Ocean Racing Club of Victoria
Steb Fisher

Count Her In - KISS

Yes it is on again! The third running of the Keelboat Introduction to Sailing Savvy (KISS) program is now open for registrations. The KISS program initiated by Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club’s (QCYC) first female Commodore Lee Renfree, was launched in 2022 created by women for women, to provide an introductory level of information and experience through a series of social, learning and practical activities for female sailors. 

So why the KISS program?

  • To empower women to transition from ‘passengers’ to confident active ‘participants’.

And how to empower?

  • By encouraging women to “Face Your Fears” and achieve confidence and skills through power of knowledge and hands-on experience
  • Provide opportunity for personal growth, build camaraderie through teamwork
  • Encourage stepping up to lead roles.

In the spirit of the United Nations International Women’s Day 2024 celebrations on 8 March with this year’s theme being  'Count Her In. Invest in women. Accelerate progress' we are ready to give you the means to achieve your sailing goals.

The KISS program rolls out from 15 May through to 24 August, with placement on boats with your assigned team for on-water skills and safety training, six webinars covering topics as outlined in the table below and face-to-face learning with the launch and the workshop day activities, all culminating in the KISS Passage Rally, with our KISS participants taking up all lead roles of Helm, Navigator and Radio Operator for the 26 nautical mile sail from Brighton to Queenscliff.  Yes - this will be you!

The KISS program involves the collaborative support of several Port Phillip keelboat clubs for its delivery and we are indebted to them for their contributions, as we could not do it without them.

Queenscliff Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC), the club of origin, will host the Passage Rally and celebrations at their iconic clubhouse on Sand Island.

KISS 2024 Count Her In photo Denise SmeatonCount Her In - Photo Denise Smeaton

Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) as a partner club, has provided technical and presenter support since the beginning of KISS in 2022 and continues their excellent support and partnership.

Our associate clubs, Hobson’s Bay Yacht Club (HBYC) will host the Radio and Safety workshop day this year with Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) hosting the Launch and pre KISS Rally overnight berthing.

An exciting new partnership has been formed this year, teaming up with charity partner “Sailing Lifts Your Spirits”(SLYS) which recognises front line healthcare workers and first responders for the work they do in the community putting themselves at significantly increased risk of mental health issues. Operating from Brighton, SLYS is committed to saying thank you and promoting positive changes to their mental health by providing twilight sailing experiences over the summer months to introduce them to the benefits of sailing: “Getting Active, Getting out into nature and Getting into a supportive Community”.

For women who have become keen to get into the sport, the KISS program provides a next step introductory course to set them on a pathway to progress their sailing dreams.

Jo Bone from Warrnambool embraced the KISS program Photo KISS media

Jo Bone from Warrnambool embraced the KISS program Photo KISS media

To get a feel for the program, read Jo Bone’s account of her KISS 2023 experience. Living in Warnambool as the most far flung graduate of the KISS Class, she also scooped up her sister Melinda Williams along the way to sign up and her determination never faltered …..

 “Well…what an amazing adventure I have just had!

Initially I was incredibly nervous about jumping on a big yacht when I felt I had little experience. But instantly once joining the crew, meeting (Commodore) Lee and the other girls, I felt completely at ease. We were welcomed as a family and instantly, friendships began. The whole way through the program, we were guided and supported and Lee took us under her wing as any “mother” would. No longer was I being told to “pull the red rope, love”, instead, I was given the responsibility to trim the lines all by myself and not once did I feel overwhelmed, nervous, or scared about what I was doing.

The incredible mentors support, workshops with knowledgeable sailors, on water training and theory webinars were a mind blowing experience!! And I will always have these resources to refer back to. Being with other girls who were in the same situations, gave me a feeling of reassurance. Yes, we were taken out of our comfort zone, and yes… we were pushed to our limits at times, but this was the best way to learn.

Then, with our boat team assigned to the 48ft yacht Castille, owner  “King” Richard proclaimed I would be the helm for the Passage Rally to QCYC!!!  Fortunately, I had participated in the additional small keelboat Discover Sailing training day at HBYC in strong winds during the program which buoyed my confidence and I grabbed the opportunity.

Post KISS, I joined Royal Geelong Yacht Club and Melinda has joined Portarlington Sailing Club.  We have continued to sail with the “King”, enjoying being on the water and the benefits of the “mindfulness” one experiences having left the dock, focussing only on the task at hand and vigilance for the safety of boat and crew.”

Jo’s final advice -

“I would highly recommend this program to any woman who has either sailed before or is looking to begin her sailing adventures. For too long men have dominated the sport, and now thanks to Lee Renfree and her KISS program, it is time for us girls to shine!

Jo Bone in charge of Castille in the KISS Rally Photo Denise Smeaton

Jo Bone in charge of Castille in the KISS Rally Photo Denise Smeaton

Thank you Lee for an amazing sailing adventure, I will always be thinking of you when I am sitting on my own yacht, living my dream!!!”

The 2024 program is limited to 40 participants this year with information and to register fro the 2024 program click here 

For further information,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rosie Colahan

KISS Chair

0409 865 283

orcv logo reversed

3 Aquatic Drive, Albert Park VIC 3206 Ph. 0493 102 744 E. orcv@orcv.org.au