The Cloak and Dagger Catalina Operations
Now that most of the restrictions imposed for security purposes have been lifted more is being heard of the activities of the “cloak-and-dagger” men in the CAT squadrons.
The flying-boat work entailed landings at night without a flare path in bays, rivers, harbours and even the open sea, hundreds of miles behind the enemy lines.
The trips were of long duration, a minimum of twenty hours. The longest recorded was one of thirty-eight hours.
One example operation began in September when Flight-Lieutenant Bruce Daymond of Sydney with Flight-Lieutenant Jack O’Meara of Swan Hill (Victoria) began his marathon in which he flew just on a hundred hours in seven days, approximately thirty-three of which were spent over enemy controlled waters and territory.
An immediate signal had come in from a party of agents to say there had been a lot of enemy air reconnaissance of their island and that now an enemy submarine had come into the bay. From all indications a search party was being put ashore to capture them. They would try and avoid the Japs till an aircraft could arrive.
When the signal arrived Flight-Lieutenant Daymond and his crew were sleeping off the effects of their three trips in four days in which some seventy hours had been done. He was ordered to get the agents back at all costs. The information they had gathered was vitally important and it had to reach headquarters.
On reaching the target the aircraft was flying at fifty feet. A flashlight signal was received from the ground giving the all clear for landing. The agents stated afterwards that the submarine had gone away that afternoon. All stood by for the landing, but while on the down-wind leg, the bow turret gunner called up on the “intercom” to say that the submarine was in the middle of the bay.
The aircraft came in low over the submarine, touched down and taxied on the step down-moon in a whirl of spray, almost reaching flying speed in doing so.
Engines had to be cut and the anchor thrown out, otherwise the agents in their rubber dinghies could not have come alongside against the slipstream.
Fortunately the down-moon position helped to prevent the exact location of the aircraft from being discovered.
As the submarine moved in to do its worst, the agents-were unceremoniously dragged aboard. There was no time to load their equipment; this was cast adrift in the dinghies. The anchor cable was slashed with an axe.
The engines, those wonderful Pratt and Whitney’s started without a splutter. A down-wind takeoff straight over the submarine again, a turn, flat on the water, behind the cliff face and the aircraft was safely away.
Bruce Daymond’s exploits are typical of hundreds of others which are only now being told by Robert Cleworth in his book The Fabulous Catalina.
Little has been recorded and told about the Top Secret Catalina Flying Boat operations which did as much for Australia as the Spitfire did for England.
After the Japanese bombed and strafed all the available airports in the North of Australia and the islands, the use of flying boats which could operate off the water or even the open sea, became essential.
The Catalinas, of which Australia acquired some 170, could operate from almost anywhere and did.
Thirty two ‘Cats’ and 332 aircrew were lost in the process but these operations, dropping mines at night-time in harbours held by the enemy, were responsible for keeping the Japanese in harbours.
Douglas MacArthur could only return to Manila after 20 Cats laid mines in all the surrounding harbours.
The Catalina Flying Memorial has recently acquired and flown to Australia a Catalina flying boat which is now awaiting restoration to operate again from the Rathmines flying boat base on Lake Macquarie and other Catalina bases around Australia.
Tax deductible donations are being sought for its restoration. Contact Phil Dulhunty OAM, Director, The Catalina Flying Memorial. Phone: 02 9870 7277; www.catalinaflying.org.au
Kathleen Gillett graces Great Veterans Race
Maurie Evans’ Lion 35 Malohi has won the Great Veterans Race from Anitra V and Katinka. The Great Veteran’s Race, is the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual tribute to those classic Sydney Hobart Yacht race yachts that sailed south in the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s and marks the opening of the Audi Winter Series.
Kathleen Gillett, Jack Earl’s famous double ended ketch that competed in the first Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1945, and a yacht that is synonymous with the CYCA, made her way gracefully around the Great Veteran’s Harbour course, but unfortunately did not finish the race.
