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Sailboat season is starting

Four boats from Nedlands Yacht Club on a picnic cruise to Carnac Island.

Four boats from Nedlands Yacht Club on a picnic cruise to Carnac Island.

Kayt Davies

Kayt Davies

Four boats from Nedlands Yacht Club on a picnic cruise to Carnac Island.

Oliver Pomeroy and Kayt Davies, ECU Reporter

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If you’ve ever looked out on the bright sails on the Swan River on a sunny day and wondered who is sailing them, how they got to be out there, and maybe even whether you could join them, then now is a good time of year to convert that wondering into more serious contemplation.

Throughout September and October many of the WA yacht clubs are offering complete strangers to the sport a chance to go sailing for free, on their Discover Sailing days.

Rear Commodore of Nedlands Yacht Club, Peter Twiby, said: “It is a great opportunity for anyone who is curious about sailing to have a go. It’s obligation and cost-free and you get to meet people who are welcoming and keen to help new sailors get started.”

According to Australian Sailing, these days give members of the public the option to go out for a short sail with an experienced sailor, to have a look around the club facilities and to find out how fun, accessible and affordable sailing is.

There are 25 yacht clubs in WA and the ones that run a series of races over summer are starting to gear up for it. These clubs are effectively sport clubs, no different to a local football team. They centre on the use and upkeep of yachts and other sailboats.

Yacht races range from Tackers competitions, for 7 to 12-year-olds in tiny boats, to ocean races with yachts as big as the ones in the Sydney to Hobart race.

There are 10 WA clubs offering intro courses for Tackers over September and October, many of them as school holiday activities. There’s a list of them here.

Australian Sailing is the national sporting association for sailing and its Discover Sailing centres are based in yacht clubs around the country and offer accredited training. The activity finder on the association’s website makes it possible to find a course near you, for your skill level, and for the kind of boat you are interested in sailing. Many of the clubs have fleets of boats for this kind of training, so you don’t need a boat before you start.

The activity finder also provides information under ‘crewing opportunities’ for places you can go to get into racing as a crew member if you don’t have a boat, and many don’t require any experience either, as you will get plenty of it on board.

But sailing is not only a competitive sport. Sailing is also a leisure activity that can be enjoyed alone or with friends and family, and many yacht clubs have cruising-in-company and other social activities.

At first glance, sailing may seem like an expensive hobby, saved only for the rich and privileged. In truth, second hand boats are not that expensive. You can pick up a second hand dingy (like a Heron or an Optimist) for a couple of hundred dollars and a small yacht (like a Red Jacket or a Red Witch) for $2000 to $3000.

October marks the start of the official sailing season, with races being held in various clubs around Perth. This is not to say sailing is a strictly seasonal activity; but it is the more favourable weather that is the biggest upshot of a summer start.

The free of charge Discover Sailing days coming up soon include:

  • Nedlands Yacht Club, on Saturday  September 23, from 9am for two hours, for people aged seven and up.
  • Claremont Yacht Club, on Sunday, October 1, from 10am for four hours, for people aged five and up.
  • Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club, on Saturday, October 21, from 9am for one hour, for people aged seven and up.
  • Hillarys Yacht Club, on Sunday, October 22, from 9am for one or four hours, for people aged three and up.



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Sailboat season is starting