Although kids and adults alike are inspired to awe by modern foiling AC75s sailing at 50 knots in 15 knots of wind; although the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and many others gain prime television air-time, Olympians sail for the glory; or Bear Grylls for survival; your inspired kids may never sail or achieve their dreams unless adults provide the very simplest of introductions to the sport. And we all know it’s not just a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It is so many great things, to so many great people.
“Create pathways? But I’m already busy - I’m time-poor … and you mean taking the kids and grandkids to the sailing club, don’t you?” That’s one of many options… but it might not be the first step for you. Many kids want to play cricket, soccer, rugby or go surfing with their mates. They can’t do everything – but what happened to recreational sailing and family or holiday fun with friends on the water?
Take them boating, and tell them about your love of sailing, family history or sailing stories. Explain how racing works; why cruising is fun and tell some great stories. Stir their imagination a bit. You don’t have to overdo it if they are enjoying the day out. Invite their friends and their families too, so they enjoy it together.
Watch some racing close-up! The pre-start tactics; the speed and skill, the angles - so exciting! When there’s so much genuine excitement in the sport, a theory lesson is not the most fun way to introduce someone to sailing. Go out on the committee boat, hang around the pontoon on race day, take them out as crew on a rum-race or harbour cruise. Watch some foilers in action! How exciting is kite-surfing to watch? .
The key to generating interest and passion for your sport may be different for every kid; but excitement, safety, friendships and encouragement will always feature. I’ve taken a few budding junior sailors out as fill-in crew on adult mid-week keel-boat races, and never failed to ‘wow’ them. Clubs now have bigger dinghies like the RS Quest which kids can sail with their friends.
There have been major advances which make your job of creating sailing pathways simple! New plastic hulls like the Feva and Bic are designed to be simple and low-maintenance. Once they’re out on the water, if an 18-foot skiff flying past doesn’t excite them, nothing will! There is now Wing Foiling, Kite-Surfing and Foil-Boarding which all challenge and develop their interest and their comprehension of the possibilities in sailing.
You don’t have to buy, rig, store and maintain a never-ending series of sailboat models (and their trailers and spare gear) any more. The Tiwal* is an award-winning, engineer-designed inflatable sailboat that fits in the boot of a small car, or below deck on a launch; can be rigged and ready to sail in 15 minutes and stored on a shelf in the garage. It can be sailed by a single sailor, a pair or even more; by old and young alike, and it is fun! It is a breakthrough in comfort sailing in dinghy classes, yet allows people of all persuasions to learn the skills even to high-performance levels safely, in all but the most extreme conditions. They’re self-draining and unsinkable! I’ve never met a kid or adult yet that wasn’t impressed by their trendy appearance, their great design and construction, their versatility, stability and their performance, and the sheer fun they have on-board. They are proving to be a popular, growing class for a huge range of sailing types, and a great investment in family adventure and sailing fun. Keep one at the holiday house or on the boat, or in the garage when you or grandparents aren’t touring the outback or the high-country lakes with it. It is just so easy!
There’s something of interest for everyone in sailing … in taming the wind, in the tactics, in adventure and challenge, in teamwork, and even in the protest room! What other kids sport gets them ready for the courtroom, and to stand up for their rights? Give them excitement, great memories, strengthen great friendships and family bonds with fun outings.
Share your passion, and show them the way.
*Check out TIWAL at www.tiwal.nz Enquire about the end of season sale of the Tiwal 2.
We were very fortunate to have a great family sailing day for the TIWAL NZ Cup, held in the beautiful Mahurangi before another lockdown was announced the same evening.
Eight TIWALS sailed in a gentle breeze around Saddle Island and down to Scotts Landing for a picnic in the park. The wind increased later in the day, giving competitors a chance to stretch out and enjoy a speedy sail back to Sullivans Bay.
