In a first for Japan, Sarah Muto, a 15 year-old sailor from Hayama Sailing Club, competed in the RS Aero Rooster Australian National Championships. Sarah travelled from Japan to compete alongside 60 entries in this national regatta, which also saw sailors travelling to Australia from as far away as the United Kingdom.
Sarah only started sailing three years ago, aged 12, when she was in the sixth grade. Ballet had been her sport of choice, and when the ballet school had to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, a friend invited her to try sailing instead. She was instantly hooked. Beginning in the RS Tera class, Sarah soon progressed on to the RS Feva and then sailing the RS200 with her friends.
In 2023 Sarah started sailing Hayama’s club boat, the RS Aero. A natural sailor, less than a year into sailing the RS Aero, she went on to win the All-Japan High School Sailing Championships for Girls in July of that year.
President of Hayama Sailing Club, Mr. Nakao, saw great potential in Sarah and recommended that she enter the Rooster Australia sponsored 2024 RS Aero Australian National Championships.
“I enjoy sailing in the strong wind with the RS Aero,” said Sarah. The Championships, hosted by Mount Martha Yacht Club, was in the Bay of Port Phillip Bay, a horsehead-shaped enclosed bay on the central coast of southern Victoria. The area is known for its light-to-moderate north easterlies, with gentle wind in the morning often building to a punchier sea breeze in the afternoon. It is also home to lots of amazing wildlife – dolphins even popped up to play with the fleet on Day 3 of the event.
The Australian Nationals featured a high level of competition with National, Olympic and World Champions in the mix. Sarah finished a respectable 4th place in the 10-strong RS Aero 5 fleet after some very close racing. You can view the overall results here.
It’s been “enjoyable reaching back and forth” with “tough competition on the upwind” and “surfing down the waves”, said fellow RS Aero 5 competitor, Phillipa Dank from the Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron when interviewed during the event. Phillipa highlighted the wealth of knowledge shared at the Championships; “getting that experience of sailing with other sailors around the world, especially the Japanese, it’s been awesome.”
Sarah has enjoyed “sailing on the beautiful water in Melbourne and making a lot of friends in Australia”. Camaraderie is part of RS Aero sailing and the buddy system on and off the water at Mount Martha Yacht Club ensured local sailors and international sailors could support each other. “It’s always been a very, very, friendly group of people” says RS Aero 6 sailor, Michael O’Brien, representing Royal Brighton Yacht Club at the Championships. “The volunteers and the organisers make this regatta. They’re doing little social things, little extra things; tips and tricks at the end of racing – the freedom of sharing. It’s [the RS Aero community] a great group of people and Mount Martha represents that extremely well.”
Looking forward, Sarah wants to compete in the 2024 RS Aero World Championship which is being held at the UK based Hayling Island Sailing Club from August 25th – August 30th. Sarah’s goal and ambition within the sport? “To promote the joy of sailing to as many people as possible!”.
Article by RS Sailing
With thanks to Hayama Sailing Club and interviewee Sara Muto
Michael O’Brien and Phillipa Dank comments sourced from the Mount Marta Yacht Club ‘Sail Locker’ Interviews on Instagram