The peak of my sailing career was at the 2000 Olympics. I was young 23yr old, and sailing in a 470, a two person boat. We had a top 10 world ranking, we were fully funded and we were ‘the cream of the cream’ the NZ Sports Foundation told us. Expectations were high.
We were fast in the build up to the Games - we had a very well tuned, well built and fast boat.
We had consistent, good results in the first few races of the regatta and our competitors took the chance to tack right on us when they could. Despite this, we were in 2nd place a few days into the regatta.
There was nothing normal about this regatta; there were reporters surrounding the boat park, the regatta stretched to nine days long due to lay days and days with no wind. There was plenty of time for self doubt to creep in.
We decided to use someone to spot the wind from the Sydney cliffs and talk to us via radio about the wind before the race. Perhaps we were overhyped and overthinking things, but I sailed the race looking around at everyone else instead of just focusing on our own race. We finished mid fleet.
Then, I made a mistake during the rigging the next morning.
We were doing well in the next race and then our jib falls down and we were sailing around the course with only one sail, helplessly watching our competitors sail away.
After the race, we fixed our jib, but desperation took over and I thought I had to do something special. We crossed the start-line and hear the ‘individual recall’ hooter, but we couldnt bear to even consider we might have been over the start line too early, and we stubbornly don't look back. We raced hard and won but we didn't hear the gun when we cross the line - we were disqualified. I later heard we were not just a little bit over the line, we were well over.
The team manager wanted to help give me a public profile and lead me to Peter Montgomery who is live on radio. Peter says, ‘Now Melinda, can you please explain to New Zealand how you can drop from 2nd place to 12th place in one day?’
On the last day of racing we had a beautiful breeze and the crowds were on Sydney’s cliffs cheering on the Aussie crew who were leading the regatta. My pride kicked in and I got caught up in the moment. We tacked in and out of the cliffs moving up the fleet, and I lean out (hike) a bit further, and a bit further still. Then during a tack, I missed my hiking strap and all of a sudden I am in the water staring at the underside of my capsized boat. Embarrassed at capsizing in front of cameras and crowds, we quickly righted the boat. We finished the regatta in 11th overall.
Now, I can honestly say that the build up and the experience of being in Sydney for the Olympics was absolutely amazing. There was so much atmosphere and there were plenty of opportunities to distract myself from feeling the intense disappointment of our placing.
And I still love sailing, which is why it is always a pleasure to get other people into sailing, especially in dinghies, with the TIWAL Inflatable Sailing Dinghy.
When I'm not involved with TIWAL Inflatable Sailing Dinghies, I teach at Sailability and I have met so many interesting people and have learned so much from them.
Most of all, I like the people at Sailability. They make me feel so relaxed as they have so much understanding and endless amounts of patience.
Some are anxious yet are not afraid to ask for help, and some have no fear at all, and will sail off into the horizon if I don't ask them to turn around.
It reminds me to question my own self imposed 'rules' and self limiting beliefs.
Lastly, I fully support the bid to get Paralympic Sailing back into the Paralympics. Let's get behind the bid!
This is written by my partner who observed the scene at Sailability one day:
What Sailing Can Teach Us by Robert L. Dickson
Imagine this: You are one of a dozen 16 to 18 year-old youth at the yacht club's Youth Training Programme. You are being towed aboard a fleet of racing yachts to a pontoon where a hydraulic hoist will lift your boats from the water for maintenance. This fleet is to be used in a fast-approaching World Championships. You and your mates will be cleaning the slimy hulls of these yachts: a new experience for you all! As you approach the pontoon, you see a small fleet of colourful sailing dinghies tied along the pier.
As you leap ashore, an old man on crutches shuffles awkwardly down the ramp towards you. Bert, who is ex-navy, has muscular dystrophy which limits his leg strength and control. He drops the crutches on the deck, and with the help of a younger fellow, begins to struggle into the closest sailing dinghy. You look at your friends for a reaction. They're looking at you for the same.
The overhead boom and chain suddenly rattle and spring into action. You all look up to see another man in a sling being swung out over the water and lowered like a sack of spuds into a purple sailing dinghy a little further down the pier. John is almost quadriplegic since a hang-gliding accident 20 years ago. He smiles down and waves as you gaze in disbelief. With help, he is lowered into his seat, and begins to sort out ropes with fumbling hands.
Just then, a wheelchair rolls down the ramp towards you. It's carrying a small woman (or is it a girl?) whose arms flail about wildly as her legs and feet twist and turn and her pretty face moves in all directions. 'Mack' has cerebral palsy. As you and your stunned friends watch in awe, she is lifted off the wharf and carefully manoeuvred down into the padded seat of a red-sailed dinghy in front of you. With her arms spread out strangely on the deck behind her like she’s flying, she quietly sails away from the dock, unassisted.
