Lane Cove Local Identity – Jack Winning – A Champion on and off the Water

Jack Winning Lane Cove

Jack Winning is a gentleman and a dedicated volunteer.  He has made a huge impact to the lives of many young Lane Cove kids (including Miss ITC).  Every summer Jack volunteers for hours and hours to teach Lane Cove locals how to sail.


Learn to Sail Course co-ordinated by Jack Winning
Learn to Sail Course coordinated by Jack Winning

How long have you been involved in teaching kids to sail in Lane Cove?

Back in about 1983 I was concerned that we weren’t providing any Learn to Sail activities and were in fact telling people to go off to a commercial school, then buy a boat and then you can come and sail so I set about with a couple of like-minded  members and we purchased about six very old Sabots and did them up on the smell of an oily rag and started weekend courses on Saturday mornings and Sundays. After a couple of years we felt we had traction and boldly decided to build six new Sabots down at the Club; like most boatbuilding you appear to be making great progress to start with but the finishing off takes forever! We eventually got there and launched them in 1988.

By the mid 90s my children were young and I couldn’t devote the time to it so some others took over and kept it going but by 1999 our list of people who were prepared (or allowed) to commit themselves for 8 Sundays in a row to take classes dried up. It was then with both my kids sailing and in their final years at Primary School a few parents asked how they could get their kids into it. It was then that I talked to the committee about running a 5 day course in the September holidays. I took a week off work and with ten kids from Mowbray and three others that had made an enquiry Learn to Sail in its current format was born.

The next year we had 21 over two weeks. I have continued to do the bookings since then but in most cases managed to cajole someone to run at least one of the courses.

By the 2009/10 season I had retired and wondered whether we should add a course in the January holidays – it booked out immediately and the following season we started doing the December course. With not all schools on holidays we wondered if it would fill but it did. And here we are still doing four courses a season.

Why do you love teaching learn to sail?

I’ve been sailing at the Lane Cove 12ft Skiff Club  since I was 8. After a couple of seasons my Dad felt the Club needed more kids and introduced the Sabots. I knew how much fun we all had and wanted to relive it for the next generation. My Dad was smart he knew when to stop. It’s a great family club with everything (unless we don’t have the skills) done with voluntary labour. It’s old school but good, no pokies and nothing too formal.

Why should kids learn to sail?

It’s a great skill to have when you live in a city like Sydney with such fantastic waterways. You pitch yourself against the elements and hope to win. It’s something you can start at 7 or 8 and our oldest sailing member is 86 and still sailing a Laser (although he does now use some discretion on windy days). You can be very competitive if you wish or just come and enjoy some not so pressured Club racing. Our club is particularly social both for the older members and the kids. It’s one of those sports where you can sail with your parents/kids or against them.

Learn to sail Lane Cove
Jack (in the middle) teaching the kids how to rig boats

How many hours a week to you donate your time?

That’s hard to put a number on that. When courses are on it’s probably 60+ hours. Less at other times but probably in one way or another about 30. There are a few quieter months in the off season but I usually find myself coordinating a First Aid; Powerboat Handling; Instructor and Assistant Instructor course each winter. Every other Wednesday we have our equivalent of a Men’s (and Women’s) Shed where we meet at the club and do maintenance on the sheds and club boats, it just goes on.

 Why do you like living in Lane Cove

I don’t know any better. It isn’t what it used to be, it’s a lot busier but still has a lot of character. The water is a great asset, it’s not far from most things.

Are you still involved in the Stringy Bark Creek residents association?

We were eventually driven out of that area by developers; maybe they did us a favour but certainly not Lane Cove or the Stringybark Creek area.  If you would like to know more about Residents’ Associations just click here.

If you are why should people be involved in the SBCRA?

I guess growing up in Tambourine Bay (as we called it then) and having seen the work that our parents put into the community through the Tambourine Bay Ex-Servicemen’s Association, like building the pool, I have a belief in these organisations. We hadn’t been in Lane Cove North for long when the SBCRA was formed and I believe we joined in the first year. When I retired was when the whole re-zoning thing started so I decided to become actively involved and continued for about six years.  If the SBCRA had been strong in numbers and finances maybe we could have saved the area from decimation, but we weren’t.

In 2015, Jack Winning was inducted as a Life Member of the Australian National Sabot Council. He was inducted due to Jack’s massive commitment to the development of junior sailing in the Lane Cove region through the Club’s Learn to Sail program. It was estimated that Jack has been directly involved in the introduction to sailing of well in excess of 2,000 children. Some of Jack’s Learn to Sail Alumni can be seen in Europe sailing in 29er Worlds or F18 catamaran Worlds, an 18ft Skiff out of Double Bay or a 12ft skiff in an Inter-dominion against New Zealand’s best, taking part in World Match racing regattas in Elliott 7s, crewing for, among others, Jessica Watson in the Sydney to Hobart race or working on the maxi boats sailing out of Airlie Beach.

Jack has also received a Lane Cove Citizenship Award. In 2017 he was named NSW/ACT Sailing Volunteer of the Year.

If you would like to know more about sailing in Lane Cove just click here:

Lane Cove 12ft Skiff Club

Greenwich Sailing Club

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