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SYC members triumph on tough final day of Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta

Wednesday, 12th June 2019

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             9 June, 2019

SYC members triumph on tough final day of Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta

Racing was delayed on Day 3, the final day of the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR), but it got underway on Port Phillip shortly after 11am and little did anyone suspect winds would reach 25-30 knots with gusts as much as 35 recorded.

Sandringham Yacht Club members triumphed at the 39 boat event. Division 2 overall belonged to Laura Harding and her J24 Gridlock crew from Sandringham YC in Melbourne. They scored five wins from six races to defeat the Holly Farmer skippered S80, Escape by seven points. 

“Not really expecting to get that many wins,” Harding said. “We had not expectations coming in. We just did our best to get around the course safely and keep it simple. This is the first time we’ve done this regatta, and it’s great to get a win, because it’s Connor Burdon-Bear’s (crew member) birthday. We thought we‘d do it as a happy birthday present for her!

“We’ve already booked in for next year – and hopefully with the same boat. We were talking about the regatta on the water – it’s a great environment for women in sailing. We had a ball and met lots of nice people. It was inspiring to have and meet some people here that I idolise,” she said of the likes of Katie Spithill, Carolijn Brouwer and Sophie Ciszek.

The New Zealanders were caught in a Sandringham Yacht Club sandwich when a second SYC member, Sally Williams, finished third overall at the helm of the Young 88, Young Bears. However Farmer’s crew did end up No. 1 – in the S80 division which they won from the Cath Beaufort steered Up’N Go (Vic) and Merak (Tanya Kelly, Qld).  

Division 2 IRC went to Up ‘N Go, despite being disqualified from the final race after a pre-start collision with the high-profile yacht, Ocean Respect Racing (Katie Spithill, NSW), which was unable to race due to damage. Young Bears (SYC) was second and Merak third. 

In EHC Division 2 was won by Young Bears (SYC) from the S80 Recycled Reputation, helmed by Helen Warneke (Qld), with Gridlock third. 

In other incidents during the day, South Australian 11 Metre One Design, Balancing Act 2 (Janet Thornley), lost her rig on the third leg of the race – this after being trucked all the way from Adelaide.   

With mains reefed right down, there were still struggles as 14 knots quickly turned to white caps on the Bay. As the fleet made its way downwind, it became imperative to maintain slick crew work. However, a handful went prawning with their kites when halyards were not handled well. A few of the less experienced retired, thinking it better to be safe ashore.

Drizzling rain on a cold morning set the scene as the crews of 39 boats waited ashore at Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, host of the event, waiting for the AP flag to come down.

Eventually a watery sun made an appearance, along with some breeze, and officials called competitors to the course for a final race starting shortly after 11am.

This is Australia’s largest women’s keelboat regatta with a record 39 yachts and 300 women taking part from Australian and New Zealand. Ages of competitors varied from 15 to early eighties.

Thanks must go to all the friendly volunteers, with a special mention to the ‘Boat Buoys’ who were on hand every day to help with any quick fixes, launching and grabbing a line when the boats returned to the marina. They doubled by firing up the barby each day after sailing.

Thanks also to those who so generously loaned their yachts again, so that so many women from around Australia and the crew from New Zealand could take part in this continuously growing regatta that showcases the growing pool of talented female sailors in this country.

For full results, all the news and more:


Gridlock skipper Laura Harding gives the thumbs up to her win – Credit Bruno Cocozza

Gridlock Battles a wavy Port Phillip – Credit Bruno Cocozza

Young Bears get the Kite up quickly – Credit Bruno Cocozza













By Di Pearson/AWKR media


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