Highland sailing club back in familiar waters.

A flotilla of gleaming skiffs glided back into familiar waters yesterday when the Southern Highlands Sailing Club opened its new season under ominous skies at the Fitzroy Falls Reservoir.

A strong and varied field lined up for the season opener in less than ideal conditions but ex-Commodore Rick Stanton claimed the competition days were more about fun than they were about taking line honours.

“It’s extremely friendly and although our members love the racing, no-one takes it too seriously,” he said.

“We operate on a handicap basis so everyone has a chance and it’s the most layed back club.

“Sailing is a real family sport and everyone is welcome to come and join us.”

The sailing club has conducted its competition days for more than 20 years and Stanton explained that the experience was a unique and uplifting experience.

“It’s quite simply the most amazing thing I’ve ever done,” he said.

“You really connect with nature and it’s just the loveliest thing you can do.

“It’s aesthetically so beautiful and when it all comes together it’s just bliss.”

The club is in the midst of a recruitment drive and Stanton was eager to dispel some long held myths about the sailing caper.

“It’s entirely friendly and even though we love racing, no one takes it too seriously,” he said.

“You also don’t have to be a millionaire to give it a go, in fact, I bought my boat for just $200 and it’s still competitive.

“I’ve spent a bit on it but it’s not that serious, it’s the most laid back club imaginable.”

Three races are conducted every Sunday and the first Saturday of every month with accrued points going towards the end of year Commodore’s Cup.

Just to highlight the diversity within the club, Stanton claimed member’s ages ranged from seven to 70.

“We’d really like to get a kids competition up and running,” he said.

The season runs from October to April and nearly every class of boat is included in the competitions; from mono-hulls through to catamarans.

“It’s quite a unique type of sailing because it’s fresh water and you rely on gusting winds rather that the consistent ones you get on the seaside,” he said.

“But it’s very, very safe and there is a rescue boat in at all times.”

And Stanton was at pains to explain the finer points of sailing are easy to pick up but the rewards last a lifetime.

“The technical side is pretty simple and it’s really mostly a mental sport,” he said.

“You really connect with nature because you’re out there and entirely dependent on the breeze.

“It’s very calming.

And for those that think the sport lacks a little in the adrenaline department, Stanton has news for you.

“To be on a skiff in a high breeze with water flying everywhere I just so exciting,” he said.

“When you’re going 25 knots (50 kmph), it feels very fast indeed.”