DeckHardware, LIROS Ropes and the AST - Celebrating Ten Years of Partnership

Author: Australian Sailing Team   Date Posted:1 June 2020 

This year marks a decade of partnership between DeckHardware, LIROS Ropes and the Australian Sailing Team (AST).

Mal Page putting on the LIROS LogoThroughout that time the teams at DeckHardware and LIROS Ropes have been there to support the AST as they emerged to become one of the world’s most respected national sailing programs. 

Robyn and Philip Yeomans together with their daughter Mel run DeckHardware, a sailing and marine distribution business out of Brookvale NSW.

Robyn has worked at DeckHardware for over twenty five years including for the previous owners.  She grew up sailing at Middle Harbour Yacht Club in Sydney racing both in-shore and offshore.  “We all sail, it is in our blood,” Robyn said.  “Mel is a third generation sailor”

Mel joined the business nine years after her mum.  She sailed many of the same classes as her parents and competed with many of Australia’s top Olympic sailors.  “For her to be part of the company it was one of those things that was just going to happen,” Robyn said.

Philip grew up sailing on Pittwater, north of Sydney, racing dinghies and keelboats.  Phil is well known in the industry for his knowledge of boats, having built several classes and has a freaky ability to recognise boats and designs.  Phil is a National Race Official and has a blog that he regularly posts on.

Sailing sponsorship also runs in their blood as Robyn’s Father, John Dibble, worked on the Tip Top bread sponsorship for Australia’s America’s Cup boats in the 70s and 80s.  “There is a big history there with sailing.  We still have two spinnakers with Tip Top on them from the America’s Cup. It is what we love doing with a company like this.”

In 2006 the Yeomans purchased DeckHardware and brought Philip into the business.  To help finance the purchase they sold Mel’s beloved Adams 10.

“We saw its potential to be a promising business.  All these years down the track it is paying off.  We represent 14 different companies,” Robyn said.  “All good quality sailing equipment.”

DeckHardware’s partnership with the AST began through a childhood sailing relationship.  “Mel had sailed with Nathan Wilmot in Manly Juniors at Middle Harbour Yacht Club. He was Mel’s first ever skipper,” Robyn said.  “Nathan Wilmot and Nathan Outteridge came in and asked if we wanted to sponsor the team.  We spoke with LIROS Ropes and agreed to co-sponsor as their distributor.”

Tip Top flag flying on the Family yacht

“We get feedback from some of the sailors which has been great and LIROS have developed ropes for them.  Whenever they come in it’s great to chat.  It’s been great to get new products developed because of it.”

During the Rio Olympics Mel worked closely with the Channel 7 to stream the medal races live at the Olympians’ home clubs.  Mel spoke to every sailor she knew to “rent-a-crowd” to make sure there was a huge buzz around the sailing events. 

The partnership has been a passion project for the Yeomans.  “We sponsor the team because of how much we love sailing and we have done it from the heart,” Robyn said.

DeckHardware also enjoy supporting grass roots sailing.  Recently they have sponsored the Nationals for the Flying 11s and the Aussie Skiffs 13 & 16 foot skiffs.

“My dad was also big part of the 16’s & 18’s and if he was still around he would be loving it,” Robyn said.  “Some of the boys from those fleets were working for us part-time before COVID-19 hit.”

The marine industry has certainly had its ups and downs in recent years.  The Global Financial Crisis hit the industry hard and now COVID-19 is also having an impact.

“The Australian dollar is a very challenging thing.  Being able to hold enough stock because of that and having enough brands to support the three of us can be tough,” Robyn said.  “The best way people can support us right now is by supporting their local chandleries and industry such as riggers and sailmakers.  We are a distributor and we supply stock to the industry.”

“It is great to see what we have done as a family growing the business.  It has been hard work.  We hope to continue to grow DeckHardware and support classes, state and national titles.  Even though we are a very small company we do what we can to represent sailing.  It is our aim to support and promote Australian sailing.”