THE Portland Yacht Club’s Tackers program has once again proved a hit on the foreshore.
This year, an increased number of participants has allowed the program to flourish, with the creation of a new, slightly separate program called ‘Out There Sailing’, for teenagers aged 12-17.
This new initiative allows the teenagers independence from the more rigid learning of the Tackers program, while granting them the use of the larger ‘Pacer’ yachts.
Both programs had a combined total of 18 participants this year, who were spread across Out There Sailing and three levels of Tackers.
“They all love the water,” says Kate Hannah, an instructor from Albert Park in Melbourne.
“This group is honestly so enthusiastic… they come out from lunch ready to go, whereas usually (in programs elsewhere) they are tired and it’s a bit of a struggle, that last hour and a half, to get them concentrating… but they just want to get on the water.
“They don’t want to sit and learn; they want to go out on the water.
“There’s a lot of energy that’s for sure.”
Hannah was joined by Jonathan Dunlop and James Briggs to instruct the Portland program. The trio are from The Boat Shed in Melbourne and travel around Victoria in the summer to teach sailing in the regions as part of Sailing Australia’s Tackers program.
The program is currently in its fourth year in Portland and runs for three days each summer.
Portland Yacht Club Commodore Michael Doherty is loving the participation this year.
“Maybe a quarter of the guys are from out of town – holidaymakers – and they come back every year and this is like a holiday program they do for the kids.
“The rest are local kids that are coming back every year and some of them are here for the first time… They’re obviously enjoying each other’s company and meeting other people.”
Doherty is also singing the praises of the Portland harbour, where conditions are well suited to sailing.
“Talking to the instructors who do this all over the state, we’ve got one of the best places to do it because we’ve got this protected, flat water.
“We’re really lucky with the facilities that we have.”