With a sea breeze and a mighty fine view, one of the best warm weather sports Australia has to offer is sailing. Often mistaken for a recreation reserved only for the wealthy, sailing is surprisingly accessible for everyone. Whether you’re looking for non-contact sporting option for kids, or just an excuse to get out on the water for a day, sailing can be as competitive or leisurely as you choose.
Professional sailor and owner of yacht sales agency Vicsail, Sydneysider Micah Lane has been sailing since he was eight years old. We caught up with him on dry land to find out how we can get involved with sailing this summer.
How did you get into the world of sailing?
I first started windsurfing at the age of 8 on Balmoral and Clontarf Beach in Sydney. Unfortunately there weren’t many other kids windsurfing, so when we moved to Watsons Bay I began sailing a Sabot. A Sabot is a small boat that looks like a box – not nearly as exciting as windsurfing. There were, however, dozens of kids sailing – both boys and girls – so this became the source of my Sunday fun for many years. I sailed Sabots and Flying 11s from that club, and went on and raced in state and national championships throughout the country.
What are some of the best things about sailing as a sport?
It’s a social sport. I made heaps of good friends who are still my best friends today, and they’re an entirely different circle to my school or work friends. Also, it’s an outdoor sport – so it’s a great way to enjoy the sun during summer rather than be locked away in a gym somewhere.
It’s also quite physical. You need to be fit to commit to competitive sailing, if you want to enjoy it and get out to win! It involves strategy, tactics, and teamwork, all in an ever-changing, dynamic environment. So even if you’re just wanting to go for a day of sailing non-competitively, be warned: there is a lot of running around, pulling ropes, and other things that will leave you a bit sore the next day. It’s all totally worth it though.
Five sailing terms everyone starting out should know?
I think the most important ones to know (if you’re been yelled at by the captain!) are the various places on the boat – which they don’t call the front or the back. It can be confusing, so:
1. Port: the left side of the boat
2. Starboard: the right side of the boat
3. Bow: the front of the boat
4. Stern: the back of the boat
5. Aargghh: generic pirate lingo
Best ways to get started?
If you’re young, go to a sailing school or club, and start off by sailing small dinghies like optimists or Sabots. If you’re older, head to your local sailing or yacht club and start crewing on board some boats. The other option is to head to a sailing school where you can sign up for day or coastal skipper courses, and even onto Yachtmaster qualifications. Something that most people don’t know about is the twilight racing during summer, which is open to everyone. Generally speaking, yacht owners are always keen to get new enthusiastic people on board for twilight racing (the evening races in summer) or weekend racing – so don’t be shy!
Top four sailing tips?
1. Enjoy yourself first and foremost.
2. Wear lots of sunscreen – the reflections off the water can mean a very burnt nose!
3. Be calm; take it slowly to be safe. Always follow protocol.
4. Beat the nearest competitor.
What is your favourite sailing memory?
My favourite competitive sailing memory is winning the 18ft skiff national championships in Sydney in 2008. From a sailor sense, cruising Istanbul on a brand new 76-footer last year. Mind blowing.
Whilst your first foray into sailing might not be in Istanbul, or winning trophies, there are plenty of great beginner options. Take advantage of the weather and get out and active!
For more information on sailing visit vicsail.com