Time to set sail

Jason Ng

Name: Peter Wilkins Age: 29 Occupation: Sailing coach

Young Post: What inspired you to take up sailing as a hobby, and eventually as a career with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club [RHKYC]?

Wilkins: I started sailing when I was 10. I guess I was influenced by my family, as my father was very passionate about it. He gave me my first lesson.

I didn't like sailing at first because it was so difficult. I remember how I hit my head on the sail while performing a capsizing drill on my first day of sailing.

However, I fell in love with the sport later.

Last January, I came to Hong Kong and was employed by RHKYC as a sailing training manager.

YP: What are your duties?

W: I oversee and manage the instructors for our training courses. We employ a number of local part-time instructors at the club, and I sometimes teach the classes myself during the off-season.

YP: Can you tell us something about the RHKYC?

W: The club is more than 100 years old, and seen as very prestigious among the international sailing community.

It's regarded as one of the premier boat clubs in Asia.

We have three branches - Middle Island [near Repulse Bay], Kellet Island [near Causeway Bay] and Shelter Cove [in Sai Kung].

YP: How did you get the job?

W: I found out about the job through a sailing magazine while I was teaching in the UK about 16 months ago, and I haven't looked back.

I love travelling, and ... Hong Kong is refreshingly different from my home in Norfolk, UK.

I'm really enjoying my job as I get to teach both adults and children - the club annually trains 200 adults and 400 children.

YP: Has being a sailing instructor helped you to fulfil your dream of travelling?

W: Yes. I've taught sailing in Tunisia in Africa, as well as France. I've also been able to travel by myself since I now live on a catamaran [a twin-hulled boat]. In February, I sailed to the Philippines and Palau with my friends.

YP: How diverse is your student population?

W: At the RHKYC, we have a number of international students as well as students who go to local schools.

I would say that the sport is receiving more and more attention in Hong Kong as children are becoming increasingly keen to pick up water sports.

YP: What is your most memorable experience since you've been in Hong Kong?

W: There was once a very big storm and I was on my boat. The waves shook my boat from side to side, and I remember being quite alarmed, hoping things would smooth out.

YP: What do you think of the sailing conditions in Hong Kong?

W: The conditions are very seasonal. Sometimes, the wind blows up from the south, bringing fresh air, but polluted water.

When the wind blows down from the north, the water may be cleaner, but we get a lot of the city's smog.

The environment is very important in sailing as it can greatly affect a sailor.

YP: Any advice for aspiring sailors?

W: Although it may be hard at first, sailing is a fun sport and helps you develop a lot of skills. It's also a good way to enjoy nature.

Make sure you find a good coach, as this will determine how well you learn, but other than that, just go for it!