The Jennifer Goldsmith Trophy - the first race in the inaugural Port Phillip Women's Championship Series - got off to a very light start on Sunday 17th February. But it didn't deter the 26-boat fleet from having fun and competing well.
Le Cascadeur comes through the light breezes for a proud second on AMS and PHD - Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series
Starting in around six to eight knots on a beautiful sunny day, the wind lightened soon after the start, dying out mid-race leaving the fleet bobbing around for a good 45 minutes until the small breeze returned.
'It was a glorious day', said Race Officer Amanda Wakeham. 'But the promise of an increasing breeze didn't come and it ended up a very frustrating afternoon. It's difficult to pick a course for such a diverse fleet regardless, but the addition of dying breezes makes it additionally hard.'
Tanya Stanford’s all-girl team Nouannie perform to their usual high standard for a 2nd on IRC - Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series
Nevertheless, the race went on with boats small and large nudging their way around the course. The lighter boats came out on top - with the two-handed Footloose (Noelex 25), the smallest boat in the fleet, winning on PHD, AMS and IRC.
'It was a tricky race', said Footloose helm Lennie Beattie. 'But sailing with such an experienced crew member as David Ellis, I had the opportunity to learn heaps about keeping a boat moving in virtually no wind! We hunted the breeze every inch of the way, trying to keep to the shore at every opportunity - and it paid off.'
Other small boats performed equally well. The all-girl team on Nouannie, a Scampi 30, took second on IRC; the two Southern ocean 32s Le Cascadeur and Silhouette taking second and third respectively on AMS and PHD.
The heavier boats weren't as fortunate.
Claire Scanlon and crew focus on sail trim to keep the boat moving to a 3rd on AMS and PHD - Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series
Sabina Rosser on Weekend Option, a Northshore 38, said 'Some boats are suited to lighter weather, some to heavier, and it wasn't a Northshore day. But that's the nature of the game.' Although it may not have been their favourite conditions, they performed well, securing third on IRC.
Along with some of the more experienced crews, the race included many first-timers, such as Allicia Ray, helming Ruby Red (Beneteau 323).
'Ruby Red is a new boat, still set up as a cruiser. Although we did not finish due to the light breeze, I had an amazing day with a great crew. I learnt a lot - it was my first time helming with a wheel!'
Second-time skipper Annie Boutrieng, helming Mrs Overnewton (Match 38) said considering the light airs, they were pleased with their performance.
'We did well today', said Annie. 'The crew work was good. We didn't mess up the tacks and gybes and the communication on board was excellent. And we were one of the top five boats off the starting line!'
Weekend Option, helmed by Sabina Rosser, perform well in conditions not suited to heavier boats - Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series
First-time crew Mirella Price, sailing on Tumbling Dice (Beneteau 38), said she had a fantastic first race. 'It was exciting and a great experience. I have recently done a sailing course and this was my first 'real' race. The crew were brilliant and very welcoming.'
Katy Jones, another newbie, sailing on Addiction (Inglis 37), said she 'can't get enough of it' and is taking part on Addiction in next weekend's Big Bay Race. 'They are wonderful people on the boat - no pomp and ceremony - and I am learning loads! I learnt how to tack and gype properly and helped with the headsail trimming.'
As well as the competition, fun was the name of the game. Wild Child's (Elan 310) four female sailors took advantage of the warm, sunny day, getting down to bikinis! 'We had a fabulous day,' said skipper Margaret Neeson. 'We went quite well in the trying conditions and the team worked really well together.'
Tumbling Dice helm Marija Groen and her crew focus on the wind ahead - Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series
The fun on Frenzy started well before the start line, with the girls competing for the helm on the way to the course! It ended up in the hands of Monica Jones, who did a fantastic job, overtaking Silk (Radford 35) on the last leg for line honours and bringing the boat home in fourth place on PHD. Giving women the opportunity to try something new is close to skipper Robyn Brooke's heart. 'We enjoy sharing the roles and trying new things. We had two very experienced dinghy sailors on board - Megan and Kate Aulich - who got the opportunity to use their skills in a different environment'.
All in all, the consensus was that it was a very successful day.
'If Jennifer was here right now, she would be very pleased', said Linda Goldsmith (RMYS Commodore and sister of Jennifer Goldsmith, who the Jennifer Goldsmith Trophy is named in memory of). 'Jennifer would say what a fabulous event for women in sailing and a great opportunity for them to compete and hang out together.'
Silk led the fleet around the course until being pipped at the post for line honours by Frenzy - Port Phillip Women’s Championship Series
The next race in the Port Phillip Women's Championship Series (PPWCS) is the Val Hodge Trophy Race, taking place on Sunday 24th February at RYCV.