ABOUT 40 YEARS AGO…
Way back in about 1973/74 the Victorian championships were being held at Mordialloc Sailing Club for a relatively new class of single hander yacht….the Laser! The championships had attracted a larger sized fleet than most classes of the day, even though it had not been in Australia that long, of about 40 boats.
The Laser has gone through some minor evolution in that time. We had a mix of early Canadian made imports, nine thousand series numbers, with the newer Australian made boats with sail numbers well under the 20,000 mark, yes count the zeros! The Canadian boats had teak grab rails and tiller, all came with wooden foils, no ratchet block, no bailer just a hole, stretchy plastic traveller rope and vang (no turbo here), simple downhaul in 1:2 ratio with no blocks allowed, forget trying to adjust your outhaul anywhere except on the beach, car seat belt for a hiking strap, no fancy Velcro clew holder, and only in a standard rig! However, we had the luxury of all the groovy 70’s colours such as bright orange, baby blue, canary yellow, lime green, white, red etc. none of which matched the cream deck!
Saturday morning dawned with the fleet rigged and just about to leave the shore when a well loved and used green VW bug coughs to a halt close to the break wall rocks resplendent with a slightly battered lime green Laser on the roof. Note it is attached by only one roof rack at the front and tied to a bit of the bent up chrome window strip at the back, with spars sticking out of the side window at all angles! A super casual guy with wavy long hippy hair climbs from the driver’s seat yawning and rubbing his eyes from lack of sleep (?) and drags the boat off the roof, over the car, over the gravel, and down over the rocks leaving lines of green fibreglass behind whilst waving any help offered away saying it’s all cool! Who is this guy? Obviously he has no idea of the effect of a smooth bottom in the light winds we were about to face! He then pulls this crumpled “slept in look” sail from the car (no new sail every regatta in this era) and proceeds to rig up. It was about now my anxiety had set in that I was going to be late for the start line so like most I left the beach leaving this “dude” to rummage in the back of his car for some blades, cleaning what looked like dried pizza off them?! Who is this guy?
I didn’t really see him again that race…..he was so far out in front of most of us doing battle with Mr Clean’n tidy Andrew Foulkes for first place, that I went home and questioned what was really important in sailing and even life…forget polishing the hull and sanding my blades smooth!! So, ever since that day it never surprised me to see the name Tim Dorning at the top of the results sheets…wonder what happened to him and his long hair??
Ps : I notice there’s a guy with the same name sailing a boat every now and again in masters called “the bald & the beautiful”……….nah… couldn’t be??! Who is that guy?