A Bendigo teen’s dream to sail around the world
Relatively unknown Victorian sailor Rain Forbes has a dream to join the ranks of famous Australian adventurers Jon Sanders, Kay Cottee, Jesse Martin and Jessica Watson, some of whom she has admired from afar and who have helped drive her sailing goals.
“Rain understands the importance of gaining experience before pursuing her dream of one day sailing around the world. An important part of that is to build her working life around her goals. She started through teaching sailing and has recently joined North Sails as an apprentice sail maker,” the ORCV’s Delma Dunoon said.
A mature 17-year-old Forbes sat down with Olga Kostochka at the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) and divulged her long-term ambitions after discovering a passion for sailing, her infancy in ocean racing and the work she is doing to achieve her dreams.
OK: Tell us how you’ve found inspiration? Who are the key people in the sailing world you’ve looked up to and are following?
RF: I’ve read widely including about Kay Cottee, Jesse Martin and Pete Goss – all inspirational. During lockdown last year I read Jessica Watson’s book, which has really inspired me to follow my sailing goal, grow my independence and one day sail around the world. As soon as I’m ready, it would be awesome to do it and provide inspiration for others like me.
Presently, I’m focusing on gaining experience and meeting people. I used to not know a lot, but having completed my Safety and Sea Survival, and recently joining the Vertigo crew, I gained keelboat experience and will continue to look to build from there.
OK: You grew up in Bendigo, a long way from the bay or oceans, how did you discover a passion for sailing? What is your current work and study path?
RF: After a ‘moment’ at a garage sale, my dad and I headed to a local sailing school at Lake Eppalock. It wasn’t until I gained my Assistant Instructors qualification at 12 years old however, that I really fell in love with sailing. Teaching then led me toward gaining my full Instructors’ certification, which was the best decision I’ve ever made.
After finishing Year 10, I was too distracted with thoughts of sailing to go on with school. I applied for and was offered a position as a dinghy sailing instructor in Melbourne. At 16, I was still living at home in Bendigo and travelled back and forth by train to Melbourne to work. At the time, I had lots of time to learn and be inspired by sometimes five books on the go all at once.
When I look back at my friends, who have lowered their expectations on school subjects, aren’t attending school, or engaged with it… I still feel it was the right decision for me to pursue sailing. My new direction is providing me with that great level of independence and – wow – I’ve met some amazing people in the sailing world. I couldn’t have done this without my parents’ support. They give me the freedom to carve my own path.
OK: What is your dream?
RF: As a 17-year-old, I’ve got a lot to learn. I want to learn everything there is about sailing with a dream of one day sailing around the world.
OK: Tell us about your first ocean experience sailing the Coastal Sprint Series on Tim and Clare Olding’s Vertigo.
RF: I was so seasick, but I loved every minute of it!
OK: In addition to a strong passion for sailing, you also seem to be a quick learner?
RF: I’m prepared now for my next race to Apollo Bay and will manage the seasickness. I’ll add to my kit some thermals and better wet weather gear. I want to see the waves and dolphins and be part of the team.
OK: Since we first spoke, you have taken on an apprenticeship with North Sails and you are soaking it up. What experiences have you had since we last chatted?
RF: Between instructing and regular training to enter the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (cancelled in 2020 and 2021 this year due to COVID restrictions), I was fortunate enough to crew in the ORCV’S Apollo Bay and Blairgowrie races. Both were epic experiences and provided their own learning opportunities.
A tactical challenge and really getting to know my fellow crew members were great in the gentle run down to Apollo Bay, while the Blairgowrie race saw us sailing in some exciting conditions.
I’ve also recently taken on an apprenticeship trial with North Sails. I’m shocked at how much I’m enjoying it and alarmingly, it’s something I might stick with! Aaron (Cole) and Victoria (Pryce) have been fantastic with all their support; in and out of the loft.
The huge news is, I moved out of home on my 17th birthday, close to work in Sandringham. It’s very different to home – I’ve swapped the bush for the beach! It’s been tricky settling in with lockdown, but I’ve joined the Sandringham Yacht Club and have my dinghy there ready to go.
OK: What have you learnt about ocean racing and its community?
RF: I’ve learnt a crazy amount being a bowman while ocean racing. Simple stuff to do with set-up and trimming of sails was a whole new world. Falling into the flow of how everything works have been so cool.
I’ve learnt that a person’s attitude aboard and on the dock is really important. Reliable, prepared, and positive people are valuable assets when ocean racing. I’ve found we become a more proactive crew and give back to the team when in an uplifting environment.
My mind has been blown away by the ocean racing community. Many accommodating and friendly people gave me a leg up and welcomed me with open arms. Sharing a passion for sailing has led to making some true friends that I look up to and joining the ORCV has been life changing.
OK: What are you looking forward to next?
RF: I’m itching to discover and make the most of the sailing in Melbourne once lockdown ends. I’m excited to see where North Sails will take me. I’m really looking forward to all the future ocean races and meeting everyone who is a part of it.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to team Vertigo – Clare and Tim Olding, Olga Kostochka and the Dunoons (Grant and Delma) – you all rock!
Main photo: Rain Forbes at home on the foredeck of Vertigo