All those on the Harbour felt honoured to be racing on the same piece of water as the grand lady Kathleen Gillett.
“It was great to be part of something so historic and it’s a real joy to see Kathleen Gillett still sailing,” Maurie Evans said.
Simon Kurts’ S& S 47 Love & War relished the conditions taking line honours in a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 35 secs with Nigel Stokes’ classic Knud Reimers designed 75sqm yacht Fidelis second on line, three minutes and 15 seconds behind Love & War.
“It’s an honour to win this race and have my yacht’s name engraved on the Windward Trophy – it’s stunning trophy and there are some great yachts that have won it,” Evans said.
Malohi was built by Jim Perry for Neville McEnnally and launched in January 1956 and competed in six Sydney Hobart races with her best result a third overall in the 1960 race. She has been owned by Maurie Evans since 1996 and previously owned by Syd Fischer.
Philip Brown’s Anitra V finished second overall behind Malohi with Paul O’Connell’s Katinka third.
Meanwhile, the non-pointscore Ladies Day race for the Jill McLay trophy is also sailed in conjunction with the Great Veterans race as part of the opening of the Audi Winter Series. The Ladies Day race is a tribute to Jill who was a long-term employee of the CYCA and died from cancer.
Justine Tornai (Skeeter) took honours in Division A Spinnaker and was also the lucky recipient of the Audi Weekend drive. “My husband ran the boat for me – I had great fun bossing him around!” Tornai said. Sara Jane Tomsett (Enigma) finished second with Claire Chalmers (Saltshaker) third.
Rachael Mason skippered Wallop to a win in Division B non-spinnaker with Laura Manuel (Attitude) second and Francesca Kemp (Carats n Kilos) third.
Bec Nash had great fun at the helm of Eclipse. The 14-year-old “enjoyed bossing the big boys around on the boat and had a great first time at the helm.” Nash skippered Eclipse to third place in Division A non-spinnaker behind Plum White (M) and Elizabeth Burke (Brigus).
In Division B Spinnaker, Stephanie Cook (Mortgage Choice Rhumba) took the win, with Daphne Winstone (Devils Lair) second and Merryl Semple (Marigot Bay) third.
Classics regatta hits the spot
Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club’s inaugural Classic Yacht Regatta, for one-design classes more than 30 years old, was a resounding success, agreed competitors and club officers.
The regatta grew from the need to save the NSW championship for the Hood 23 class from extinction. For many years, this was the club’s most successful yearly event. It was keenly contested with hot-shots from other classes recruited to crews and became known as the ‘Intergalactics’.
“However in recent years, numbers dwindled to the point where the event was facing extinction,” said NSW class president Col Hubbard.
The RPEYC was also anxious to boost the sailing side of its activities. The Dragon and Soling classes, which in the 1960s and ’70s occupied moorings opposite the clubhouse in Felix Bay on Sydney Harbour, have moved off to the hard-standing areas of other clubs.
A few Hood 23s remained but no longer raced as a class in harbour club events. So the club decided to invite other veteran one-design classes, racing as ‘orphans’ in handicap fleets, to join in a regatta.
Ironically, the regatta had the biggest entry in the Hood 23 class, with 11 boats; some of them steered by skippers from other classes. There were four J24s, four Folkboats, three Clansmen and two Compass 28s.
Richard Staines’ well-sailed Esquisse II from the Royal Australian Naval Sailing Association won the NSW Hood 23 championship from Brotherhood (Tony Craven, RANSA) and Red Riding Hood (Rob Croucher, Cronulla Sailing Club), 15.
Wildfire (Brett Hudson) won the J24s, Alicia (Andrew McPherson) the Folkboats; Moer Lina (Joost Kerdijk) the Compass 28s and Bonnie Lassie (Roger Gray), the Clansmen.
Every boat entered received a commemorative bulkhead plaque and complimentary lanyards, and crews packed the back lawn of the Edwards for the presentation barbecue; just as in the old days of the Intergalactics.