A lady staggers onto the pontoon in a walking frame, dragging her feet awkwardly. Jan has progressing muscular dystrophy. With help, she leaves the frame, drops to her knees, and begins to crawl towards her yellow dinghy. She struggles aboard.
Now, you and your friends begin to move to hold the boats while the rest of the Sailability squad get aboard. A young teenage boy with walking disabilities happily wanders past towards his yellow dinghy at the end of the pier.
The coach, steps into a coach boat, starts the outboard, and follows her squad out into the harbour. You all watch silently until your supervisor calls you back to action. It's scrubbing time!
A week later on the squadron's pontoon, your coach announces that he’s invited a motivational speaker to talk to you this morning about ‘attitude’. The speaker will arrive soon. You are all hoping the coach has secured an America's cup skipper, or one of the many Olympians.
Flailing her arms, feet and head as she’s wheeled towards you is ‘Mack’, the cerebral palsy girl. Mackenzie Kench is your motivational speaker on ‘attitude’. She will address you through an electronic dictaphone.
You know now that you will never forget this day, this girl, and the lesson you’re learning on attitudes to life, living and humanity: lessons about humility, patience, determination and the realities of life outside your comfort zone. Way outside!
The Sailability Experience. Any contact with 'Sailability' is a collision with your own attitude. It's a privilege for that reason. Sailability is not about boats or about sailing. It's about people who won't submit to circumstances, and about helping others to do the same. The closer you get, the more you realise 'Together Everyone Achieves More'. TEAM. It might be a team of just two; but it takes a team! A carer or coach and a keen learner. A boat rigger or trailer repairer and a keen sailor. A boom winch operator and a paraplegic adventurer. A yachtsman or ferry-driver on the harbour, and a cerebral palsied girl in a colourful little sailboat. If you 'get' the team thing here, you are about to have a life-changing experience.
The Sailability Experience is repeated many times weekly around the world. You see fear, pain, ignorance, limitations and 'inabilities' overcome; freedom and joy achieved against all odds; and courage, freedom and optimism demonstrated. Out on the water in colourful little boats, with ferries tooting, and motor launches, yachts and speedboats swerving and waving, very few people have any idea what they are witnessing! On any day here, if you know what you’re seeing, you’ll get a healthy re-set of your attitudes, and a reminder of what is important in life.
PS To get in touch with a TIWAL Agent near you, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will book a sail with a TIWAL sailboat, for hassle free, low maintenance sailing.
How to get on the water in 20 minutes!
So which TIWAL Inflatable Sailing Dinghy Sail do you choose and is there really much difference?
Some questions to ask yourself:
How heavy am I or and how much sail area do I need? What about family?
How experienced am I and how much sail do I need?
If a TIWAL 2 is for taking on another bigger boat, what size boat do you have and will it be simpler and easier to use a sail without many battens?
Here are some answers which I hope will make your decision easier:
Will the buckles on the Reefable Sail affect airflow?
Sailing Dinghies sail close to the water and there is less wind down low due to a 'surface layer' of lighter wind. So the bottom section of the sail isn't having a huge impact on your speed. The top part of the sail is what matters.
So will the boat still sail optimally? The answer is yes. The buckles will have a minimal effect on the speed of your boat.
Will a battened sail 'hold its shape' for longer?
A full battened sail will 'hold its shape' longer than a sail without many battens.
Will a sail made with monofilm (see-through material) last as long as a Daron sail?
A sail with monofilm will last well, as long as the sail isn't folded along the monofilm. The TIWAL sails are designed to fold along the black Dacron.
What is the benefit of the Furling Sail on the TIWAL 2?
A sail without many battens is easier to rig, handle, and stow on a smaller boat where having less room to move is an issue.
The furling sail also wraps around the mast by removing the boom and undoing the vang and the traveller. The sail wraps around the mast and is held in place using the velcro strip on the sail. This is good for leaving the TIWAL 2 tied off the back of the boat when you are not using it.
Do you want the option of having two sail sizes in one sail?
If you have multiple sailing abilities or sizes of people in your family then the Reefable sail is a good option for you!
TIWAL 3: Do you have the room to keep two sails rigged to grab whichever one you need on the day for hassle free sailing?
If the answer if yes, purchase both the big and small sails and keep them rigged and ready to put straight on the mast and ready to go!
Hello TIWAL owners,
I am in lockdown in Auckland, so I join the majority of you also in some sort of lockdown. I spoke too soon.
So, in the spirit of feeling useful, enlightened, and part of the TIWAL community, read on.
When I tried a small foiling boat for the first time I did more swimming than sailing. I thought I was a good sailor! I needed to get back to basics again - and learn more about apparent wind. Maybe it will help me with my other sailing too?
