Maritimo launches sail boats for a good cause

Maritimo, Australia’s premier luxury boat builder, has completed a new range of boats of a very different kind.

Staff at the Coomera, Queensland, company have turned their skilled hands to building a fleet of 15 Sabot junior training dinghies for the Moreton Bay Boat Club in Brisbane.

A Sabot is small fibreglass single-sail dinghy, 8 feet (2.4 metres) in length and 3ft 9in (1.14 metres) in beam, officially described as a cat rigged hard chine pram dinghy (two blunt ends) carrying a sail of 36 square feet. The boat was introduced to Australian junior sailing in the late 1940s at opposite ends of the country. The Black Rock Yacht Club in Victoria and the Mackay Regatta Club and the Port Denison Sailing Club in north Queensland adopted them at about the same time.

Maritimo General Manager Martin Lewis handed over the first eight Sabot dinghies at a ceremony at the Moreton Bay Boat Club in Scarborough in northern Brisbane and joined the club’s young sailors in a run around the buoys on the bay. He carried a weight penalty against the youngsters but acquitted himself well. Martin is, in fact, an experienced sailor having sailed everything from Sabots as a boy in Sydney to ocean racers and competed in the J24 class in a world championship.

The project began when the Club’s junior sailing instructor Grant Billings approached Martin with the request to build the boats.

“I met some of the Maritimo team when I acted as a scrutineer for the powerboat racing at Scarborough two years ago,” said Mr Billings. “Then 18 months ago I uncovered moulds for the Sabots and knew we would need boat building professionals to make the hulls. So I talked with Martin and he was happy to help.”

According to Marin Lewis, Maritimo was delighted to help Mr Billing and the club with their program.

“Boating is our life at Maritimo,” he said. “We are pleased to be involved with this project to see young people get involved and enjoy this great sport.”

Mr Billings also approached a number of businesses who are involved with the club and raised sponsorship for the rig and sails.

Martin Lewis decided to add another seven boats to the fleet when he saw the numbers and enthusiasm of the young sailors at the club.

“We had just 14 juniors 18 months ago,” said Mr Billings. “I have been a member of the club for 20 years and took over the junior division three years ago. I wanted to help kids get away from computer screens and into boats. Now we have 50 youngsters all eager to go sailing every weekend.”

Many top sailors started in Sabots and recommend them for junior training. America’s Cup winning skipper John Bertrand chose a Sabot for his children while 470 Sydney Olympics Gold Medallist Mark Turnbull learnt to sail in a Sabot. Other Olympians who started in a Sabot include Lars Kleppich and Jessica Crisp.