Visiting boats came from Manly, Balmain, Middle Harbour and Cronulla while a crew from Metung in Victoria, skippered by Graeme Aldersea, raced a chartered boat.
Batemans Bay Regatta
Sailors competing in the 2012 Eurobodalla Tourism Batemans Bay Regatta showed great resilience just getting to the event after recent landslides on the Kings Highway. Many Canberra based sailors decided not to travel due to the extensive detours involved. Despite this a good fleet of 90 boats entered.
There was an excellent turnout of 17 Lightweight Sharpies who were also conducting heats of their NSW Championships. The Hobie 16, Hobie 18, 505, B14 and Taipan classes all had five or more entries which meant they could complete against each other in class racing. The remaining boats were grouped into divisions which raced on handicap.
Unfortunately Hughie was less than kind with truly atrocious conditions on Saturday. Sunday was a more pleasant day but the wind rarely got above 8 knots. The trailerable yachts headed out around the BBSC Pentastar course which uses permanent marks at Chain Bay, Yellow Rock, Toll Gates, Wimbie Beach and Caseys Beach. They had a scenic day out although that race too had to be shortened due to slow progress.
There were some excellent performances throughout the fleet. Michael Forster, Andrew Forster and Ben Phillips sailing Smoke won the highly tactical battle of the Lightweight Sharpies.
Tasar veterans Rick Longbottom and Nick Grey showed great acumen in winning their division. Mick Butler and his young daughter Bonnie Butler achieved a clean sweep in the Hobie 16s.
Perhaps the standout was Canberra junior sailor Cassandra Schlimbach who sailed her Laser Radial to victory while taking time out of many larger and nominally quicker boats.
Of the local sailors the always laid back Rob Way won the Taipans. Rob Currall achieved a popular third placing in the same fleet. Peter and Tom Ryan sailed their Hobie Tiger into second place in their division. While Peter Schwarz suffered gear failure on Saturday and was unable to sail on Sunday, Michael O’Brien finished the final race in triumphant fashion on his Maricat and vowed he’d be back.
Three teenagers were rescued after being dumped and stranded in the surf off Caves Beach, a popular ocean beach just south of the entrance to Lake Macquarie late on the afternoon of Monday, 7 May.
Two of the boys lost their boogie boards when they were dumped by a big set of waves, leaving all three clinging to the remaining board.
The seas were too strong for them to return to the beach but one of their friends who had seen their predicament contacted Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie for help.
The unit’s radio base contacted the duty crew at the Pelican Boat Base, and Lake Macquarie 21 with a crew of four responded to the emergency. In just 20 minutes, the Marine Rescue vessel had safely crossed the bar and reached the last known position of the boys, who were quickly located about 200 metres from shore.
The swell was running at 1.5 to 2 metres and Lake Macquarie 21 had to stand off and wait for a break to provide some smoother water. The rescue crew was then able to go in on a loop, picking up the three boys in one go and returning outside the breakers, where the condition of the boys was assessed.
The boys were cold and weary but otherwise unharmed. Lake Macquarie 21 returned them to Pelican Base, where they were met by the very relieved mother of one of the boys.
New scholarship announced for MRNSW volunteers
NSW’s official volunteer marine rescue service has marked 2012 National Volunteer Week (14-20 May) by announcing the establishment of the Marine Rescue NSW Volunteer Education Scholarship.
MRNSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said a number of scholarships – worth a total of $10,000 – would be awarded to help the service’s members to undertake professional development to assist them in their volunteering roles.
“These scholarships are an investment in our future,” Commissioner Tannos said. “We are particularly keen to help our next generation prepare to become our leaders of the future.
“Building our volunteers’ skills and expertise will ensure that Marine Rescue NSW can continue providing its lifesaving services to the boating community for many decades to come.”
MRNSW has more than 3,000 volunteers in 45 units along the coastline from Point Danger to Eden, all of whom play a significant role in improving boating safety, whether as rescue vessel crew members, radio operators, fundraisers or in administration, training or community engagement.
