What an amazing seven weeks it's been back home in Melbourne.
After a year living overseas in Auckland it is easy to forget all the wonderful things you leave behind back home. Family, friends, colleagues and fellow sailors are just the beginning. It is all the little things that make leaving home so difficult and coming home so special. Home for me is about family, friends, fun times, special trips, creating new memories and, of course, great food and even better coffee.
Since arriving back in Melbourne on 11th March my feet have barely touched the ground. I've been able to spend some precious time with family and friends, catch up with old school mates, trade stories with fellow sailors at Royals, earn a little money for my next adventure in Sydney, spend some time on a new business venture and I even managed to sneak in a hiking trip to Wilson's Prom and a fishing competition with family in Papua New Guinea. It's been a whirlwind but I wouldn't change it for anything. I feel energised, refreshed and raring to go.
As I wrote in my last blog, I am moving to Sydney to join the Youth Sailing Academy at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. I am very excited to start this next phase of my journey and look forward to a year of growth, opportunity and new experiences. For those who know me well, prior planning is not my strong suit so it has taken a lot of effort to put everything in place and I couldn't have done it without a lot of help.
The first, and most pressing problem was to find a place to live. I dream of the day when a professional team wants to pay me lots of money to compete for them but in the meantime, chasing your dreams is expensive and living in Sydney near the waterfront is even more so. I was incredibly fortunate to find a wonderful place to live in Auckland, close to work and sailing and very reasonably priced. I haven't been quite so lucky on the money front although I want to thank India Howard, a team member and friend at the Sailing Academy, for finding me an amazing apartment location in Kirribilli, right on Sydney Harbour's North Shore and only 5 minutes from work. I haven't seen it yet or met my new housemate but India has far more taste than I have so I'm sure it will be perfect and I'm very grateful.
The second obstacle to overcome was finding a job. In Auckland I was incredibly fortunate to have the support of Doyle Sails. They provided a full-time job with the flexibility to take leave whenever I needed it for training and competitions; a sacrifice very few employers would be prepared to make in the competitive world of running a business. While I never really had aspirations to be a sail maker, it was a great experience, taught me a set of new skills to add to the arsenal, and without their help I would not have been able to afford to train in Auckland. Support like this is rare indeed and I was filled with trepidation about my chances of finding another employer sympathetic to my ambitions yet willing to provide a full-time job to someone who is fully engaged in a professional sailing program. I am so pleased to let you all know that I have been able to secure a full-time position working with Jason Neuhaus at Diverse Rigging and Yachting as a rigger.
Diverse Rigging and Yachting is located at Milson's Point and is a new on-water, mobile rigging and yacht maintenance service operating all over Sydney. The sort of work that I will be doing includes: splicing of all rope types, mast assembly and stepping, hydraulic swaging, installing rigging fittings, wire and deck hardware, installation of furling systems, rig inspections and reports for insurance. This is an industry that I have been interested in for quite some time and I even applied for a similar position in Auckland but was unsuccessful. In the international world of yachting riggers are in high demand and a skill set in this field of endeavour would provide opportunities all over the globe. I met Jason at my last regatta in Sydney and really look forward to working and learning from him and remain grateful for the opportunity and support he has shown me.
The next trick was to find a way to get around. I needed a car; but not just any car. I wanted a car with character and personality and I found it! A 1993 Corolla that screams retro; pumped up with a ridiculous stereo, decals, original wheels and even carpet on the dash. I can't wait to drive it up to Sydney and park it next to the Ferrari's and Lamborghini's ouside the cafes in Kirribilli. I'm sure it will be an absolute head turner.
So that's about it! I have a great job, an income, a place to live on Sydney Harbour, an established team to sail with at the Academy, a whole group of new friends from the Yacht Club to hang around with and my surf board for all those famous beaches. I truly have a wonderful life and feel so lucky to be able to share it all with you. I often have to pinch myself to make sure it is all real.
I've decided to leave my update on exactly what boats I will be sailing on, the different events that I will compete in and the International regattas that I hope to be selected for till the next blog. I've rambled on long enough and if you made it this far then you also deserve my gratitude. Special thanks as always to all those many people who make it all happen and continue to support me on this journey - you know who you are and I couldn't do it without you!
Finally a special thanks to Clare Olding for her friendship, support and agreeing to keep me company on my long drive to Sydney in the old 'rolla. Everyone loves a good road trip!