The free ladies training weekend held the South Lake Macquarie Amateur Sailing Club at Sunshine on Lake Macquarie in New South Wales on 17 and 18 September proved to be a highly successful, motivating and fun experience for participants and instructors alike.
In sunshine at Sunshine, 20 ladies took to the water. With 6-10 knots of breeze, conditions were light for both days.
Former Olympian and NSW Emerging Talent Squad Coach Laura Baldwin along with Alex South (2010 Laser Radial Australian Youth and NSW champion and Australian Sailing Squad member), Gabrielle King (two times Laser Radial Youth World Champion).
Laura said ‘We tried to cover large areas of the sport. On Saturday we did a lot of land drills and we managed two on-water sessions each day after the wind filled in.
'We had eight boats ready to sail for the Beginners group and I looked after them on Saturday. Four local Sunshine Laser sailors took the group, two-up initially, out onto the water and by the end of the day the girls were proud to be sailing with confidence.’
'We had two intermediate groups and in the afternoon they were racing.'
Laura continued ‘Just having girls in the squad was great; we had fewer disruptions and no distractions from boys.’
On Sunday Laura ran the Laser 4.7 squad, on the lookout for potential talent in the F11 and Sabot escapees.
And how did instructor Baldwin think the weekend went?
'Remarkably smoothly. Everyone had a good time, made new friends and learned new skills.
‘There are a number of young girls transitioning from other dinghy classes and I was really pleased to see their potential.
Alexandra South (AUS) - K. Matsumoto 09 Karastsu Radial Worlds
'Alex and Gabrielle told their stories and they were highly motivating.
'We are just pleased to get more girls and ladies sailing, no matter what their age. This weekend we had girls from 13 to 61 years; from 16 and under to some in their 20's and eight ladies who were 35 plus Masters.'
The event was an obvious success from both sides…
Glenys, the mother of one of the girls Kate McDonald commented ‘A wonderful weekend of sailing. Preparation, presentation, and facilitation was faultless.
‘From the three page program and personal introductions, through classroom theory and actual sailing on the water, I couldn't help but notice how engaged the 'girls' were.
‘From fifty-something Marilynne who will now embark on Learn-To-Sail lessons, to the teenage Kimberley, Alison, Ashley, Sam and Kate, who were just buzzing from the experience.
‘Such engagement is a credit to Laura, Gabrielle and Alex because they are not just Olympic and world class sailors, and as such, fabulous role models for the girls, but charming and knowledgeable coaches willing to share that knowledge and experience to help other 'young ladies' become high achieving Laser sailors.
‘In her five years of competitive sailing, it is the best sail training class that Kate has attended.’
At then at the end of the weekend the big question was ‘When is the next one?’
The answer – early in 2012.
Thanks go to the sponsors; Yachting NSW and NSW and ACT Laser Class Association who funded the coaching, Yachting NSW for sponsoring BBQ’s on both days and to the New South Wales Institute of Sport for providing an extra coach boat.
South Lake Macquarie Amateur Sailing Club at Sunshine provided the catering, set up the Club projector and arranged the young male Laser squad, who were a great help in taking the beginners out for their first sail. The Club is also to be thanked for being great overall hosts.
Performance Sailcraft Asia Pacific provided the boats and Michael Mills helped with equipment requirements and problems.