Please select your home edition
Allen Brothers

Sabrettes sisterhood responsible for more women on the water

by Jarka Kluth 27 May 00:27 PDT

Although a one-design build, the Australian Sabre does not attract a 'one design' sailor with many women competing amongst its inclusive ranks, a group fondly identified as the 'Sabrettes'.

The Australian Sabre class has a long-standing history on the Australian sailing landscape, which continues to be shaped by the wide range of sailors attracted to the friendly class.

The Sabrettes hold their own in both the competitive and social undertakings of this iconic class.

The breadth of skill amongst the female Sabre sailors is as wide and deep as the reasons for joining the class and is part of their attraction to the Sabre.

But a group of women interviewed about their love of Sabre sailing unanimously agree that the "post racing chatter in the change room, friendships, support, encouragement and empathy" paint the picture of a very strong drawcard for females to the class.

Offering a solid platform for a wide range of sailors, Susannah Gillam says "the Sabre suits women as it has a relatively small sail and is very forgiving".

Lucy Townson, relatively new to the Sabre fleet with a background in keelboats, loves the Sabre's ease of sailing and tough competition.

While Fiona McCulloch, long time veteran of the class, finds the Sabre's cost effectiveness, reliability and the fact that it is easy to manage on her own, key considerations in her choice of dinghy.

In the context of single-handed sailing, it's a testament to the flexibility of the class to see women of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes, stepping into wetsuits, leaving their inhibitions, demands and cares back on the beach, as they head out onto the water to celebrate getting wet and pushing their limits.

There's "a sense of wildness or freedom on the water with every sail different from the last", as explained by Libby Moore from Somers Yacht Club, who started sailing at age 13.

With a strong internal push from the female participants around learning and improving, the Sabrettes can often be found at regattas, She Sails coaching events, along with a strong representation at Sabre training days eager to learn.

Camping at yacht clubs and bunking down together for regattas several times a year is part of the Sabrettes calendar, proving you are never too old for a sleep over, which serves to foster a unique spirit of camaraderie both on and off the water.

Lucy Townson was surprised when she joined the Sabre class and said she loved being a part of the Sabrettes.

"The Sabrettes are an added bonus I didn't expect, I'm at a stage in my life where the kids are off to Uni and it's lovely making new friends of my own," she said.

"The Sabrettes and the rest of the class welcomed me from the get-go."

The Sabrettes make up about 18 per cent of Victorian class membership and also appear strongly in other states, coming from far and wide to compete.

Some sailors have competed on the international stage, others have been on the sailing circuit since being introduced to it through family ties, while many have come from adult learn to sail programs at a local club.

Of all the rivers flowing into the class however, the Mississippi was not one of them. Nevertheless, Misha Myers has sailed into the class after growing up in inland Mississippi (USA) with a farming family and no notion of the sea.

Spending her adult life near the ocean she "longed to be on it in any way I could".

When her daughter joined the Helford River Sailing Trust school sailing program in Cornwall UK, Misha jumped at the opportunity to volunteer.

A big jump that eventually landed her in Australia on board a trial Sabre and eventually her own boat at Black Rock Yacht Club in Melbourne, where to the delight of the other Sabre sailors, she has stayed.

"The women Sabre sailors I've met and sail with regularly inspire me and they have said things to me that give me courage to just keep going even when it gets quite scary out there," Misha says.

"I've seen some heroic sailing in very rough conditions and received such insightful and empathetic coaching."

We'd be forgiven for thinking that such lovely sentiments indicate competition is left on the beach as seasoned Sabrettes confirm that it's just as important among the women as any domestic debrief that happens off the water.

The search for improvement, the challenge in difficulty and the desire to compete to their full potential sees healthy jostling on start lines, contributions to general recalls and a vibrant yelling of rights at mark roundings.

While fiercely competitive, the women remain acutely committed to supporting and helping each other.

"It's the community that makes the class," says Susannah Gillam.

"As a Sabrette, it seems there is always plenty of praise for the woman who wins the race, rights her boat, betters her last result or who is brave enough to battle a high breeze.

"The notion of 'a rising tide lifts all boats', flows strongly amongst this group and is a healthy representation of sisterhood in sailing."

Related Articles

Bridge over troubled waters
How Melbourne Sabre sailors are riding the second wave In a series of on again, off again COVID-19 restrictions since March, Melbourne Sabre sailors have found themselves stranded high and dry. Undeterred by the storm, the fleet has 're-written' the sailing instructions; rigging up new strategies Posted on 22 Sep
Development is critical, but must be calculated
Grassroots classes can succeed in a range of different ways When it comes to ongoing development and modification of grassroots classes, each case is different and there are so many factors that must come into account. Posted on 20 May
From Barcelona to Black Rock
Luis Mata's journey to Sabre sailing The Australian Sabre class continues to prove itself as one of the most accessible forms of sailing on offer, with the Victorian fleet recently bringing a land-loving Spaniard into its ranks and introducing him to the sport. Posted on 14 Apr
Sabre new sail evaluation process
Initial findings now published The Sabre class is re-evaluating its current sail plan to ensure the timeless class continues to withstand the test of time as one of Australia's most iconic single-handed dinghies. Posted on 6 Apr
Sabre WA State Championships
A record fleet of 30 Sabres at Perth Dinghy Sailing Club Only one race was sailed on Saturday due to the breeze dropping out for the afternoon session. Sunday was more promising with a light 10 knot breeze swinging wildly making the race officers job very difficult to set a course on Matilda Bay. Posted on 16 Mar
Australian Sabre Nationals day 4
Fluky conditions shake up the top of the table A race win to the previously fifth-placed Murray O'Brien has slingshot him into contention for the 2020 Sabre National Championship, as an uncharacteristically fluky day in Wallaroo shook things up at the top of the table. Posted on 10 Jan
Australian Sabre Nationals days 1 & 2
Alan Riley takes the early lead at Wallaroo SC Victorian Alan Riley, sailing Maybe Not, has jumped ahead of the pack after the first two days of championship racing at the 2020 Sabre Nationals at the Wallaroo Sailing Club in South Australia. Posted on 7 Jan
Never too old to sail
Terry Snr is now thinking of having a crack Terry Gaunt Snr, past Patron of the Maylands Yacht Club, has been mucking about in boats for as long as he can remember - and next week he can claim 86 years at Maylands - also his father, Wally Gaunt's home suburb Posted on 28 Nov 2019
Victorian Sabres get set for exciting season
A jam-packed schedule of competitive racing The Victorian Sabre fleet is set for an exciting season of sailing ahead, with a jam-packed schedule of competitive racing, which recently kicked off on the weekend of 31 August with the Sail Mordi Regatta at the Mordialloc Sailing Club. Posted on 13 Sep 2019
Perth Waters Coaching Regatta
Western Australia sends highly-regarded coaches to Perth The event is run by holding 10 short course races over the Saturday and Sunday. Races are held in the both the mornings and afternoons, this enables the competitors to get the opportunity to sail in the morning soft breezes. Posted on 14 Nov 2018
WASZP 2020 - Win the 1000th boat - FOOTERC-Tech 2020 Tubes 728x90 BOTTOMUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTER