BY HELEN HENNESSY
Do you own a yacht but have never considered racing? Maybe it is time to try!
There are many cruising boats in Manly Harbour that never go racing. There are good reasons for the owners to reconsider this.
Racing improves your sailing. Anyone can sail a boat in calm weather, but safely managing changing conditions is a thing you learn when racing.
When you race you can compare your performance with those around you. If you see a similar boat going faster than you, you begin to think about what that crew is doing differently. Trim your sails in a similar way and, hey presto, you start to go quicker. And who doesn’t want to get to an anchorage faster when on a long cruise?
Over time you are forced to tackle different weather conditions in races and again learn from your fellow competitors. The racing community is wonderful at sharing ideas and explaining the reasons behind decisions. You just have to be prepared to listen and learn.
Start racing in conditions that you feel you can handle and gain confidence. Start with white sails and then learn to fly a spinnaker. The race will push you but you can choose whether to go on the water on any given day or not.
In Manly there are a range of races in which you can participate. You can start racing on short courses like WAGS (run on Wednesday afternoons by Royal Queensland) and SAGS (run on Sunday afternoon by Wynnum Manly Sailing Club) or slightly longer courses as run once a month by the Manly Combined Clubs. More information about all these races can be found on relevant websites or Facebook pages.
When you have some experience and gain confidence you may also like to participate in some of the much longer events but this is entirely up to the boat owner. Fellow racers will be keen to talk about the events in after-race debriefs at the bar. You may be invited to crew in one of the longer events on a bigger boat.
Cost may also be a factor. To participate in the shorter events you need a category 5 audit which the clubs can help you to organise. This audit ensures you have basic safely equipment – a good check for any cruiser. You will pay an entry fee to cover the costs of running the race and your crew will need Australian Sailing numbers which also provides them with insurance.
Why not have a try and meet some new people who also love sailing?
Manly local Helen Hennessy is a keen sailor who competes regularly in races on Moreton Bay.