – we are going to catch up once a week or once a month? Have you talked about that?

OSP: Its one of those things you often don’t get concerned until its only happening.

Andy Lamont: No. that is not a conversation we have had and it’s a difficult conversation to have, it’s probably one we will have as time draws nearer and like I said probably I am great one for these really strong ideas about how tough I am, how I am great I don’t need anything until I am right in the guts and that will completely change my mind. The roles will probably be reversed and I will be ringing – I will want to ring her up every half an hour and she will be going I have got a life to live leave me alone. So I don’t think calling anymore than once every couple of days is necessary at this point probably even once a week or something but I don’t know.

OSP: I found with crossing the Tasman the combination of I will send you a text every so often once a day or whatever and I will and I will call you at this frequency was kind of good because somebody just takes to say it’s all good rather than the obligatory phone call when there is nothing more to say than it was yesterday. So, you can get quite a frequency that kind of makes more sense and text through your GPS location.

Andy Lamont: Well actually I will have to have a tracker on the boat. So, that should actually just…

OSP: Great. You can track you progress around the world. So, we are getting on the Gold coast there is a bit of helicopter activity on the outside I am not sure how much of it is coming through the microphone but that’s ok.

Andy Lamont: Ok. So, my sail wardrobe plan I have a 150% Genoa and a mainsail with 3 reef points in it. So, that is a furling Genoa and then going down from that I have a 100% jib which is again on the furler. Once I am expecting more than 15 knots I will take the Genoa down put the 100% jib up because there is not a lot of performance lost over 15 knots with the smaller headsail and it’s just means that 100% jib is quite ok up to 25 knots downwind probably up to 30 knots but it’s quite ok and then that is on the furler too so if it is downwind we can furl that. After that we will go to probably a smaller headsail hanked on to the inner forestay.

I haven’t had that built yet but that would be probably 50% of the size of the 100% jib , that is going to be a fairly small sail then you can go to a triple reef main with that sail. I am guessing it’s going to be fine under 40 knots and then we will have a storm  jib with the triple reefed main which is going to be pretty much the lowest that we go and then we could put away the jib just to go under the main. So, that should be triple reefed main is pretty much going to act as my storm mainsail. I will carry a storm tri-sail as well. I may put a track on the outside of the mast to put it up but my understanding is that these boats under triple reefed main there is pretty much triple reefed main then bare poles.

OSP: In terms of, how much sailing do you expect to be upwind versus downwind?

Andy Lamont: Well, it’s probably predominantly going to be downwind although you never know. You might run into the wrong side of the system where it might be upwind for quite a while but predominately downwind then you as you go through the southern ocean, its mostly going to be north westerlies ,south westerlies and westerlies but it could can clock around to the east as well.

Then up to the Atlantic I think it’s just going to be complete variation of all directions and that is quite a long leg from basically from Cape Horn up over the Azores and back down into Cape of Hope. Probably be the longest time wise and that is going to be all directions. So there will be fair bit of upwind quite fair bit of light wind sailing that is where the 150% Genoa will come in handy. If the budget stretches and everything is good I will get a code zero as well something that will just ghost along in 3 knots will be great to have as well because the Genoa is not a nice heavy duty Genoa but it just doesn’t really it need 5 knots.

Significant repair work is need to the cabin top as well along with strengthening for new genoa tracks

OSP: It hangs in the lack on winds rather than fills…

Andy Lamont: Yes. So, it will be nice to have something like a big code zero that just sort of ghosts along.

OSP: I bought a code zero over last year and the predominant thinking was that sorts of 2 or 6 knots of breeze I read that you get another knot of boat speed easily. I bought it without realising its actually a brilliant reaching sail and as long as you are reaching at about 90 or 100° you can then carry it into the 15 to 18 knots, it’s just a great reaching sail. Obviously as its starts to come up on the head will drop dramatically because it overloads really quickly but as long as you off the wind around sort of 90-100-110 it’s a great reaching sail in 15 plus knots and it really is quite powerful.

Andy Lamont: Yes. Well, that right. So it will be great to get a code zero. Again but that’s on the wish list. So, that depends I probably priority wise before I buy a code zero I will buy a radar. So, I will buy a radar and then probably after the radar definitely need new VHF, definitely need a sat phone, HF is a nice one on the wish list.

