Sailing has something of a reputation as an expensive and elitist sport, perhaps understandable when many people's exposure to it is through media coverage of major events like the America's Cup and the Sydney Hobart race and it's perhaps as a result of this that many people don't give it a second thought as a recreational or sporting pastime, for their kids or themselves.
However, it's actually much more accessible and affordable than many people realise and with the sheltered inland waters of Goolwa offering perfect conditions for beginners and experienced sailors alike, that's something President of the Goolwa Aquatic Club's Sailing group David Steele is keen to promote.
"GAC Sailing exists primarily to introduce people to and foster their ongoing enjoyment of the sport of sailing, with a particular focus on junior sailors," he said.
"The waters of the lower lakes at Goolwa are the ideal place to introduce kids to a sport they'll love for life," David said.
Throughout the summer season, from October to April, the club runs dinghy racing on Sunday afternoons, with training sessions frequently on Sunday mornings. A reduced race program extends through the winter.
The Sunday race program is popular with both local and Adelaide-based sailors, many of the latter sailing at metropolitan clubs on Saturdays and at Goolwa on Sundays, to give them more time on the water and also specifically to practice wind readings skills in Goolwa's often shifty conditions.
A number of these Adelaide-based sailors are highly ranked at national and state level, providing a great opportunity for local sailors to sail against top competitors but in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
GAC hosts two weeks of Learn-to-Sail courses in January each year, teaching around 50 kids the basics of sailing across four half-day sessions.
By the end of the course, most of these students will be ready to take the helm of their own dinghy to continue their sailing journey.
GAC has a small fleet of single-handed Optimist dinghies for lease to enable junior sailors to participate in training and racing at GAC, which allows for a convenient and relatively cheap means of entry to the sport.
GAC may be a relatively small club, but over the years our juniors have performed well in state and national competitions in Optimist and Laser classes, with several state champions among them.
While the COVID-19 situation has presented challenges for all sports, sailing represents a great opportunity for a healthy outdoor activity with social distancing easily achieved. The club expects to be fully operational for the 2020-2021 season.
The club welcomes enquiries from any prospective sailors, and we are always on the lookout for volunteers, especially former sailors looking to stay associated with the sport.
Club information can readily be found on Facebook or their website at www.goolwaaquaticclub.com.