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Onyx Sailing with the New Generation

Onyx Sailing with the New Generation

by February 5, 2016

Devout yachtie Dave Hutcheson admits he had never sailed competitively before he purchased the Sydney 32 Onyx at the start of this year. In fact, he had never really considered it.

“I started sailing about 15 years ago and I love it,” says Dave, the proud owner of a Seawind 38’ catamaran, Tropical Sunset. “When it comes to being out on the water, it’s just a nice way to go. It’s a very special feeling when you turn the motor off and use the wind to get to places in the middle of nowhere. I love cruising—but racing is entirely another level.”

Over the past few years watching daughters Danielle and Emma sail dinghies in the highly acclaimed Southport Yacht Club program, Dave and his wife, Helen, noted an obvious gap in the size of vessels upon which people could develop the confidence and skills to step up to the keeled classes.

“You can go to the Olympics in the dinghy classes, but there’s a big difference between them and a full-blown race yacht,” says Dave, who also owns Australian Boating Supplies at Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard.

“I heard that [well-known South Australian philanthropist] Peter Teakle had once bought three Sydney 32’s specifically for yacht clubs for sail training but had to take them back. It was not so much due to a lack of interest, but because keeled boats require a certain amount of upkeep.

“But how do people, particularly the younger ones aged between 15 and 30, move into keeled boats and perhaps one day step up to ocean races like those off the coasts of the Gold Coast, Mooloolaba, Hamilton Island, or even the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race? The sailors who participate in the keeled racing classes often battle to find an experienced crew. So, it is a gap that definitely needs to be filled.”

Inspired by Mr Teakle’s original intentions, Dave and Helen purchased Onyx and had her brought from Port Lincoln back to the Gold Coast where, with the support of Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard, would-be sailors now have the chance to learn the ropes of racing in the Category 4 divisions of Southport Yacht Club’s twilight and offshore series.

With the support of the Gold Coast City Marina community, the cost of training aboard Onyx has been kept to a bare minimum. “It’s inspiring to see the support Onyx has behind her from everyone in the marina,” says Dave. “A number of companies within our community hear what we are doing and readily offer their support. She’s a real Gold Coast City Marina boat!”

Marina lift operator Todd Huggeson and his 15-year-old son Jackson were among the first to jump aboard Onyx as crew. “I saw her come out of the water for annual maintenance and thought having her as a training boat was a fantastic idea,” says Todd. “I’ve been sailing mainly dinghies for about seven years now—sometimes with Jackson aboard—and I was stoked at the opportunity to work as a team with my son aboard a keeled boat. “After our first offshore race, Jackson turned around to me and said: ‘Dad, I think I just want to sail on the big boats now!’ I was really proud to hear him say it!”

Now the two younger sons Todd has with his wife, Bec—Brodie, 12, and Tanner, 7—are looking forward to the Southport Yacht Club fun days so they too can experience the exhilaration of Onyx. “It’s a great experience,” says Todd. “Not just for the young, but also the young at heart!”

Dave extends his invitation to everyone. “We are now searching for crew—a mix of experienced people and novices. You can be older or younger. The only requirement is that you love sailing and are prepared to be involved!”


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