Belcher and Page end week of dominance with 470 World Championship title
Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have won the 2012 470 World Championship following a dominant week at the end of May in Barcelona, Spain.
Belcher and Page’s win was the third World Championships for the Australian Sailing Team in the space of 10 days as the pair joined 2012 world title winners Tom Slingsby in the Laser class and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er.
The defending World Champions led the regatta from start to finish and went into the medal race with a 19-point lead over France’s Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos, meaning that they just had to have a clean start to claim the title.
The pair got that clean start and eventually finished the race sixth in challenging conditions, with only three to five knots of wind, a strong current and large waves testing the 10 crews.
“We’ve had a great week, to win any World Championship is special but to get three in a row is amazing,” Belcher said. “It’s certainly something that we didn’t expect, you spend time focusing on yourself and working hard on your own game so to then come out and get results like this is a great feeling.”
With the Worlds wrapped up the pair’s attention now turns to London 2012 and defending Page’s gold medal from 2008.
“Gold this August is everything that we’ve been working towards for the last four years,” said Page. “I feel the focus is different this Games. Heading into Beijing the objective was a medal after a tough Olympics in Athens but this time gold is the aim and I feel that we are so much better prepared and our consistency has shown that.
Belcher will make his Olympic debut in London and has his sights set on gold.
Next stop for the pair is Weymouth and round six of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, the one and only chance they will have to race there together before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Sam Kivell and Will Ryan finished 16th overall, while Scott Cotton and Rob Size were 55th ahead of Matthew and Robert Crawford in 60th. Alexander and Patrick Conway were 65th, with Matt and Ben Taylor 79th.
Outteridge and Jensen create history with 49er World Championship win
Australian sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have made history with their gold medal on 13 May at the 2012 49er World Championship in Zadar, Croatia.
The win was Outteridge’s fourth world title and Jensen’s third, with the skipper putting his name in the history books as the first sailor to win four 49er World Championships.
Outteridge has won four of the last five 49er World Championships, having first tasted success back in 2008, alongside former crew Ben Austin, and then claiming the 2009, 2011 and now the 2012, titles with Jensen.
Outteridge and Jensen finished 13 points ahead of New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke with Danish duo Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang a further 15 points back in third.
The Australian pair went into the final day with an eight point lead over the Kiwis with two races held early in the day in light conditions to decide the top 10 for the final medal race. The brief for the medal race to secure the title was simple: don’t finish last, and the Australians made sure of that, crossing the line two places behind the Kiwis in eighth.
Outteridge now heads to Venice for the next round of the America’s Cup World Series and the 2012 49er World Champions will be back racing the 49er in round six of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Weymouth in early June, their final event there before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
West Australian sailors Luke Parkinson and Jaspar Warren finished 19th overall in the silver fleet in their first World Championship together.
Tom Slingsby takes a step towards sailing greatness with fifth Laser world title
Australian sailor Tom Slingsby has won the 2012 Audi Laser World Championship with a race to spare on 11 May in Boltenhagen, Germany.
The 2012 title was Slingsby’s fifth in six years as he cements his position at the top of the Laser class in the final run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“This could be my last Laser World Championship and it’s great to finish it so well,” said Slingsby. “I sailed my best this week in conditions that I traditionally haven’t done well in, so to win it like this feels really good. This is my fifth Laser world title but it’s my first in light conditions which is really satisfying.”
While Slingsby was all smiles after his win, his regatta nearly came to a grinding halt after injuring his ankle on Wednesday evening.
“Luckily there was no fracture so I got it heavily strapped and got back in time for racing, getting out to the course with about 35 minutes to spare,” he said. “Things were a bit tight for a while there but everything came together in the end.”
Slingsby led the event from start to finish, winning five of the 14 races and finishing in the top 10 in another six.