The winners of the event were Zane and Anna Gifford. Zane Gifford is an accomplished New Zealand sailor who has won National Championships in several classes including P Class, Young 88s (multiple times), and Elliot 7s.
Second place went to the youngsters of the event, brothers Boaz and Simeon White of Hamilton, and third place to Jocelyn Morgan of Waiheke Island.
John Rusk travelled from Wellington for the event, and although he missed out on the Sunday event, the RNZYS Auckland Harbour Bridge to Bean Rock, due to COVID, he said sailing in beautiful Mahurangi and meeting other TIWAL owners was well worth the long drive.
A few boats missed out on the TIWAL NZ Cup due to changed schedules and COVID lockdowns, but we hope to get another event organised soon for those who missed out.
New Years Eve, 2021 and it is near perfect weather: My partner and I left it till 5pm to decide to sail our TIWAL dinghies to Rangitoto Island and climb to the top for the midnight fireworks show. It was refreshing to be able to just go on a local adventure so easily. Our company at the top of Rangitoto included a couple who came across in a small tender from Castor Bay and campers from Motatapu Island. It was a perfect evening - why hadn’t we done this before?
A bucket list of TIWAL adventures is forming: Cathedral Cove, Tiritiri Matangi, Mahurangi and Duder Regional Park… all you need is a car, a TIWAL and waterproof bag. The compact inflatable TIWAL sailing dinghies have revolutionised adventure by sail.
To build the TIWAL community I have organised a TIWAL Cup at Mahurangi (Sullivans Bay) on Saturday 27th February. Beginner and advanced sailors of all ages and sizes will enjoy some fun and races around Mahurangi Inlet and Saddle Island.
The Fleet will also join the Bridge to Bean Rock Race run by Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on Sunday. The out-of-town TIWAL owners will get the chance to sail the length of Auckland harbour. A stunning sight, complete with AC75s zooming around.
Later this year a new division will join the TIWAL Class. TIWAL is bringing out an equally portable and quick to assemble racing version - the Tiwal 3R. In keeping with the TIWAL vision, it is a low maintenance, racing dinghy which you can transport in the back of your car.
Unfortunately no trans-Tasman bubble means no Australians at the TIWAL Cup - it would have been great to give them the chance to sail in Auckland at this exciting time. Watching Jimmy Spithill represent the country on Prada and Joey Newton on INEOS Team UK will have to do!
If you would like to book a sail in a TIWAL and join us on the day contact Melinda Henshaw on 021 611623 or visit www.tiwal.nz to find your local agent.
And if you have time, check out these videos for some TIWAL action:
Surf a Tiwal in Hawaii!
Turn on the sound for this awesome TIWAL 2 action
TIWAL CUP 2019 (France)
Yesterday, I taught 18 kids between 8 and 12 years old how to sail. One kid, Aaron, was the size of a 16 year old, if not bigger. He sat squashed in an Optimist for a day and it was obvious he was going to hate sailing by the end of the week.
So I put the TIWAL 2 in my car the following day. All of a sudden he became focused and alive as blended in with the group. He no longer had to feel bigger, heavier and slower than everyone else. The group had the benefit of Aaron's equally large personality. He was shouting and laughing as he grew in confidence and the rest of the group seemed to draw on his energy.
So now, whenever I teach a group, I know to put a TIWAL in the car!
Here is an adult's experience of dinghy sailing for the first time:
About twenty years ago, I decided sailing was not for me. My brother urged me to climb into his little ‘Corsair’ for a sail. I’d finished my Uni degree in Sports Science. I was passionate about craft design, training and coaching. I had rowed surf-boats, paddled surf-racing skis and represented Australia in sprint kayaking. Within less than a minute of climbing down into the Corsair, I remember thinking, “Stuff this! I’m cramped, uncomfortable, tangled in ropes, ducking a boom; and I already have a wet ####! No wonder nobody sails around here!” I was out! Compared to the simplicity and freedom of other water-craft, I thought sailing a dinghy was a nightmare. I would still feel the same today if I hadn’t tried Melinda’s TIWAL Sailing Dinghy. I love sailing today.
by Robert Dickson BHMS, Sunshine Coast, Australia.
