Just under three years ago, retired army major Guy Mewburn set up an association helping former and current defence force personnel improve their mental health by teaching them how to fix boats and sail.

Shocked by the high suicide rate among defence force veterans, Mr Mewburn founded the not-for-profit Sailing On, which gets members bonding through teamwork and sailing education. Sailing On was first set up in WA and boasts 64 members with six keelboat yachts.

“With my military history of 25 years in the regular army as a major, I knew too well the stresses on service people and of the terrible suicide rate,” Mr Mewburn says. “I wanted to do something to help ease those stresses and came up with the idea by combining the two ingredients of teamwork and mateship through sailing.” I got together with a bunch of like minded mates and we formed Sailing On WA Inc to help improve mental health.

As of the 1st Jully, Sailing On is setting up base in NSW at RANSA in the heart of Sydney. We have bought Gun Runner from Army. She has previously sailed as the Army entrant in three Sydney to Hobart races. Sailing On is a tri service organisation for veterans and serving members of any service. Gun Runner will now be available to all services and all veterans to sail. “We have a range of members from beginner sailors to the very experienced. Gun Runner now gives us the opportunity to start up in NSW as well as provide competitive ocean sailing for our more advanced members. Watch this space for a future Sailing On Sydney to Hobart entry.

“We sail every Wednesday afternoon and twilight as well as Saturdays where skippers are available and qualified people can sail any time of the week,” Mr Mewburn says. “For only $65 a year membership, where else could you learn boat repairs and get free training, all the safety gear and a yacht to sail any time you want.” Mr Mewburn adds that if you don’t want to get your feet wet, there’s plenty of skills to learn on dry land including boat maintenance, fibre glassing and rigging.

Look us up at www.sailingonwa.org.au to join or learn about us. Email