It seems only yesterday that Sarah Johnson walked across the footbridge to Chambers Island - a young lady just entering her teenage years, and wanting to try this sailing thing as an Adventure Sailor. She enjoyed the experience and was soon regularly crewing for then-Commodore Gard in a Club Pacer, learning some boat and racing skills.
The following season saw Sarah move into her Uncle Bob’s old wooden Sabot, but she was determined to keep up with some pretty competent Opti sailors we had at that time. I had the pleasure of taking her out in my Thorpe one day, and although we capsized under spinnaker at the second gybe mark, she clambered back in and finished the afternoon’s racing in impressive fashion in a difficult-to-sail boat.
Always growing as a teenager, Sarah moved into a Laser 4.7, and and her determination led to some impressive performances in this boat. Participation in some Laser regattas, and some sailing at RQYS for experience led to her inclusion in the Queensland Youth Training Squad and High Performance coaching sessions.
Sarah has always had wider visions of her sailing, and taken opportunities that arose. She became involved with the Mooloolaba Yacht Club Elliot’s Match Racing scene, and their Women’s Keel-Boat program, which led to participation in regattas in Brisbane and inter-state, and also opened up crewing in Etchells at Mooloolaba
Following an invitation, Sarah had the offer last weekend of a crew position for her first Ocean Race - the Bass Strait dash from Melbourne to King Island on the Melbourne yacht Faster Forward - an experience which has her enthusiastic for more!
This weekend, she joins her MYC Women’s Squad team-mates (including Maroochy members Tanya Kelly and Eloise Jessett) at Manly Yacht Club's 24th annual Helly Hansen Women's Challenge.
We have seen less of Sarah on the Maroochy these past couple of years, but she dusts off the Laser on occasions to enjoy our waters and competition. Sarah now manages the difficult task of balancing the demands of study with participation in Sailing at competitive levels and the training required. However, her family’s commitment to sailing at Maroochy has now been taken on by her young cousin Baden who is already showing he has the aptitude and focus to take on the sailing world too.
Sarah’s story well illustrates the pathways that can arise within our Sport for the young sailor who is prepared to commit and follow through. And whilst Sarah’s shown she’s organised and skilled, her cheerful good-natured personality has also been a vital ingredient to opening up these and many more sailing opportunities!
Good luck Tanya, Sarah and Eloise!