More Fun, more Participation revisited again
What are some positive ways to move forward for the sailing dinghy scene?
Here in NZ, the sailing clubs are putting their thinking caps on to find a way to get people back into clubs. The racing classes seem to have fragmented the sailing population, young and old, as people have to choose between buying expensive equipment or moving to a different club, or giving up altogether. All of which stalls the participation in the club scene.
I got so much out of sailing dinghies in a club as a junior, youth, and still do as a senior. We used to hold regional mixed class regattas, both at club sailing and for regional regattas. They were popular because they were so much fun. And the best thing about it was you could turn up with whatever boat you had. Fathers and mothers sailed as well as the children. The young sailors saw a variety of classes they could progress to and everyone benefited from the social interaction.
We just got on the water and raced. We raced our boats around islands, stakes, reefs, and markers using either Mark Foy starts or handicapping. By having regattas away from the main sailing centres, people got to travel, which appealed to many. Local economies benefited from these regattas as people stayed overnight. For example, a regatta was held on Lake Rotorua, in the North Island, a town which is very geared towards tourism. Such towns may be even more appreciative now that much travel and tourism has been halted. Is this an opportunity?
There was also less emphasis on high performance, and more emphasis the grass roots. I remember an amazing sailor who was past his heyday teaching us how to use a spinnaker well. He gave up his time for us as it was his passion. Whether anyone reached Olympic level or not, we learnt how to start and race in fleets. We would not have got those skill levels had we not travelled to regional regattas. And for those that didn't reach Olympic level they had great fun, and stored great memories. This will always help the sport in the long term.
So for the clubs, parents, sailing class associations and sponsors out there, perhaps it is time to bring back some of the old ways: more participation, broader experiences, more fun and less emphasis on competition?
Stay safe and have fun on the water
#tiwal #sailing #learntosail
What makes you feel alive?
As we head into winter months it can be easy to stay on the couch instead of pushing ourselves and our bodies to new limits.
Now more than ever I appreciate the benefits of getting outdoors or going sailing during winter, as I sit here in lockdown, unable to go sailing.
When you are challenged by something, (for sailors it could be a new boat, strong winds, big waves, or a long race, etc); every anxious thought or pent up frustration is suddenly directed towards manoeuvring and handling a boat planing along the water, trying to keep the boat upright and travelling fast.
Or perhaps the surprise of finding a long day of winter sunshine which you can appreciate from a boat in the middle of a harbour or lake.
I have learnt more about a healthy body as I focus on wellness and I have learnt how important Vitamin D, Iodine, Zinc, Vitamins A and C are in keeping the body functioning.
I remember the fantastic feeling I had after being on the water all weekend for a regatta (I had an office job at the time); and I put it down to the Vitamin D. Are we solar-powered, or what?
And the feeling a short sail can give you - an aerobic workout: the core and leg muscles are working constantly to balance yourself as you work to balance the boat. The muscles of the hands and arms work as you work the sail and the ropes, and control the steering.
How are you coping with your lockdown? What attitude will you take forward from this experience? How will you think about the winter ahead as we gaze outside at this beautiful weather?
I will be more grateful for the freedom to get out on the water, no matter what the weather conditions or circumstances.
What about you? How will you maintain your love of life?
At this time of year I usually teach sailing at Buckland Beach Yacht Club, and for Sailability Auckland, a great programme designed for people with disabilities. My background is in Olympic sailing, and I still compete every year at the Womens' National Keelboat Champs.
I have enjoyed some time off the water to get fitter and to put together learn to sail videos for you. I am passionate about getting people on the water and enjoying this amazing sport.
If you want to take up a new challenge but you need a little inspiration and confidence to get on your sailing journey, please get in touch!
