Discovering sailing

Liz Bell

AS a child, I regularly dreamt of flying.

I remember the sense of freedom that came from wide open spaces, the wind as my friend and adventure and exploration my mission.

I rediscovered that sensation recently through sailing, and with it a whole new peace and calm that comes from being part of the natural world, the water, and the energy of nature.

Just like Christopher Cross, the wind was right and I found my tranquility on Saturday.

But even better, it was just down the road at Loch Sport.

Although many sailing enthusiasts are lifetime devotees, it is never too late to enjoy the serenity of gliding with the wind, to feel the lift of the boat as you slice through the water.

It might have taken me half a lifetime to reconnect with that flying feeling, but sailing came as close to that feeling of liberation as I can imagine.

And what better place to ‘fly’ on water than the beautiful, (mostly) gentle expanse of Lake Wellington.

Like some other boat clubs around the shire, and there are quite a few, Loch Sport Boat Club runs Saturday morning introductory sessions, heartily embracing newcomers keen to join or just experience the joys of sailing for themselves.

So, with that knowledge, off I went to see for myself what I had heard from sailing friends for years – that the sailing life is a whole new world of challenges, friendships, camaraderie and excitement – and it’s highly addictive.

When my partner and I arrived at the club we were all signed up and our previous sailing knowledge and experience was gauged, before we were fitted with life jackets and shown how to rig the boat – a user-friendly Corsair dinghy that is often the yacht of choice for learners.

Our personal instructor, Angus, talked us through rigging the sails, and gave us a run-down on sailing skills to give us the seamanship and confidence to enjoy the ride.

Over an hour or so, with our instructor at the tiller steering the yacht and explaining the physics of sailing, we learned the basics of boat handling, the mechanics of wind in the sails and how to move through the water by gybing and tacking.

It was hands-on, exhilarating, challenging and energising, but most of all, fun, as we learned how to make the yacht do our bidding.

The lake was dotted with other people sailing, learning, motor boating and kayaking, and it was a true family affair that saw young children, mums and dads, and seasoned sailers enjoying the magnificent weather and calm conditions.

Club Vice-Commodore Greg McNeil, who runs the Saturday morning sailing program, said instruction may not be offered every weekend, depending on the availability of volunteers, participants and weather, but was a core part of the club’s offerings to the community.

All I can say is we’ll be back.

For more information about sailing at Loch Sport Boat Club, phone Mr McNeil on 0407 833 933.