22 March 2023
The Queensland Cruising Yacht Club (QCYC) has granted 14-year-old aspiring Olympic sailor Addison Newlan special exemption to crew on board Maritimo II in the 75th edition of the 308-nautical-mile Gladstone Ports Corporation Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race, starting 7 April off Sandgate in Moreton Bay.
Addison, who started sailing at age six with Southport Yacht Club and is supported and mentored by Maritimo, is already a champion sailor, having won dozens of regattas and races.
Most recently, she was part of the Maritimo 11 crew to win the 2023 King of the Derwent and the 2023 Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster. She also crewed in the Australian Championships, Open Skiff National Championships, Geelong Festival of Sails and Hamilton Island Race week.
Addison sailed with the Maritimo 11 delivery crew ahead of the 2022 Sydney Hobart when the yacht faced was caught in a massive storm en route to Sydney. The yacht had to pull into Coffs Harbour and was so badly damaged it could not continue to Sydney to compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
Despite being one-third of the weight of some of her crewmates at 42 kilos and measuring 153 centimetres (5 foot), Addison is no lightweight. Maritimo 11’s experienced skipper, veteran of more than 44 Rolex Sydney Hobart Races, Michael Spies has identified Addison as a bright talent from his many hours aboard with her.
Addison will have to wait a few more years before she can compete in her first Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, an arduous, 628-nautical-mile (1,163-kilometre) race, considered among the world’s most challenging due to the event’s age requirement of 18.
Being part of the highly experienced crew in one of Australia’s great ocean races is an exceptional opportunity for the 14-year-old, who undertakes a sporting excellence program at Foxwell State Secondary College.
Around her school commitments, Addison spends at least four days a week on the water. She currently sails in the Open Skiff class; Paper Tiger Catamaran; NS14 and Laser 4.7. She has crewed in two Qld Etchell state championships.
When she’s not sailing, she likes to train her muscles and her mind in bouldering (indoor rock climbing), rope splicing, fitness programs and reading.
Setting sail on Good Friday, 7 April, the upcoming 2023 Gladstone Ports Corporation Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race will be Addison’s first overnighter and will pose various challenges for this young, yet hardy sailor.
“The most challenging part of the Brisbane to Gladstone will be the long hours on board, as this will be the longest race I will have competed in,” said Addison.
“I’m really excited to experience racing from a different view. We will be working in shifts, and I believe I’ll be assisting in the pit (the middle of the yacht), but honestly, I’m happy to do whatever is needed on board.”
Since weight is crucial to racing yachts, the crew is required to bring the bare minimum on board and survive on rations of microwaved frozen meals.
“They taste better than you’d think,” said Addison. “But no matter what meals we end up eating, I can assure you I won’t be eating any bananas (traditionally considered bad luck for sailors).
“And the boat does have bunks on board, however, I prefer to sleep on the sails for a little extra comfort.”
Addison is eager to tick this next experience off her list, another milestone in her quest to compete in the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.
“Maritimo is helping me get to my end goal of the Olympics,” she said. “The new skillset I’m developing is helping me understand the whys and hows of sailing, and really focus on understanding each principle.
“Not only this, but my strategies and tactics are developing considerably as well. The great thing about sailing is that every day on the water is different and you never get quite the same conditions twice. This means you’re constantly learning, adapting and practising new skills and that really excites me.”
In the past few years, Addison has noticed an influx of females into the sport. “There’s a big push within the sailing community to increase women’s participation through programs like SheSails, which is great for me to see.
“Sailing is a great sport. When you get out on the water, your age, size and gender don’t matter. Skill set and mindset are what matter out on the track.”
QCYC’s Commodore Ian Gidlow welcomes Addison’s participation in this year’s B2G. He said that despite being two years younger than the usual minimum age requirement of 16 years, the race team had carefully considered Addison’s impressive sailing credentials and could see no reason to stand in the way of such a talented young sailor gaining real-life offshore racing experience.
“At just 14, Addison has more offshore and other sailing experience than many other older sailors contesting the 2023 Gladstone Ports Corporation Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race,” Gidlow said. “Addison is an inspiration to all aspiring young sailors across Australia,” he continued.
“We commend her on her tenacity and ambitions in sailing and are delighted to have her making sailing history as arguably the youngest-ever sailor to compete in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.
“Furthermore, it is exciting to see so many women competing in offshore sailing events such as the B2G. We already have six female skippers entered, with more to come.
“Youth sailors such as Addison should be encouraged and supported to pursue their dreams and ambitions at all levels of the sport.”
Follow the 2023 Gladstone Ports Corporation Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race via the official race tracker.