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Tribal Warrior: First Indigenous crew to sail in Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race

Tribal Warrior: First Indigenous crew to sail in Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race

The Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race set a new path for inclusion in 2017 with Andrew Wenham’s Volvo 70 Tribal Warrior boasting a largely Indigenous crew competing in the offshore challenge for the first time.

While many of the Tribal Warrior crew had amassed good experience sailing down to Hobart as an unofficial entry to the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the 2017 entry into the LRSGCYR was a special one for the competitors, many of whom will now qualify for entry in this year’s Hobart race.


While sailing was the main focus, the Tribal Warrior entry carried with it a lot of meaning for the crew but also the wider Indigenous community, whom they were representing. The Tribal Warrior organisation is a registered not for profit organisation which for 20 years has helped Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to create positive pathways in their lives.


Taking that spirit forward was Isaiah Dawe who relished every moment of competition on the waves, “Compared to our sail down to Hobart last year it was a bit more challenging in a sense. I think that was because we were taking on new responsibilities as crew. I’m a bowman but I spent a bit more time in the pit this time, learning new things, abbreviations and acronyms. It’s been a massive learning curve being involved in sailing. There’s just so much to learn in the sport.”


“Overall it was an incredible experience. Just acknowledging nature’s beauty as much as anything. You go to sea and you’re in the middle of the ocean, late at night with stars lighting up the sky, dolphins and whales jumping and algae glowing in the water. Then you have the camaraderie between each of us. You spend so much time together in close proximity, it feels like we’ve known each other forever.”


Following the race, Wayne Jones from Tribal Warrior was presented with the boat’s finishing plaque celebrating their participation and completion of the race.


Jones commented, “It was an unreal event, it’s great for anyone to do a Gold Coast race but to be a part of the first Indigenous crew to do it, it’s just fantastic.”


It was a very very tough race and longer than I expected. Despite the inexperience we had on the boat, some young guys learning, we were actually running fourth until the weather lightened up – that was incredible”


“It was serious at times - we almost lost a guy at one stage. He slipped down to the stanchions and a couple of crew grabbed him before he went over so it that was a bit hairy but we also had some real laughs and that’s what this racing is all about. Getting through the good and the bad together and coming out the other side as a closer unit.”


For boat owner Andrew Wenham the race was all the more meaningful for the involvement of the Tribal Warrior crew.


Wenham commented, “The race was great. It’s very good educational basis for people getting into larger yachts. What we want to do is bring indigenous sailors into the sport through the CYCA – get them involved in the Youth Sailing Academy and then develop up into bigger keelboats.”


“Our course during the race took us a reasonable distance offshore where the boat is in its comfort zone but we also wanted to give this crew a real experience. This is what you can expect like the Hobart, which they’re working towards.”


"We don’t want them thinking this is a cruise up the coast in a straight line, it’s not about that. It’s about working and increasing our crew’s understanding, helping them learn.”