Pacer Nationals Coming to Sydney

Chances are high that when you first learnt to sail, it was in a Pacer. Many of us belong to sailing clubs where Pacers are used as a training boat.   As they begin to race, novice sailors might form a skipper/crew team together or perhaps an experienced sailor/instructor might sail with the trainee. It is often at club level that the racing bug is born!

Do you still sail a Pacer? Or do you consider yourself too old, too young, too fast, too slow, too competitive, too inexperienced, too cool or not cool enough?

The Pacer is a double handed 'Off the Beach' dinghy and is the boat of choice for both Learn to Sail and Teams Racing throughout Australia. Victoria and Queensland have active state associations that hold regattas in their respective states. Pacer fleets are also strengthening in NSW. It is likely that a state body will be formed in the next few months. Under the stewardship of the national body, Pacer Australia, Pacer NSW will organise regattas at state level and continue to build the Pacer class in NSW.

Pacer Australia is keen to encourage stronger ties with schools and youth sailing teams as well as club sailors. Many coaches and sailors may not be aware that the National Pacer and Pacer Pursuit Championships are held annually. All Pacer sailors are made very welcome. The National Championships offer a fantastic opportunity for teams sailors to participate in a national competition with a fleet racing format. Now is the time to plan for the Nationals, which are coming to Sydney in January, 2018!

So who is your typical Pacer sailor? Is it Darren? He sails with young trainees from his local club. Or could it be Nicole? She usually sails with Jonathan, when he isn't racing in his own Pacer. That's when she teams up with Jane or Silke. Judy and Paul have been married a long time but have been sailing a Pacer for even longer. They prefer strong wind conditions and only argue when it gets below 10 knots. Mun is promiscuous. He sails with a different person every week. Ian prefers the higher power of his Pacer Pursuit, with crew Conor on trapeze. Sarah and Will enjoy teams racing with their school. Sea Scout Grace likes to sail with Rachel, although they don't use a spinnaker. Orla and Eamon are siblings who take turns at being skipper or crew. They are past National Pacer Youth Champions.

Pacers provide exciting racing for a rich combination of age and ability levels, from young children to teens to those pushing seventy. There are plenty of challenges, especially when racing with a spinnaker in a stiff breeze.

Highly competitive sailors from other classes frequently return to Pacers to sail with their family. These teams seem to have the perfect balance of lightness of weight and depth of experience to get the boat flying. Peter and his children Lauren and Eliza are the current National and Victorian State Champions. A sailor who can overtake them will be competitive in any class.

On the other hand, some of us started sailing in Pacers and would no sooner sail another class than give away a beloved pet. The sailors of these hardy, stable, beautiful and seaworthy crafts can be intensely loyal to our class. This group of die-hards is highly social and love nothing more than welcoming newbies and catching up with old friends from previous Nationals. They have quite a few sailing smarts to share.

The next National Pacer and Pacer Pursuit Championship will take place in Woolahra, Sydney Harbour, next January. It's during summer holiday time, so will combine well with an interstate or local holiday. There is always plenty of time for exploration and socialisation with non-sailing family members and other Pacer sailors. Those new to racing will discover the thrill of competing in a fleet of both serious and not-so-serious sailors. The Pacer community sails competitively but is also very inclusive and generous in sharing tactical, sailing and rigging tips with others who are wanting advice on the best ways to catch the faster sailors in the fleet.

You don't have to qualify for entry in the Pacer National Championships. You don't even need to own a Pacer, as some will be available to hire. There is a Green Fleet division for those new to sailing, a Youth division, a Masters division and a Non-Spinnaker division. All you need is a wish to enjoy competitive and friendly racing on the beautiful waters of Sydney Harbour.

We know there are lots of Pacer sailors in Sydney and around Australia who would love to join us. Tell everyone you know and come along and join us.  

Pacer and Pacer Pursuit National Championships. Woolahra Yacht Club, Sydney. 2-6 January, 2018. More information and accommodation options are available on pacersailing.org.au. Please note that Sydney accommodation should be arranged well in advance.

[As published in Australian Sailing June/July 2017]

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