Veteran sailor and yacht teacher, Paul O’Dolier

Comments (0) Interviews

A veteran sailor, Paul is very much at home on the ocean wave. He specialises in teaching all aspects of yachting.





How long have you lived on the Coffs Coast, and what are your favourite things about the area?

I have lived here since 1996. I love being near the ocean and its accessibility … love the walks in the forests and along the beaches. The climate is especially good for 9 months of the year.

How long have you been sailing, and how did you get started? 

I began sailing when I was 8 years of age in Yowie Bay in Sydney. I started because there was a yacht club in Yowie Bay; I first sailed skates, and it went from there to bigger yachts.

What do you enjoy most about the sport?

I love being on the water. Sailing is a sport in which you are always learning and being challenged by the elements. There are risks involved, strenuous activity with the need for strategy all at the same time, to give a winning outcome.

Tell us about Holiday Coast Yachting and your involvement with the club.

Holiday Coast Yachting was formed in 2004 as a partnership, but became my sole responsibility 2 years ago.

I am the principal and chief instructor for the school and have two other instructors. Holiday Coast Yachting is a Royal Yachting Association and Yachting Australia accredited school. We teach students from beginner level as competent crew, to international commercial qualifications that allow the holder to skipper vessels up to 200 tonnes.

Holiday Coast Yachting is a small, intimate schoo. We pride ourselves on offering personalised training and as such, we are able to cater to all requirements and timeframes for learning.

We have no commercial involvement with Coffs Harbour Yacht Club, other than requests that our students join up as members.

How often does the club meet/race?

Coffs Harbour Yacht Club races through summer every Thursday evening (called the Twilight Series) and through winter on the odd Saturday or Sunday. None of the racing is carried out using spinnakers, due to the category format and insurance requirements.

What sort of yacht do you sail?

I own an Australian built Sydney 41 yacht named B52. It is a racer/cruiser, designed for races such as Sydney to Hobart.

Tell us about it …

It was built in 1995 and has been owned by me since 2004 after being demasted in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart and being rebuilt.

She is in Commercial 2C Survey and has Category 2 racing accreditation and RYA/YA accreditation.

We hear you’re captaining a team in this year’s Pittwater to Coffs race. Have you been involved in the race before?

We are competing in the 2012 Pittwater to Coffs race series that begins on 2 January. B52 and myself have competed in this race series 6 previous times, always with a crew made up of mainly students, who have never raced offshore before. In the last 2 years of our entries, we placed 2nd in the race, and 2nd in the series, and 3rd in the series, in our PHS division.

What is your plan of attack for this year’s race?

Our plan is to try and repeat the previous results, and maybe do better. Unfortunately, we can’t plan how we will approach the race until the night before, as weather and conditions rule our decisions.

What sort of preparation is involved for a race like the Pittwater to Coffs?

It begins with finding a crew, training the crew on spinnakers and boat handling that will equip them to be competitive with experienced crews from Sydney. The boat and safety equipment need to be prepared, and there is a mountain of paperwork that has to be complied with. A number of the crew must do a Sea Survival course, must have radio operators licences and must have senior first aid.

We try to get sponsors, as this cuts down on the crew costs – it costs Holiday Coast Yachting approximately $20,000 each year to do this race. This year our sponsors are Holiday Coast Yachting, Plaza Medical Centre (Dr Andrew Duguid) and Yokohama Tyres (Ross Thomson – Bob Jane T-Marts), OAS Bookkeeping (Diane Leach).

Who else is part of your team, and what role(s) do they play?

• Paul D’Olier – Skipper

• Andrew Duguid – Watch-leader, paperwork organiser and of course, medico (has done 3 previous Pittwater to Coffs)

• Graham Patterson – Watch-leader and all round fixit man (has done 5 previous Pittwater to Coffs)

• Lorenz Beckett – crew

• Ross Thomson – crew

• Ross Forbes – crew

• Diane Leach – crew

• Greg Rolfe – crew

• Steve Webb – crew (has done 1 previous Pittwater to Coffs).

All crew are involved in navigation and sail handling throughout the race.

Land crew are Sylvia D’Olier and Sheryl Duguid, who travel to Sydney prior to the race with a trailer full of racing equipment and very importantly, provisions for the crew, and then travel back with a trailer full of cruising equipment on the 2 January after the start of the race.

What are some of the challenges you face out on the water?

Of course, the weather plays a major part.

If the conditions are windy and rough, we will be pushing boat and crew to the limit of breaking, while trying to keep our crew safe. This is a risky sport in these conditions.

Whatever the weather throws at us, the challenge will be to perform with minimal sleep for 30 plus hours and navigate safely close to the coast, while maintaining maximum performance out of the boat and crew throughout the whole race.

For someone who is just starting out in sailing, what advice can you offer?

Begin by contacting a sailing school if you are interested in sailing yachts, or your local sailing club if you are interested in dinghy sailing.

Thanks Paul. Good luck with the race!

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