A world of BLiSSful Opportunity for ‘cover girl’ Caitlin

by Karen McCloskey

The ‘Gateway to BLiSS’ leads off Royal Brighton’s ninth annual BLiSS Regatta and Training program for 2017, with two days high level on water coaching for the more experienced sailors and a more introductory course for the less experienced. The BLiSS Regatta will be contested over the weekend of April 29-30 and you can choose to race with spinnakers or in the non-spinnaker division. The Sunday Race also provides the fifth and final race of the Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series (PPWCS) and the Associates Cup for RBYC female members.


Not sure where to begin? The opportunities created by participation and training are well borne out by the story of our ‘cover girl’ for the BLiSS Regatta this year – Caitlin Poulton. Caitlin has worked on some of the world’s most glamorous yachts and her story is an absolute inspiration for any woman thinking about learning to sail.


The funny thing is, Caitlin doesn’t come from a sailing family, and she grew up miles from water, with no connections to sailing. She just had a gut feeling, an urge to be out there in the elements, on the water. This could have been what made her walk into the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron in St Kilda (the Squadron) in early June 2008 while the preparations were well underway for the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta. Having no experience at all, she knew it would be a tough call trying to get a ride as crew, in this fiercely fought competition. Luck was with her that day though and she jumped at a chance of helping out on the start boat.


Also on the start boat that year was George Shaw, a long-time supporter of women in sailing. George offered Caitlin the chance to learn to sail on his 37’ Cavalier, By Order of the Secretary (BOOTS). Over the next few years Caitlin enjoyed ‘learning the ropes’ in both Bay and Ocean racing events.


Basically, Caitlin was hooked - she saved hard, quit her desk job and took off backpacking in Canada, landing a job on the slopes. At every opportunity, she continued sailing and when she returned to Oz she got her STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) - the ‘must have’ qualification for anyone wanting to work on boats internationally. This helped her land a job on a superyacht in the Med mainly working indoors as a stewardess. During the off-season, she returned to Oz and landed a place on a motor yacht working out of Cairns. This takes her to top destinations including the Solomon Islands all in a days work.


About her future plans, she had this to say. “I do want to save for my yacht master and get a deck job. Deck is even more competitive so I have to keep learning. But my heart is in sails and as much as I’m really enjoying what I’m doing, I’m excited about the future. There are some sail yachts in this industry that do the big regattas. That’s where I’m headed.”


So you too could be living the dream! Come and join us to experience all that is on offer.


To ensure all female sailors benefit from the training opportunities, the less experienced group will participate in coming to grips with the basic principles of sailing and racing. For the more experienced sailors, BLiSS sponsor AMS Yacht Racing is providing two FREE high level coaching days run by experienced coach Gavin Dagley, the current Laser Grand Master World Champion.

Day 1 – Sun 26 March 

Mechanics and specific tactics on the start line and rounding marks 

Day 2– Sun 23 April 

How to get the most out of Sailing Downwind.


As a prelude to Training Day 2, the recent creation of the Synergy partnernship between Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta and Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series including SYC’s Women in Sailing Challenge and RBYC’s BLiSS regatta, will see Blake Anderson of Doyle Sails present AWKR Lecture #2 on the preceeding Wednesday 19 April at RMYS, on ‘Flying Kites – the Winning Formula’ followed by the famous Kite Packing Competition – a perfect warm up for the on water training the following Sunday.


Places for the BLiSS Training are limited, so register now http://www.rbyc.org.au/bliss-training-attendance

Enter here for the BLiSS regatta

If you require further details, can provide a boat or can take additional crew please email blissregatta@rbyc.org.au

More information about the comprehensive Victorian Women’s Keelboat Training program for 2017 is available on the Women & Girls in Sailing website.


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