WOW! Podiums and Pumpkin soup at Hobson's Bay Lady Skippers Race
by Rosie Colahan
Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series (PPWCS) kicked back into gear on Sunday 18 May after a hiatus from racing for several weeks. Race 4 of the series was hosted by Hobson’s Bay Yacht Club (HBYC) in conjunction with their annual Lady Skippers Race.
Melbourne’s current splendid autumn weather put on perfect conditions for the top of the bay event. Despite some cloud cover, the sun shone, the seas remained flat and a warm steady 12-18 knot northerly wind prevailed for the duration of the 10nm race. And surprisingly, the wind was largely devoid of the bullets often experienced during northerlies on the bay.
A keen fleet of nineteen boats lined up at the start in Hobson’s Bay. At the pin end, Matrix with Rebecca Badenoch at the helm was set for a flying start, but arrived a little early and was pushed up by Celia Dymond helming Take One, causing Matrix to stall and then “kiss” the mark, forcing her to restart. Beneteau 40 Dry White from Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) with Rosie Colahan as guest helm for the day, cleared out from the fleet and lead the way up the windward leg to round R4. Alegria 2 from HBYC helmed by Sue Tanner followed, leading Matrix - now recovered from her start line setback- with Absolut(Jane Hutton) and Tigris (Jan Fielding) in a close pack. Meanwhile Dry White was struggling to carry a symmetrical kite on a shy reach as they headed to RMYS mark E instead of mark B! The “pack” confidently struck out leading the way for the rest of the pack to the correct mark B, whilst Dry White ended up executing a very safe wide rounding - half a nautical mile from the prescribed mark but still on the correct side!
PRO Alistair Hart was impressed with the level of skill across the fleet and cited some “honourable mentions” for boats that put in impressive steady performances on the day.
Sue Tanner, owner of Alegria kept pace with the front end of the fleet all day, with impressive two-sail reaching against boats under spinnaker. A veteran lady skipper, Sue holds the unofficial record for competing as helmswoman for the greatest number of HBYC Lady Skippers races over the years. Also from HBYC and only in her second year, Helen Curmi at the helm of La Alondra showed perseverance and good reaching without a kite. The Tigris, Jan Fielding and her crew impressed with their superior trimming.
And the “pretty woman” that turned heads all day was the local boat and classic yacht Shamrock with Claire Frith at the helm. Both these ladies demonstrated grace and perseverance all day.
At the end of the race, Matrix took line honours from Dry White, followed by Absolut from RYCV with Jane Hutton on the helm, only nine seconds ahead of Christine helmed by Lynne Wilton from RMYS.
Back at the clubhouse, “hobbos” turned on their famous home-baked hospitality, greeting all competitors with home made pumpkin soup and dips, followed by a great “BBQ with the BrasS”.
And then it was time for presentation of the trophies for the day’s racing. The results confirmed that the Hobson’s Bay “Women on Water” sailors training program established in the 2012-13 season is achieving great results. In PHS, novice helm Norma Malouf steered the S80 Kasam into first place, followed by sister club member and veteran helm Maureen Dickins placing second on the club-owned S80 Satie only 45 seconds behind on corrected time. Maureen also placed second in AMS behind sister club member Leo Eeckman on Le Cascadeur, whose winning performance on the day, added her third first place to her AMS score for the PPWCS series. Commodore Ryan Blackstock, owner of Le Cascadeur commented that Leo’s concentration, composure and helming is better than his! And in IRC, Kate Ribton-Turner put in another consistent solid performance placing third at the helm of The Bookmaker, confirming her current second placing in IRC for the PPWC series.
So there was not much room left on the podium for the nine visiting lady skippers from other clubs, but there were a couple of “outsiders” who rose to the challenge.
Absolut from Royal Yacht Club of Victoria (RYCV) with Jane Hutton at the helm, took out the honours in IRC for the day and added their second first place to their PPWC series score, affirming their position as current IRC crown for the PPWC series.
And some girls just can’t get enough sailing! Louise Cotter from Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) capped off a huge weekend helming Beneteau 31 Unami into third place in both AMS and PHS and second place in IRC for the day. A powerhouse of an effort for her pint sized frame, given that she had already raced into Bass Strait in the early hours of Saturday morning aboard Elan 434 Try Booking in the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria’s (ORCV) Apollo Bay Race, and then spent the return delivery perfecting onboard bread making as a shakedown for the forthcoming Melbourne to Vanuatu Race (M2V) in June. She recruits like-minded sailors to her cause – crew member Anne-Florence had just flown in from France and jumped on board to contribute her considerable skills to their performance!
It was a fabulous day on and off the water. A heartfelt thank you to HBYC, with their race management volunteers on the water, Gary Marks shooting all the action, their “WOW” sailors claiming the podium and back on shore, their own brand of legendary hospitality soothing the battle weary sailors at the end of the day - it was the complete package.
And with less than a week to go to the final race of the PPWCS 2014, don’t forget to enter the Sunday Race of RBYC’s Brighton Lady Skipper Series (BLiSS) on Sunday 25 May for your final tilt at the PPWCS trophy. You can choose to either enter the BLiSS regatta over two days or just enter the Sunday Race as a casual entry to get your PPWCS score. For more information about the BLiSS sailing and social events, go to the BLiSS webpage
And to celebrate the thrills, spills and achievements for the 2014 PPWC series, come and join us at the Awards Presentation on Friday 30 May at RMYS.
For full results for the HBYC Lady Skippers Race.
To view Gary Mark’s photosof the on-water activities for the day click here
For full results for the PPWCS Series to Race 4
Thanks to www.womenandgirlsinsailing.com.au for the article.