Nick Moloney has been around boats and their crews since he was a young child growing up on the coast of Victoria, Australia. In 2002, he was part of the team that won the Jules Verne Trophy, breaking the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by over a week; he’s also the current holder of the Cariad Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation of Hong Kong Island, which he set in 2013. And this year he set a record of five hours for windsurfing from Hong Kong to Macau.
These are his 5 tips for getting involved into sailing:
1. Speak up: let people know you want to get involved in sailing and don’t hide your enthusiasm and curiosity. Build a database of contacts you have met who are active local sailors and touch base with them regularly to see if they have any openings onboard or any opportunities.
2. Join a crew: contrary to what most people believe, you don’t need to be a member of a yacht club to get involved in sailing. Most clubs have a “crew board” where boat owners announce available crew positions. Those looking for sailing experience can list their details and availability. One of the best ways to gain acceptance in a sailing team is to make yourself available as a “working bee” – someone who does less glamorous but essential jobs like cleaning – which shows commitment. Be reliable too and you have two of the key factors that will see you on your way.
3. Try everything: Give all water sports a try at your local government-run sailing centre, water sports rental places or through one of the yachting clubs’ youth and adult sailing programmes. Try everything from windsurfing to single-handed dinghies to catamarans and yachts to find out what you like. You will become a better water sports person by giving everything a go.
4. Be safe and prepare to get wet: there are inherent dangers and sailing is certainly not short of risk. It is important that your first and principal priority is safety. Wear a life jacket if you need to or are told to. There are places on a yacht that you should avoid sitting or standing in, so listen to advice and instructions carefully. And always hold on and remember the golden rule: one hand for yourself, one hand for the ship.
5. Do a course: there are 16 Hong Kong Sailing Federation recognised training centres offering courses for everyone from beginners to more advanced sailors, including dinghy sailing, racing, survival at sea and first aid. Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world that has a requirement that all vessels carrying a power engine capacity over four horse power must carry at least one person who holds the Pleasure Vessel Operators’ Licence as part of the crew. There are several courses available in Hong Kong that offer accelerated learning and tuition to anyone interested in obtaining a licence. Many sailing boats sit dock side on beautiful sunny days simply because of a lack of a licensed member on board.