BLAIRGOWRIE YACHT SQUADRON
Ideal for beginners and experienced sailors of all ages.
The Pacer is a 3.8m fibreglass one design family dinghy. It’s an ideal family yacht with its lightweight hull, relatively modest sail area for its size, wide beam and spinnaker providing manageable and exciting sailing. It’s safe, stable and one of the most attractive yachts on the water.
Single handed sailing for everyone from 14 to 80 in age and from 45 to 95kg.
The Sabre is one of Australia’s most popular single handed racing dinghies. At 3.7m in length, it is amazingly light-weight, with a minimum hull weight of just 41kg. It is easily launched and sailed single-handedly (most boats use a beach trolley for easy storage, rigging and launching). They are a comfortable boat to sail, with their deep cockpits and rounded side tanks (this is a boat you sit in, not on) and offer lively performance in downwind planing conditions.
The Sabre, with its hard chines, was designed for Port Phillip Bay and its signature ‘chop’, and this makes for greater stability, and a boat that rides waves and responds well. The Sabres can be built in plywood, fibreglass, or fibreglass with plywood decks. They can be home built in plywood, professionally built and home painted and fitted-out; or fully professionally built. It is a ‘one-design’ class, with a series of measurement rules that ensure that one Sabre is the same as all the rest. The Sabres are an Australian class, with a very active class association and some 2100 have been built so far.
At BYS, the Sabre represents our biggest racing fleet. We have some of them taking part in some races. In fact, not only does that make Sabres a big class at Blairgowrie, we are also the biggest Sabre club in Australia.
The Sabre is not an Olympic class, and the less serious nature of the racing and the sailors reflects this. The Sabre class therefore appeals to the 99% of sailors who aren’t aspiring to the Olympics! It is often noted that other key points in the Sabre’s favour are that it does not require as much crew weight, strength or stamina as the Laser. Additionally, Sabre sailors are not as prone to lower back problems due to more upright position when hiking which make them a favourite of teenagers.
The Sabre over the years has proved to be a great boat for teenagers making their first move out of training classes like Minnows or Sabots once they reach say 50kg. (And past Blairgowrie juniors like Wayne Bates, Peter Wilson and Adrian Kamer all had huge success in the class as teenagers). It’s also a great women’s boat – as illustrated by the success that many women have enjoyed in recent years. As with teenagers, it is a boat that isn’t going to over-power you.
So why is the Sabre racing at Blairgowrie so good, and why do we enjoy it so much? There are quite a few factors that make all the difference when it comes to providing great sail racing. We are a one-design class where it is the skill of the skipper that is the deciding factor. In turn, we sail as our own class, rather than in mixed-class fleets. This means that we enjoy great, close racing. Don’t under-estimate how enjoyable it is to participate in racing where you find yourself within a couple of boat lengths of other boats right around the course! We offer amongst the biggest fleet sizes in Australia – with 80+ boats regularly taking part in Victorian championships.
Races are a mixture of ‘scratch’ and handicap – with the latter providing a means by which up & coming sailors can get some recognition for their achievements.
Never raced before ? We all started sometime – give it a try! There is a broad range of experience across the fleet, and you’ll always find yourself competing against boats no matter what your standard. And, we’re a friendly bunch – sailors socialise well before and after the race.
There is a major junior sail training program at the club between December and February each year – catering for the larger Sabres & Lasers alongside the Minnow class.
Most people start out with a second hand boat. Prices start at around $2,000 for a boat with a lot of miles on the speedo, and climb to around $12,000 or more for a ‘late-model’ boat. A great place to be looking for boats is the Sabre Association website and ask around the current sabre sailors who may know of boats coming onto the market..
For new Sabres, you have lots of options. The Sabre website also lists the contact details of 5 different builders of new plywood and fibreglass boats. These can be supplied as hull only, or all the way to ‘ready to sail’ complete with trailer and beach trolley. We’ve got a number of examples of these at Blairgowrie, built by YMS in Adelaide or Martin Sly of Victoria. Have a look at these around the club if you are interested.
To learn more, why not come and have a chat with some Sabre sailors at BYS on race day morning or contact the sailing office and we can put you in touch with our Sabre class representative.
Learn more about Sabres
With its distinctive blue sail, the Minnow is an 8 foot long dinghy, with a minimum hull weight of 20kg, sailed by one person. The class has a series of measurement rules to ensure it is a ‘one-design’ class. The hull features 3 separate buoyancy tanks giving the twin advantage of a cockpit that doesn’t completely fill with water after a capsize, and providing a nice comfy side for sitting on. The class rules also prevent the use of exotic (read expensive) materials like carbon fibre hulls, kevlar sails, and tapered masts. All hail the blue sail !!