OSP: Yes. And it’s a tradeoff between an HF versus be it I am going to spend more money on satellite phone credit given the number of people that aren’t on HF these days, it’s almost hard that you should get anybody and if they have got HF radios [inaudible] [00:05:27] anyway. So, that is a tradeoff to make.

OSP: I guess if you have got a lot of downwind sailing, what thought have you given to running wing and wing, calling out your jib or Genoa? How are you going to make the most of your going straight downwind if you get that kind of wind from behind a lot of the time?

Andy Lamont: Well, it’s interesting you asked because the boat goes great with the 150% Genoa and I have actually got much to the chagrin of all the local guys I have been competing against I’ve got a longer pole I’ve got a spinnaker pole plus a plus a long whisker pole that pushes the Genoa out to its full extent and the boat is really balanced and goes really well. I have got a spare Genoa as well so I could run twin headies and go down when with that. And that was my plan until I read John Sander’s book. It’s only a very tiny book and I have read it about 4 times and each time you read it something else jumps out at you and this time I read it and he said in downwind sailing where he went for his double circumnavigation in the S&S 34.

He dropped the genoa completely and just used the mainsail because he didn’t want to work the forestay because working the forestay is a potential cause of damage or failure for the boat. So, I sort of had all my plans of being really nicely setup running downwind and now I’m thinking “really I am going to do that now?” So, however I think as long as I make sure we have got really oversized fittings there and talking about setting it up properly plus I think the furling forestay arrangement is not going to flex and work as hard as a forestay without a foil in it. So, that is my plan anyway. At the boat it just settles down once you pole it out.

OSP: Yes. And there is a couple of things to consider as well. If you run wing and wing and put your main sail away, you have eliminated the risk of crash gybe or even if you have a boom break on and you have got none of that trying to happen, but also if you have got a bit of seaway out there, if the weight is forward seem to be pushing right in front of the boat, there is less tendency for the main to try and round the boat up. So, with all the pressure right in front of the boat, I have heard and read that running downwind is a lot more easier and the natural tendency to want to broach is just eliminated completely.

Andy Lamont: Yes, that also brings into its own self steering sort of moment at well because as it just wants to run dead downwind. So, everything works…

OSP: Great so it’s a nicer motion. You mini that seesaw motion that you often have running downwind with main trying to push it sideways.

Andy Lamont: Yes. So, I am going to run with two poles. I have set the boat up to run with two poles. I have got a new system on front of the mast so I can use two poles nicely. I am going to run it. I am just going to make sure we have got a not only the – will have the spectra line forward to the bowsprit it’s just on all the time just in case we do break some fitting or something fails on the forestays. I will have that built up properly and make sure that that’s all we have got failsafe and redundant systems there. But I have got twin grooves in the foil Basically you can just run both Genoas up there, in light winds running two 150% Genoas at the front of the boat will just motor along. And also you can just furl them both up.

Windows are refurbished and replaced with thicker 10mm lexan hatches

OSP: Which is pertinent to the manageability of the boat. And if you need to climb the masts, can you and will you?

Andy Lamont: Yes. It’s been one of things that I have been thinking about on the original boat that I built, I have got a mast built for that and I put steps little folding steps on them and that was great.  I was thinking about doing the same thing to this mast when it gets out but I just had to go and was looking at these rock climbing systems with the giri and then I can’t remember that name they lock onto the halyard and you just walk up the mast. When you attach the mast just walk up I had to go with that and I think I am going to do with that and I not worry about the steps because that system doesn’t seem to be very difficult at all. I am not really scared of heights so it doesn’t really worry me and it seems like a really – it’s a nice system that you – basically what you do is you run two halyards main halyard and another halyard onto a nice 20 mm rope specifically for the purpose and that is right the climb up. So you pull that rope up the mast on two halyards.

OSP: So, you have got safety.

Andy Lamont: One halyard for some reason breaks you’ve got another halyard on to the purpose built mast climbing rope that’s not going to break. It’s a really good system.

OSP: Well that sounds good. And if you know you are going to drill all those extra holes in the mast attached steeps too. I am just a fun of less holes things like that.

Andy Lamont: Yes.

