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by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 13 Feb 13:00 PST
Dragonforce 65 (DF65) Mini Me - Team AUS SailGP and Wild Oats XI © I. Woodforth

You know? It is all about really good things. In sailing, two of the best attributes have always been fun and participation. Some would argue that these may have slipped off of late, but perhaps, just perhaps, it is actually more about matching changes in time pressures with a suitable offering. Twilight racing around the cans is burgeoning at a lot of places, and it is Saturday fleet racing to a laid course that can often be found wanting.

So, when the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club recently sent through the tale about the Dragonforce 65 (DF65) fleet there, it, along with the 2.4mR story from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, very much sealed the deal on the theme contained herein.

I spoke with Phil Burgess about radio sailing, for I wondered if part of the attraction was not having spray on your face, or whether indeed it is part of what you're missing. I mean there are a lot of people with plenty of nautical miles under their belt getting involved here, and the sweeping majority still partake in big boat stuff. Clearly the lower than expected barrier to entry is a huge drawcard.

"The appeal is the fun, and we very much aim to keep it that way. If you look at the stats, we have 2000 members, and probably less than 10% race in State Championships and things like that. Clearly the vast majority just want to have fun. Probably 90% of our members still sail other craft, so this is all about regular, easy, convivial camaraderie," said Burgess.

"The other thing we focus on is sharing of information, so that when someone new comes on board we send them tuning guides and all manner of tips so that they can be right in there from the get-go. We have four rigs to choose from, and it is important to get it right, as it will help prevent going down the mine downhill, and also helps with tacking."

In talking with Burgess, it felt like it was a combination of old school 18-footer, SailGP, and especially the venerable days of F1, where tyre selection from slick to intermediate to full wet had massive impacts on the outcome. This sort of tactical play will no doubt add to the appeal, but for clubs on the upswing, they tend to keep it to one rig size early on and progress from there.

Apparently, going two slabs early (figuratively speaking) often wins the day. Equally, more sheltered waters will require less power, but then, open spaces may need grunt to deal with the slop. Always something to learn, eh?

It is not about trade secrets, as Burgess explains, "We also conduct mini workshops at the club, just to keep everybody up to speed, because the first thing that'll happen if they're annoyed is they'll put the boat on the shelf and won't go back. We encourage the fleet to be racing competitively, and it is always pretty even. Having people lagging behind just means you will suddenly find you have drop offs at the end."

"It's about encouraging everybody as much as possible to keep coming down and keep participating. The coffee meetings and lunches are all part of it too.

"Another of the things that we focus on is people's wellbeing. The impact of socialising with others helps your personal wellbeing. There's a big flow on effect from people joining and meeting up like this. We want to be sure this is not just a regular slog every week, so we try to mix it up as much as we can. FUN - it's the constant theme we work with all the time."

No one has a small package

Just ask the male sailors, right. Surely you can't go there?! Too late. I just did. For the KPMG Australia SailGP in Sydney, Step One, the enviro-friendly (bamboo - FSC® Certified), breathable and moisture wicking, quick drying, and chafe resistant underwear will be on board, literally, in each and every F50.

Best of all, the female sailors are being looked after too, and you'll notice there is no additional commentary here, other than to say the brand heeded and responded to the market, for the other 50% of the planet used to buy and use the male version before theirs arrived on the scene. Smart move Step One. Get some, as the ad used to say...

Categorically not a small package

And also most definitely a truly superlative vessel; the Oyster 100. Bill Barry-Cotter AM has just secured the Oyster 100 known formerly as Penelope, thence Thistle, and soon to join the Schumacher 54 and TP52 in the stable at Maritimo Racing.

Now resplendent in magnificent navy, so indeed the corporate script will have to be reversed out in white, the big girl is set to do some cruising first, and get back here to AUS from Newport, Rhode Island. She'll have a few tweaks made on the Gold Coast, and then literally, the world will be her, wait for it, oyster.

Expect some passage racing type affairs to be on the cards, possibly even the annual jaunt South to Ye Olde Hobart Town, and warmer excursion into the Whitsunday Islands to get the campaign swinging along in that swift, yet oh-so-refined manner commensurate with a vessel of this nature.

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 Sail-World.com

John Curnow
Editor, Sail World AUS

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