Have you ever struggled to get sailing? Here is an explanation of apparent wind and why you need to know about it.
Apparent wind is the wind we feel and experience when we are in motion. It's a combination of the actual wind (true wind) that blows over land and sea and the wind created by our moving forward.
Think of your bike when it is moving fast. That wind you feel on your face is apparent wind. Even if there is a slight wind at your back (the true wind) you can still feel the wind coming from in front of you (the apparent wind).
Now, increase that following wind and, at the same time your bike speed, you'll start feeling less of a headwind coming at you. That's because apparent wind is a combination of the true wind and the wind created by speeding forward. The important thing to realize here, however, is that as you travel faster the apparent wind not only increases in speed but it also changes the angle of the wind.
Now relate that to sailing: the wind we feel on our face as we are sailing is the same wind the sail feels - we sail to the apparent wind, not to the true wind.
Have you ever struggled to get moving in very light winds?
Try these two things:
1. Adjust your steering to sail at a reaching angle (across the wind) to increase your boat speed. Once you have increased your boat speed you can then point higher into the wind. You will also be able to steer more easily with more water flow over your centreboard and rudder.
2. The wind hits the sail at a different angle up high, and that means you adjust your sail accordingly - ease the mainsheet to ’twist’ the sail at the top.
When there is almost no wind, the layer of air close to the water is very slow. The wind higher up maybe 2 knots more. So you may have 0.5 knots at the bottom of your sail and 2.5 knots at the top of your sail.
Slow wind speeds on the surface mean if you are sailing upwind, beam reaching or broad-reaching it will mean that the apparent wind will be almost directly ahead of you at your eye level, but at the top of the mast the wind will be coming more from the side so there will be a massive twist (change of direction in the apparent wind).
If you want to enjoy a smooth sailing experience or an adrenaline filled ride, book a sail in a TIWAL Inflatable Sailing Dinghy and get on the water in 20 minutes.
As a coach at Sailability Auckland I am privileged to witness a special thing. Nick came to to Sailability for the first time after having been stuck inside for weeks on end; silently rolling his wheelchair from the TV to the window and back again, all day long.
The first time Nick got into a boat by himself he wanted to do everything perfectly, he worried he wasn’t good enough and he got frustrated with himself when he wasn’t able to do a manoeuvre the way he wanted to.
Then he sailed into the wide open ocean he realised it was just him, and his boat and the wind . The feeling of freedom hit him. It was being in nature, a feeling of adventure, a sense of fulfilment and independence. I heard a shout from him: ‘This is my s***!!!!!’
This is the story of four people who also 'found their s***’ on their TIWAL!
Jocelyn is 69 years old and she was looking for the one thing which would take her sailing again while allowing her to be independent. Jocelyn first saw the TIWAL at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show on the Gold Coast and she knew straight away it was ‘just what I had been looking for’; a lightweight boat to handle, a comfortable deck and easy rigging. It was love at first sight!
Jocelyn lives on Waiheke Island. She rolls her boat down the driveway to the water in her bathing suit and lifejacket, puts the mast up by herself and wheels her boat to the water.
Stephen had just recovered from a serious illness which left him weak and unfit. He was embracing his shot at life and wanting to try learning to sail. He first saw the TIWAL online and saw it was easy to rig, easy to learn in, easy to get back on if he capsized.
Now he thinks his TIWAL is ‘just the best’ and he is out in it on Lake Taupo at every opportunity. He sails the TIWAL 3 with the smaller sail while learning, and hopes to take it to the lakes in the South Island later this year.
Paul, 72, wanted to feel inspired to get on the water again, to race again. He had owned many yachts in the past but wanted sailing to be easier, cheaper, without the hassles of maintenance. He first saw the TIWAL at the Sydney Boat Show and he found something which actually met all his needs. He just needed to see if he could sail it and after a quick demo at Rose Bay, he knew he could manage it himself.
Paul sailed his TIWAL in many places on holidays around NSW, and now races every Saturday at Concorde Ryde Sailing Club. In his words ‘it is just so easy!’.
Toby wanted to learn sailing and he saw the TIWAL online. He has a young family, a high pressure job but loves fitting all sorts of adventures into his spare time. He wants a boat he can put in his car, go for a sail and be back home; all within 3 hours.
Toby sails on the Gold Coast Broadwater and enjoys continuing to improve his sailing skills.
The TIWAL can cater for a range of ages, abilities and experience. Whether you want a relaxed cruise or an adrenaline filled ride, the TIWAL is for you! These sailors I have mentioned and the TIWAL Team are all happy to share their TIWAL experiences with you. Take the plunge and start your TIWAL journey. Ask us for support - we are here to help!
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
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.