OSP: So, in terms of if you want to just describe your plan and route into that were are you going to tell us where the toughest parts of the trip will be.

Andy Lamont: The initial first toughest parts will be while leaving the Gold coast and heading east to clear of all the shipping channels because as much as I probably wanted to be rested before I leave I probably won’t be and that is the biggest risk of all. That is hitting something and we will be straight out of the seaway into a well used shipping channel off the east coast of Australia. So, that is the toughest first part is basically making sure that I get at least 100 miles east before I can relax a bit. Luckily ships travel quite near to the coast here so I think I might sail 100 miles east I am much out of all what is going on apart from fishing boats. And then of course you have got the Tasman Ocean which it could give you anything. It’s a real interesting piece of water, isn’t it?

OSP: Yes. And you are straight into the action. There is no sort of 3-4-5 week build up, you are straight out there.

Andy Lamont: Which is what Jessica Watson did that was really smart, she was went up over the equator in the Pacific Ocean which gave her a nice window to get used to the boat and I was really tempted to do the same thing.

OSP: But the moment you are heading for the bottom of New Zealand right?

Andy Lamont: I was really tempted, but for me it’s always been under the five capes to me that is what it’s been. So, then if I was to go and start here and go up in the equator in the Pacific all the way back I will have to go under New Zealand or it seems like a waste of time doing that way and also it will be under New Zealand in the Middle of winter which is…

OSP: Which is not a good idea. Well, also if you are not fixed about your departure date you’d have the ability to wait two of three days if your weather router wants to kick you off as a system just gone through depending on how you want to approach it.

Andy Lamont: I think I will have to settle on a date probably a couple of months out which is go to be because I have got family coming up. So, it might be just a matter of a month out going whatever you do wait till the second half of October or whatever you do you go a bit earlier it’s probably the best as close as you can expect…

OSP: And you just got to go.

Impulse's refurbished hatches are ready for refitting

Andy Lamont: And then you sort of go of course you can slow down and so that will be- Tasman Sea will be – I only sailed across it once and we had 60 plus knots so….

OSP: Okay so, that’s as bad as its going to get most of time anyway.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And that is just the Tasman Sea so it’s quite interesting but then obviously under Stewart Island it’s predominantly over 30 knots. It’s very rare to be less than 30 knots under Stewart Island so, that is going to be the milestone to get around that probably to jump around that and depending on what the weather is doing I might head up, go down few degrees head north and get a bit of better weather or if the weather systems look alright you sort of continue down a bit lower.

OSP: So a shorter course around the bottom.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And I have got to remember it’s not a race but that’s the thing. Always when you are sailing you always want to go as fast as you can.

OSP: And if you are done you log each day knowing to see how much ground. You will always going to be conscious of those records days and anything less wouldn’t feel good enough all that stuff will start to happen.

Andy Lamont: So, then of course, after that is pretty much the big one is Cape Horn and that is where I will rely on Bruce a fair bit just to give me what he thinks is the best strategy to get around there. I definitely don’t want to be going round there with a big low pressure system. That will be kind of terrifying.

OSP: Yes. Timing that well because its so shallow through there the sea can really stand up. There is no point of rushing to get there if you can just sow down to get there a couple of days later and have a nice trip round.

Andy Lamont: Just go behind the system and get down and around and out.

OSP: Ok. So, you get around Cape Horn and then what’s next?

Andy Lamont: So, really and again this is going to be very reliant on the weather routing as to where I go next. I have got to go up over the equator up to the Azores. Well, I don’t need to go as far as the Azores but I am still not so sure under the world speed sailing record council whether I can go around a way point now or whether I still have to round and island. But anyway I am going to go around the Azores at the moment. So, that is quite a distance and there is a lot of different weather patterns so the way I go will really depend on the weather routing up there.

So, I will be doing my own weather routing and then I will be asking Bruce for advice on that because I will probably be saying,” look this is what I plan to do, what do you think?” He will say, “Stupid! You should do this. You haven’t factored in all these other things.” So to get up and down the Atlantic I don’t want obviously go too close to Brazil or any of the South American countries and I definitely don’t want to go too close to Africa and end up getting boarded by crazy pirates.

OSP: No.

