'Sarah Allard behind the helm of Saltair - Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta'
© Alex McKinnon
It’s the Queen’s Birthday Weekend and therefore time for the 2013 Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta (AWKR) on Melbourne’s Port Phillip. Over her 23 years, the event has seen a lot and provided a pathway for countless women to compete against those keen enough to take it on.
So have they been frosty? Yes quite often, perhaps even foggy. Blowy? Actually not that many times - less than a handful really. Cold? Well that would be just about all of them.
Note that there are two particular elements that are virtually a carbon copy of 2012. The first is the weather, with a fresh to frightening front having just scampered through the region and then sunny, mild(ish) and pretty light Northerlies set to rule over the weekend. Most would want to wait to see that occur before locking it in, but if does come to pass, then it will be truly welcome.
Secondly, and for the AWKR’s entire history by the way, the Adams 10 has been a priority boat for the all-female crews looking to place well. 2013 is to be no different in that regard. There are four of these very recognisable racers out there and one of the rarer, cruising variants too in Red Dog. The Chair of the AWKR Committee, Jody Lukeman, is on the tiller of this craft. Tara McCall and the CYCA’s development squad are back to have a red hot go at taking out one or more of the three divisions and have migrated from the J24 they used last year to Janet Dean’s A10, Jungle Juice.
Jo Norbury and the Chikara Chicks have been long standing competitors at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron’s signature women’s event, as well as many an ocean race. They used the very well known Executive Decision last year, but are in Apache for this tilt at getting their name on a plaque again.
Serious Yahoo moved to the Royal Brighton Yacht Club not that long ago and Vanessa Twigg is bringing her crew to the race within a race. The final component of the four way A10 battle will be Stephanie Strong with Top Gun, which was helmed so well by Erin Foster last year.
Elsewhere inside the 17 boat fleet, and also returning once more will be Helen Willmer and crew from the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron to put the Bavaria Match 38, Mrs Overnewton, to the test. The largest craft, the Hanse 400 Kabaret, will once more be under the guidance of the truly seasoned Rosie Colahan.
There are three S80s who will be glad to see just 10 knots forecasted for the first day and no more than 15 for the other two. Coming out of the North will mean the seaway will be slight too, which is bound to keep them happy. Look out for the well-sailed Nouannie, whose crew have been together for sometime now and it shows with how they get around the course. A podium finish in the very popular Australian Measurement System category is certainly theirs to get. Skipper Tanya Stanford would probably prefer to see that listed as a win, no doubt.
Back after having a child a while ago is Alison Binks on the Flying Tiger 10, Tigris. Given the forecast you would do well to keep an eye on the slippery lines of this craft as she slides her way around the course.
Gai Clough founded the event all those years ago and today you get equal rights winners in each of IRC, Australian Measurement System (AMS) and Performance Handicap System (PHS). The AWKR Chair, Jody Lukeman, best sums up the esprit de corps for both the event and women in sailing. She is both a Novice Skipper and taken on the lead role for the regatta in the same year. 'Leading in to this I was fortunate enough to have a lot of people confer with me and it has really set in stone the fact that you have to step up and take ownership in everything you do. So to look for and to the challenge that AWKR offers for all women sailors was a logical progression for me.'
'The AWKR, along with the build up to it, are a great opportunity to bolster confidence and really get the sailors both settled in to their roles and sailing in general. The support from the whole club has been tremendous, as well as primary sponsors Nautilus Marine Insurance, Helly Hansen and the law firm, Logie-Smith-Lanyon. Rebecca Bandenoch is a Partner there and she is on Apache with the Chikara Chicks', Jody finished by saying.
Now some will certainly want to see a carbon copy of 2012 and there are others who will want anything but. Alas, time will tell. See rmys.com.au for more information.
by John Curnow
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1:23 AM Fri 7 Jun 2013GMT
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