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Tom’s Million-Dollar Initiative for Yacht Clubs
Jessica Watson
Posted August 31 2017

At committee meetings and yacht club bars across the country — and no doubt around the world —there’s a debate that appears to play on repeat: how do clubs boost participation in sailing and grow fleet racing? While the debate rages on, one man has jumped right in and is offering a million-dollar solution.

Tom Pearce grew up sailing dinghies in the UK, but after retiring he made the move out to Australia. Restlessly cheerful and passionate about grassroots sailing, Tom now spends his time volunteering with various sailing charities and importing RS sailing dinghies through his company Sailing Raceboats.

Through Sailing Raceboats, Tom has already helped out a number of clubs with discounts and interest-free payments, and is constantly looking for ingenious ways to help clubs build up their training fleets. But his latest initiative is on a much grander scale. Tom is offering a million-dollar subsidy to allow not-for-profit sailing clubs to receive two boats for the price of one, therefore instantly creating the beginnings of a fleet.

‘There’s still a perception that sailing is a bit elitist, and the high-performance sailing gets all the attention’ says Tom. ‘We want to make it easy to get newcomers into the sport, to have fun on the water and to get them trained up. Discover Sailing and other similar programmes have been successful, but more can be done to get families regularly participating in club events.’

There are two different boats on offer under the scheme: the RS Feva, which is the highest selling double-handed youth dinghy worldwide; and the RS Quest, another double-handed dinghy, well-suited to adults and training. Both boats are designed to be easy to maintain, robust and affordable, and their global popularity is an indication that they are also likely to become increasingly popular here.

Tom’s personal goal is to see 50 new RS Fevers and Quests in Australia before Christmas. Australian Sailing is supporting the initiative, and so far Tom is well on track to meet that goal with strong interest from clubs as far afield as the Whitsundays and King Island. 

Interested clubs can find all the relevant details and an expression of interest form here.

9 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
Announcing the 2017 Gathering on the Bay event
Mike McKiernan
Posted February 7 2017

On behalf of Women Who Sail Australia, is proud to present the 2nd annual ‘Gathering on the Bay’ in the boating paradise of Port Stephens.

Port Stephens will again play host to female sailors coming from all over Australia who will be treated to 17 seminar presentations over two days, sharing advice and knowledge on a range of topics.

On Saturday evening starting at 6pm, there will be a social dinner event that is open to the broader boating community. This coincides with an expert discussion panel of four special guests – Lin Pardey (USA), Mel Yeomans, Liesl Tesch and Jackie Parry.

Proceeds from seminar tickets will be donated to two important non-profit organisations – Sailors With Disabilities and Volunteer Marine Rescue.

Tickets are selling fast, so to book your place at the seminars (Women Who Sail members only) or the dinner (open to all), click the link below.


19 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan
The storm tactics every sailor should be familiar with
Jessica Watson
Posted April 4 2017

Storm tactics for yachts at sea is a complex topic. Mother Nature never gives us quite the same scenario, very few boats are the same, and every crew has different capabilities. There’s no silver-bullet solution.

There are also many conflicting opinions on the merits of different storm tactics, and while the different logic and many myths can be confusing, every serious ocean sailor has to navigate the misinformation and make their own decisions.

Only you know your unique situation, and such serious choices can only be made by the person set to face the storm at sea. Here’s an overview of common tactics to get you started.


Heaving-to is a traditional piece of seamanship that stalls a yacht approximately 45 degrees off the wind. The manoeuvre is used to calm a boat’s motion and allow the crew to rest. Theory suggests that with the jib backed (sheeted to windward), some main sheeted on and the rudder hard to windward, a yacht should drift gently sideways. However, many sailors find that yachts without traditional long keels take some trimming to achieve the desired gentle drift in heavy weather.

Bluewater Sailing cover heaving-to in detail here and this video offers a handy demonstration. 

Lying ahull

Lying ahull is achieved simply by dropping all sail and letting the yacht drift beam on to the wind and waves, with the rudder secured amidships. Full-keeled yachts are often reported to handle this position well. But many sailors consider this tactic to be ineffective, with some suggesting that the approach only heightens the risk of knockdowns.

Sea parachutes

Also known as a para-anchor, this large cloth parachute is deployed from the bow. Considered a good tactic when sea room is lacking, the sea parachute is intended to calm the boat’s motion while drifting backwards. However, many sailors have reported that yachts yaw and sail forward with the sea parachute deployed. Drifting backwards may also raise the likelihood of rudder damage and put crew members in danger as they work on the foredeck.

The third edition of Lin and Larry Pardey’s Storm Tactics Handbook covers the use of sea parachutes in great detail.


Drogues are parachutes, usually smaller than sea parachutes, which are deployed from the stern. Designed to keep the yacht perpendicular to the waves, a small amount of sail is usually flown to keep the yacht moving forward at a slow speed.

In the eighties, the US Coast Guard undertook extensive research into storm tactics, and as a result of that research, a drogue known as the series drogue was developed. As the name would suggest, the series drogue features small cones on a long line rather than a single, bigger chute.

While the series drogue promises to hold a yacht in even the most dangerous breaking waves, the small cones can also make it difficult to handle. You can read the US Coast Guard report that advocates for the use of the series drogue here.

Depending on the severity of conditions or in the absence of a drogue, streaming long lines from the back of the boat is another popular tactic used to control speed and keep the stern to the waves. Knots are often tied in the line, or a weight is joined to the end to add friction.

Running with the waves

The preferred tactic for many modern light racing yachts is to run with the waves rather than focusing on slowing the boat. Racing crews with skilled helmsmen/women aim to dodge dangerous breaking waves and position the boat carefully on the face of steep waves.

North Sails provide a few tips for sailing in storm conditions in this post, but there are few sailors who could be considered experts at helming in dangerous seas. This tactic can also leave the helmsperson in a dangerous position on deck, and quickly fatigue the crew.

Of course, deciding on, setting up and practising your chosen storm tactic is only a small part of storm preparation. The entire boat needs to be assessed end to end and readied for snatching wind, sweeping waves and violent motion. Amongst many other things, lockers and even floorboards may need to be secured, and waves prevented from forcing their way up the engine exhaust.

There are plenty of great books that cover storm tactics in further detail, and Yachting Monthly share great advice from experienced cruising sailors in this article.

What storm tactics have you used? Did they work for you? I’d love to hear your experiences and recommendations.

7 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
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