A Blue Mountains Sailor

Bullaburra sailor Kathy Veel is currently at the helm of locally-owned racing yacht ‘It Happens’ in the 2022 Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) Women’s Winter Series.

The three dates for the Series are April 24, June 12 and July 17, with those three races interspersed between the ten races of the 2022 CYCA Winter Series.

In addition to being at the helm for ‘It Happens’ in the Women’s Winter Series and crewing on the boat in the CYCA Winter Series (on Sundays), Kathy also crews on other boats in the ‘Combined Clubs Winter Series’, which is run on Saturdays – also on Sydney Harbour.

Kathy’s biggest assignment at the end of this year will be sailing in the 2022 Sydney2Hobart (S2H) Yacht Race two-handed, partnering with another helms-woman from ‘It Happens’, Bridget Canham, on board Kathy’s own boat, ‘Currawong’.

Bridget Canham and Kathy Veel – Hobart Bound

Currawong was built in 1973 and is a Currawong 30, designed by Australian Prof. Peter Joubert. A sister ship, Zeus II, won the S2H in 1981, the smallest yacht ever to do so, and also came 2nd in 2002.

Kathy purchased ‘Currawong’ online (due to Covid restrictions) from Melbourne in 2021, then sailed it up to Sydney in February this year.

A Victorian by birth, Kathy grew up in Beecroft, before moving to Bullaburra in 1992. She began sailing at 18 and has been to Hobart twice in S2H races, the first in 1989 as part of an all-woman crew on board ‘Belles Long Ranger’ and then in 1992, with an all-woman crew on ‘Telecom Mobile Net’, a Farr 40. She also had plans to race in 2019 but was injured prior to the race.

Kathy’s first 2 boats were small wooden yachts (1979-91) and it was during this period of time, she developed her skills in seamanship and navigation, ultimately racing on larger boats.

Her third boat was called ‘Quintet’ and was based at Kettering Yacht Club in Tasmania. Kathy would become a frequent flyer, spending every summer on the island for the ensuing 10 years.

Sailing with Making Waves Foundation (Kathy & Aidan)

Kathy is a former High School Art teacher (40 years) and after retiring in 2014, became a volunteer skipper with the ‘Making Waves Foundation’ (MWF). In 2021, she won the ‘Blue Mountains Volunteer of the Year’ award for her contribution to the MWF.

Initially attracted to the MWF by a small advertisement in ‘Afloat Magazine’ in 2014, for an Orientation Day, Kathy went along and was immediately recognised for her sailing knowledge and skills and invited to join the MWF sailing family.

Since then, Kathy has skippered MWF programmes in Hobart, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Southport, Kebble Bay and Mackay, and the delivery passages in between, managing the yacht, the crew and programs for the disabled. This year, Kathy will also be competing with MWF in Hamilton Island Race Week.

A part-time artist (mostly seascapes), Kathy’s art has also come ahead in leaps and bounds since retirement, with the added hours she is able to devote to canvas giving her the opportunity to further develop her craft. Kathy has featured in two exhibits in the Blue Mountains.

A painting by Kathy

Making Waves Foundation (MWF) formerly ‘Sailors with disABILITIES (SWD)’ is an Australian registered not-for-profit organisation that, through sailing, becomes a catalyst for change in people’s lives. We exist to offer life-changing opportunities to children, youth and adults with disabilities and those at a disadvantage to drive a more optimistic outlook for personal growth and improved life outcomes.

We use sailing as a tool to build confidence, self-esteem and new relationships. Through sailing, people start to forget about what they can’t do and focus on what they can. We provide free sailing and training programs for people with a disability, disadvantaged children and adults, and their carers.

Since its inception in 1994, MWF has taken more than 64,000 disabled and disadvantaged people sailing and continues to build on this with more than 2,500 individuals benefiting from its programs every year.

• In the 1994 Sydney to Southport yacht race, MWF was the first 100%-disabled crew in the world to compete in an ocean race.

• Since 1994, MWF has competed in 20 Sydney to Hobart yacht races.

• In 2003, MWF set and still retains, the world record for the fastest non-stop, unassisted circumnavigation of Australia.

• MWF set the world record for the fastest passage Sydney – Lord Howe – Balls Pyramid – Sydney in 2015.


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