As an island nation, sailing is a popular sport in many coastal areas, and extensive inland lakes, dams and rivers. Our indigenous Australians applied sails to some of their craft in northern Australia possibly linked to early contact with the Makassans from Indonesia who sailed to there in prahu for hundreds of years.
The inaugural (first) tranche of people to be inducted into the ASHOF are:
Sir William (Bill) Northam CBE , Peter (Pod) O’Donnell and James (Dick) Sargeant won Australia’s first Olympic sailing gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, in the 5.5-metre class in Barranjoey . Northam, the skipper, was 59 and a grandfather of five, the oldest Australian to have ever won an Olympic gold medal.
Rolly Tasker won Australia’s first Olympic sailing medal and first sailing world championship. He was a highly regarded and successful ocean racer who built one of the world’s most successful yachting businesses.
Australia II captured the hearts of a nation when they were victorious in winning the America’s Cup in 1983, breaking a 132-year winning streak by the Americans in sport’s oldest trophy.
Kay Cottee is the first woman to perform a single-handed, non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation of the world by way of both hemsipheres. She performed this feat in 1988 in her 37 foot (11 m) yacht Blackmores First Lady.
At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch created history when they become the first ever crew to win back-to-back Paralympic Gold medals in sailing. Their achievement of winning Gold medals in both London and Rio also made them the first Australian sailing team or crew to defend an Olympic or Paralympic Gold me
Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell created history when they became the first Australian women to win an Olympic sailing medal, winning gold in the 470 class at the Sydney 2000 Olympics Games. In doing so, they also broke Australia’s 28-year sailing gold medal drought.
Known as the ‘medal maker’, Victor Kovalenko is revered as the most successful Olympic sailing coach in the world. Since arriving in Australia in the leadup to the Sydney 2000 Games, he has coached Australia’s 470 athletes to five gold and one silver Olympic medal.
Keep a lookout for the ASHOF touring exhibition
Opens ANMM Wharf 7 Maritime Heritage Centre, 58 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont NSW 2009
6 November 2017 – 31 January 2018
Would you like to know more about sailing and how you can get involved in the sport?
Here are some questions you might ask yourself:
FAQs for discussion
Where is the nearest yacht club or sailing school?
There are more than 350 sailing clubs across Australia and a club is a good place to start if you want to learn to sail. To find a learn-to-sail course, visit your local club or use our Experience Finder.
What opportunities are there for me to try out sailing and see if I like it?
Many clubs hold Discover Sailing Days over summer where you and your family can visit the club, meet the volunteers and staff and take a short sail with an experienced skipper to get your first taste of sailing.
Tackers is an introductory sailing program aimed at 7-12 year-olds that provides an inclusive, fun and non-competitive way to start sailing. Children don’t need to have any sailing experience or club membership to participate. All the equipment, including the boats, is provided and there are lots of fun games to play on and off the water. Find out more
Do I need to have my own boat?
No, not at all. There are many opportunities to find out whether you like sailing before having to commit to buying a boat of your own. Most clubs offer a range of courses to help you learn how to sail. As your skills develop you can continue to sail with your friends or you might progress into racing, when you may wish to purchase your own boat. Many clubs even offer ‘club boats’ to enable participants to get into racing, before having to purchase their own.
Where could we go sailing that is near where I live?
How safe is the sport?
Safety in sailing is paramount. As well as providing lifejackets there will be a safety boat on the water at all times when the participants are on the water. Weather conditions are checked prior to all sessions.
Would I need to be able to swim?
Some ability to swim would be preferable, however all participants will be wearing lifejackets at all times.
For students – activities for further research
Are there any famous local sailing personalities who come from my town / area?
(inc designers, coaches plus athletes)
When was my local sailing club first built?
What do you think is the most important moment in Australia’s sailing history?
When did organised sailing first start in Australia?
How can the achievements of these people inspire me to achieve my dreams?
How do they deal with success / adversity / teamwork?
If you want to find out even more about special achievements in sailing try searching the internet using some of the following keywords.
- Olympic Games Australian Sailing
- America’s Cup Australian Sailing
- Australian Solo Sailors (inc Kay Cottee, Jon Sanders, Jessica Watson, Lisa Blair, Jesse Martin, David Dicks)
Use your imagination and create an image of a sailing boat of the future
Download and print out the word match sheet and match people with their sailing achievements