yacht under spinnaker with Surfers Paradise skyline

Sail Paradise – Exactly as it sounds…..

There is often consternation aboard Apriori. Lucas wants to know why I am sailing into the harbor or the marina pen when there is nothing wrong with the engine. Or why I’m sailing on and off the anchor, or setting a spinnaker in the middle of a crowded anchorage. 

The response is always the same; I just want to be good (and you never know when the motor isn’t going to start). And you don’t get good by being lazy or conservative.

Windward/Leewards also make you good. And that is one of the reasons we love Sail Paradise. Just one reason; there are many reasons we love Sail Paradise.

When Lucas and I started our sailing adventure. We rocked up to Sail Paradise. At the time I was on gardening leave and a bit bored, Lucas had been sailing for less than two years, and we thought that this would be a great and cheap way to spend a week. We had so much fun and grew so much as a team!

Firstly, it is just a stack of fun. Southport Yacht Club know how to run a party! The first night is the owners and partners’ cocktail function, and lets just say that Luc and I got our entry fee of $150 value in that function alone. Each night there is a presentation, and the comraderie at the bar is as good as it gets.

But the racing is just perfect. The backdrop of the Gold Coast with the stunning beaches and the highrises is something else. But what makes it for me is the expert race management…… The regatta is a series of windward leewards and short passage races, and they run like clockwork.

Our first Sail Paradise was five years ago. Lucas had been sailing for 18 months and we did it two up. Our first race was a passage, so not so bad. The next six were windward leewards. We set the spinnaker, gybed and dropped so many times it was a blur. Our crew-work, processes and co-ordination went from a bit of a jumble to a finely tuned machine in four days.

We missed the title by a third of a point that year, but just weeks later took out the short-handed PHRF trophy for the 308NM Brisbane to Gladstone. I put it down to our time at Sail Paradise.

We had a ball there two years ago, and missed last year as my Dad died. But we returned this year, after not having put a spinnaker up in a race for 20 months. After six races in four days, and (I am guessing) putting the spinnaker up and down say 12 times in the four days, we were back to being a well oiled machine.

The regatta is greatly enhanced by the two media reps, “Adventures of a Sailor Girl” Nic Douglas and Mitch from Surf Sail Kite. Nic does live streaming of the regatta on FB, but for us, the immense benefit is the free photos. It is so rare to get great photos of your own yacht, but Nic and Mitch are fabulous photographers and offer their photos as part of the regatta. We usually pay significant $ for regatta photos, and these guys are just part of the gig. And great to have a drink with at the end of the day. We love it.

And owning a boat is never easy. We had some engine troubles on the first day on the way out – and the Commodore Ray McMahon had organized a mechanic to be at the marina berth by the time we sailed in (note Lucas: sailed into the marina berth). These people really care about their visitors.

This has got to be the best value regatta on the east coast. And for us, as liveaboard regatta people, it is a complete blast. We race and holidayed all at once.

And of course, in between the party’s ashore and the racing, we need to organise the food……

On our way to Sail Paradise the party started with NYE, with good friends anchored at the bottom of the bay. Lots of laughs were shared, as was our lamb with spinach and gremolata.

Before we left I stuffed a large chicken with lemon, rosemary, ginger and a slice of bread, smeared it with oil and pepper and put it in an oven bag to bake for 90 minutes, in the house. I then shredded it and used it for lunch meat (and occasionally a chicken, cheese and tomato toastie if there was a hangover).  I did this at home, but roast chicken is great in the boat oven – long and slow.

I did our low fat banana bread which we had for breakfast and morning teas, and also our protein packed turmeric balls, for snacks between spinnaker changes. 

We were so exhausted by dinner, we usually bought something from the Friendly Grocer and put it in the oven, but nothing was bad..

In terms of a regatta, what a hoot. We will miss it next year as we will be in Hobart, but we will be back in 2022! 

If you need to get your skills up, while having an absolutely ball and getting amazing photos of your yacht while doing it, SP is the way to go!

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