Gary Innes is Commodore of the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club and has been on the board of the yacht club for the last four years. Over the last three years Gary has been on the committee of management for the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce and industry and are very proud member of Daybreak rotary club. Gary broadcast every Monday afternoon on 2HC the local commercial broadcasting station.
Gary how long have you been sailing?
I’ve been sailing since I was a child really in dinghies and only just took it up again after 10 years of waterskiing. I’m back into yachting now rather than dinghies and really having a great time.
There are lot of people will assume that yachting is a sport only for the rich and famous. Is it something that people can get into for a reasonable price?
Yes it is. You can go down to a local Yacht Club like the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club and become a member for a couple of hundred dollars, which is not a lot when you use it over the course of the year, and you can go sailing. On Thursday night here in Coffs Harbour we have twilight sailing, during daylight savings, and we also try to get out every weekend. You can join up for $220 and become a member of the club and go out sailing.
So you don’t have to go and buy your own yacht?
No. It takes quite a few people to sail a yacht so as the owner of a yacht I can take up to 10 people and I won’t go out on my own.
What are the things that really appeal to you about sailing?
One of the most magnificent things I have ever seen while sailing, which made me realise how peaceful and calm your life can be, was when the sun was going down in the west as we were sailing up the coast of New South Wales. You might have a small sleep overnight, while the other members of the crew were sailing, and then, in the morning, you see the sun rise again and you’re being on the water for that whole 12 hour period. It is just an amazing feeling that you have done something completely different. Something very peaceful. Something very quiet. It is a wonderful experience. I really enjoy a night sailing more than anything else at all.
Have you participated in any major sailing events?
Before I owned my own yacht I have had the opportunity to twice do the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race. I wouldn’t call that the most peaceful sail I have done! But it was a lot of fun and it teaches you a lot about sailing. It puts you in a situation where you’vre got to make decisions. When you are just sailing overnight in your own boat at your own pace in your own time, the decisions you have learnt to make in advance, they keep you are very safe person at sea.
Have you had any terrifying experiences while sailing?
Funny you say that. We were out at the lighthouse only a couple of months ago and we’re all looking towards the lighthouse as we were sailing towards it which meant we were looking in a northeasterly direction watching the sails, watching the boat. Coming behind us was this big Southerly Buster and I must admit that we didn’t notice it. It was a bit remiss of us, but we didn’t notice it. We had a spinnaker up, we had full headsails up, the whole thing, and that wind came and just absolutely flattened us – a forty foot yacht laying on its side, 150 yards just this side of the lighthouse. It was a bit terrifying.
Do you find sailing helps you with your own personal stress management?
Absolutely. It’s funny that you say that, I got a message from the young lady who comes sailing with us often, and her message was “I couldn’t go out last week, I’m in withdrawal. I’m stressed out. When are we going again?” I thought, that’s exactly what’s all about. Sailing is all about relieving stress and looking after yourself. It’s something you look forward to. When you’re out on the water no one else can contact you. We don’t allow mobile phones on the boat. We have to have the radio on, but we just sit there and relax and enjoy it. It’s a couple of hours a week.
I think the wonderful thing is that people can just go to their local Yacht club, anywhere in the world and go sailing.
Yes it is. Some yacht clubs become a little bit exclusive, that they are the bigger ones, you’re got to go to the smaller clubs sometimes, but right around the world people will let you go sailing. They want you to go sailing. We are actually short of people to go sailing particularly in the age bracket of 25 to 40. So if you are in that age bracket, and you want some stress relief, I think sailing could be a great option.