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Western Australia has some of the best and also most treachorous sailing waters in the world, with Fremantle and Cockburn Sound being the base for most ocean racing,and Melville Water on the Swan River the venue for river racing.

Most ocean races start off the North Mole at Fremantle, a short sail north from Fremantle Sailing Club. Many yachts not based at Fremantle Sailing Club must drop their masts to pass under the bridges to get out to sea. Many races are sailed in the waters off Fremantle and around Rottnest Island. Longer ocean races include Perth to Bunbury, Perth to Cape Naturaliste and Perth to Albany.

Yacht clubs on Melville Water include South of Perth Yacht Club at the confluence of the Canning and Swan Rivers, Royal Perth Yacht Club (once holder of yachting's holy grail, the America's Cup) opposite on Pelican Point, Mounts Bay Sailing Club, Perth Flying Squadron, Claremont Yacht Club, Nedlands Yacht Club and Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club.

Mounts Bay Sailing Club will celebrate 100 Years of Sailing later this year, commencing with the Opening Day Saturday 6th October 1996 (1.55pm Official Opening Ceremony). For more details check out their home page.

It is an impressive and colourful sight to see on Saturday afternoons in the warmer months, when up to a dozen separate fleets ranging from tiny Mirror dinghies through to Diamonds and Solings, and cruising yachts of 34 feet or more, compete for space with each other and with catamarans such as Hobie 16s and Tornados, while Windsurfers and Wavejumpers career around at random adding to the confusion. Remarkably there are few collisions.

Over the years I have sailed Hobie 16s out of Perth Flying Squadron as well as off the beach at Whitfords, YW Diamonds out of Royal Perth Yacht Club, and S&S 34s out of Royal Perth Yacht Club and Fremantle Sailing Club. Back trouble has restricted my sailing over recent years, and I now limit myself to the occasional run in our Windrush Surfcat 12, a more sedate craft easy to single-hand in any weather.

For those keen to enjoy a bit of competitive sailing in a more relaxed mood, Royal Perth Yacht Club runs the Wednesday Afternoon Keen Sailors (Wanks) races EVERY WEDNESDAY throughout the year (you have to be keen to get on the river on a cold rainy July afternoon, but I never missed a race from mid-1979 to late-1981). Visitors are welcome and can invariably get a ride, although some sailing skills improves your chances. Please note that if you intend to sail YOU MUST WEAR WHITES - shorts or long trousers, T-shirts or shirts are all aceptable, but except for wet-weather gear, it MUSTbe white. For further information contact the Club on (09) 389 1555.