Fellow Australian Tom Burton had his best ever result finishing the week fifth overall. Ashley Brunning finished in 13th position, Ryan Palk was 30th, ahead of James Burman in 46th and Matthew Wearn in 53rd.
Mixed day for Krystal Weir at 2012 Laser Radial World Championship
Australian sailor Krystal Weir has finished with mixed result on the penultimate day of racing on 20 May at the 2012 Laser Radial World Championship in Boltenhagen, Germany. Weir started the day 12th overall, with the Victorian having a tough opening race on Saturday, crossing the line 56th. She bounced back in race two with her best result in the gold fleet so far, a 16th. The results leave Weir 17th overall with two races left.
In the under-21 category South is sixth in the gold fleet with Elks seventh in the silver fleet.
Craig Heydon, Yachting Australia
Classic Day for Classic Yachts
A warm, autumnal day saw 20 elegant classics gather on Sydney Harbour for the annual Classic Yacht Rally on 28 April organized by the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club and the Classic Yacht Ass’n of Australia.
The day commenced with a Concours d’Elegance where gleaming varnish and spotless teak decks greeted the judges. After the beauty pageant, uniformed crews swarmed on to tenders, hoisted sails and the thoroughbreds threw of their years and descended on the start line.
12-metre yachts of America’s Cup fame Gretel II, Australia and Steak ’n Kidney, hunted each other for advantage, while other metre yachts from the 1920s to the ’50s gave each other no quarter.
The 1907 Anniversary Cup was won by the 8-metre Juana (Graeme Woods) and the Concours d’Elegance by Gretel II (Michael Maxwell).
Pittwater High triumph in Interschool Teams
Pittwater High School’s Team Sailors have won the 2012 NSW Interschool Teams Racing Championships sailed on Sydney Harbour ending a five year stranglehold that Cranbrook School have had over the title.
Over three gruelling days and 128 races, the last day’s racing was held in gusty 20-plus knot southerly winds which was where the Pittwater Team really demonstrated their skill, strength and stamina.
The semi finals saw Pittwater grab a 2-0 win against old rivals Cranbrook and then outsail Scots College 2-0 in the finals to take out the title in convincing style.
The win was a wonderful achievement for Pittwater High which was one of only two public schools entered in this prestigious event.
The impressive field of 11 school teams, saw Pittwater racing against the best sailors from some of Sydney’s most elite schools, including Scots, Cranbrook, Riverview, Aschem, Brigidine, Mater Maria, Abbotsleigh and Sydney High.
The victory was an emotional one for ex-PHS teacher and Team Racing Coach, Stan Walters, who has assisted the team with coaching over the last two terms and whose grandson Harley is a team member. Team manager Leisa Stranack, whose two sons are team members, was also overjoyed with the hard earned win. Team members are; Captain, Oscar Stranack, Angus Stranack, James Farquharson, Xavier Kempton, Adam Bradley, Harley Walters and Travis Thorn.
Results – 1st Pittwater High School; 2nd Scots College; 3rd Cranbrook; 4th Riverview; 5th Mater Maria.
Lord Howe Island Cruise completes its first decade
It’s a rather tricky thing to celebrate the tenth anniversary of something that doesn’t officially exist. That’s the task facing participants in the annual BBQ Cruise to Lord Howe Island which will take place for the tenth consecutive year in early November.
The event is entirely informal – it has no organizing authority, no rules, no entry fee and no starting time – yet its popularity has grown to the point where the cruise-in-company is now a fixture on the East Coast bluewater calendar and attracts more entrants than the ‘official’ Gosford-Lord Howe Island Yacht Race which has traditionally preceded it.
There’s a touch of irony, therefore, in the fact that the BBQ Cruise owes its origins to a time when the race was so popular that not all intending competitors could secure a mooring in the LHI lagoon.
Nigel Stoke, skipper of the 61-foot classic Fidelis, takes up the story.
