IN THIS VERY ROOM by Roger Dundas Tumlaren AVIAN #96
I very happily introduced Mark Chew, custodian of 1956 Philip Rhodes sloop FAIR WINDS, to full membership of RMYS on Friday night.
Mark and I have sailed many thousands of miles on FAIR WINDS, across the Tasman, across Bass Strait many times, into the Coral Sea, all at a speed that is slower than a commute to work on your bike. To that end, we have had optimal opportunity to talk, tell tales of experiences, proffer thoughts on an enormous range of subjects and take the time to listen.
However, on Friday night we found a common space that has set our paths ever since.
The Olympic Bar.
I got bored with windsurfing in 1993. Someone suggested I try keelboat sailing and on a Wednesday afternoon late that summer and I found myself in the Olympic Bar at RMYS where just before the twilight race, skippers, while downing a pre-race pot, would size up crew looking for a ride, like stockmen at a cattle sale. It was windy, and as I’m a big bloke, the skipper of a boat called AGGRO must have thought my ballast would be useful. So, he tapped me on the shoulder, and we headed off down the pier to the pens (no floating marina 30 years ago!) I must have done something right that evening because I was invited back, and within a few years had done a S2H and a West Coaster and multiple Bass Strait crossings aboard Steve Collis’ beige Adams 12. (Beige is a kind word.) I learnt a lot on that boat, but more importantly made four lifelong friends who still sail with me aboard FAIR WINDS.
I became a member at RMYS for a few years and then circumstances and wooden boat sailing took me over to RYCV for about 24 years. The move back to RMYS was a wrench made partly out of practicality (my wife owns NO MAN’S LAND) but also because RMYS has been so encouraging and positive when it comes to the Classic Yacht fleet. Sunday’s CYAA race was a shining example of how Classic Racing should be done. A very special fleet with great competition amongst good friends. It would have made a spectacular sight from the front window of the Olympic Bar!
In my case, I had arrived at RMYS in 1999 to sail in a Classic race on a friend’s Couta boat. The skippers and crews had gathered in the Olympic Bar to scowl out the windows at the 35 knot nor’ westerly and to hear the announcement of postponement.
Not to be thwarted an RMYS member, Kevin Read, offered to take out his newly restored Tumlaren ZEPHYR #318. “Who would like to join me”
I naively raised my hand as did another Classic sailor and off we went to show the head-shaking sailors in the bar what a Tumlaren could cope with. Fortunately, the third crewman was a professional sailor, David Allen, from RYCV.
This little Classic not only coped with the 35 knots, she seemed to revel in the conditions…
I was smitten!
I eventually became a part-owner of ZEPHYR #318, then took on the restoration of AVIAN #96 in 2006 and completed in 2009. AVIAN #96 is still in my custodianship and is a regular in the Classic fleet, penned on G row RMYS.
To add to the “being smitten” I and another 5 Classic sailors, including Mark Chew, have taken on the complete restoration of YVONNE #97, the most prestigious of the St Kilda Yacht Club Tumlaren fleet, nearing completion.
My life has moved in a very wooden boat direction since that fantastic day in the Olympic Bar in 1999