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Commanding the stage

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 16 Jul 2023 23:00 BST

Did someone say about time?

Must have...

Could not help noticing that the impending Sydney International Boat Show (3-6 August at Darling Harbour) has a dedicated Discover Sailing and Paddling Hub, and our friend Nic Douglass is conducting one-on-one interviews during the course of proceedings, as well as hosting demonstrations and competitions.

During a recent chat with Nic it was easy to establish just how keen she is to get the word out. Her ever-present enthusiasm was dialled up to 11, so I knew it had to be good.

There's a bit of a line up to the whole thing as well, with Lisa Blair, Nina Curtis, possibly North Sails Australia supremo Mark Bradford, Xavier Doerr, and the maybe even the demi-God, Australia's greatest ever sailing Olympian, Mat Belcher, are all in the mix.

So there's a good name drop and we haven't even stopped yet for a breath. Young Queenslander Addy Newland has completed races on Maritimo 11, and is eyeing off the Brisbane games in 2032 as a tilt at an Olympic title. She's going to be showing people how easy it is to get started with this sailing caper.

You just can't miss it - the Sailing and Paddling Hub is right out the front of the ICC around the sunken fountain adjacent to Darling Harbour itself. The in the main foyer of the show itself there'll be a plethora of Junior Classes on static display and even face painting to get everyone inspired.

Go anywhere it seems and there'll be winging. And why not? Easy to stow and pack in the car, and foiling is well, foiling. So get amongst it! There will be demos all day in the Hub, and also on the stage.

Speaking of demos, O'pen Skiffs will have sailing demonstrations in the Darling Harbour Pond, right near the stage each day at 12:30. That would have to be some super shifty breeze in there, so it will be as informative as it will be entertaining. There are also rigging demonstrations across a number of classes right throughout the day, which is bound to help demystify things for the uninitiated and pro alike.

Want more? We can help. Hovering right nearby are a range of vessels from flyers to learners and accessibility. The famous 18ft Skiff headlines them all, and there are also VX One, 12ft skiff, Cherub, Flying 11, Sabot, OK Dinghy, Optimist/Tackers, and Sailability all to discover and explore to see just where you want to go with the pastime that can take you from child to octogenarian, and even higher.

This would have to be one of the best ways to see how easy it can be to take up sailing, and it is not just about off the beach, with club racing, cruising, ocean racing and passagemaking all to be featured.

Keen to compete already? Well North Sails are sponsoring the 'pack-a-spinnaker' comp, so you had better hope this is more like a bag from an Elliott (or even better yet a handkerchief from a Mirror), and a lot less like a 1000m2 from a supermaxi. This is bound to thrill and delight all over the course of the show, and is probably going to be a hit on Instagram, too.

There is some great gear up for grabs with this, including a substantial North Sails Apparel voucher as the major prize. So you'll definitely be able to look the part moving forward...

Talking of prizes, on the table are not one but two double passes for spots on a Sydney to Hobart fully-catered spectator vessel to be in amongst it for the start of the 2023 pilgrimage to ye olde town on the River Derwent. This is for people who sign up to the Discover Sailing Programme during the show, and you can even QR scan if that's your thing. Thank you to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia for providing this very special incentive.

Douglass herself has put a lot into this, and said, "I'm super excited to have so many parts of the whole community all pulling together to make this come alive. We are making it all about the grassroots and then up, so that people can see how they can get involved, no matter their experience level or where they live, sailing is a sport for all."

"There will be Cherubs, 12 and 18 foot skiffs, as well as a VX One that will all be rigged and de-rigged right there at the Hub, so that people can get a real understanding of exactly what occurs behind the scene. It is also important to note that all of the helpers are actually part of the youth sailing scene. We are so very thrilled to have them and exceptionally grateful for their efforts.

"Winging will be featured on stage and also the big screen behind the stage will have live footage to back up each and every speaker on hand or demonstration that is occurring."

"A highlight for me is that on Saturday at 4pm we'll have the Women on Water segment. The legend that is Lisa Blair will be part of it to look at some of the records she already has, as well as upcoming attempts to circumnavigate New Zealand and also the Arctic. This will be amazing.

"Nina Curtis, who is a crewmember on Team AUS in SailGP is also on the panel, and by then we should have a bit more of an idea about the make up of the squad for the Team Australia Challenge Youth and Women's America's Cup crews."

Douglass closed by reminding people that, "Tickets to the show are still 'earlybird' at the moment, and so pretty affordable!"

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's websites for you. Simply use the search field, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top on the right of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into

John Curnow
Editor, Sail World AUS

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