“We were entered for the Gosford-Lord Howe in early 2002 and assumed, as in prior years, that meant that we should make our plans for the boat and crew. But two months before the race, the Gosford club told us that we wouldn’t be allocated a mooring. Doing a round trip without stopping at the Island wasn’t for us, so we withdrew.
“But I got talking with David Champtaloup of Caprice of Huon and said ‘why don’t we just sail over next year anyway?’ We knew it was unlikely that a club would promote or encourage others to join us, so somehow we came up with idea of having a BBQ on the island at a fixed time, and to invite others to join us there.”
The nominated date they agreed for the BBQ was the first Tuesday after the Melbourne Cup, which it’s been ever since. It didn’t matter when, or from where, participating yachts set off: the only fixed point was that the BBQ would begin at Ned’s Beach at around 1630 hours.
And why not give the gathering some purpose? Two long-standing members of the Fidelis crew, Rhod ‘Captain’ Cook and Tom ‘Single’ Moult, had spent family holidays on the Island for many years. Before long they came to a happy agreement with the Parents & Friends group of the local public school to make the BBQ into a fund-raiser.
So the islanders provided and cooked the food for the BBQ, and the yachties each chipped in $50. More than $25,000 has been raised for the LHI school (it’s now their second largest fundraising activity).
The continuing success of the Lord Howe BBQ Cruise owes much to the goodwill of the Islanders. It enjoys the support of the LHI Board, the local police, the legendary harbor master, Clive Wilson, and the school community.
The annual Quiet Little Drink for the LHI BBQ Cruise will be held on Thursday 14th June from 1800hrs, upstairs at the Orient Hotel, The Rocks, Sydney.
Historical game fishing trophy on display at museum
The magnificent and historical trophy awarded to the late Mrs Jessica Sams of Ulladulla, NSW, at the 1938 Sesquicentenary Game Fishing Competition is the centrepiece of an exhibition being held at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney until October 1, 2012.
The exhibition Fish in Australian Art celebrates the history of fishing in Australia using images and objects created by artists alongside artefacts relating to the history and culture of fishing. It explores how we relate to fishing personally, socially, culturally and commercially and pays tribute to fishing in Australia as both an essential industry and as a passionate recreational activity.
The trophy won by Mrs Jess Sams is now named after her and was awarded for her capture of the heaviest game fish, a striped marlin of 330lbs during the four month long event held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the first colony at Sydney Cove in 1788.
Designed by Mr WJ Sanders from the well-known Sydney jewellers Fairfax and Roberts, it was valued at £500 at the time. It has a present value of over $40,000 and is on loan from The Fishing Museum Ltd, an adjunct organisation of The Game Fishing Association of Australia.
Boat imports cost thousands of Australian jobs
According to Adrian Seiffert principle of Marine Auctions & Valuations, used boats (Grey Imports) being imported to Australia is the major reason for the thousands of job losses in the marine industry over the last 3-4 years and also the closure of many business associated with the Marine Industry.
“Grey Imports have reduced the value of most type of vessels in Australia to a record low level with the value of many secondhand boats declining around 50% in the last 12 months. Many used boats now sold in Australia are considerably cheaper than those purchased by Australians from overseas,” said Seiffert.
Of the estimated 2,500 used vessels imported into Australia over the last few years, Seiffert says around 75% of the Australian buyers could have been purchased better quality boats in Australia for around the same value or cheaper if they purchased boats that were originally sold new in Australia.
Seiffert believes many Australian buyers do not realise that most of the vessels sold in Australia are sold at considerably lower prices than the advertised price, and in some cases vessels have sold for prices around 60% below their quoted price.
Many of the Grey Imports arriving in Australia especially from the USA are significantly different to those that have been sold new in Australia. The supply of replacement parts is often a problem. Another issue with Grey Imports is that some maybe encumbered or stolen.
“Now is a good time to purchase any type of vessel in Australia,” Seiffert said.
He considers prices have hit rock bottom and they could stay at the same level for up to two years before there is any increase in value.