by Sue Neales
The 49th Sabot Australian national title will kick off the week-long competition Saturday, Dec. 29, at Royal Brighton Yacht Club.
49th Sabot National Championship
We have more than 150 junior sailors, most aged aged 8-13, sailing little 12- foot long, single sail sabot dinghies.
Six state teams of 12 solo young sailors 11yo + will compete for the national title over 10 afternoon races held between Sunday and next Friday, jan 4. There are also races for even younger kids, competing for the junior 2-up title, and races every morning for family members not in their state teams.
The story is really one about contrast with the expensive, hi-tech yachting world of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
This is sailing accessible to anyone. Little sabot boats have just one sail, are easily rigged, can fit on a car roof rack or in a box trailer and second hand cost less than $1000. But they are also a high performance sailing boat, largely developed and sailed in Australia for more than 50 years.
Sabots are also the training ground of the next generation of Australian yachtsmen and women. Every gold medal winner for Australia in yachting at the London Olympics this year - Tom Slingsby, Nathan Outridge etc - started out in little sabots.
Tomorrow afternoon is the spectacular Invitation Race, where all 101 little sabots and 130 kids will sail against each other on a single start off Royal Brighton Yacht club, heralding the start of the 49th sabot nationals.