Videos: Learn to Sail: Steering and Learn to Sail: Wind Direction
For your personal demonstration of a TIWAL or to find a dealer near you please get in touch here.
And finally here are a few ideas to inspire you to get on the water!
Check out last year's TIWAL Cup in France
⛵️ Try Virtual Skipper or Virtual Regatta - a virtual programme where you can sail and race around the world!
And just for fun…
Some footage of 18 footers sailing in my favourite place in the world to sail …. Lake Garda, Italy…. https://youtu.be/mqNt7ajZtto
AND some footage of Sail GP in Sydney https://youtu.be/gbuoQHUc-Jk
Have fun, stay safe and see you on the water soon.
ARE YOU TEACHING YOUR CHILD TO SAIL?
As a sailing coach for children I come across low water confidence in kids all the time. Often, I have to go right back to basic water confidence. I don't want these kids to become an Olympic sailor like I was, I just want them to have the opportunity to see the ocean as their playground; a place where they can explore, think expansively, grow from challenges, support others, learn how to relax, get strong, get better balance and get fit.
Some fun ways to do this?
- Games with boats upside down, jumping off boats, jumping from boat to boat
- Standing up on or walking around the edge of boats, making the boat rock around, swimming under a boat.
- Towing the boat behind another dinghy - get kids to get used to the balance and then stand up and balance
- Sailing in pairs can give a less confident child a way onto a boat with more support or fun.
- Sailing with an adult can accelerate a child's confidence and learning
The most important thing with teaching someone to sail is that the process is a gentle one. The kids will pick up confidence and concepts at their own pace according to their level of water confidence and coordination. It is very hard to get a child back onto a boat after a bad experience!
Make sure before you put your child in a boat, that he/she can right the boat by themselves after a capsize and they can get back in.
In a TIWAL Inflatable sailing dinghy, getting back onto the boat after a capsize is easy! And the great thing about the TIWAL.... it does not not fill up with water, eliminating yet another opportunity for panic.
If a child has lost confidence or got frustrated learning in an Opti, I often put them on the TIWAL with a friend and they are soon enjoying things again. It works a treat!
If you would like more tips on learning to sail please join my newsletter on
I sent a TIWAL 3 to my new customer, Joachim, on the Wednesday and he was sailing in Melbourne on the Saturday. His text: 'I took it out straight away - it is nothing short of amazing!! Very happy with it'.
Here, in NZ, we have been busy inventing a new 'skin' for the TIWAL 3 turning the boat into a splash free dinghy complete with a mount for an outboard. We tested a Torqeedo electric outboard which was fantastic, and we also looked into the technology behind dropstitch - read on for more info!
Would you like to try a TIWAL? Please give me a call and we will arrange it!
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I hope you are having a great summer.
Im a competitive sailor and a coach of people with disabilities, a kids' learn to sail coach, and a race coach. I spend a lot of time doing and thinking about sailing and being on the water.
Sailors or boaties like me are often labelled for life - we have caught 'the sailing bug', we are the 'old salts', the old sea dogs, and the ocean addicts.
But the truth is you don't need to be an 'old salt' or even a 'new salt' to be a sailor. In fact you only need a couple of hours out of your time every now and then to enjoy the calmness of going back to nature, back to basics, to float on the sea, river or lake.
You don't need a road map for sailing, nor do you need all the jargon. You need to know how to read a weather forecast, to read the tide timetable and to know what your wind limit is.
You can learn sailing, have fun on the water and find secluded places inaccessible to land lovers. All great for the mind, soul and body.
Yes, there are skills to learn. But if you pick the right sailing conditions and the right boat to learn on, with a bit of effort and guidance you will be sailing!
The TIWAL is a great boat to learn on, and have fun on, and visit places on!
I am a New Zealand sailor who learned to sail in the beautiful Malborough Sounds and then went onto represent NZ at the 2000 Olympics.