Andy Lamont: I will stay like pretty much a couple of hundred miles off the coast so that is another factor. And once I am up and over there then getting down under Cape of Good Hope will be quite a fair distance under there. Then pretty much after that it’s just trying to miss many systems as you can to get back under Cape Leeuwin and then under Tasmania and the back home. But, that is probably going to be the worst, weather wise, section of the journey because that is going to be approaching winter, or getting right into the winter months.

So, that is where the systems will start running through pretty regularly and that’s probably the way to do it and the fact that the closer you are to home, the more  able you are to limp home if you do sustain some damage and also I will be a bit sea hardened as well. I have been probably have been though a few storms on the way and by the time I get into winter in the Southern Ocean I will be a lot better than I would have been 8 months ago or 6 months ago, that’s the plan.

The new tiller for Impulse gets to the finishing stage in the workshop

OSP: Ok. And staying warm will be a big factor too, wind chill and heat.

Andy Lamont: Yes. Because I don’t mind the heat so much but I do hate being cold.

OSP: It’s a wrong place to go during that time of year.

Andy Lamont: I don’t know why I am doing it. So, I just went and bought myself a nice sleeping bag rated to   minus 13 degrees C because it can’t be down so it has to be al fibre filled stuff so that’s good. So, I have got that lots and lots of layers. I use the Gill sappolettes which I find really warm. I found wearing those and some long couple of layers of long Johns and sappolettes and your wet weather gear and you are going to wear a beanie and gloves, you are pretty even in Tasmania you are pretty warm. But then again that’s the coldest I have been. The furthest South I have been is really Hobart which will probably make some people laugh but to me Hobart is like...

OSP: Antarctica?

Andy Lamont: I just think I have got lots and lots of woollen underwear, woollen base layer stuff and as well as the normal long johns and thermals and I will just take all that stuff and wash it when I can. They will probably stink, they probably won’t let me back in the country I will smell so much.

I think that’s the main thing is before I go that is one of things I will do I will buy some more wet weather gear. The gear I have got the Musto HPX gear is bloody fantastic I love it. I have got Musto boots. Probably don’t need a new pair of boots but I will get some of those seal skin socks which are really good and that should be it – a dry suit would be nice. Survival suits would be nice.

OSP: That’s when having your life jack with a dry suit could be convenient if you can float about for 12 hours ships will be passing by.

Andy Lamont: But if the boat just fills up with water you can just put the dry suit on.

OSP: True.

Andy Lamont: You can sort of slosh around in that. That would be good but probably even putting on your wet weather gear like when the boat is jumping around all over the place it’s a bloody pain in the butt.

OSP: It takes a long time. It’s a good 20-minute job to get it off get it back on.

Andy Lamont: I am just trying to imagine putting a dry suit on it might even take longer so I am not quite sure. But I just know the wet weather gear I have got get another set of that should see me through and just to stay warm. I have thought about getting a heater but it’s just another thing that can go wrong. So, I will probably just go with lots of layers, some emergency clothing in dry bags, towels and that type of thing. The other thing is those space blankets and those survival bags are quite good too.

OSP: And they take no space at all.

Andy Lamont: No space at all. So, that’s another thing if I am really cold I jump in the sleeping bag or jump in the survival bag and then into a sleeping bag. Then another thing I saw at burnings was the AEG heater jackets. You know the 18 volt lithium ion drill . They have also got where you just put a battery in the pocket and then you have got a heated jacket. So, I might even get one of those.

OSP: Could be handy if you have been outside for half an hour and the wind chill fixing something up and then you come down below and just seem to warm back up again.

Andy Lamont: You just put that up and warm up. They are only 150 bucks or something so it’s kind of for the job that it might do its pretty good value.

OSP: It’s more practical than trying to heat a hot water bottle.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly. That’s right and its instant and I haven’t got a battery grinder yet which is one of the things I want to have. So a little 4 inch grinders so if I need to cut stuff away.

New teak rails are fitted

OSP: And if you get the discs that carbon or something but way better for slicing through regiment trying to get a hacksaw or bolt cutters out if you have to cut mast away they are excellent for that.

Andy Lamont: So, one of the things I am thinking about is go the AEG route, getting the grinder and getting the jacket…

OSP: Happy days cutting the regiment away with your warm jacket on. So, if you can ask Jessica Watson questions about her circumnavigation, what would they be and when you start to think about some of the unknown few that lie ahead?

