School Team Sailing’s pinnacle event to hit Blairgowrie waters

By Harry Fisher

The Hutchins School from Tasmania competing in last year's national championship in Perth. Photo: Jennifer Medd

The Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is set to host the most exciting school sailing event in the country when more than 24 teams, including some of Australia’s best youth sailors, compete from July 11-15.

The Australian Schools Team Sailing Championship is one of the marquee youth events on the calendar and gives sailors the opportunity to race with their school mates in teams of seven (six on-water and one reserve) for a crack at the ultimate prize in high school sailing.

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Sailed in the pristine waters off Blairgowrie for this year’s event, teams will consist of three helms and three crews from each school represented and schools are able to enter more than one team if invited to.

Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron sailing manager Liam Edleston said team sailing was a great spectacle, and the location for this year’s regatta was up there with some of the best in the country.

The Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron and Marina. Photo: Macaulay Hey

“School team sailing is a fantastic element of our sport, which is a fast-paced, fun and technical format that a large portion of the sailing community have not been exposed to,” he said.

“We are planning to race adjacent to the main pier allowing viewing from the main deck, lawn, pier and hardstand.

“This will allow for state-of-the-art viewing for spectators to watch this unique format of sailing.”

Team sailing regattas consist of hundreds of short races about 10 minutes in length and are raced between two teams of three equally-matched pacer dinghies.

Shenton College from Perth competing in last year’s regatta. Photo: Jennifer Medd

A Swiss-league round-robin style format, which ensures teams consistently race opponents with similar success rates, is used for the first three and a half days before the top teams are selected in a finals series that takes place in the final afternoon of the regatta.

The goal is to finish each race with less points than your opponent, which means your team doesn’t have to have the first boat over the finish line to take the race win.

There are often upwards of 70 races sailed each day and some years when the right conditions are at hand, more than 100 races per day can be sailed.

Defending champions from The Scots College in Sydney will be back, along with arch rivals Westminster School from Adelaide, while Hobart’s The Friends School and Perth’s Christchurch Grammar School will also be in the mix. The home state of Victoria will be represented by Brighton Grammar School.

St Leonard’s from Victoria in last year’s regatta. Photo: Jennifer Medd

Ascham in New South Wales will also be competing as one of Australia’s premier girls sailing teams and will battle it out against a number of all-female teams for the national girls team sailing trophy. Last year they lost to an all-girls team from The Friends School in the girls grand final.

One of the best aspects of team sailing is what it provides for spectators, with one of the most intensive displays of yacht racing available from the shore, allowing passers-by to see and hear the racing up close.

The lead up to this iconic event has also shown the cohesiveness of all clubs in the Mornington Peninsula region with Mornington Yacht Club, Sorrento Sailing and Couta Boat Club, Westernport Yacht Club and Ranelagh Yacht Club all providing support.

The Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron, Down Under Sail and the Australian Team Sailing Association would like to extend its thanks these neighbouring clubs that have pitched in to make this event possible.

Sailors from The Scots College in Sydney who raced off in the grand final last year. Photo: Jennifer Medd

“If you are interested in this event and want to come and see what it’s all about, we highly recommend that you come down and visit,” Liam said.

“If you can’t make it, make sure that you keep up to date with the media coverage from Down Under Sail via the DUS website or on the DUS Facebook page as it is an event not to miss.”

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