I joined M.H.Y.C. in 1963, the year that I started sailing and bought a yacht. By 1969 I was on the race committee as No. 1 Offshore Division rep., Frank also being a long term member of the committee with abundant wisdom resulting from his experience. He had been racing Hoi Phoon, the ketch built in 1939 by his father, a boat that Frank loved although it was outdated and not competitive as a racing machine, and his services were always in demand by owners of the hot ocean racers.
In 1970, much to my surprise and delight, Frank asked me whether he could sail with me. His Father had died the same year, and maybe that was a reason for his decision to leave Hoi Phoon for cruising and pleasure sailing, but it was terrific to have one of Australia's premier yachtsmen in the crew. Although he no longer raced Hoi Phoon Frank and many of his friends regularly enjoyed a cruise on her with him and Jean during the Christmas holiday period - even a complete stranger could be told how to identify Hoi Phoon - "the yacht with two wooden masts and a bowsprit", but that didn't identify the internal comfort and friendly atmosphere.
"Before Frank" we had been a crowd of beginners mostly going along for the ride. Now we suddenly became a force to be reckoned with, winning races not only in our Club, but also being competitive in longer C.Y.C. races. One of our first triumphs was when we gained line honours in a Middle Harbour overnight race beating a number of larger yachts across the line, and this was followed by two victories in CYC Woollahra Cups and a Montague win.
We were in the Brisbane Race in 1972, a strong southerly pushing the fleet along and gained third placing. This was followed by the Gladstone Race which was hit by Cyclone Emily, more than half the fleet retiring on the first night. After the morning sked, I made the difficult decision that we should retire and seek a haven in Mooloolaba, a decision which had the support of all the crew except Frank, who accepted it with some reluctance. However, our retirement was greatly to the benefit of M.H.Y.C., as the support we received from Mooloolaba Yacht Club led to the transfer of the finishing line from Brisbane to Mooloolaba. It fell to Frank to let Q.C.Y.C. in Brisbane know that we should finish future races elsewhere, a matter that he handled so well that Q.C.Y.C. continued to donate a major trophy for many years.
In 1974 we decided to enter the Sydney to Noumea Race, a decision that we should not have made had Frank not been available. He had never been in a race exceeding 1,000 miles, probably the only new experience we were able to give him. The fleet was hit by a gale soon after the start, and Apollo and Helsal, the two largest yachts in the fleet retired with damage, but we kept going in conditions varying from rough to pleasant and came second on handicap. Frank had been looking forward to the cruise back to Sydney, but there was a telegram awaiting his arrival that his mother had died, so poor Frank was forced to fly home and miss that trip. It was particularly unfortunate for his old army cobber, Tiny Hunter who had flown from Hobart to join him on the ten to fourteen day trip, only to find that Frank had already flown back home. However, Tiny, good fellow that he is, joined three perfect strangers and was a tower of strength all the way.
Everyone who sailed with Frank profited by the experience. He never thrust his knowledge down your throat, but quietly showed how things should be done, and the result was that you were sailing and doing your best for him and trying to make him proud of us all. There was no question of paying him for his involvement, he always insisted on paying his share of the expenses and he was always surprised when we gave him some little personal trophy to commemorate a race that we had won largely because of his ability and enthusiasm.
Frank's practical ability was well-known. The 1976 Mooloolaba Race was sailed in a southerly gale, Helsal's time of 45hours, O minutes and 27seconds is still the race record after 18 years.
Frank and I were sailing Harmony and early on the first morning of the race a wave broke in the cockpit, the spray affecting our radio mounted below by the chart table. As a result we could not answer any further skeds, and no other yacht reported our position with a sighting. Knowing that there was concern about yachts that had not given their positions in the wild conditions that existed during the race I rang Vic English who was race director at M.H.Y.C. as soon as we finished to which he replied, "We weren't worried about Harmony, we knew that Frank would re-build the boat if necessary!"