Victorian School Team Sailing Competition success!

Last weekend, the Woodleigh Sailing Team competed in the Victorian School Teams Sailing Championships at Mornington Yacht Club. Our campaign for this regatta started in Term 4 of last year, with our team competing against other schools on Wednesday afternoons at Davey’s Bay Yacht Club. These smaller competitions and weekly training sessions gave our team a great opportunity to compete upfront for a chance to go to nationals.

During my time on this team, there has been a massive growth in the size of the team. When I joined in Year 7, we barely had enough for one team, and we would train only half as much. The team has now grown to 16 people, and we had two very competitive teams in this regatta.

Day 1 saw us racing in heavier breeze with waves rolling through from the south-west. The race officials were trying out a new format of racing called the ‘Swiss League’, which meant pairings were recalculated every ten races, and we would race once in a cycle. Our team was strong, and we had come out of the blocks well, only losing to the incredibly dominant Brighton Grammar team. This put us in second place in the standings, and we were very excited.

Day 2 brought lighter winds and an early start. Races kept rolling through before a rain squall put us under postponement, which gave us a slight break. Racing was extended until 5 pm, which meant we had been racing on and off since 9:30. This was a long day, but Woodleigh held on strong to 3rd position in Division 1 of the championship, just behind Scotch College, and tied with three other teams.

Day 3 had us scratching our heads, wondering if we would race, with the forecast showing light winds throughout the day. After waiting onshore and hyping each other up, racing got underway for the Division 1 sailors, with us fighting for a spot in the Grand Final. The day began with our first race against Scotch, the team that everyone wanted to beat.

Before we headed out to the racecourse, nearly every school was wishing us luck to beat this team, and the mentality was strong. We went out and tried our best but couldn't get the job done. This was unfortunate, and the team was feeling the defeat. A gap in races had us sitting around, waiting for our chance again. Meanwhile, our Division 2 team were smashing it out there and fighting their way to the top of their division. This was awesome to watch our friends compete from the pier, especially with us being right on top of the racecourse.

Our chance came again, but this time it was against the undefeated team, Brighton Grammar. We knew this would be a tough race, but we kept our heads up and tried to defeat them. As we entered the racecourse, they were fierce, and their tactics were incredible. It was great to see the attention to detail in their racing, and they eventually got the win, which meant we were sent into the fight for 3rd place, a final fight for that national spot we had all been working towards this moment.

Our final challenge was against the much-beloved team from Scotch College. It was to be decided in a best-of-three match. We hadn’t yet beaten this team, but we knew deep down that their dirty tactics wouldn't be a match for us. That was our mindset heading into Round 1. We came out of the blocks strong, attacking each boat. This threw them off their game and gave us plenty of opportunities to make gains. We finished that race in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd positions.

We had only one more race to secure the nationals spot. We had to refocus ourselves and agree on the same tactics. The pre-start was incredibly pivotal in the outcome of the race, and that's where we made our biggest gains. We forced errors in the opposition, and my favourite moment of this regatta was forcing the opposition into the Mornington pier right under all the spectators. This resulted in one of the Scotch boats needing to either force a tack from me or gybe around, both giving us a great advantage. We rounded the top mark in a winning 1st and 2nd position and held that position right around the course, solidifying our place.

Division 2 also saw a dominant finals series, with a win against Firbank and taking the title!

It's very satisfying to see our school at the top end of the results card, and I'm sure this team will continue to grow as we pass down the culture and team spirit it has always had.

Firstly, I would like to thank Mr Angelico for sorting out all the logistics and watching us do laps of the same course every Wednesday afternoon. I’d like to thank our coach, Will McKenzie, for giving us direction and growing the skills and knowledge of our team. Also, Daniel Laverty (Year 12) for being an amazing role model for me and the whole team since I joined. It's great to have achieved this result in your last year - who would have thought? Hopefully, I'll see you all in term 4 when it all kicks off again.

Fair winds and following seas.

Year 11


  • 3rd place in Division 1
  • 1st place in Division 2

Woodleigh Sailing State Championships team listed below in skipper/crew pairings:

TEAM 1 (Division 1) - going to Nationals in South Australia

Daniel Laverty, Ajax Calligeros

Pat Cummin, Sophie Matthews

Leigh Harvie, Zoe Heffernan

TEAM 2 (Division 2) - took out Div 2 State Championship title

Andre Nash, Alby Moorhouse

Digby Taylor, Charlotte Thurston

Lucy Laverty, Sofia Ceban-Geysman

Will McKenzie - COACH