Frances was born and brought up in Sydney, and it was there that she first sailed, on her step grandfather’s beautiful, self designed Antares. Christmas 2011 saw one of our occasional returns to the land of her fathers, and we were delighted to be able to meet up and sail with the current owners of Antares Rob Keessen and Dennis Wood.
Fran was almost literally just off the plane from London, and found it the perfect cure for jet lag. We met at the prelapsarian Sydney Amateur Sailing Club in Cremorne, just opposite Fran’s family home at Mosman. What a fabulous club: more wooden boats than I’ve seen together outside a classics regatta, an amiable and competitive atmosphere, and a location that really couldn’t be bettered.
We went out for the last race of the season, in which Rob and Dennis had some unfinished business. An interesting day’s sailing, with a streaky breeze and pots of traffic saw them get their target boat. Ed was star-struck by finally being out on Sydney Harbour and wouldn’t stop talking, but the rest of the crew soon learnt to ignore him. He was so impressed by the boats: not by their quantity, but by their quality. Many interesting old yachts, several really wacky contemporary race boats (like the sports boat modelled on a Moth), rockstars like Investec whatsit who won the Sydney Hobart the following week. The Solent would have been as crowded, but with many more identikit Bendytoys and Bavarois.
Antares is kept in first rate order by Keessen and Owen – even among such glittering company she holds her head high.
With no tides to worry about the race,over an interesting course, was a matter of clear air, trimming, and picking the shifts. Fran got to trim the kite.
We’ll be back in Sydney again, on our own bottom eventually in fulfilment of an old promise. For the meantime we’re very grateful to Rob and Dennis, great sailors and lovely people, for a wonderful day out, and we hope we can reciprocate one day.