This year, two major events will be taking place in Australia which will set a new course for Australian Sailing. The Sydney University Sailing Club in 2009 hosted two major events in the form of a fleet racing regatta held in April and then a teams racing regatta held in September. The success of these events and their high attendance has show that university sailing has a renewed place in Australia university sport. From the 70s to the 90s, there was a large inter-varsity championship that took place annually but changes to government regulation had a significant impact on the amount of university spending on sports and co-circular activities in universities. Without the necessary fund, the championship completely stopped with only a hand full of university clubs remaining active.
In 2010, the events of 2009 will been further developed. The Australian University Fleet Racing Championships will be held at Great Lakes Sailing Club (just south of Forster, NSW) from April 8th-10th. The fleet racing takes place under yardstick making the event truly accessible to any boat and sail boards. Over 100 boats are expected.
In November last year, the member universities of Australian University Sport, the peak body of university sport in Australia, voted to introduce sailing as an exhibition event at the 2010 Australian University Games (AUG) in Perth, September. The AUG is Australian’s largest sporting event each year and is attended by thousands of university students who compete in 31 sports and now sailing. The new Sailing championship will be divided into two disciplines. The format of the first discipline is still under discussion but is expected to be made up of fleet racing in the early stages with a match racing finals series. The second discipline will build on the event of 2009 in the form of a teams racing series.
Inter-varsity sailing in Australia was once a big thing and has made a big contribution towards the success of Australian sailors today. While it’s still early days, a number of the universities that abandoned their clubs have now begun to support their re-establishment. The funding arrangements of universities make it hard to build or renew clubs but the success of the new championships, we can expect university sailing to support a new generation of Australian Sailors.
Thanks to anarchist Tom.