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Youngsters have fun capsizing on River Derwent    
Sat, 23 Mar 2013

The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania held a Tacker training session yesterday, Saturday 23rd March, on the River Derwent.

Having no sight in one eye and impaired vision in the other is proving no handicap to nine-year-old Hobart lad Hamish Menzie’s enthusiasm to become a racing dinghy sailor.

Hamish, a Year 2 students at Saint Virgil’s College, was one of a dozen youngsters who practised capsizing an Opti dinghy on the windy waters of the River Derwent yesterday as part of learning to sail under Yacht Australia’s Tackers programme.

Each of the young sailors, helped by national youth sailboard champion Jock Calvert, donned wet suits and went through the drill of capsizing, then righting, an Opti.

'I really love getting out on the water and sailing an Opti,' said a rather drenched Hamish, who was introduced to sailing and the Tackers programme while at St Mary’s College by physical education teacher Greg Rowlings.

'I’ve already logged ten hours in the Tackers 1 programme,' a proud young Hamish said as he rigged an Opti for the capsize drill, before donning his wet suit and life jacket. 'We are learning how to sail safely, learning the ropes and then I hope to move up to more advanced sailing and even racing…and I love it!'

Rowlings, who is also Tackers training and development officer for Yachting Tasmania, saw sailing as a safer but active sport in which Hamish could compete and enjoy. 'He is one of the best youngsters I seen come into Tackers; it’s not a matter of what he can’t do, but what he can and will do well.'

'A private benefactor has given Hamish a grant through Sailability to get the right equipment and learn to sail under the Tackers programme through the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania,' Rowlings said.

Hamish father, Kaine Menzie, added: 'Hamish is an outgoing, sporty type kid who loves Aussie Rules, but sailing is a much safer for him than taking part in a contact sport. If he continues to love the sport I see myself getting involved in sailing, too.'

Tackers is a mass participation sailing program aimed at introducing children aged 7 to 12 to sailing in a fun, safe, accessible and affordable way. The program offers children the opportunity to start on a pathway to ongoing involvement in clubs through gradually progressing over several seasons.

Clubs throughout Australia have embraced Tackers, as a key participation program for Yachting Australia to ensure clubs are able to grow through engagement of children and their families.

There are three levels of Tackers:

Tackers 1 - Having Fun
Tackers 2 – Tricks and Techniques
Tackers 3 – Sailing Fast!

Certainly, the kids taking part in the Tackers program at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania were ‘having fun’ yesterday.

by Peter Campbell

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