Andy Lamont: Well, there is lots of things we are really interested. One will be the polars for this boat. What strength and sea state did you change to different sails? That would be really good information. I might not do the same thing but it would be good reference point. So, that would be really interesting because basically it’s the same width it’s the same boat.

OSP: Yes. And traditionally if you find out you have too far that you should have changed sails once you break something.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly. So, that would be a good one to ask her. and then what would she do for power generation next time because I do know like I have read her book but she didn’t say anything negative in a book and good on her but there must have been things that really pissed her off and were really just bad systems or really just annoying and it would be good to know those things and what she thought about. She was very adamant she wanted the D400 generating wind system. Which is great it’s a beautiful systems its nice and quiet but she had to take it down every time it got over 30 knots and that type of thing. That will be interesting to find out power generation thing. But that will two key questions could be really interesting and also – I guess that will be the two main ones.

OSP: I saw a presentation she did she had some great photos of rebuilding her toilet after it had completely seized up.

Andy Lamont: Oh! Yes, right.

OSP: So, I know that she had that system failure which was pretty unpleasing by the sound of it.

Andy Lamont: Yes. So, that’s right. So I don’t have an electric toilet. I am just going to pretty much at the end of the day I don’t think you can beat the bucket, that a pretty good system. We always go over the side and that is not a good system single handed but I just got a pump out system – if you are just yourself on the boat then you sort of think that should be alright. I have go that system where your toilet paper and just get right down to the nitty gritty, you just take a big supply of paper bags so you use your toilet paper put in your paper bag, throw the toilet paper over to the side and pump out.

OSP: Because that’s the toilet paper that notoriously blocks those toilets up.  I am fan of the pump toilet it’s just one less thing that can fail electronically and it’s a pretty simple system and it only fails if you put too much down the hole.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly.

OSP: So, if you just don’t, that is probably not going to fail.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly.

OSP: If it’s not used by 10 people a day it’s definitely not going to get a lot of use.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly. Definitely when you sail solo the person that blocks the toilet up is the person who has to clean it.

OSP: Self governing.

Andy Lamont: Exactly, right. That is the best system I have seen it’s just the paper bag for toilet paper and a hand pump and what can go wrong.

OSP: It makes a lot of sense. Ok. So, what do you love being out in the ocean by yourself or what is it that you love about that because you are going to have a lot of that?

The final coat of paint goes onto Impulse's hull

Andy Lamont: I am interested to find out whether I will get sick of it because I am mid to late 50s and I am not sick of it yet so it’s quite interesting. For someone I am bit nerdy and that type of thing for something so basic to completely satisfy me and not just me hundreds of thousands millions of people. A whole thing about being on a boat and having nothing but the wind and I have never gone like this is boring of days and days and days and I am just like oh! God just give me another day so, it’s really interesting. It came down to the first time I got on a boat I was 11 years old and I got on a trailer sailor I was just watching sitting on the boat just watching the water separating from the stern of the boat it was a little hard chine trailer sailor.

OSP: Its quite hypnotising.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And it’s pretty much all I need. It’s a very weird thing if you get me off the water I need to be connected to the internet, I need to be get stimulating conversations, I need good friends, food and the excitement and the entertainment and everything and challenges. I mean there is this unending list of everything I need in my life so that I don’t go crazy from boredom or feel like I am wasting my life, but put me on a boat or a wind surfer or a kite board, that is all I need. It’s quite bizarre, isn’t it?

OSP: Its amazing isn’t it? And the nights will be as magical as the days for different reasons.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly. That’s it. The first ocean sailing I did from Brisbane to New Zealand some of those night sailing memories are just seared it into my memory I can remember them as if they were like yesterday and two days after I arrived in New Zealand was my 18th birthday and that was 40 years ago.

OSP: Its quite incredible.

Andy Lamont: Its just like yesterday. They are the peak moments of your life. For me, the peak of your life are your children being born and all obviously getting married and all that but the peak sort of – I am not a spiritual person but they are the spiritual moments of my life.

