Formed by a small group of keen sailors in 1944 the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has established the country as one of the major competitors in modern ocean racing.
Situated in Rushcutters Bay the club is home to a wide range of sailors and each year hosts the world famous Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Originally conceived in 1945 as a pleasant cruise over to Hobart the excursion soon became competitive and shaped the future of the CYCA and Australian ocean racing.
A UNIQUE VIEW OF SYDNEY HARBOUR
For keen sailors on a budget there is an opportunity to volunteer as crew for any skippers who find themselves short staffed during the Wednesday evening twilight series.
Members and none members (contact reception for rules and regulations if you are not a member) can sign up on the whiteboard in the Sydney Hobart Bar detailing their interest to crew and relevant experience, and wait to see if their services are required by any of the yachts racing that evening.
For the more experienced sailor there is also the chance to join the offshore crew register, this list is given to skippers in need of crew for the major offshore race series and the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Contact the club reception for more info.
AN INTIMATE VIEW OF AN ICONIC CITYSCAPE
While house sitting on Sydney’s north shore we were fortunate enough to be invited to crew aboard ‘Attitude’ a 30ft yacht, in the Wednesday evening twilight series and instantly accepted the chance to get out onto the water.
Having grown up dinghy sailing and crewing keel boats on the Norfolk Broads I was confident that my abilities would be adequate for the leisurely format of the twilight series and as we signed in to receive our guest passes at reception the familiar buzz of a yacht club bar filled my ears taking me back to my summers spent sailing back in the UK.
THE TWO MINUTE WARNING
After meeting with the skipper and the rest of his crew we set about familiarising ourselves with the boat, as we motored out of the berth and into the harbour the wind lifted and we hauled up the sails, the skipper killed the engine and we took off towards the start line.
With over one hundred boats of varied size and class bustling for position on the line we had our work cut out to avoid collisions and maintain good ground, with the one minute klaxon sounding we were pushed over the line and had to find our way back around the crowd with just seconds to go.
The race is supposed to be a leisurely evening sail however those with an interest in the sport will know that sailors are a competitive bunch and can turn anything into a competition. As we made it back to the line in good time once again we were forced up through the fleet, this time though we were sitting pretty and the klaxon sounded signalling the start of the race.
With all the excitement I had quite forgotten where it was that we were sailing and it was only once the fleet had spread out that I caught a glimpse of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the Sydney cityscape framing the setting sun.
After soaking up the surrounding view it was all hands on deck for a dicey buoy rounding where we narrowly avoided disaster tacking at the last minute and managing to round the buoy with millimetres to spare.
A few of the boats behind us were not quite so lucky and ended up in a rather nasty T-bone accident that looked a far to costly event for a leisurely evening sail. Three rounds later and we had crossed the line, impressively in third place within our class but more importantly in one piece!
With the racing over we dropped the sails and motored back to the club glass of wine in hand, the one thing that can be said for sailors is they have their priorities in order.
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