Plain sailing - Townsville junior sailors are ready for the 57th SeaLink Sabot Nationals
A bumper fleet of sailboats is converging on Townsville for the 57th SeaLink Sabot Nationals, which runs from July 1st to July 8th on Cleveland Bay. Around 75 junior competitors and their families are expected in Townsville to compete in the week-long SeaLink Sabot Nationals. Young sailors from Townsville are ready to test their skills against the top sailors from around Australia. The event is being organising by the North Queensland Sabot Association (NQSA), in conjuction with the Townsville Sailing Club (TSC).
According to the Townsville Sailing Club, the sailors are hoping that a strong breeze will blow on Cleveland Bay, and “the event will be a great experience for the local sailors who will be competing against top-class sailors from other clubs”.
The President of the North Queensland Sabot Association Keiran Mathieu said, “The sabot is a one-sail dinghy and they are specifically designed as a beginner class, for children aged 7 to 16. They have been used by Australian Olympians and world champions, so they are great boats for learning how to sail. If you learn to sail a sabot at a young age, then you can sail just about anything. Sailing builds up resilience, for example if young kids capsize in strong winds, they have to be able to handle that and learn to be responsible for themselves out on the water”.
The Organising Committee is optimistic that COVID-19 won’t put a damper on the event: “We hope that all of the inter-state visitors can still attend the event: Families have booked accommodation and it is great for local business, particularly since it’s been a tough year for tourism as a result of COVID-19”.
Organising Committee members are grateful for the support shown by the local community, “We really appreciate the amount of support shown by the community, local business and Townsville council. A lot of hard work goes into organising an event like this, but it’s all worth it, particularly when you are a parent and see the next generation of sailors out on the water”.
According to a spokesperson from the Townsville Sailing Club, “During the sailing season, each Sunday, the Townsville Sailing Club holds races for the sabots and sailors of all ages and skills. Parents and volunteers help rig up, they move boats up and down the beach, drive the support boats out on the water, and provide instruction and support to all the sailors. We have a healthy membership and events like this keep the club going. Young sailors are the grass roots and lie at the heart of Townsville Sailing Club. We are hoping that people with an interest in sailing will come down to the club and enjoy the spectacle.”
Townsville Council is a key supporter of the event. Community Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability Committee chairperson Maurie Soars said supporting events like the 57th Sabot Nationals was crucial for encouraging young people to stay active and spend time outdoors.
“Council continues to provide support for major events like a national sailing competition because it is important to give our young people a chance to compete in events of this scale,” Cr Soars said.
“We want these competitions to come to our city and we want people to have a chance to succeed at home as it makes it more accessible for our community.
“Sailing is the perfect sport to host in Townsville with our amazing winter weather and smooth oceans and it’s fantastic that we’re able to host the Nationals after the COVID-19 pandemic put many of our sporting competitions on hold over the past year.
“I’d like to wish all the competitors good luck.”