OSP: I think what I found is when you are out there on the ocean and it’s just you, there is not land on sight, there is not ships, it’s just you and the ocean and you are on the circular plate because everywhere you look every direction it’s just the horizon in this crowded world you got a piece of the world just to yourself and its perfect an un-spoilt and its magical and even the sea life comes to life. The light show that happens below the water once you really adjust your eyesight and the stars are like you never see on the land because of all the smoke and light interference. It’s quite stunning. It’s hard to explain.

Andy Lamont: As the stars have meaning to you as well. One rises on the horizon you follow that for a while.

OSP: You can see the shooting starts occasionally.

Andy Lamont: Its nice.

OSP: Well its good you are going to have about 300 days of that. So, when you are not sleeping or tending to your daily tasks in terms of checking on chafe and wear and tear and doing bits and pieces, what else are you taking along to be able to occupy your time?

Andy Lamont: Well, I will take a guitar a ukulele and some harmonicas so they are the three instruments.

OSP: But the audience will love you.

Andy Lamont: I will play some music and I will take probably a couple of kindles and iPad and all the books I can fit on that because I love reading. So, that would be pretty much all I need because I wouldn’t be bored. I can play music, I can read and I can even maybe write some stuff and that’s probably a full day.

OSP: And you have got a plan for each meal.

Andy Lamont: Yes.

OSP: After you finish this meal you start planning for the next one.

Andy Lamont: And probably make bread and do some other little sort of nice things during the day when the weather is right.

OSP: And put plenty of sleep in the bank so you keep topping your sleep up.

Andy Lamont: Yes. That’s then I guess that’s a really important thing, isn’t it? Making sure that I don’t get fatigued and don’t enjoy something so much that I sort of don’t leave enough sleep in the bank, sleeping all the time. But that is another thing about being on a boat which I never have trouble sleeping. It’s just I don’t know if it’s the same for you.

OSP: It’s the best sleep; it’s the most restful sleep I have ever have.

Andy Lamont: Yes, so you just put you head down and the next thing you know your asleep.

OSP: And it’s the only place I can sleep during the day. I normally lie down and sleep during the day but on a boat once you are in that rhythm about day 3 or 4 you just lay down and sleep because it’s almost like if the motion is great and you know your body needs it, it just changes your whole ability to rest and recharge.

Andy Lamont: So, that would be my daily routine I guess. One of the things I was thinking of doing like I would love to learn to play the bag pipes. I don’t know whether I would have the time to do that but I thought that would be fun. You mentioned like in the middle of a foggy day, in the middle of the ocean just the sound...

OSP: It would be stunning, wouldn’t it?

Andy Lamont:…on a quiet day with sort of low fog and cold and just the sound of bag pipes…

OSP: Just come rolling out of the mist.

Andy Lamont: Yes. So, anyway I have never played bag pipes but I can’t imagine it would be that hard.

OSP: I was forced to as a child.

Andy Lamont: Oh, truly?

OSP: However, I thought it was quite glamorous until I realised you spend the first two years learning to play I don’t know what it called but it’s like the flute part, you don’t see the bag for the first two years.

Andy Lamont: Oh!

OSP: So, until you learn to play the flute part that plugs into the bag – pretty much so you have got to wait two or three years before you are given a bag. I didn’t last that long.

Andy Lamont: So, you can play the piccolo

OSP: Exactly, so, I didn’t get to the good part but obviously it’s an amazing sound. So, what resources have you used to plan this trip? Where have you turned for information, research and advice?

Andy Lamont: I guess Tony Mowbray has been a help, so he’s been great. I have spoken to him. I sailed back from Adelaide with him. So, he sailed around in a Cole 43 nonstop unassisted. I read a lot of books of course John Gower and Kevin Costin they have taken me on as a bit of a project because really at the end of the day even though sailing has been my sport, ocean sailing I pretty much knew nothing and pretty much still know not much. So, they are both experienced ocean racers. So, they keep telling me like I am crazy going around with a slow boat I should be going around in a fast boat and they just think its nuts to go around in an S&S 34. You should go in something that goes faster than the waves. That’s one opinion. It’s quite a good opinion anyways except that the evidence just doesn’t beat it out. It’s the slow boats that complete.

The gold stripe is added to the hull as the finishing touch

OSP: They get there.

