An exciting brand new event took to the Solent over the weekend of 7/8 June – the Women’s Open Keelboat Championship. Louise Morton’s quarter tonner 'Espada' won six out of six race races to take the overall championship trophy.
150 women crewed at the inaugural Women’s Open Keelboat Championship including Lucy Burn, Gemma Farrell and Josie Gibson fresh from the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship as well as women from Commodore’s Cup crews.
Competitors were set imaginative and challenging courses, mainly windward leeward, taking account of both wind and tide with the odd surprise such as a starboard rounding. The conditions were perfect for the relatively lightweight crews with the wind not capping 15 knots. A full programme of three races per day was completed with repeated head to head battles, often no more than two or three lengths apart, in the SBR fleet between Marie-Claude Heys on 'Jenga IV' and Caroline Cooper on 'Just Do It' with an RYA Keelboat Programme team member on the helm.
Finally 'Just Do It' (J/80) took the SBR class by two points from 'Jenga IV' (J/80) whilst in IRC 1 'Jump' (J/133) – Becky Walford and Katy Ware - came above Kirsty Apthorp’s 'J-Dream' helmed by Lucy Burn by 2.5 points. Behind the fine performance in IRC Class 2 of 'Espada', came 'Elusive' (Elan 333) fresh from a class win success at the 2008 Raymarine Warsash Spring Series.
Jody Slater, one of the event organisers, said, 'It was so good to see so many top female sailors competing at this event. Equally we have been glad to give many women the chance to take up new roles on board and we have all had so much good fun afloat and ashore at the Royal Southern Yacht Club. We look forward to welcoming everyone back on the weekend of the 4/5 July for the Women’s Open Keelboat Championship 2009.' www.wokc.co.uk
Images ourtesy of Ingrid Abery - www.hotcapers.com The Women’s Open Keelboat Championship is grateful to its sponsors Coffin Mew LLP, Dubarry of Ireland, CW Fellowes, Marina Projects, Harken, Raymarine, Kingfisher Ropes, Elvstrom Sobstad, Rule 26 and Ingrid Abery at Hot Capers.
The event organisers were the Royal Southern Yacht Club working with Jody Slater, Emma Beagley, Stephanie Danby and Vicky Lincoln.
The Royal Southern Yacht Club is one of the most respected, well established and successful yacht clubs in the UK. With over 170 years of tradition it is based in excellent modern waterside premises, which include: bars, dining, facilities, moorings, dry berthing and accommodation. The Club was delighted to be host the first Women's Open Keelboat Championship in 2008.