Most kids are ready to start sailing by themselves in training once they turn 8 years of age. That should see the start of a period that can easily extend to the age of 13 or so – by which time they’ll just be getting too big to fit in the boat. Some kids stay in the class up to the age of 16, if they don’t get too big. Some parents may ask if 8 years is too young to be going out in a boat single-handed?
A whole generation of kids at BYS who have started their sailing careers in Minnows at this age and we provide a monitored, safe environment every step of the way.
Blairgowrie offers a large sail training program for our juniors.
- It is broken down into 5 different groups reflecting the different levels of experience. The minimum age is 8 (as at November each year).
- Training happens on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings in January, and on Sunday mornings in November, December and February. During this time, those beginning will learn to rig their boats, to sail them in the sheltered waters between the shore and the moored boats, and to right their boats after a capsize. By the end of their summer, one of the special occasions is their first sail down to Rye. Parents are strongly encouraged to be part of the training program.
- Beyond the beginner group, the kids are taught more advanced levels of boat control, and to sail in strong wind conditions. They will also enjoy their first introduction to racing. For all groups, the sail training is conducted by experienced and qualified members of the club, and the boats are overseen by plenty of club rescue boats.
We find that some of our juniors are ready to enter our club races after just a year in the sail training – and there are very few who won’t be confident to try their first race after 2 years.
The Minnow racing is set up specially for our younger sailors with their own marks, and shorter “course legs” making racing easier and more accessible and a great introduction to racing.
For many, the first race will seem a bit scary. Don’t worry! Ask one of the other Minnow parents or sailors to explain the courses, flags and starting/finishing procedures if you’d like a helping hand. Pick a day when it’s not forecast to blow too hard, and perhaps set a goal of at least getting through the start-line and up the first leg.
With Sorrento and Blairgowrie being the biggest Minnow clubs in Australia, you’re in the right spot for buying one. There are 3 main avenues for buying a second hand Minnow. Firstly, look at the notice boards at Blairgowrie and Sorrento. Next, go to the Minnow class website at www.minnow.org.au – where there is a ‘for sale’ section.
Second hand boats suitable for starting out training typically start at around $800. For a top racing boat , the prices come in at around $3,500. You can of course get a brand new one, with them being built by several professional boat-builders – or they can be built at home. Most of the earlier Minnows are made of plywood, although many newer ones can be bought with fibreglass hulls. Minnows retain their value well, and many people find themselves ‘trading up’ after their kids have completed their first year or two in the class.
There is a very active Minnow class association in Victoria. Highlights of the year include the National championship – which Blairgowrie last hosted in March 2021.
With the main fleets in Parkdale, Rye, McCrae and Williamstown in Victoria, Lake Cootharaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Rockingham near Perth and Darwin – the national championship moves around Australia. These championships cater for all levels, and are a great event for kids and parents alike. Separate fleets for Novices and the experienced kids; trophies galore, and lots of sponsor’s giveaways.
The Australian designed Contenders can be sailed single-handed and are very popular. While physical fitness, agility and strength are rewarded, good sailing skills and experience can count for more.
The Contender fleet at BYS has grown quickly from one to now having over 20 Contenders registered and actively sailing, making it the largest fleet of Contenders in Australia!
Over the last couple of years we have seen 5 brand new Bonnezzi Contenders arrive from Italy to boost our numbers. The Contender has been instrumental in giving our youth sailors a great challenge after moving on from Lasers.
BYS Contender sailors have recently competed in World championships all over the world with recent Worlds in USA, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy & UK.
To learn more, why not come and have a chat with some Contender sailors at BYS on a race day morning, or contact the sailing office and we can put you in touch with our Contender class representative.
303 ACCESS DINGHY
The 303 Access Dinghy is a great boat if you’re new to sailing with an instructor sitting alongside you showing you how to do it. It is a rewarding sail for people with limited mobility or for people with a disability who can sailsSolo or with help. It’s a great way to be part of everything that makes sailing at BYS something special.
It’s also a stable boat, making it ideal to learn in during strong winds.
The 303 program at BYS is available to everyone, from the very young to the senior would-be sailors.
Originally known as the Laser, the ILCA dinghy is a single-handed racing dinghy. The biggest attraction of the ILCA dinghy is that it is protected by strict one-design class rules, which means that no changes are allowed to the boat unless they are specifically permitted in the rules. The result is that all Laser boats are virtually identical whether they are brand new or 10 years old, making it the sailor that wins the race, not the boat. The ILCA dinghy is a challenging boat that rewards athleticism, subtle steering and trimming techniques, as well as tactical excellence. It is a singlehanded Olympic class boat for both men and women and is sailed at the club, national and international levels. With over 225,000 boats in 140 countries, it is the world’s most popular adult and youth racing sailboat.