Andy Lamont: They get smashed along the way but it’s the fast boats that have problems. On a crewed fast boat going downwind at 20 knots well they are no problem, you have got someone on the helm all the time but on auto-pilot the boat has to be like an open 60 or an open 40 with all the systems been built to broach it has to be that type of boat to sail under auto-pilot. Like a lot of them don’t finish.

OSP: They break down and you are taking five times the overall cost plus and they are more demanding to sail and things are happen fast with bigger loads so you can get injured too and sleeping is probably a lot harder when you punching through stuff at 20 knots and when you are rolling along nicely.

Andy Lamont: Like downwind those boats are sailing. They just flat and stable and fast…

OSP: And wet.

Andy Lamont: Yes, if you haven’t got someone on the helm 24/7 then you relying on the autopilot so it’s the slow boats they are the ones that can do it on a budget unless your budget is in the millions. I don’t think a little maybe an Atlantic crossing on a small fast boat would be alright but unless you have got a really big budget with like some of these autopilots which are coming up of the shelf models now but they are pretty high end systems and they take in account the yaw of the boat so and everything inside it, they are not going to approach on a wave or…

OSP: And you still need a back up for them because otherwise if they fail your trip is over.

Andy Lamont: Yes. If an IMOCA boat or class 40 boat loses its electrics it’s just over.

OSP: Yes. And then working 24/7 under reasonable loads too.

Andy Lamont: Yes. Exactly and it happens. Whereas to have the systems would cost more than this boat the whole trip.

OSP: So, putting a Ferrari engine in a Skoda or something…

Andy Lamont: Yes. So, that’s all their opinions which is I respect their opinions but I just think look! This boat has been around the world more than anyone and at the end of the day everyone agrees: The S&S 34 you are going to get there.

OSP: Yes, it’s not going to break in half and sink.

Andy Lamont: Yes. And it’s not break any records but you are going to get there. But they have been great Mabo and Kozzie have been a real help for me and pretty much they are the main two guys that have been helping me out apart from everyone at the club here too, it’s just interesting like just the doing sailing I am doing here. Even, everyday you go out you are kind of learning a little but more, you tweak a bit more, don’t you?

OSP: Yes. that’s is right and the more people hear about your story and plans and what people popup and contribute also ideas and obviously the help and the strategic all that will create a bit of ground swell. You have to go now because once you tell people about it you are first taking the ground. Did you ever read that book about the guy that did that very first solo trip? He went out there and sailed around in circles for several months just sort of thrown in the towel and disappeared.

Andy Lamont: Yes.

OSP: Sad story.

Andy Lamont: Yes, a real sad story. Donald Crowhurst.

OSP: That’s it.

Andy Lamont: Its an interesting story, isn’t it? And then it was the slowest boat in the field was Robyn Knox Johnson’s boat that won.

OSP: That’s a very good example of choose a well prepared solid boat.

Andy Lamont: This is a good example of that rather than these trimarans. But those days have changed and now the – I guess it’s the most important example of that is pretty much about your mental state. So, it was Rob Knox Johnson that had pretty rock solid mental state where I think Bernard Mointessier I think it was the guy who was actually…

OSP: He was leading, right?

Andy Lamont: Yes.

OSP: And then he decided to carry on nonstop.

Andy Lamont: Yes. Exactly. So, he carried on. So, his state wasn’t to finish the race, his state was to keep sailing I guess and there were a few others there. It was pretty interesting story.

Andy in action in his kitesurfing training business

OSP: Great story and Robin Knox Johnston story is a good example of if you know your boat from end to end and you have got confidence in it then everything comes from confidence in your boat. I think the only think he didn’t like was he had a cover over his heel as a form of antifoaming and it started leaking into something and he had to get off the bottom in the Southern Ocean and go down below hammer a nail some patches on the boat or something and sharks were hovering around so…

Andy Lamont: He talked about that so matter of fact, I will just have to jump under hold some copper nails in my mouth. Have you ever tried to nail something underwater I would drop the nail anyhow.

OSP: I have tried to swing a hammer underwater you can’t do it. But he saw a great white shark and he short it but he figured there wasn’t any other so he as safe to proceed. I would be thinking about the other 100 waiting there too. Anyway, so great story. This is a bit of Mount Everest in terms of challenges short of going somewhere crazy like North Pole or South Pole. Have you thought of beyond the trip in terms of what happens when you get home and what you do next?

