From: MHYC Log, 1973
Dak Harrington (the nickname stems from his early days in Fiji) took to sailing in his teens. From the 10-foot, home-made, canvas-covered craft (of which he admits he was terrified) through an apprenticeship served in the Manly 16-foot Sailing Club, he gradually acquired the techniques of boat handling, speed and survival on the harbour.
From 12-foot and 16-foot skiffs, Dak made a substantial jump up to the big league in 1946 by joining Bruce Roxburgh in the purchase of Werona, a Fife-designed, Tasmanian-built 36-foot sloop Which, with a crew of skiff boys, cruised and raced out of North Harbour.
Seeking new members for MHYC from the local sailing fraternity, Secretary Harry Elderfield one day rowed around from the Spit to North Harbour and, amongst others, invited the Werona boys to join the Club.
'We weren't very keen at the time', Dak recalls, 'but we accepted an invitation to have a couple of races as guests in their first division.' Competing with eight or nine other boats Werona won its first race quite easily on the last leg up Middle Harbour by working the mainsheets in a boisterous north- easter. Sail trimming by working sheets (the normal practice in skiffs) was frowned upon by the conservative deep keel racing men of the day. 'So our first victory was not looked upon too kindly by the rest of the fleet', says Dak. 'But, despite our revolutionary sailing techniques, Bruce and I were accepted as members of the MHYC in 1948.'