I’ve always marvelled at yachts and sailing. To me there’s something beautiful about a bow cutting through a wave, a full sail under load or watching the sun drop into the ocean when you’re sat on anchor.
It’s a glamourous world full stop. Grotty Yachties or Yachtie Totty have the edge on us normal landlubbers. There’s an entirely new dictionary to learn to avoid being abreast, adrift or abeam…everyone knows you have to be aboard!
But sailing doesn’t have to be a experience reserved for the jetset alone, come on if I can do it anyone can. Last year I was lucky enough to live onboard a catamaran called Sunshine during the Best Expedition. Amongst all the glorious locations on offer along the Queensland coastline there are some absolute gems; perfect anchorages, marvellous marinas and of course the Great Barrier Reef as a back yard.
There’s loads of different ways to get involved and you don’t have to be Captain Cook to taste the spray of the ocean. If you’ve got a family with no experience at all then charter a bareboat in the Whitsundays complete with your very own skipper. Think of it as a floating hotel room with a changing view every day.
Have you sailed before? Maybe you want to be part of a crew at one of the race weeks on offer and feel the thrill of close-up on the water action. I did this during Hamilton Island Race Week and loved it onboard Spirit of the Maid, a 65ft ex-round the world racer…and then my finest sailing hour – with the crew of Wild Oats XI, a 100ft pure adrenalin racing machine designed for the Sydney to Hobart Race.
Or combine the two – Sunsail, based in the Whitsundays, offer complete boat charters during race weeks at both Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island. Soaking up the atmosphere of one of the events has to be experienced.
Yesterday I headed to Southport Yacht Club on the Gold Coast to launch this year’s Season of Sailing with Jessica Watson, the Aussie heroine who was the youngest person to sail around the world in 2010. Her motivation and love of the sport are clear to see and the young kids who came out on the water with us for a morning of sailing and photo-taking left inspired and smiling. In a few years time you’ll see them helming the big boats I’d say!
This year’s events are:
- Sail Paradise Gold Coast 21 – 25 March
- Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race 6 – 8 April
- Etchells Australasian Winter Championships 7 – 10 June
- Brisbane to Keppel Tropical Yacht Race 3 – 6 August
- Airlie Beach Race Week 10 – 16 August
- Hamilton Island Race Week 17 – 25 August
- Magnetic Island Race Week 30 August – 4 September
So take the personal challenge, satisfy that insatiable appetite you have for life, pick an event and get there to enjoy the best of sailing here in Queensland!