Andy Lamont: Well, definitely, I am ready for a new change in my life. I have run the same business with my wife for 20 years and she has done most of the work. I was basically on the kind of ideas guy and get everything rolling and doing all then we are a great team in that it works really well for me and she sort of figured out after 20 years it doesn’t actually work so well for her because we both really want to do some other things in our lives. So, that is why I did a law degree so I would like to do something with that when I get back and we would like to do some public speaking if that comes up after the trip then really life’s over too quickly isn’t it.

OSP: It is, far too quickly.

Andy Lamont: But luckily I am 57 I am fit enough and its interesting because I have had a fantastic life from the time I was an adult say from the time I was 20 to the time I was 57, that’s 37 years. Like it’s quite possible to have another 37 years of being active and doing stuff with the advances in medicine and all that type of thing. But even another 20 years its whole another life.

OSP: It is and once I was racing flying fifteens I sailed at the nationals against a guy who I thought this was in 2009 I thought he was in his early 60s and so it is 50 boats and flying fifteens are quite demanding to sail, he finished I think 7th at the nationals. He had been a boat builder all his life, he was 86 years old and still racing at a really physically level. I thought that is a great example of someone who has stayed healthy stayed active and he got to 60 and he has added another quarter of a century of active sailing to his life. I have always remembered that example.

Andy Lamont: It is. Its great and I have a friend a great role model who I have wind surfed with and kite surfed with for the last 20 years and he is a keener kite surfer than me, he is out every windy day and he is 69.

OSP: Wow!

Andy Lamont on the S&S 34 'Impulse' at the Southport Yacht Club

Andy Lamont: It doesn’t matter how big the waves are he is just there and at 69 these people they do forge a pathway don’t they. You don’t have to sort of get to your 50s and 60s and start to slow down you can just turn another page and open a new chapter in your life and do something new and exciting. Yes, that is what I want to do and the other great chapter of my life will be becoming a grandfather, which is going to be fun. So, they are all great things as well. There is a lot to look forward to and when we get back whole new chapter to write I guess.

OSP: It’s been great spending the time with you this morning. I think we have got two episodes out this we are at the two hour mark which is great and its going to be excellent Andy following your journey over the next few months as you prepare to depart and then keeping in touch with you as you head off around the world and seeing how your experience is going. So, thank you so much for sharing your story and I know people listening to this find it fascinating, find it inspiring as well and I just shows you that if you put your mind to something the financial barrier is not the bigger issue or the age barrier it’s just putting your mind to it and heading down the path and certainly the departure day will roll around.

Andy Lamont: If anyone can take anything from what I am doing you can fail your way to your goal when my goal was to leave in 2004. It’s been a massive failure and a lot of detours but failure is just someone said I don’t know who it was, someone once said that failure is a real essential part of any journey. No journey and nothing happens without failing.

OSP: Yes. And the irony is if we didn’t put these unrealistic timeframes against things other than the timeframe you did everything else right because you are about to go.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly.

OSP: If you hadn’t put and unrealistic timeframe you would have said the plan just took a little longer.

Andy Lamont: Yes, exactly.

OSP: The plan has turned out…

Andy Lamont: And that is the way I look at it.

OSP: But as often if we are not unrealistic about timeframes we don’t actually push ourselves hard enough to even get to what is a reality, otherwise if you just said I will do it in 10 years, of course 10 years comes and goes and there is no stake in the ground. Well, thank you Andy and we look forward to catching up and updating things as they unfold and good luck on all of your plans and preparations. I am sure you will start to have all sorts of people popping up the out of the woodwork and offering support and help, which will help you prepare for some of those extra things on your wish list that will get you off on the right foot with your fantastic lifetime bucket list type opportunity.

Andy Lamont: Well, that will be great, it doesn’t matter like when someone says what kind of things are you looking for and I said, “even a can of coke would be great” like anything would be alright. So, thanks so much for your interest and I look forward to speaking with you again.

OSP: My pleasure, great, thanks Andy.

Interviewer: David Hows

Checkout out the article on Andy Lamont in the Gold Coast Bulletin that was published following our podcast interviews with him.

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