Concord & Ryde Sailing Club

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Posted 2023-09-22 by Maria-MPG Narrativesfollow
Discover how to build a boat, then learn to sail it and, later race other sailors.

Sailing is a sport, a wonderful hobby, and best of all, with all our beautiful waterways in Sydney, it’s highly accessible. Have you ever wanted to learn to sail? Or, what about learning how to build a boat that you can then sail?

Well, at the Concord & Ryde Sailing Club once a month, Ross Venner and other volunteers help keen amateur sailors to do just that. He has an amazing knowledge of boats as well as how to build and sail them.

Ross, working with other skilled volunteers, has this winter passed on their passions to a group of half a dozen youths. Behind a roller door at the Club, you will find dozens of sailing boats. Many are fibreglass, but others are wooden. Ross indicated proudly at some boats, “The ones the boys built,” when I visited to view the boats. “They’re ready and waiting to be launched.”

I surmised it would have taken many months, if not years, to build these boats. Ross told me they took 17 Saturdays, and they were complete and ready to launch.

There is a sigh of relief when boat two is decked.

He and his team organised discounted gear from Ronstan, a top supplier of boat equipment and the timber was subsidised by Boatcraft.

“We also received a grant from the Building Stronger Communities program from the federal government, which helped greatly.” He added that the program included sailing instruction. “The boys, all six of them, are very much looking forward to sailing their creations.”

A program such as this is a way for the club to find new members as Ross freely admitted, “New members … I hope they’ll join. But look at it another way, we’re giving back to the community with this program. These boys and their generation will have to deal with many challenges and so much change in their lifetimes. With these skills, they can always be useful. Yes, basically we’ve introduced them to the discipline of a trade, but so much more. This work is a demonstration of their teachability and teamwork. Both will be vital in most of the jobs for which they will apply.”

There is rapid progress once fibreglassing is done.

Girls can be involved too. Ross said, “We’d love girls to get involved. There are some great women and girls in our racing fleet, but none put their hand up to be involved in the building this year. We hope that will change.”

The team gathers around boat two.

The boats the boys built are International Moths, a class of boat that has been at the forefront of dinghy development since 1928. The flat-bottomed “scow” hull shape can be sailed relatively easily by novices, while still offering blistering performance in the hands of an expert sailor. The club members are so confident in the boats and the young sailors that there are plans to take them to the national championships in Queensland in January 2024. All this from a volunteer program enabling youths from the community to learn some important life skills.

Sailing instruction, as well as racing, takes place eight months of the year. Then, next winter, Ross and the other volunteers are keen to help you start your boatbuilding adventure. That’s part of the charm of the place. Every member is involved in keeping the operation running. Here is your chance to become a sailor and enjoy Sydney’s beautiful waterways for a lifetime.

Justin and Harley on their new boats.

The Concord & Ryde Sailing Club is on the Parramatta River, is run entirely by volunteers like Ross, and is only open on Saturdays. It is a happy and welcoming community, they are happy to hear from people wanting to learn how to sail, and if they are interested, to build boats. Is that you? If so, contact them through their website and learn how they can help you join them on the Parramatta River.

For more information about membership to the club and programs such as this, see the club website.



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